Witnessing Disasters in India – Exhibition and Panel Discussion

“When we think of a disaster, we always think of the number of casualties or the quantity of relief material reached out. We never think of the people who somehow live through re-occurring disasters. People in places like Sundarbans have no other option but to ‘welcome’ disasters every year…We have to collaborate with them more inclusively, so that their ongoing suffering is eased.” says Magsaysay Awardee Anshu Gupta, Founder of Goonj and Gram Swabhimaan. Anshu was sharing his thoughts on a panel discussion held today at ICCR, Kolkata together with a photo exhibition ‘Disasters -Myth and Reality’ being held in Kolkata (from November 25th to November 30th). He was joined in this discussion by eminent experts like Prof. Sugata Hazara, Director-School of oceanographic studies at Jadahavpur University, Ms. Piya Chakraborty, social activist who currently runs the Health and Eco Defence Society, Mr. Amal Sarkar, senior journalist and Mr. Jayanta Basu, Development and Environmental journalist. Mr. Ajey Mukund Ranadey, Additional DGP, West Bengal who spoke about how his work with the villagers prompted him to work on connecting social organizations to work with the Govt. departments during disasters.

For the people of Kolkata the Disasters – Myths and Reality Exhibition is a must see as it is perhaps the first curated still photo exhibition of its kind, which creatively presents an insight and understanding of the growing impact of disasters on our lives and our world.

This exhibition, on a nationwide tour across urban India, brings together original photographs depicting the deep social, cultural and infrastructural impact of disasters on our lives. All the photographs were shot by Anshu Gupta, Magsaysay Award Winner, Founder Goonj & Gram Swabhiman across 10+ Indian states from 1999 till date. These roughly span the time when the effects of climate change started surfacing in devastating ways across the landscape of India. Speaking about his thoughts on the photo exhibition Anshu Gupta said, “Being a witness to many of the big disasters in the past 2 decades, I wanted to share the reality, resilience, dignity and the deep and devastating impact of disasters on people. I wanted to share that with people in the cities who usually don’t get to see this side of disasters first hand. Now that disasters are happening more frequently in cities as well, I feel there are some valuable lessons to be learnt from the stories behind these pictures.”

Goonj also launched its booklet ‘RAHAT- Disaster Relief and Rehabilitations’ breaking myths around disaster relief, innovative strategies & approaches and also highlighting how innovatively livelihood can be created for the disaster hit people with disaster surplus material. The panel discussion and the exhibition is receiving a very good response from different segments of Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal. Participation from people from some missed-out communities such as, transgender, artisans made the panel discussion diverse and enriching.


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