“The saddest part about this whole thing,” said Karthik Ranganathan, “was that I was the only outsider there.” He was talking about an incident in the Ejipura neighborhood, whose residents belonged to the “Economically Weaker Sections” or “EWS.” In short, it was a slum. It was a place that hundreds of people called home. And when their homes were about to be demolished for the sake of a shopping mall, the people cried foul. Did anyone listen?
Slum demolitions have become routine in India and shopping malls further divide socio-economic haves and have-nots. More often than not, the poor face displacement on their own without any legal recourse or media to get the word out. Karthik notes that the demolition of Ejipura almost went unnoticed, even though one of the people who courted arrest was a researcher from the Indian Institute of Science. Had Karthik not showed up with his camera, the media may have arrived too late, if they arrived at all.
“When the call went out in the morning for people to respond, and show up in support, nobody turned up. It was just pure chance that I had my camera with me. And this is the only record of the demolition.”
Listen to Karthik talk about this and other experiences he and Chetana have had in the 7 years since they returned to India.
Karthik and Chetana volunteered for AID in Dallas before leaving in 2010 for Bangalore.