This week’s Book of the Week is by photographer Srinivas Kuruganti, whose work focuses on the lives and relationships of people facing both economic and social hardships in India.
Coal India Limited takes us to Jharkhand in northeast India, the epicenter of India’s coal mining industry for the past 100 years. Srinivas Kuruganti has a story to tell us and it isn’t a happy one. Whilst the state has reserves of over 72,000 million tons of coal and approximately 80 million tons are extracted each year, Jharkhand is still one of the poorest states in India, plagued by a weak infrastructure and a lack of basic amenities. More than half the state does not have access to clean drinking water and illiteracy is one of the highest compared to the rest of the country.
We interviewed Srinivas Kuruganti, the photographer and bookmaker, about the impetus behind this project and his process of making it into a book.
Blurb: What is Coal India Limited ?
Kuruganti: Coal India Limited, a national coal company, is the largest corporate employer in the country. It is also the largest coal producing company in the world. Estimates put their profits at a billion dollars annually.
India has a population of over one billion and relies heavily on coal. About 70 percent of the country’s coal production is used in the thermal power industry. As the demand for coal increases, the state-controlled industry is rapidly leaning towards more destructive forms of mining.
Blurb: Why did you decide to make the project into a book?
Kuruganti: As a photographer, I want to be able to create something tangible after finishing a project and that for me meant a book.
“Print on Demand” companies like Blurb allow you to do that very easily without having to find funds to buy hundreds of copies of your book at once.
Blurb: Tell us a bit about the creative process .
Kuruganti: Using Blurb I was able to take full creative control, and I designed and edited the book myself. I did bring in a few people to help with the editing process, as it’s always great to have a second opinion. I added in some pages from my sketchbooks at the front of the book, to show the full story from an idea in my notebook through to conception.
Blurb: Once the book was in your bookstore, what happened next?
Kuruganti: It actually worked out beautifully. I was able to show it off to people online and also print copies to show to editors, magazines and take along to portfolio reviews. I am currently working on getting the book stocked in a few gallery shops. It’s a wonderful way for me to tell this story in many different forms, to many different people.