Book of the Week: ‘Coal India Limited’

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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6 Comments

  1. It is really a powerful book revealing in TOUCHING IMAGES the dark reality of India’s vast population, majority in fact, that has gained nothing from the so-called economic miracle that the world media is focusing on these days. I have been long absent from India where I was born and grew up, but have always suspected that nothing has changed for hundreds of millions of Indian families, especially children and working women, who labor on road construction and mines and factories and farms of India and who are de facto invisible as real people to the increasingly richer class of Indian society. I myself photographed many years ago ten year old children (or perhaps they were a bit older but LOOKED ten) and women working in stone crushing plants in Orissa, and those sights still haunt me.

    So this book really is a welcome addition to the few voices, including one of Arundhati Roy, that are crying to tell India’s real story of misery and hopelessness that is every day life for hundreds of millions of people there. Well done and thanks, Srinivas.

    By Arvind Garg
      October 31, 2011 – 4:52 am   Permalink
  2. hallo
    i like the way you present blurb books
    my blurb book “Homage to Hermann Hesse and his Siddhartha” was selected by the American Society of Media Photographers as one of the twenty best. http://asmp.org/bestof2011

    I’m happy to let you know that your Best of ASMP interview is now live on the ASMP Web site: http://asmp.org/articles/best-2011-mayer.html

      October 31, 2011 – 5:13 am   Permalink
  3. Coal India Limited
    Srinivas Kuruganti
    is an exellent work
    congratulation
    fred maer

      October 31, 2011 – 5:16 am   Permalink
  4. Thanks, Fred. Be sure to share your book on our Facebook page. I’m sure everyone would like to see it. For those of you who’d like to take a look now, here’s a link to Fred’s book.

      October 31, 2011 – 4:19 pm   Permalink
  5. http://www.idcrush.com
    I have been long absent from India where I was born and grew up, but have always suspected that nothing has changed for hundreds of millions of Indian families, especially children and working women, http://www.crusherminingid.com
    who labor on road construction and mines and factories and farms of India and who are de facto invisible as real people to the increasingly richer class of Indian society. I myself photographed many years ago ten year old children (or perhaps they were a bit older but LOOKED ten) and women working in stone crushing plants in Orissa, and those sights still haunt me.

      November 26, 2012 – 11:55 pm   Permalink
  6. Thank you for your insights. Looking at the photos is hard enough, I can’t even imagine being the one to witness them personally.

    By Kent
      November 27, 2012 – 12:03 pm   Permalink

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