SLUMS IN CHENNAI

                  IN THE SHADOWS OF THE BIG CITY

     A shanty row of thatched huts dripping with yesterday rain, sitting over what looks like a garbage dump teeming with dirt, faeces and mosquitoes, long queues before a solitary pump - this is the typical slum scenario in Chennai, one of India four big metropolitan cities. According to a 2001 census survey, forty million people live under such conditions across the country.

     It all began in the early 1980's when villagers began the exodus from the rural outbacks to the promised land of job opportunities: the urban cities. Half were uneducated, and most opted for cheap labour. Women scrimmaged a living as underpaid domestic help earning less that 1200 Rupees per month. Men found employment as porters in railway stations or as auto-rickshaw drivers. Yet others worked in construction sites for a pittance in daily wages, enduring conditions that were tough and demanding. For all of them, life had become a struggle to quell the burning hunger in their bellies, often with sanitary facilities and medical help denied.

     This is not what they dreamed of when they left the villages. Most of them hail from generations of farmers, who led peaceful lives in the midst of paddy fields. After the Agrarian reforms, they were allotted small pieces of land with no funding to pursue agriculture. So they sold their bantam plots to move to the big cities.

     Now they live in these urban shanties where their rights are violated on a daily basis. Victims of corruption, they are often misled and used by opportunistic politicians. The very idea of human rights has been so trod upon, that no one recognizes their own rights anymore. Most of them live in such a state of naivet that all the injustices they face by the hour are accepted as part and parcel of life and this helps them find happiness and good cheer amidst these sordid surroundings. For the great majority, their hopes remain pinned on their children, 70% of whom are being educated to ensure improved job opportunities outside the labour sector- a choice they didn't have.

     Inspired by the stoic dignity of the slum populace, these photographs were taken between the year 2003 and 2007 in Chennai.

                                                                                       Text: Shivashakthi

SLUMS IN CHENNAI

  • Pulianthope area, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Pulianthope area, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Vyasarpadi area, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Fishmonger, T.Nagar, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Kid and Shiva symbol, T.Nagar, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Daily life, Mylapore, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • The Buckingham Canal, Mylapore, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Old women, Mylapore, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Early morning an old man cuts some wood, R.A.puram, Chennai, 2004. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • An old women prays during the destruction of slum along the Buckingham Canal, Mylapore,┬áChennai, 2004. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Homeless, R.A.puram, Chennai, 2004. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • In the slum, Santhome, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • ┬áSlum, Santhome, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Ganesh temple, T.Nagar, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Kid in a shanty town of the Saidapet area, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Slums along the Buckingham Canal, Mylapore,┬áChennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Fish market along the Buckingham Canal, Mylapore, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Rickshaw-Wallah, T.Nagar, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Lepers, Buckingham Canal, Mylapore, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Slums along the Buckingham Canal, Mylapore, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Slum, Saidapet, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Slum, Saidapet, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Graffiti, Stalin is the youngest son of DMK party leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Rickshaw-Wallah, Rattan Bazaar, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Homeless, Rattan Bazaar, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Priest Shudra, Mylapore, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Old man sleeping in a shanty town, Mylapore, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Back to school, Mylapore, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Early morning in Ashok Nagar, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Early morning in Ashok Nagar, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Adyar River, Saidapet, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Kids in a shanty town of the Mylapore area, Chennai, 2004. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Mylapore, Chennai, 2004. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Saidapet, Chennai, 2004. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Adyar River, Saidapet, Chennai, 2004. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • A drunkard shows his tattoos, Mylapore, Chennai, 2004. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Mylapore, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Women drawing a Kolam, Mylapore, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Cowshed, Mylapore, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos
  • Kid in a shanty town of the Mylapore area, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Trader of flowers, Royapettah, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Painted wall, Dalit Panthers of India leader T. Thirumavalavan, Chennai, 2006. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Daily life, Santhome, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Daily life, Santhome, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Santhome, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Santhome, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos
  • Widow, Mylapore, Chennai, 2005. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos
  • Rickshaw-Wallah, Mylapore, Chennai, 2004. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Ganesh, Mylapore, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
  • Mylapore, Chennai, 2007. Copyright Yannick Cormier/Trikaya Photos.
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