Chattisgarh, India : The Other Modernity { 97 images } Created 19 Dec 2010

"The Other Modernity" is a portrait of Chhattisgarh, a state in central India. This is the story of people living amidst India's Maoist insurgents, the Naxalites, whose jungle war zone sits astride the country's wealthiest iron ore and coal deposits. Still following the tactics of Mao-Tse Tung three decades after his death, the Naxalites have vowed to overthrow the government in Delhi and transform the country into a communist state. Their politics may seem obsolete, but in the process they have tapped into the underlying grievances that continue to plague India as it emerges on the global stage: the entrenched rural poverty, exploitation of tribal communities and violence of heavy-handed and often brutal security forces. In 2010 the casualties in the Naxalite campaign, deemed the most serious internal challenge to India by the country's prime minister, were triple that of Kashmir.

Either way, the Naxalites cannot be ignored. With 20,000 armed cadres operating across several states, with a presence in at least a third of India's 626 districts as the 70,000km just applies to the Dandakaranya jungles, the Maoists have shunned negotiation for a peaceful settlement and have instead set up their own parallel administration across swathes of Indian territory.

To their critics and enemies the Naxalites are the irreconcilable waste of a bygone era; a vicious but archaic leftover from India's radical student movements of the '70's. Others regard the Maoists as the defenders of the country's marginalised tribes who have been left far behind India's economic explosion, abandoned, impoverished and victim to predatory mining corporations who are intent on exploiting the natural resources beneath the tribes' ancestral jungle homelands.

These images are an attempt to illustrate for us the trauma and tragedy of ordinary people trapped in a vicious internal war - people who are often forced by necessity to choose sides and pay serious consequences.
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