A weeklong (June 19-25) photography exhibition titled, ‘Brattyajan - The Lower Depths’ is underway at DRIK Gallery in Dhanmondi. Society for Environment and Human Development (SEHD), Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC), Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) and Gram Bikash Kendra (GBK) have jointly organised the exhibition.
The exhibition brings to light indigenous communities including Bede (gypsy community), sex workers, Kaiputra (pig rearing community), Rishi (cobbler), Harijan (dalit), Jaladas and Bihari. These communities constitute a significant part of the social outcasts and marginalised people of Bangladesh. They have difficulties in treading the same path of development as equal citizens of the nation. Images showing the objective realities of their life struggles are on exhibit at the event.
Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud, eminent economist, graced the inaugural event as the chief guest on June 19. The guests of honour at the ceremony included DRIK founder and internationally renowned photographer Shahidul Alam, architect and filmmaker Masihuddin Saker, and Professor Adnan Zillur Morshed, the executive director of Centre for Inclusive Architect and Urbanism, BRAC University. Renowned writer Dr Harishankar Jaladas, senior journalist Chitta Ghosh and Bede leader Soud Khan were also present. Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, executive chairman, PPRC, chaired the event.
Director of SHED, Philip Gain, the leading photographer of the exhibition, delivered the welcome address discussing the background and aspects of the exhibition that is open for all from 3 pm to 8 pm every day. Moazzem Hossain, chief executive of Gram Bikash Kendra, delivered the vote of thanks at the programme.
There are groups of people and communities that have become victims of discrimination, exploitation, and exclusion from the mainstream population for hundreds of generations. The factors that underlie include beliefs and disbeliefs in fictional realities, ethnic identities, slavery, occupations, caste systems, cultures, migration, hatred, and geographical locations, among others.
Philip Gain, has spent three decades in research and writing on adivasi (indigenous) people. In recent years, he has come in close contact with the Bede, sex workers, Kaiputra, Jaladas, Rishi, Harijan and Biharis primarily for research and writing on them.
These marginalised people can be called ‘Brattyajan’. Their capability deprivation is deep-rooted and is possibly the biggest modern-day challenge for Bangladesh, South Asia and many other countries of the world. Despite having their own language, culture, skills and strength, these people are treated as ‘untouchables’ to this day. As a result, they are increasingly falling behind compared to the mainstream citizens of Bangladesh.