India’s unseen Niyamgiris
This remarkable book, ‘L’Inde – des tribus oubliées’, has been released in a 2008 edition, as I found in Paris, at a small book-seller’s near the Metro Opera.
Based on the work that went into the visually stunning 1993 edition by the photographer couple, Tiziana and Gianni Baldizzone, L’Inde – des tribus oubliées’ (‘India’s forgotten tribes’) contains rare photographs of the Dongria Kondh.
The Niyamgiri Hills form a mountain range in the Eastern Indian state of Orissa, and are home to more than 8,000 Dongria Kondh, whose lifestyle and religion have helped nurture the area’s dense forests and unusually rich wildlife.
At the centre of the struggle is the Dongria’s sacred mountain, Niyam Raja. The Dongrias worship the top of the mountain as the seat of their god and protect the forests there.
Mining conglomerate Vedanta Resources wants to mine bauxite from the top of the same mountain.
If that is allowed by the government of India, the Dongria Kondh would lose their livelihood, their identity and the sanctity of their most religious site.
In common with other displaced tribal peoples worldwide, they would also lose their present good health, their self-sufficiency and their expert knowledge of the hills, forests and farming systems that they have nurtured.
‘L’Inde – des tribus oubliées’ with photographs by Tiziana and Gianni Baldizzone reminds us of the extraordinary richness of our tribal fabric and why no effort is too great to protect them and their ways of life.
The book contains a preface by Dominique Lapierre and the remarkable photographs rest upon authoritative text by Declan Quigley and Vinay Srivastava. See Éditions du Chêne for more on the book.