The books contained 468 annotated photographs of the native castes and tribes of India. Inspired by this, popular photojournalist Madhavan Pillai from Tamil Nadu launched a photobook project called ‘People of India’ to visually document the vibrancy of people of India, their typical physical attributes, dress, occupation, culture and other aspects of their life as a tribute to a young India.
“Lord Canning’s idea behind the book was to document the people in a methodical, statistical and ethnographical manner. This helped the British know the hierarchy of Indian people so that it was easier for them to rule the country. I have been documenting Indian photography history from 1836 - I profile photographers from that period and also research the photography process they use. I wanted to have a completely different perspective of the people of India and that’s why I launched this photobook project. We are inviting all photographers (professionals and amateurs) across the world to join our monumental publication series. The photobook will be published in volumes and each volume will consist of the best 500 photographs and accompanying storylines. We are hoping to release the first volume on August 15, 2021,” says Madhavan.
He points out that Indian history is all about emperors, warriors, fighters, political leaders and so on. “You cannot find any documents or photographs of commoners anywhere in history. I wanted to talk about common people who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries through this photobook project,” he adds.