Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Calcutta photoblog: they also serve ...1

The theme for my next few sets of posts is “they also serve …”.

The phrase is, of course, taken from the last line of John Milton’s poem “On His Blindness”.

“They also serve who only stand and wait”.

When we live in a city, our lives are unavoidably intertwined with, and sustained by, many others. The poor and low income hold up a major part of the city system, and especially its economy. But the terms of trade that they face are highly inequitous. Nor can they think about opportunities for the future. They merely have to suffer the impact of the actions and decisions of others. This merely reflects power in society. As an economist, I know how arbitrary and dependent upon normative and social (institutional) factors pricing is. My "x-ray" vision tells me that my comfort and the discomforts of the poor are but two sides of the same coin.

I would like to invoke in this context the phrase "let us now praise famous men", which is the title of a celebrated book by the American writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans, about tenant-farming families in Depression-era America.

3 comments:

Sakura Kiss said...

Alot of people don't realize that low income people are the legs of society. I think it's like that in a lot of societies, it seems that people of a "lower class" are invisible and yet they do so much.

Amit kumar Singh said...

Hi Rama,
Its good to see your blog. Not only its artistic but tells a multitude of emotions. In line with "let us now praise famous men", Gurudutt in Hindi Movie 'Pyaasa' expresses this - "Jinhe naaz hai hind pe woh kahan hain?" (Those who are proud of India, where are they?)

Yves said...

They are the ones who truly serve, for their services are real and necessary. Many of the rich and powerful serve only themselves: what they provide to others is something we could so without. (No, I am not a communist, Rama!)