Disappearing Trades: Portraits of India’s Obsolete Professions – LightBox

“They never changed, they never updated themselves, and then suddenly you had this juncture when globalization is going to hit so bad, everything is changing,” 

I have reproduced just a few of the great photographs here:

Broom maker and seller, earning $20 per week, 2011Sugarcane juice seller, earning $24 per week, 2012Potter, earning $25 per week, 2013Iron grill fabricators, earning $100 per week, 2012




Read more: Disappearing Trades: Portraits of India’s Obsolete Professions – LightBox.


In July 2011, I opted to retire from my active career as a practicing management professional. In the 38 years that I pursued this career, I had opportunity to work in diverse capacities, in small-to-medium-to-large engineering companies. Whether I was setting up Greenfield projects or Brownfield projects, nurturing the new start-ups or accelerating the stabilized unit to a next phase growth, I had many more occasions to take the paths uncharted. The life then was so challenging! One of the biggest casualty in that phase was my disregards towards my hobbies - Be with The Family, Enjoy Music form Films of 1940s to mid-1970s period, write on whatever I liked to read, pursue amateur photography and indulge in solving the chess problems. So I commenced my Second Innings to focus on this area of my life as the primary occupation. At the end of four years, I am now quite a regular blogger. I have been able to build a few very strong pen-relationships. I maintain contact with 38-years of my First Innings as freelance trainer and process facilitator. And yet, The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

13 thoughts on “Disappearing Trades: Portraits of India’s Obsolete Professions – LightBox”

    1. I had faced this loss physically while searching for a black earthen pot for the summer. The urban, neo-order societies have refrigerators, plastic bottles and metal containers to quench your thirst.

  1. Ashokji,
    Reminds me of the disappearance of the street ‘khilonewala’ which attracted the kids like a magnet. A poet friend of mine says something like, “Ab bachche bhi sayane ho gaye hain/ Ab galiyon mein khilonewala nahi aata/ Bachche ab computer par baithane lagey hain”.

    And the street ‘pheriwala’ who would sell utensils on barter of old clothes! Everything is not on account of globalisation. Some things are Gone With The Wind. Times change, just as the music has changed. You do not get piano songs now. Nor do you have romantic love triangles.

    A famous Hindi poet said, “Gaon ab gaon nahi rahey”. What a poignant statement. A generation ago we used to have a native place, where you reached the last mile on a bullock cart after getting off at a train station. Our children do not know the meaning of ‘native place’.

    You lose some and you gain some. Isn’t there some inevitability about it?


    1. It is true that our race to modernism has left many things that were so much part of our life, in say, 10 years, 20 years and 30 years…… are now the relics of past.
      Our friend Harveypam had done an excellent post – This Singing Business – on such small time trades in our Hindi Films

  2. very good photos. Yes it is change. Change is the only constant. Now I remember the sweet, earthy smell of cold water from earthen ghada during hot afternoons. The fridge can never reproduce that. But I see kumhar is surviving somehow as the demand of earthen pot etc is catching up among the elite.

    1. Trade and industry stem form the human needs of the society. Advances in technology and human innovation may bring in changes that may replace some products, but by and large the human needs do continue to exist.
      Hence, of-late trend of coming back more natural way of living should certainly give fillip to trades like earthen-pot making etc.
      We may not dispute the advances of technology, but moving away too far from the natural way of living is certainly a less desirable option.

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