The Indian Diaspora

The Indian Diaspora

India is hosting an elaborate ‘Incredible India@60’ campaign in New York this week to celebrate 60 years of independent India and to engage Americans and the Indian immigrant diaspora there. Mint brings you a special photo essay by photojournalist Steve Raymer, a sampling of the Indian diaspora at work from around the world, from his book, Images of a Journey: India in Diaspora.

Published this month by Indiana University Press, Steve Raymer’s book is a tribute to Indians abroad. Raymer, who was named Magazine Photographer of the Year in 1976, is a journalism professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, and has been a National Geographic magazine staff photographer for over two decades.

Images of a Journey: India in Diaspora

Indiana University Press, 2007

Pages: 228, Price: $44.95

Around the world:

1) One of the world’s best-known doctors, Sanjay Gupta, rushes to broadcast live from the CNN newsroom in Atlanta. Gupta is CNN’s senior medical correspondent, as well as a professor at Emory University and neurosurgeon at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

2) Stripped of their passports, sometimes unpaid for months, and preyed upon by recruitment agencies in India that charge as much as $3,000 for an employment visa, workers from Kerala earn between $175 and $300 a month—about the same as a night’s stay would cost in one of the luxury hotels they help to build.

3) Disciple of an ancient faith, Dr Ramesh Mehta, a physician in the English Midlands, doubles as priest and leader of the Jain Centre in Leicester, the only place in the western world with all of Jainism’s most sacred images.

4) One of the most unforgiving outposts of the diaspora is Israel, home to about 60,000 Indian Jews. In Jerusalem, Private First Class Tamir Baite, an Israeli army sniper and recent immigrant from Manipur, scans the Wailing Wall, one of the most holy sites in Judaism and Islam.

5) Nurturing almond trees that will help produce California’s leading agricultural export crop, Sikh farmers take a break at a nursery in the Sacramento valley near Yuba City. Turbans and tractors dominate Sutter County, California, where more than 10,000 Sikh farmers have lived since the late 1800s, the first large-scale Indian immigrant group to come to the US.

6) Indian families join the rush hour procession of water taxis, called ‘abras’ in Arabic, crossing Dubai Creek, a seaport crowded with traditional ‘dhows’. Strategically located between Europe and Asia, Dubai’s many seaports together rank 13th in the world in container traffic and depend heavily on South Asian workers, for operations.

This is the first in a two-part series that looks at Indians away from their homeland.