Thanks to the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, people are talking about the Indian slums who would never be talking about them otherwise. Guided tours of Mumbai’s slums are on the rise, report London’s TImes and National Geographic Traveler. But Partha Banerjee, an NYC-based writer/activist, needs no such guide — in fact, he could be your guide as this Calcutta native has traveled around South Asia extensively and calls the slumdwellers “my kinda people.” Partha shares with us his photos of the slums from his most recent trip: a month-long journey in December/January through North and East India, where he went all the way from Delhi to Assam via U.P., Bihar and West Bengal.
“I’ve been taking these photos for many years because I know South Asia, India and their grinding poverty and misery. To me, the photos are not to insult these people, but to help them tell their stories that the rich and privileged Indians don’t want to hear,” says Partha, who has been critical of Slumdog Millionaire for painting a rosy view of slum life where Bollywood stars drop in via helicopter and American tourists give $100 tips. “One photo is worth many stories. One story is worth many lives — real, dignified lives. Poverty can’t take away that dignity.”