Kolkata’s quaint hand pulled rickshaws may not be around much longer.
Naresh Yadav has operated a hand-pulled rickshaw in Kolkata for 45 years. Ever since he came to the city following his uncle’s footsteps, it’s all he’s ever known how to do. Starting his day at 6am, Naresh plies the bylanes of Kolkata, hoping to pick up a fare. When he started doing this for a living, the fare used to be 30 paise. Today, it’s Rs. 20. Saving what he can, he sends home a meagre Rs. 2000-5000 a month to his family back in Bihar.
Rain or shine, Naresh will be out on the street, plying a dying trade. With the passing of the Calcutta Hackney-Carriage (Amendment) Bill, 2006, hand pulled rickshaws were banned in Kolkata. However, a High court order decreed a stay on the legislation. How much longer can this arrangement last without new licenses being issued for rickshaw pullers?
101 Traces looks at the last of anything: ethnic communities, folk craftsmen, disappearing trades, forgotten people. It sketches portraits of these unique individuals, locked in a battle they cannot win: a battle against the future. Together, they represent the dying whispers of ancient heritage and traditional individuality. As India moves towards homogenized global pop culture, 101 Traces honours the people, the objects, and the skills that connect us to our ancient identity.
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