STREET ASTROLOGER ($50 WEEKLY)

Photographer Supranav Dash grew up in Calcutta, where a vibrant street economy was the norm.

HOLY (RITUALISTIC) BRAHMIN WITH DEFORMED COW ($20 WEEKLY)

Today, the street contortionists, ear cleaners, and music troupes are falling victim to a changing economy.

FESTIVAL DRUMMER ($25 WEEKLY)

Technology has the power to radically alter the job landscape anywhere in the world.

EAR-CLEANER & PERFUMER ($28 WEEKLY)

These technological coups become more faceted in India, an emerging market nation shuttling quickly ahead.

BROOM MAKER/SELLER ($20 WEEKLY)

"Due to the rapid socioeconomic change in India and the McDonaldization of the Asian sub-continent, we are at this juncture when the modern generation prefers not to follow their ancestral trade practice," Dash says.

STREET BARBER II ($26 WEEKLY)

These patterns often follow logic and financial opportunity.

MASTER BAND-PARTY BOYS ($6 ON ASSIGNMENT)

Other times, young people seek a new vocation as a mechanism for escaping stereotypes reinforced by the traditional caste system.

POTTER ($25 WEEKLY)

Potters, for example, will be replaced by assembly lines that can produce kitchenware at a faster, cheaper pace.

SUGARCANE JUICE SELLER ($24 WEEKLY)

And sugarcane juicers fall to the wayside as consumers head to grocery stores.

STREET TYPIST ($12.50 WEEKLY)

Even if Indian citizens don't all have a personal computer at home, the proliferation of Internet cafes renders street typists irrelevant.

CANE-BASKET MAKER AND SELLER ($10 WEEKLY)

Photographers often cite the difficulty in capturing India on camera in a novel way.

HAND-RICKSHAW PULLER ($12 WEEKLY)

Dash's solution? Take the subjects out of their natural environments and bring them into a studio space, rigged with a generic backdrop that respects each profession and professional equally.

KNIFE GRINDER II ($40 WEEKLY)

Like school portraits, the images capture a fleeting moment in time.

IRON GRILL FABRICATORS ($100 WEEKLY)

See more of Dash’s work here.

Co.Design

The Lost Generation: Portraits Of India's Vanishing Jobs

India's economy is racing ahead, but time stands still in Supranav Dash's photographs, which document the country's dying professions.

The printing press replaced the scribe, and was then replaced by the typewriter, which then fell victim to computers. So it goes with technology. The fear of robots taking over human jobs features prominently in both fiction (The Jetsons, The Simpsons, The Terminator) and real life (IBM’s Watson and the Kiva robots that staff Amazon shipment centers).

Always bittersweet, in India these technological coups are usurping traditionally human, analog jobs on an accelerated timeline. "Due to the rapid socioeconomic change in India and the McDonaldization of the Asian sub-continent, we are at this juncture when the modern generation prefers not to follow their ancestral trade practice," says Supranav Dash, a New York-based photographer who grew up in Calcutta, around the street contortionists and snake charmers who roamed public spaces.

Dash points out that this newer generation’s pattern doesn't just follow logic and financial opportunity. It's a mechanism for escaping stereotypes reinforced by the traditional caste system. While photographing subjects who are perhaps the last practitioners of their professions for Marginal Trades, Dash asks them about their circumstances. Some aren't entirely positive why their metiers dwindle. Others are brutally aware:

"The broom maker and seller, he would be reduced to just being a broom seller. He will not be able to make his biodegradable brooms out of Paddy plants. Instead they will be made out of plastic in a production line. The street typist is already replaced with the MS Office-enabled cyber cafes. The water carrier has been replaced by packaged mineral water suppliers. The band party boys are finding it hard to compete with the DJs and their techno beats. Local farmers producing vegetables and coming to the city bazaar to sell their stuff will be losing to the big malls where people will go to get their daily groceries."

Photographers often cite the difficulty in capturing Indian culture with a camera. It's a country that endlessly fascinates the western world with its vastly different colors, population density, slums, traditions, wildlife, and so on--often to cliché or patronizing effect. Dash took a more original, less outsider approach by bringing his subjects into a studio space, rigged with a generic backdrop. By removing environmental visual cues, the photographer gave every professional and profession equal weight.

The photos almost look like standard American school portraits: a bit unnatural, with nowhere for the subject to hide. And, like a second grader’s bespectacled, pigtailed class picture, these photos are a record of a fleeting moment that might be impossible to see again.

See more of Dash’s work here.

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