Nikhil Mishra

Birlanagar

Birlanagar is a suburb in the Indian city of Gwalior; this area came into existence because of the industrial development in Gwalior, mainly in the textile sector. The Birla group built textile mills during 1947-52 on the land that was given to them by the Scindia dynasty of Gwalior. Because of the mills the whole area was developed on the concept of a township and it was divided into different sections, which were termed as lines based on the different class of workers. These mills employed and were a source of livelihood for around 12000. After 1990, these mills started to decline because of various reasons like globalization, demand for technological developments and modernizing the machinery of these mills. This resulted in a conflict between the management and unions of these mills. There could be several other internal reasons that are unknown; but all these factors eventually caused these mills to shutdown.
I have tried to explore all the spaces of this area in this ongoing body of work. The daily life around the area, the abandoned factories, workers in small-scale factories those are still in operational, lives of the younger generation etc. I have tried to get a feel of the various spaces present in the area and to depict how different generations are presently responding to what has happened in the past.
This work is an outcome of my exploration of the city from where I belong and was born but didn’t have chance to live there and explore it for about 15 years. Now that I am back in the city having acquired photographic skill, I am attempting to tell this story through my photographs. This work deals with the idea of survival when a loss has occurred and a person has to make decisions to overcome this loss and survive. It is difficult to bring a conclusion to this work and I consider it as an exploration of a place and its people who incurred a loss but still are trying to move forward with time within the uncertainties of their conflicts and its outcomes. It could just act as a reminder to not leave this part of the city behind in the future.