So Much Water So Close To Home

Parth Gupta

"What do I know? How will I die? What sort of death will it be? If I do not forget the Lord Master from my mind, then my death will be easy. The world is terrified of death; everyone longs to live. By Guru's Grace, one who dies while yet alive understands the Lord's Will. O Nanak, one who dies such a death, lives forever.”

-From the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 555

Built in 1954, the Bhakra Main Line Canal is 164 kilometers long and runs through the states of Punjab,
Haryana and Rajasthan. At Khanauri, where water gushes out of a sluice gate, is the spot known for being the
floating ground for corpses. It’s a gruesome spot–the stench of rotting flesh hangs in the air
and in the garbage-caked water, there are almost always a few dead bodies floating on its surface.
An entire industry has grown around it—divers who fish out bodies for relatives of missing persons.
The people in the area go about their lives, seemingly unaffected by the prevalence of constant death around them.
To gain a deeper understanding of the recent spike in suicides across rural Punjab,
the project led me to villages within the district of Sangrur where The Baba Nanak Educational Society
recorded 72 cases of suicides within 2017.
According to the data provided, most of the victims hailing from rural Punjab
are under huge debts, ranging from INR 2,00,000/- to INR 10,00,000/-.
The reasons for the spike in suicides have been huge interest rates, yield loss in crops and thus a crash
in the cost of the produce. Moreover, increasing health and education expenditure and employment migration
to the service sector has resulted in the deterioration of the state of agriculture in the region.
Despite the tragedy being faced by the rural community in Punjab, the government has been passive in acknowledging
the issue and with the lack of mental health institutions the future of the community is hanging by a lose thread.
Within the atmosphere of Punjab, a state in India that has long been heralded as a region
of agricultural success, now looms a gaping dark void of loss.
So Much Water so Close to Home examines the grim ground realities being faced by the local farming community today
against a backdrop of rapid industrialisation, urban migration and systematic failures
in a nation's quest for unchecked accelerated growth.

Parth Gupta- Media Awardee, National Foundation for India, 2018-19
Parth Gupta is a photographer based out of New Delhi, India.
Photography, for him, started as a naive act of taking images of clouds from his father’s cell phone in his early teens.
But he considers his earliest connection to visual imagery with the family albums at his home.
He often traces back to the innocence of the images in the album, today, to engross himself in a moment
and to understand his emotions. With photography, he wishes to make images, which serve as a memento of time passed,
spaces discovered and people met. A photograph that is an experience to the viewers
and evokes certain emotions that stays with them.