Investigation: Animal Markets in Northern India
“Being such a multicultural and diverse nation, food plays a very important role in India in terms of a person’s cultural identity. Communities here are strongly linked to their occupations. People who are fishers and fishing communities along the coasts belong to particular castes. People who rear cows and are in the dairy business, largely belong to one caste. The same goes for butchers. As these are ancestral occupations, the livelihood angle is also an important aspect which cannot be ignored. But, increased population and consumption has led to a decrease in resources. Because of this imbalance between supply and demand, there has been a rapid increase in battery farming of poultry and fish, which leads to the ways of supply going unchecked.” — S. Chakrabarti, Animal Photojournalist
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, these kinds of live or “wet” markets have provoked global concern as probable vectors for human-animal disease transmission.
“While shooting this assignment, I was not perturbed by the blood and smell and gore so much. What affected me was the sheer cold attitude that the people had towards these chickens and fish. One butcher slaughtered and cut a bird in front of the other poultry, who sat like mute spectators in their cage. When one of the fish vendors pulled out a live fish from a tank to show to a customer, no one seemed to notice that the fish struggled in pain. Animals feel fear and stress and pain.” — S. Chakrabarti
“I very strongly believe that we are quickly running out of time to reverse the damage we have caused to the natural balance of things. I hope these visuals can lead to awareness, compassion, policy change, and ultimately conservation and protection.” — S. Chakrabarti