I donâ€™t understand the restrictions on photography in India.Â Today when I went to see my alma mater â€“ earlier called VRCE now VNIT (Visvesaraya National Institute of Technology) â€“ and was taking some photographs of the main building and other places, I was told that it is illegal to take photographs.Â I was told that one can be fined and jailed for taking photographs.Â When I asked that there are no signs to that effect â€“ I was told that this is known to everybody.Â I was given example that somebody took a photo of Nagpur High Court and was brought back from Delhi and fined RS. 5000.
Having been to different parts of World with my camera â€“ even to China earlier and recently â€“ I find this practice intriguing.Â In fact I find it so silly that I feel bad about it.Â I remember long time ago â€“ in 1976 Prof. Nagel in Germany said to me in a conversation about India and other similar poor countries that the problem in these countries is less with material resources more with tradition-bound culture that discourages thinking and changes.Â Is that still true in modern India?
This is very true. India has a various resources at its disposal, as is very well pointed out by Dr Abdul Kalam in his latest book – Ignited Minds, but the people have not stepped out of their shells which tradition built around themselves. Sometimes I feel that many people in India choose to do things the conventional way to avoid the “trouble” taken to think up a different-from-the-normal solution. Such a behavior, I feel, is mainly attributed to the rote based educational system in India, where thinking is a sin and the ability to memorize mundane details is a gift. Hence, at the end of the day, people want to just finish the task at hand without getting any negative feedbacks from their employer (in any possible way). This was the mindset of the guard who told you not to take any photographs.
I truly hope that the situation changes, because if India has to progress beyond our dreams, Indians have to think. Think beyond….
I am equally exasperated by this rule too. Recently I went to Pondicherry and pretty much everywhere photography is restricted. No photography in the Museum (to some extent understandable since flash can affect the artifacts) , no photography in the temples, ashrams etc. Wonder if they want us to take photos of crowded streets and filthy hotels. 🙂
2 years back I went to Guruvayoor (Krishna temple in kerala) for my son’s vidhyarambh (initiation into education) and I carred a video camera. An overbearing dewasom guard warned me saying “no video, only still”. With the difference between still and video camera being a thin line, I wonder how sensible he was. 🙂
Perhaps there is a cultural angle to the whole thing. We Indians think that taking too many photos lessens our life. Perhaps, that is applicable to govenment buildings too. 🙂
I am happy to hear that people find this practice a silly one. I had more experiences of the same today when visiting Ramtek.
I have many pictures but mostly of the country side. friends and family.
I haven’t tryed to take any photos in any major cites. at least that I’m willing to say. I always thought that was a strange. it really dosen’t make sence to me.
This is interesting to hear. I know in some other parts of the world (especially tourist locations) you are charged money for the use of your camera, but I haven’t heard of it being illegal. It seems as though cultural (and religious in some cases) differences are to blame. It’s really too bad, but you have to respect their wishes if you’re a guest in their country.
That is very sad to hear. Photo trips are tops on my list of things to do, and India is very high on that list. The experience of being in a different culture is reward enough in itself, but to capture my experience and share it with others takes it to another level. This is very surprising since everything I have heard about India has been about increased progress and awareness on all levels.
While I can’t comment on modern India, I must say that I’m concerned that a University would prohibit such practice as photography. Universities always seem to be a place where people can express themselves and think freely and openly. But it seems as though, this isn’t just the University. Is there no news, or press allowed to document events?
In many places that rule applies. Never been to India so I can’t comment on there, but it has happened to me several times in cities like London, Madrid and Berlin.
One of the excuses is that some buildings (recent ones) are copyrighted, meaning, the architect or company owner or whatever has the rights to the image of the building. Of course it’s the lamest excuse since it’s viewable by anyone from the street next to it (public place). It saddens me a bit to know that photography is getting more and more restricted by stupid laws of stupid people.
Many places in the U.S. and Europe prohibit photography in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Sometimes the restrictions border on the absurd.
While I canâ€™t comment on modern India, I must say that Iâ€™m concerned that a University would prohibit such practice as photography. Universities always seem to be a place where people can express themselves and think freely and openly. But it seems as though, this isnâ€™t just the University. Is there no news, or press allowed to document events?
This is interesting to hear. I know in some other parts of the world (especially tourist locations) you are charged money for the use of your camera, but I havenâ€™t heard of it being illegal. It seems as though cultural (and religious in some cases) differences are to blame. Itâ€™s really too bad, but you have to respect their wishes if youâ€™re a guest in their country.
Interesting note… I am a photographer and working with many Indian couples here in San Francisco.
I was asked recently by one of my friends to visit India with him. Of course I am planning to take thousands of photos as I never been there. I guess I have to be very careful what to take pictures of. Do you have any specific advices. Thank you for sharing. Glad you’re in good health.
I wonder if the issue is really religious or cultural or whether its a reaction to a perceived security threat. There are many places in the US where one is not allowed to photograph – this was more so during times of war.
Ramesh I don’t mean to sound insulting here but “modern India” is a place frequented by the minority.The vast majority live in poverty and are uneducated but it is not they with “tradition-bound culture” that protested your taking photos.
It was the authorities was it not who berated you. The mere act of using a camera told them you were not from there and they became immediately suspicious of you and your motives. I would suggest it is in their best interest to keep the largely uninformed outside world ignorant to the plight of the poor so that they cna continue to maintain the status quo.
Cultural …no Opressive, defensive, suspicious,authoritative…Yes
When you say “tradition bound culture”, what is the tradition? is it fear of making images? what is the reason?
This is a very common phenomenon, when I went to the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, it does not allow photographs, this is great respect. Not allowed to take pictures of the place should be a very memorable place, and I hope that one day I can go to
I am so glad that in America we are allowed to visually express ourselves. It is an art form and a way of communicating.