Drawing the Bombay plague | Ranjit Kandalgaonkar

Drawing the Bombay plague | Ranjit Kandalgaonkar

There is a chronological timeline to the drawing. It’s basically from the point
that the plague hits the city. What people are going through is
something that I want to document, as well as what the colonial
authorities are doing in terms of clamping down on
not wanting the disease to spread. The plague starts in 1894 in China. And then two years later
it lands on Bombay. This is where the disease actually explodes. There is a widespread panic and it’s from that point that it
really spreads to the rest of India. By 1905, there are about
a million people that perish due to the plague. But the large amount of deaths
that started occurring in a short period of time is what scared the authorities. In some sense, I don’t look
at the drawing as an output, I look at the drawing as research material. I dabble with different elements
and aspects of research. Now, what’s interesting within this is there’s one
section called the index of evidence. Each subtopic talks about
the various possibilities of what caused the disease or what
could have been the causation, which gives you a good, broad sense
of what the authorities are thinking, because they are looking at ways to
arrest the spread of the disease. I managed to procure the Hindi Punch cartoons
from the Asiatic Library in Mumbai. By 1896, the plague has hit, so the entire magazine
becomes about the plague. And then it’s about either
critiquing the municipality, which they say is doing
a shoddy job or whatever. So I thought that this was an
important alternate voice. There’s this one example of a family that is discussing how they
can escape the plague. So the father-in-law suggests
that they escape in a balloon, because the plague germs
will not be able to catch them and the sun’s rays will
destroy the plague microbes. The British authorities were very worried
that the plague would spread back to Europe. There were already different ports around which
were beginning to start quarantine measures on goods coming in from Bombay. This leads to a certain set
of draconian measures that are imposed by
the colonial administration. They controlled where people could go. Large groups were
not allowed to congregate. Teams and scores of authorities
sprayed the interior of homes with some form of disinfectant. The idea was disinfectants
could clean and sanitize areas, as though they are putting out a fire. But the spraying of the streets, in fact, makes the rats escape into
other quarters of the city – in fact, spreading the disease
rather than containing it. There were rumours that people
were being killed in hospitals. So there were labourers that
rioted and attacked a hospital. They beat-up some of the
hospital administrative people and they broke windows etc. They did all this during their lunch break, then they went back to work. So it’s this bizarre situation
that’s unfolding. There’s a spark that comes from
a general unrest, and that unrest could be something that was
building-up over a period of time. One of the main episodes
that happened was that there was an inspection team that
went into a Muslim community, they tried to remove a very young girl, segregate her and put her in hospital
and separate her from her parents. And within that short period of time, a lot of other members of
the community came in, and then they chased this team out. They tried to gain control of the situation. And then stones were thrown and then shots were fired and suddenly
there were seven dead people. My drawing gets more informed
the more information that I find. It’s been really fruitful to make the drawing knowing
that I have the information that allows me to explore within the research and within the material that is there It’s the best way to be more
informed about the subject.

2 thoughts on “Drawing the Bombay plague | Ranjit Kandalgaonkar

  1. Ok ur cute aka fuckable…ok? I love Cherokees 🙂 i love u smarty pants! C u soon My love. I miss u sexy! 🌹God💋 🙋

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