“INDIA IN FOCUS – Camera Chronicles of Homai Vyarawalla” A UNESCO Parzor Publication

On a field trip to Baroda, Parzor rediscovered Homai Vyarawalla living in alone in anonymity. Realising the wealth of history contained in her photographs and life, Dr. Cama persuaded Homai to share her memories and photographs with the world in the form of a book. Parzor chose Sabeena Gadhioke of Jamia Millia University as the researcher and writer. Homai is now 96 and has recentely made her first trip abroad on an invitation from Harvard Uniiversity USA.
Homai Vyarawala’s photographs of pre and post-independent India have contributed to a certain nationalist iconography. Homai’s work has spanned four decades that include both the euphoria of independence as well as the disillusionment with undelivered promises in the new nation state. Homai was a woman who was active in the public arena and in politics without actually being part of it. This book presents along with her photographs, Homai’s critical insights as a bystander who watched these changes in the country. Her comments on the events add significantly to the historical value of her photography.
The greatest contribution of Homai Vyarawala is that she was the only professional woman photojournalist between, 1939-1970. Her survival in a male dominated field is all the more significant because of the codes of this profession that continue to exclude most women even today. The Second World War was the backdrop for some of her earliest pictures that documented the efforts of women to provide utility services. These along with others were published as photo-stories in the Illustrated Weekly of India, Time Life, The Black Star, Paul Popper and numerous other international publications. Some of the most momentous political events in India were captured by her camera in Delhi during 1941-1970, The unique image of the Dalai Lama crossing over into Indian territory in 1959 captured by her lens and illustrated in this book are of immense historical significance. Many photographs which have recorded world history are available in the book.

The book also includes a study of Homai’s innovative techniques and skills as the first professional woman photojournalist. It views her work as a dialogue between herself and the moments she captured for posterity. It brings out her sense of creative dynamism and covers valuable social histories through the lens of a person who lived out many of the situations herself.

The book was released at Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi on the 25th of February along with an exhibition of many of Homai’s photographs. It is now available for purchase.


Homai Vyarawalla


Mrs.Indira Gandhi helps young Rajiv cut his birthday cake.


Pandit Nehru in BOAC Jet Plane with Mrs.Simon, wife of the Deputy High Commissioner of Britain, during the plane’s first flight in Inda. The plane burst in midair on it’s second flight.


Pandit Nehru welcomes his sister Vijaylakshmi Pandit, Ambassador to Moscow on her arrival at Palam Airport


The Dalai Lama, Nehru and Chou En Lai, sharing the dais at the Buddhist Conference in Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi(1956).


Feroze and Indira Gandhi


Mahatma Gandhi accompanied by Khan Abdul Gafar Khan – the frontier Gandhi as popularly known -and Dr.Sushila Nayar Gandhiji’s physician arriving at the Congress meeting to discuss the 3rd June plan and finally decide whether to partition India


The first crossing of the Dalai Lama into India through the Natula pass in Sikkim to attend the Buddhist Conference in 1956