How Shades of Blue are indispensable to India’s workforce

Shades of Blue, currently underway at Alliance Francaise, gives once a real-time glimpse at the lives of working-class individuals

January 21, 2023 08:53 am | Updated 08:53 am IST

Shades of Blue

Shades of Blue | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Where would we be without auto drivers, cooks, housekeepers, delivery persons and countless others whose lives are so intertwined with ours? While they flit in and out of our homes with clockwork regularity, what do we truly know about theirs? Shades of Blue by Good Business Lab, puts forward the unseen lives of blue collar personnel in a series of interactive panels.

Good Business Lab, a not-for-profit research organisation based out of Bengaluru, has presented the exhibit as an experience center, to highlight worker wellbeing and is the result of years of evidence-based research in this sector. The blue collar economy and the larger informal economy, forms a large core of the working populace in India and keeps the machinery of the entire nation state functioning.

“That is why it is crucial to engage with such issues. Our work was largely carried out in labour-intensive contexts and since the language of academia is not easily understood, we have tried to convey our findings in a manner that would reach a wider audience,” says Satyavrat KK, Communications Manager at Good Business Lab (GBL).

Shades of Blue

Shades of Blue | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

According to Satyavrat, the garment and automobile industry as well as the emerging gig economy command a large portion of India’s workforce. A gig economy can be defined as a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.

“Our aim was to give an introduction to specific industries and provoke thought about the lives of blue collar workers. Though we interact with them on a daily basis, we are also quite alienated from them. Shades Of Blue helps forge a deeper connect by presenting a summary of people’s day-to-day lives and how it contrasts with our own,” he says.

The team at GBL believed such a display was necessary as it would have more people engaging in emerging issues about the labour economy and labour market. “Based on our research, we wanted to showcase the lives of people working in two specific sectors — one from the garment industry and another from the gig economy, personified by a cab driver from one of many digital platforms that almost all of us engage with.”

The project design team of Good Business Lab went into the details of qualitative research and created two composite characters whose ‘day in the life of’ is what visitors to the exhibition will experience. Both cloth and denim fabric have been used in the displays, most of which sport QR codes for interested parties to follow up on GBL’s work in that area.

Shades of Blue is presented by Good Business Lab in partnership with Alliance Française de Bangalore and will be on view from January 21-31, 2023.

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