Vedanta is “one of the world’s most ancient spiritual philosophies and one of its broadest, based on the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of India” according to the Vedanta Society of Southern California, which also tells me it is “the philosophical foundation of Hinduism” but that it is “universal in its application and is equally relevant to all countries, all cultures, and all religious backgrounds“. Theirs is a rather more understandable description than in the possibly more rigorous Wikipedia page on the subject.

It goes on to state:

Vedanta affirms:

  • The oneness of existence,
  • The divinity of the soul, and
  • The harmony of all religions

and later that “Vedanta asserts that the goal of life is to realize and to manifest our own divinity.”

Vedanta World puts it slightly differently “Vedanta designs the pursuit of happiness through logical and systematic exposition of eternal truths. Founded on no individual, It is a system of knowledge“.

But Vedanta the company is something quite different. It styles itself as follows:

Vedanta Resources, is one of the world’s largest diversified natural resources companies with interests in Zinc, Lead, Silver, Copper, Iron Ore, Aluminium, Power and Oil & Gas. Vedanta Resource’s operation is located in India, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Liberia, Ireland and Australia.

Its critics would see it more like;

Vedanta designs the pursuit of material profit through the ruthless and systematic destruction of communities, the exploitation of workers, the corruption of governments, creating high levels of pollution through its mining of natural resources. Founded by Anil Agarwal, it is a system of ruthless exploitation.

For some years the group ‘Foil Vedanta‘ (also on Facebook) has organised protests outside the AGM of this London-based multi-national mining giant, bringing along their own inflatable ‘Vedanta Monster‘, as well as some members buying shares in order to attend the meetings and question the companies activities.

Foil Vedanta have also supported other groups on the ground and under threat from Vedanta, including the Dongria Kondh of India’s Niyamgiri Hills who won a court victory against the company who wanted to destroy their sacred mountain for the aluminium ore it contains. Their research showed the Zambian government how Vedanta was cheating them out of huge amounts of tax in their copper mining there. Campaigning  by them and other organisations has resulted in many  organisations around the world, including the Church of England and the Norwegian Government’s Pension Fund divesting from the company.

The entrance to Ironmonger’s Hall is under the walkways on the Barbican estate and is a slightly restricted space  which does concentrate the protesters but also sometimes makes it a little difficult to work.

Again it was a place where a fairly extreme wide-angle is essential, and the Nikon 16-35mm was very useful, though when the Vedanta Monster came into play I needed the wider view of the 16mm fisheye – though even that’s 147 degree horizontal angle wasn’t always sufficient.

Samarendra Das of Foil Vedanta speaking as shareholders walk past the protesters

As usual I also had a telephoto, the 28-200mm on the D810, working in DX mode – great for framing with the area outside the frame greyed but still visible. The picture above was at 80mm (120 equiv), ISO 800, 1/250s, f/8, with my standard -0.3EV setting. Even on DX setting the camera still produces a 4800×3200 pixel file (15Mp), large enough for almost any use.


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