In this seventieth archive story by Kristian Bertel, we meet a village boy on the outskirts of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
By the latest counting it is shown that seventy-seven percent of the Indian population lives in villages and that these people live in 640,000 communities throughout India. Of these villages, fifty percent also show that they have less than 500 residents. For comparison, there are only 1600 cities with more than 20,000 people in India. In this photograph a boy is portrayed outside a village clay house near Varanasi.
By the latest counting it is shown that seventy-seven percent of the Indian population lives in villages and that these people live in 640,000 communities throughout India. Of these villages, fifty percent also show that they have less than 500 residents. For comparison, there are only 1600 cities with more than 20,000 people in India. In this photograph a boy is portrayed outside a village clay house near Varanasi.

Boy in a village portraiture

Villages in India are shaped by the caste system that strongly shapes the village structure and mostly every caste lives in its own quarter, the photographer learned. Members of higher castes have their farms and fields in good locations such as fertile soil, easy access to water by for instance with wells. People from lower castes often have to settle for worse living conditions and villages can also be broken down by occupational group, but this almost always coincides with the caste. But this is just a rough model for an Indian village. Seventy-five percent of rural households have an income below the national average and an average village has 1025 inhabitants, who are between fifteen and twenty different castes.

Indian villages
In themselves, they are as different as the villages of Europe. Depending on the landscape, climatic zone, tribal or religious affiliation and type of farming their appearance is different. In the Himalayas, for instance, individual farms and hamlets are to be found. Large communities, which consist of many individual parts of the village, are mainly in southern India. Many villages are not a closed unit and a visit to the neighboring village is often necessary because there is only one particular craftsman or the next school. Villages in India are linked by family relationships, as is rarely married within a village. Most villagers also have to travel to the next town every now and then. On market days they sell their agricultural or craft products there. Here are post office, school, hospital, offices, shops, police, cinema, bank and bus or train station. The city is also on the radio and television, which there are more and more, in the village. Meanwhile, fifty percent of the villages are connected to the power grid and in agriculture with wheat and rice cultivation and in crafts, there is not enough work due to the large population growth. The big farmers and rice mills need less and less daily laborers through the use of machines. Because of the great poverty many people, especially men, move to the cities and hope to find work there. Since most are illiterate and have no vocational training, they often have a hard time and have to live in urban slums in India.

Land ownership and land distribution
Owing land and wealth are very unevenly distributed in India where seventy percent of agricultural holdings are smaller than two soccer fields. Together they manage twenty percent of the acreage, where the remaining eighty percent are processed by a few large companies. Big landowners, called 'Landlords', do not farm their land themselves. They employ stewards who take care of the land. Most large agricultural enterprises are doing well economically. They produce for the food market and thus have easier access to credit and government support programs and small farmers are self-sufficient who order their land without foreign labor. Tenants of patches of medium and large farmers are landless and farmers whose income is not sufficient to survive. You pay your lease in kind or in cash. Many landless find erratic work only as casual or day laborers, for instance during the sowing or harvesting season, a farmer's income is low.

Health care in the countryside of India
In most villages there is no doctor ant the nearest hospital is often far away. Before patients are taken for medical treatment, they often feel very sick. Therefore, rural hospitals are also considered as death homes and the fear of them is correspondingly large. In order to improve the health care of the rural population and to detect infectious diseases more quickly, the Indian government has developed various support programs, which has been assigned a leprosy and tuberculosis control area. A basic health service has been set up, for instance that medical helpers have regular office hours in the villages, often in the open air and they provide medical help, give advice on hygiene, do educational work on leprosy and tuberculosis, explain their early detection and healing options and refer sick people to hospitals. Already cured people are being cared for by them, as they often suffer from disabilities. In addition, through extensive home visits to the old men of the villages.

Village life in India is very different to that in Denmark, where the photographer is from. People live there in very simple relationships and work hard to earn money to earn and many find work in their own fields, others practice skilled occupations, such as in pottery, blacksmith or joinery. Some families also have their own business with which they finance themselves. Not only adults need a lot of hard work but also the children often have to help for several hours at a young age. Your tasks are often to guard one's own cows and goats. In spite of all that, there is a lot of poverty in the villages in India, as can be seen from the fact that most houses consist exclusively of clay and the inhabitants have only the bare essentials. The photographer was allowed to do this experience personally, because we had the possibility of a whole day in an Indian village, far away from a big city of Varanasi to spend some time in a village. "- A big difference to the city fell on namely, that there is much less noise and bustle gave and also the air was much more pleasant. The people were all very friendly and were showing me around", the photographer says.

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a village boy in Varanasi. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.