In this ninety-fifth archive story by Kristian Bertel, we meet an Indian woman street begging in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
In India, countless people grow up in extreme poverty and they live in bitterly poor rural regions or in the huge slums of the megacities such as with this Indian street beggar photographed in Mumbai. Despite much progress, people in India still have no future because they belong to the "untouchables" caste and the rights of women and girls are still trampled on.
In India, countless people grow up in extreme poverty and they live in bitterly poor rural regions or in the huge slums of the megacities such as with this Indian street beggar photographed in Mumbai. Despite much progress, people in India still have no future because they belong to the "untouchables" caste and the rights of women and girls are still trampled on.

Indian street beggar

Two thirds of the people in India live in poverty and almost seventy percent of the Indian population have to live on less than two dollars a day. Over thirty percent have even less than $1.25 a day at their disposal and they are considered extremely poor and this makes the Indian subcontinent one of the poorest countries on earth. Women and children, the weakest links in Indian society, suffer most from poverty in India with a total of 800 million people on the subcontinent live in poverty.

India is terrible with its poor
India is the most populous country, which is characterized by strong contrasts, has had growth rates of up to ten percent for years and is one of the largest economies in the world. However, only a small proportion of the Indian population has benefited from this impressive economic boom so far, because the majority of the people in India still live in bitter poverty. More than 800 million people are considered poor in India and most of them live in the country and keep afloat with odd jobs and the lack of living jobs in rural areas drives many Indians to the rapidly growing metropolitan regions such as Mumbai and Delhi. There most of them can expect a life of poverty and despair in the mega-slums consisting of millions of corrugated iron huts, without sufficient drinking water supply, without garbage disposal and in many cases without electricity. The poor hygiene conditions are the cause of diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery, from which children in particular suffer and die and poverty and the hope of a better life for their daughters and many parents cite this as the reason for the premature marriage and the photographer coul ask in which country is it worst not to have money because being poor or even homeless is nowhere beautiful, but if there is a country that is terrible for its poor, it is India. Many travelers who come to India for the first time can hardly stand the misery. But the longer you stay, the less you see it and the many Indian millionaires have probably not seen the poor in years and then if not consciously and the Indian prime minister probably did not consider the lower class in this currency reform, otherwise it would have been different. Although you can make ends meet in India with just a few dollars a day, there is a lot of extreme poverty here and the money in my bank account that is currently out of reach would probably be enough to feed a large Indian family for months or years.

"There are sluggish beggars sitting on every street corner and in front of every major train station you can see families with children strewn with flies. A cripple pushes itself through each railway compartment. Begging seems almost a normal and extremely job in India"

Authentic travel in India
India is always changing and a travel plan in India has to be as flexible as a yoga master. If you try to force something, you despair of this country. There is a lot of fuss about authentic travel. It often means traditional clothing and even poverty is glorified in the name of authenticity, for instance a rice farmer in the field. "- Oh, how authentic we say and take a picture. I don't want to exempt myself from it and I'm totally into such clichés. But we only tolerate authenticity if it doesn't affect us", the photographer says. In India, many other things are just as authentic so as the traffic, the noise, the dirt, the power cuts. If the Indians have to interrupt their everyday life to stand in front of the bank for hours, this is also authentic and the photographer is not happy to do the same, but he gets to know India better than before his Rajasthan tour.

Not all Westerners automatically have it well and here we also treats its poor very poorly and lets it vegetate on the streets instead of putting on a reliable social program like in some places in Europe where Kristian Bertel | Photography is located. This is not least due to the Western dream that says if you really want to, you can make it from a dishwasher to a millionaire. If a whole people believes that, then everyone who does not even make it to the dishwasher will be left behind. And the millionaires feel entitled to trample on the homeless because, according to this logic, they are responsible for their own poverty and have not earned anything else and the joke is that social mobility is very low in the Western world, even lower than ours. If you see a millionaire in the Western world today, he was probably not a dishwasher before, but his parents were already millionaires and meritocracy is not working and inequality is growing even if the Western world dream has long since burst, it is still considered a moral justification for trampling on everyone, if only by supporting libertarian politics and this is how the Western dream becomes a social nightmare.

The responsibility in the Indian life
The Indian nightmare is worse than the Western one and you are not only responsible for what happens to you in this life, but also in the next and your very birth is a direct result of the amount of karma you have collected in the past life. Whoever lies in the gutter was an evil person in the last life and deserved it. Whoever lies in the gutter and resigns himself well can collect karma for the next life. With such a merciless fatalism, of course, there is not much room for pity. The still very strong caste system also almost abolishes social mobility and in India you can recognize the caste by the last name. As an untouchable, you have little or no training and job opportunities. You stay where your parents, grandparents and great grandparents were. As a woman you have it even harder and woe you become a widow or old without enough children. Criticism of the caste system has been a reason for the emergence of Sikhism and several attempts at Hindu reform in the past. Unfortunately, that did not help much. In the country in India everything is still like in the Middle Ages. At least in large cities, caste membership is slowly becoming less important. The Indians on the street do not have it as easy and escaping poverty not only seems difficult, but impossible and if you live from hand to mouth, your planning horizon does not go beyond the next meal and if you do not know any other life, what do you want to change? Life is unfair and these people have never had a reasonably fair chance and if you were born in India in their place, you would still be in the gutter in their place today. We all who can read this archive story think that we have won the birth lottery along with about 1 billion other people and that means we do not have to fight dogs for food scraps for the rest of our lives. The more we say goodbye to the notion that we deserve our own status, the sooner we can feel sorry for the remaining 6 billion, who were less fortunate. Of course, on average there is a connection between performance and earnings. But it is about completely different orders of magnitude.

Morality action and the mistake of thinking morally
We all have morality and if the poverty lies in front of us on the street and begs us, we find it bad and shocking and if poverty stays somewhere in India, we find that yawn. To fix this mistake in thinking a trip to India is highly recommended and can change your worldview and go to India and reflect how lucky you were at the birth lottery. After that, you will find it difficult to complain about anything in your life. India frees us from our worries and turns them into first world problems that are not worth mentioning.

Beggars in India, giving, helping or donating money?
India may even make you an altruist, but you have to decide for yourself. With your trip you will definitely help the Indian economy, especially as a backpacker. Reasons can either be longer stay, better money distribution, local consumption instead of import, small entrepreneurs instead of employees, thirty percent instead of seventy percent leakage loss. Whether or not you should give beggars something on site in India depends on the situation. In a tourist environment you are more likely to cause damage and you should never give children anything or they may go begging instead of going to school which is a vicious cycle. When the photographer first came to India, he suddenly understood the impulse to give up everything at home to help people here. Still, volunteering is not a good idea and the idea of helping with your own hands is no more than an ego trip as a result. Basically, it is better to donate to efficient organizations than to give money to beggars or to do voluntary tourism.

Read also:  Boy in a village portraiture

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 an Indian woman in Mumbai. 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.