Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are meeting An Indian mother and a child in Mumbai, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
A mother is carrying a child in her arms in the Colaba area of Mumbai, India. In Mumbai in particular, visitors are often approached by a child or woman wanting some powdered milk to feed a baby and they will assist you to a nearby stall or shop that conveniently happens to sell tins or boxes of such 'Milk'. But when you are buying milk powder this way you might be encouraging a scam.
A mother is carrying a child in her arms in the Colaba area of Mumbai, India. In Mumbai in particular, visitors are often approached by a child or woman wanting some powdered milk to feed a baby and they will assist you to a nearby stall or shop that conveniently happens to sell tins or boxes of such 'Milk'. But when you are buying milk powder this way you might be encouraging a scam.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 21, 2024

Milk powder beggars

The milk will be expensively priced, often around 200 rupees and if you hand over the money for it, the shopkeeper and the beggar will simply split the proceeds between them. So as soon as the tourist leaves the milk is sold back to the shops – The shop gets half of the money. Beggars also rent babies from their mothers each day, to give their begging more credibility.

What is the most common begging scam in India?

The most common begging scam in India is the 'Child begging' scam. This scam involves adults posing as a poor family with a sick or disabled child. The adult may claim to be a single parent, desperately trying to care for his or her child, while begging for money to cover their medical expenses.

An increasingly common phenomenon in India
Milk powder beggary has become an increasingly common phenomenon in India over the last few decades. This problem is seen mainly in urban and semi-urban areas where the lower classes of citizens struggle to make ends meet and these beggars are those who ask for milk powder from passersby, usually for their infants. This practice has become a common sight in India, as many people in the lower classes do not have the means to provide for their families and must ask for help and the main objective of milk powder beggary is to feed the families of those who are too poor to purchase cow's milk or other types of milk. In turn, the families of milk powder beggars rely on these gifts to keep themselves nourished and fed as it also can be seen in the photographer's portrait on Amateur Photographer.

Unfortunately, this begging practice has a negative consequence. Milk powder beggars are often seen as a nuisance on the streets since they tend to be quite persistent in their pleas for help. Additionally, these people may also face social stigma as some members of society may view them as "desperate" or "needy".

Begging scams are a common sight across India
With scammers posing as beggars in order to take advantage of compassionate citizens. A scam is a fraudulent attempt to swindle you out of money or other valuables and these scams are particularly rampant in tourist areas, as they know people are more likely to be generous when visiting an unfamiliar place. The beggar may show the child's limbs as proof of the disability, creating a sad story to induce compassion in passers-by. Unfortunately, these stories are often fabricated and the money is not used to support the child. Rather, it is used to fund the beggar's alcohol and drug habits, gambling or even to purchase more children from rural areas to continue the scam.

"Beggars in India will approach you all day long with a scam where they ask you to buy them expensive food items from a nearby supermarket. Find out exactly what they do with these items you give them and how you can really help people who really need charity in India"

So what can you do to avoid falling victim to this scam?
It is always recommended to give food and other essentials as charity instead of money. If you feel compelled to donate money, look for verified non-profits such as the 'Muktangan Free Non-Profit School Program', which helps street children get an education. You can also report suspicious beggars to the police, who can investigate further and take necessary steps. Scammers operate in a variety of ways, but the 'Child beggar scam' is one of the most common. It is only through understanding and being aware of such schemes that we can stop them from victimizing people.

The Indian government has taken some steps to try and combat this problem. For instance, the government has implemented the public distribution system in certain states which provides a basic quantity of subsidised food and other items to the poorer families. However, this measure is not enough to eliminate t he problem as the number of families who require assistance is far higher than the number of families who are able to access subsidised food Kristian Bertel | Photography learned while photographing there.

Providing basic food items to poor people
Therefore, the government must take further steps to ensure that all families have access to the resources they need to survive. This can include providing additional food subsidies or encouraging more NGOs to provide basic food items to poor people. Moreover, the public can also play a role in resolving this issue. The public can assist by donating milk powder or other essential food items to needy families or by contributing to the food drive campaigns that are conducted in certain areas. In conclusion, milk powder beggary is an alarming issue in India that needs immediate attention.

While the government, NGOs and citizens can all play a role in providing food to those in need, a comprehensive strategy is required to ensure that all families have access to basic necessities. Beggary is a common phenomenon in many parts of India and it has become a major socio-economic problem. India is the world's second most populous country with almost 1.3 billion people and it has a vast population of destitute People living in poverty. Despite efforts by the Indian government to reduce it, beggary still remains an issue of rampant issues throughout the country. It is seen in almost every part of India.

"It is a daily struggle for many who have no choice but to beg for money from passersby to pay for milk powder, food, medical care and sustenance. The ones who are most likely to beg are street children, the elderly, disabled and economically disadvantaged people. Beggary is also seen as an alternative way for people to support themselves because of the lack of other means of livelihood"

The root cause of beggary in India is poverty
With most people living in poverty, they turn to begging as a means of survival. High populations in urban areas lead to an increasing number of people who are unable to find employment and are without resources to survive. Other contributing factors to the begging problem in India include illiteracy, gender disparity, Caste system, government policies and lack of employment opportunities. The Government of India has implemented several welfare schemes aimed at helping the beggars and these efforts have had a positive impact on the situation, however, the problem of begging still persists as the number of destitute people continues to grow.

In order to move closer towards a beggar-free India, it is necessary to address the root causes of the problem and the government needs to tackle the issue of poverty and invest more into schemes that provide access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities. Furthermore, the government should implement stricter laws to criminalize beggary and put an end to organized begging operations. On the other hand, NGOs and other civil society organizations should provide shelter and assistance programs to beggars and work towards helping them find livelihoods and integration into the mainstream society.

Photographed in the Colaba area in Mumbai
Colaba, a vibrant neighborhood located in South Mumbai, is one of the most well-known places in the Indian capital. Home to some of the country's most important landmarks such as the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, the Gateway of India, Kamala Nehru Park and the art deco restaurant 'Café Military', Colaba is the go-to destination for anyone looking to experience the culture and history of Mumbai. The historic Gateway of India, built in 1911, was originally built as a memorial to mark the visit of King George and Queen Mary to Bombay. It has become one of India's most significant landmarks and is a popular spot for tourists. Located just a stone's throw away from the Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Palace is an iconic luxury hotel with a long and storied history. It was built in 1903 by Jamshedji Tata and features a classic blend of Eastern and Western styles that makes it a must-see for many travelers to India.

Colaba is also home to some of Mumbai's most entertaining attractions, such as the iconic 'Café Military'. This open-air restaurant has been a popular hangout spot for locals and travelers alike since the 1950s. Today, the café retains its retro charms and is the perfect place to hang out with friends and sample delicious Indian street food. Colaba is also a bustling commercial district, home to many well-known retail stores and outlets. With its mix of high-end retailers, bustling street markets and culture-rich heritage, Colaba is the perfect place for shoppers with a range of tastes.

"Behind Colaba's bustling market streets and historic monuments lies an abundance of green spaces. One of the most popular is the Kamala Nehru Park, part of the famous Back Bay area which overlooks the Arabian Sea. Set against the backdrop of the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, the Kamala Nehru Park is a great place to relax, take in the views and appreciate the historic cityscape"

See this video about being poor in India made by India Today.

Vibrant and culture-rich neighborhood
Clearly, it can be seen that Colaba is a vibrant and culture-rich neighborhood with something to offer to everyone. From its historic sites to its modern retail centers, Colaba is the perfect destination for a wide range of visitors. With its unique mix of shopping, sightseeing and cultural attractions, Colaba is an unforgettable place that no traveler to Mumbai should miss, but there is also poverty.

"- Photographing in India has presented me with my most challenging and emotionally draining work to date. But it's also been incredibly rewarding and a learning experience that I'm humbled and privileged to have had. Ultimately, my hope is that with each photograph, a little bit of light will be shed and that somehow, in some way, I'm helping to document the plight of those affected by poverty in India", the Photographer says.

"- The scenes that I capture can be heartbreaking. Families living in small, overcrowded quarters with little to no electricity, water or access to healthcare. Young children struggling each day to help bring in a meager income. The elderly with no family or support system. These are the stories that I photograph and the feelings can be overwhelming. But the issue of beggary in India is complex and requires comprehensive strategies to eliminate it completely. It needs a multi-pronged approach that can address the underlying causes of the problem and provide solutions to the most vulnerable sections of society. The government and civil society initiatives have achieved a lot so far, but there is still a long way to go before beggary completely disappears in India",
the Photographer says again.

"- When viewing these photos, many feel a deep sense of compassion for those who are struggling and a deep gratitude for their own blessings. Taking these photos can also be a reminder of the power of photography and its potential to bring light to dark places. On the other hand, the emotional impact of taking such photos can be quite profound. To witness the despair of a single mother attempting to make ends meet with no other support or to capture the pain of a child that has already seen too much of the world's evils, can be enough to overwhelm any photographer", the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Families in India

Families in India

Read also:  Families in India

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 mother and a child 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.