Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Picture Essay - Poverty Pornography in Sarojini Nagar

Mother India looking sexy in poverty pornography.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Following a Beggar in Sarojini Nagar Market (S N), One of Delhi's Busiest Bargain Bazaars

India is now more than just a the flavor of the season. Superstar columnist Thomas Friedman got the title of his latest bestseller The World is Flat from an Indian CEO - Nandan Nilekani of Infosys. Brangelina chose to shoot their latest filmA Mighty Heart - in Mumbai, the heart of the Indian filmdom.

Most of the AIDS drugs for the world’s poor are manufactured by Cipla, a pharmaceutical firm of India. The world no. 1 steel baron, Lakshmi Mittal, holds an Indian passport. The historic Boston hotel, Ritz-Carlton, is all set to be acquired by an Indian hospitality chain – the Taj Hotels.

Microsoft’s biggest development center facility outside the U.S. is built in an Indian city - Hyderabad. In 2006, Pepsico appointed its first female CEO - an Indian woman named Indra Nooyi. The jewels worn by top stars in the 2005 Hollywood flick Troy were designed by an Indian jewelry store in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Meanwhile, jobs in US continue to be Bengalurooed by the bustling call centers of India.

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Still doubting India’s resurgence? Read on.

Following a Beggar in S N - With Immobile Limbs, He is Moving by Rolling on the Ground

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India has More Billionaires than China

The stock market boom and a red hot real estate market have raised the combined net worth of India’s 40 richest people by 60% in 2006, and helped produce nine more billionaires.

According to the latest Forbes rich list, India has as many as 36 billionaires, which is more than double the 15 China has. The collective net worth of India's 40 richest persons stands at an astounding 170 billion dollars. This is way ahead of the sum total of their Chinese counterpart – 38 billion dollar. The minimum net worth of India's richest is also considerably higher at 790 million dollars, as against 514 million dollars in China.

China is still ahead in superpower appeal but India’s is closing the gap.

Following a Beggar in S N - The Way to Push the Bowl Ahead is with the Head

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Following a Beggar in S N - Busy Shoppers Walking Past the Wretched of the Earth

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Figures Speak for Themselves

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has rated India as the second fastest growing major economy in the world, with a GDP growth rate of 8.9% at the end of the first quarter of 2006–2007. Indian economy happens to be the fourth largest as measured by purchasing power parity, with a gross domestic product of US $3.611 trillion.

Its potency was proved on November 15, 2006, when the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) benchmark Sensex breached a new high of 13,500 for the first time before closing at 13,469.37. Similarly, the National Stock Exchange's (NSE) S&P CNX Nifty jumped further by 10.40 points or 0.27 per cent to close at a new peak of 3,876.30 from the previous close of 3,865.90.

Following a Beggar in S N - Developing Immunity to 'Regular' Sights

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Following a Beggar in S N - Encountering Extreme Poverty is a Part of Daily Life

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India’s Emerging Potential

Following a Beggar in S N - The Beggar Passing by a Fellow Beggar

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Following a Beggar in S N - Don't Judge Harshly, It is Tough to Constantly Carry a Conscience

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As the fourth-largest economy in the world, India is undoubtedly one of the most preferred destinations for foreign direct investments. Its economy has positioned itself as one of the front-runners of the rapidly growing Asia Pacific Region. The country has a large pool of skilled managerial and technical expertise. The size of the middle-class population at 300 million exceeds the population of both the US and the EU, and represents a powerful consumer market. The country is capturing the imagination.

A Young, Rich India

Following a Beggar in S N - Do Not Worry; People Will Drop Coins; He Will Live

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According to a gushing Forbes columnist, just about everyone in the sunny India looks young. In fact, more than a third of India’s population is under the age of 15, making it among the most youthful nations on the planet and certainly younger on average than China.

Amidst all this hoopla, wages are rising steadily, malls and multiplexes are mushrooming, airline travel is becoming affordable, and salaried youngsters are buying everything from iPods to Palmtops. India Today, the nation’s largest selling weekly, was excited enough to recently feature a cover story titled ‘Wired Generation’.

A Nation Drunk in Success

Following a Beggar in S N - The Art of Ignoring the Unprivileged Fellow Human Beings

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Following a Beggar in S N - The Party Spoiler

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Indian newspapers no longer carry tiresome and repetitive reports on droughts, dying and poverty. Instead the pages are splashed with stories about cricket matches, Bollywood breakups and penthouse classifieds.

Following a Beggar in S N - No Share in the Surrounding Prosperity

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With the economy in boom, Indians are also turning hip. Sex dates are common among the Orkut members. Arranged marriages are evolving to love-cum-arranged marriages. Joint families go to malls for Sunday outings. Gradually, certain parts of the country are looking more and more like a slice of the first world. People no longer need to fly to west. America is being built, silicon chip by silicon chip, in India itself!

Following a Beggar in S N - A Young Girl Points her 'Discovery'

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The Awakening of a Soul

As a countdown to India’s independence from the British, this is what Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first Prime Minister, said in 1947: “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge...At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”

Yes, Indeed - The Soul of a Nation, Long Suppressed, Finding Its Utterance!

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Siddhartha said...

You got a heart and you got a mind of you know. Keep up...the outstanding work you are doing

Mayank Austen Soofi said...

Thank-you Siddhatha,
It is due to comments like yours that motivate me to post such stories.

soma said...

Loved the juxtaposing of contrasting ideas-very innovative...most importatnly a very informative article!!

Vidyut said...

Lovely photo essay. The contrast between the images and words brings the story out in a very striking manner. I have something to point out:

In fact, more than a third of India’s population is under the age of 15

Surely you meant 35? That's the statistics I read somewhere. Plus what I see aroung me also seems to agree far better with this than a third of the population being under 15!

Mayank Austen Soofi said...

Dear Vidyut,
Regarding the doubts about the age: I re-checked the figure after noting your concern. It is 15, not 35. The figure was given by the Forbes Magazine columnist Elizabeth Corcoran. (The quote link is provided in the article) I'm very particular about not misleading my readers even by mistake.

Thanks for your complements.

Nitin said...

this piece is moving and well conceived. it came to mind yesterday when i saw a man in similar circumstances in chandi chowk dragging himself through the street.

Jasmeet said...

I can accuse you of exoticising poverty and hunger, but I shall rather give you the browny points for being creative...

Mayank Austen Soofi said...

Jasmeet: I stand indebted to your thoughtful kindness. Perhaps I tried to be creative. But my chief purpose was to make the readers pause and think. I do want all of us to get rich but we we must not forget that there are some very poor people and that we have to do something to bring a change in their lives, too.

Nitin: This is a sight that you'll find not only in the bazaars of Delhi, but throughout this country. I understand that not all Indians can become well-off. But we have an alarmingly large proportion of desperately unpriviledged people. And if they continue to live such poor lives, this country can never become truly great. Thanks for your comments.

Atish said...

Moving.. and u definitely got style :) keep posting and clicking

Anonymous said...

If his limbs were okay, he'd be just another smug IT professional/call centre worker, or surely the father of three (or twelve) such. Are we bothered?

Sreekumar said...

I found this post a long time after its posted. But it hit me home, more because I was brought up in areas around that dazzling marketplace.
The beggar certainly pricks our conscience and shames our 'successes'. Let's hope that such pictures have an impact and make life better (if not on for all then atleast for him)

m I m said...

Awesome description in a eye catching , mind boggling manner...keep up the great work...

True regards to thy...

snowbutterfly said...

You certainly made me pause and think. Why so much difference? Why? Why a Taj Majal Hotel and a beggar among silk saris? Why?

Anonymous said...

For a while, I was flabbergasted but I think, this is a common thing. This is another side of the coin, in newspaper generally we read about mounting economy, IT revolution, other materialistic landmarks but this huge discrimination is still alive and unfortunately untouched to an extent.

Great work, Mayank……


Anujnandwani2000 said...

i liked your photography very much.. all shots are so natural..u r gr8 talent... keep it up.....

Anonymous said...

@snowbutterfly: Your question made me think.

Lothar Seifert said...

You have very good pictures. I like these, I like India.
Best regards Lothar