india poverty

5 Misconceptions About India

1. Indians do not speak Indian. Sort of like how Chinese is not an actual language (shocker right?). There are many languages in India, with Hindi being the most popular.

2. Saying the word ‘desi’. Desi usually refers to Southern India but overtime it has grown to refer to India as a whole. It is easier than saying Indian because then people get confused with Native Americans. Desi is also associated with countries that share the same cultural values as India, like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc.

3. Not everyone in India lives in poverty. Yes there is poverty in India, but there are also some filthy rich people.

4. Bindi’s are not tattoos. The amount of people who have come up to me and asked me if they are tattoos is somewhat insane. Why would you get a red dot tattooed on your forehead? They are actually sort of like a sticker that you put on your forehead. Also bindi’s are not only red dots, they come in a multitude of shapes and sizes.

5. Curry in general. What most western people think is curry is actually what is known as sabzi (sub-gee). Sabzi is a mixture of vegetables. It is usually known as curry when there is meat involved. ex. Chicken Curry, Fish Curry. The actual curry is the sort of gravy portion of the dish.

Opium! Submission! Kismet! Lattice work, caravanserai fountains a sultan dancing on a tray! Maharajah, rajah a thousand-year-old-shah! Waving from minarets clogs made of mother-of-pearl; women with henna-stained noses working their looms with their feet. In the wind, green-turbaned imams calling the people to prayer. This is the Orient the French poet sees. […] Orient! The soil on which naked slaves die of hunger. The common property of everyone except those born on it. The land where hunger itself perishes with famine! But the silos are full to the brim, full of grain - only for Europe. - Nazim Hikmet

*The nadir for war-time India was the Bengal famine of 1943. In a year of good harvest, the cost imposed on India of supporting the massively increased military presence of wartime led to inflation of food prices and catastrophic famine. The London government opposed the provision of any famine relief. Churchill blocked the Canadian government and local commanders from providing food aid, proclaiming “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion”. Even his underling Amery, Secretary for India, was moved to tell Churchill to his face that he had a “Hitler-like attitude”. The resulting, entirely man-made famine killed between 1.5 and 3.5 million Indians and should be ranked alongside Stalin’s Holodomor as an act of state murder on an unimaginable scale.

In the Indian state of Jharkhand, extreme poverty makes young, rural women especially vulnerable to human traffickers. Anti-poverty measures have not been very effective. For example, while the local government tried distributing bicycles to girls for them to travel to school, human traffickers target them on their routes. Even the women who have escaped slavery are still haunted and stalked by their traffickers. 

One woman, who had been kept as a slave by two married doctors and has since been rescued, is now enrolled in a state-run residential facility. Even though relatives of the doctors visited her parents to offer them “lots of money” to avoid prosecution, she has taken her case to court and is still fighting for justice. 

Learn more via Times of India.

Photo: Getty Images.

INDIA, MUMBAI : An Indian woman keeps her pet monkey on a leash as she asks for alms from a couple sitting at the seafront in Mumbai on January 21, 2015. India is part of a global trend that is advancing towards an increasing urbanisation, with more than half of the world’s population living in towns and cities. AFP PHOTO / PUNIT PARANJPE

Mini Rant (it was cultural appreciation, not appropriation)

So I went and watched the Coldplay music video today and was incredibly confused by the comments. Let me start off by saying that I myself am Indian and am supportive of things such as reclaim the bindi. However, the music video was far from cultural appropriation. First off, people are complaining that Beyoncé was a Bollywood actress. #1, there are a couple of non-Indian Bollywood actresses. #2, Beyoncé SANG the song, why the hell would they put someone else as the female protagonist??? Secondly, there are people complaining about Beyoncé wearing an Indian outfit. That outfit isn’t mocking my culture, it is celebrating it. It was such a beautiful outfit and she looked stunning. She didn’t misuse the outfit and change the meaning of it. She was supposed to be celebrating Indian culture, what is she supposed to wear?? Jeans? NO, that’d be stupid. Also, people are complaining about showing poverty in India. COLDPLAY INCLUDED EVERY PART OF INDIA. Actually, there was something symbolic from each state from India and I think that that was beautiful to see. Seeing the poverty wasn’t bad, it’s what I see when I go to India. They included India in its raw form, not the glitz. It was real. I have never seen a music video display India so well and it’s so sad that people are turning this into a thing of cultural appropriation. It’s cultural appreciation and makes me very proud to be Indian.

side note: moment of appreciation for how amazing those shots were

Shambhu washes cars in New Delhi during the day and works at a hotel at night, but he still finds time to write for “Balaknama,” a newspaper run entirely by teenagers living in the city’s slums.

Shambhu and the other writers cover topics that affect their everyday lives, like child marriage, poverty, and police brutality. And even though half of New Delhi’s poor are illiterate, the newspaper circulates to of tens of thousands of citizens. The paper is supported by Chetna, an NGO that also provides education and training for the writers.

Read more via Vocativ.

Photographers and pictures like this, the ones that blatantly dehumanize the object of the photo by generalizing them to the extent that an entire country’s international persona is perceived based upon the platform that the entirety of the population, over a billion people, are all like the person in the photo is why organizations like national geographic is hypocritical at best. The photographer, a white semi middle class female, presents a young dark skinned female in traditional dress in an “exotic” location and equates her traveling the country by train to that of Gandhi?! Because Gandhi “discovered” the “soul"of India by traveling in the "low-caste” compartments of trains? Am I the only one that sees the disrespect here? There is no mention of the girls name, her family, or her struggle- only the generalization that she Is representative of all of India. But, God forbid if NatGeo posted the photo and didn’t credit the photographer, Effendi. Could you imagine if they had spelled her name wrong too? That would be “unacceptable”. You see, the photo becomes entirely obsolete due to the photographer’s blatant dehumanization and fetishization of the “poor”. People like this don’t acknowledge that the “soul” of a place, of a people, of an entire culture is not independent of the people themselves. As long as they can “relate” to the struggle and claim to be “knowledgable” and “charitable” because they’ve taken one of those small train-rides, who the hell cares about the little girl whose photo got them paid?

Sorry for the rant but I’ve seen too many photos like this in the last few days and I needed to get this out. //rant//

“The photo of this little girl was taken in a village near Agra, where a small number of people from Rajasthan, lived in what I would call a refugee camp… It was painful to see, but almost every one was smiling and building their own houses.”

Edited, photography by