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Interviews with Poverty
First Online: August 15, 1997
Introduction to Poverty in India
While much of our site's content involves past glories of a great land, the Kamats also have done considerable work on contemporary India, of whom the poverty remains a Himalayan problem.
Poverty of Indians must be studied with a slightly different perspective (than the poverty of other societies) due to the deep religious faiths of her people. Sadhus such as Nagas may be poor by Western definitions, but for them, it is a chosen (and infinitely richer) way of life. Many of the beggars in India do so to follow family traditions, and to fulfill vows made to a deity. My grandmother (the grandma Kamat, "Kaki" for those who know her), is named Bhikki or beggar after one such vow. The first steps of becoming a Hindu monk (brahmachari) would be to beg (for the teacher and for self).
This is not to say all beggars do it by choice. Please do read Krishna's article on types of begging. The poverty in India takes many a forms and degenerates to the utmost kind known to mankind. The statistics portray a ghastly picture: over 50% living in poverty with two hundred million of them in extreme poverty (must earn during the day to eat dinner).
I have always liked what Mark Tully said about the poor in India. "The least thing you can do is to respect their condition"-- many a times, mere sympathy is counter-productive and typically not good enough. In the following pictures, articles, and views we have tried to share our studies of India's poor and their poverty. The subjects of the pictures were not paid to pose (although Kamat found that as he took the photographs, more and more people wanted to patronize the beggars) and it is in the honor of India's poor that we have kept this page free of advertisements (so that we do not benefit from their condition).
Indians for long have criticized the western media for sensationalizing the poverty in India, and the reader may feel the same way by looking at this section at Kamat's Potpourri, although I humbly assure you that that is not what we set out to do.
-- Vikas Kamat
Some of the following pictures depict utter poverty and can be disturbing. At times, you may not agree with our definition of poverty, which includes working professionals and religious ascetics (poor by choice).
|Kamat's Potpourri Timeless Theater Poverty in India|