Boy begging in New Delhi
The harrowing face of a boy begging in New Delhi's streets caught the eye of photographer Kristian Bertel, when he visited the Indian capital. Life is hard in the streets of New Delhi, India, despite that India is a country with a rising economy. The downside of this boom, apart from growing preassure on on the city's groaning infrastructure, is chronic overcrowding, traffic congestion, ballooning child labor, housing shortages and pollution.
Portrait of a boy in India
More than 300,000 children are believed to live on the streets of New Delhi. Some estimates put the total number of street children in India as high as 18 million. The Photographer walked in many areas of Delhi and in the area around the railway station introduces all the noisy, smoky, smelly, crowded and chaotic. Everything that there is not a part of New Delhi that you will consider a tourist destination. But also on the more rich quaters like Rajiv Chowk, where the youg beggard boy was photographed theses contrasts are ruling.
Life situations of begging children
Most of the begging children and street children in India live in unhygienic, neglected and unspectacular circumstances. Many suffer from malnutrition and diseases like tuberculosis, typhus, leprosy, malaria or worse. In addition, they are quickly dependent on drugs and alcohol. They suffer from exhaust fumes. It is noticeable that many suffer from skin diseases and bone fractures. These diseases usually remain untreated and unaffected. Insecurity and discontinuity of life on the road cause mental illness in many children. The psychological traumatization as a result of neglect, neglect, insecurity, lack of protection, exploitation, abuse, abuse, hunger and dependencies of all kinds are serious.
"The treatment of begging children in India is ambivalent. Children are highly appreciated. But the image of street children living in the cities of the country in misery has been part of everyday life for many decades and hardly seems to surprise anyone"
Street children are there and are not really seen and perceived. Many meet with defenses and contempt. Some support them with small money donations. Religious representations of Karma, Dharma and Moksha in Hinduism are apt to reinforce a certain indifference. Many Hindus do not seem to feel compassion, and do not feel compelled to act against street children. The existence of these children appears to them as a result of a bad karma. Children are therefore responsible for the fact that they are suffering from such adverse circumstances. Anyone who nevertheless feels compassion and decides to be a small support can strengthen his own karma. The situation of children in Indian cities in the street is very different. One can speak of children on the street. They often came from the country to one of the great metropolises with their families and live in slums or in the outskirts of the cities. They are used as shelters, pipes, sewers. The children of these families live and work on the street, and it is estimated that only about ten percent of them have a firm job, such as a street vendor, a tea shop or other small business. There they often work more than sixteen hours a day, are used up and badly paid. The other ninety percent are struggling with occasional work, trying to support their family. On the other hand there are the classic street children who, unlike Children on the street, no longer have contact with their parents or other family members. They have run away or have been exposed and are now trying to break through typical street children's work, mainly collecting and selling rubbish.
Beggars in India is a reality
When visiting India you will find beggars on the streets of India even child beggars that will break your heart the photographer recalls. It is almost inevitable not to see and hard to ignore. Beggars in India is a reality and despite a growing economy in India many people are still left behind in the society of India. The presence of a large number of child laborers and the begging children in India are regarded as a serious issue in terms of economic welfare. Children who work and beg are failing to get the necessary education. They do not get the opportunity to develop physically, intellectually, emotionally and psychologically. In terms of the physical condition of children, children are not ready for long monotous work because they become exhausted more quickly than adults. This reduces their physical conditions and makes the children more vulnerable to disease. Children in hazardous working conditions are even in worse condition. Children who work, instead of going to school, will remain illiterate which limits their ability to contribute to their own well being as well as to community they live in. Child beggars have a long term adverse effects for India like the boy portrayed in this archive story. He was accompanied by a woman, who maybe was the mother of the boy. While 18 million children work on the streets of India, it is estimated that only five to ten five to twenty percent of them are truly homeless and disconnected from their families. Because the street children in India have unique vulnerabilities the amount of time they spend on the street, their livelihood depending on the street, and their lack of protection and care from adults, they are a subgroup of the Indian population that deserve specific attention in order to ensure that their needs are known. "- As the most vulnerable group of children in India and they need to be understood as much as possible", the photographer says.
Why the photographer does not give money to Indian street kids
On his journeys, the photographer meets street kids in Delhi and although he has sympathy with them, he does not give them money. Donations would not help their poverty and he had to get used to street children begging everywhere in the city. At red traffic lights, they scratch the windows of the cars or they pull at the shirts of the passersby. "- At first I often asked myself whether I should give them a little money. 30 Indian rupees, would be a lot of money for the street children. Nevertheless, I decided not to give alms. I wonder where do I start, where to stop? What street-money do I give money to, which is not? I cannot make a donation to everyone, but there are too many of them. But can I ease the hardship of a single street child? I also doubt that. I have been told many stories of street kids who are being exploited by criminals who have to surrender part of the pledged amount. On the occasion I give something to a street child such as the boy photographd for this archive story. So I conclude that my donation benefits criminals, instead of the child. In most cases, I manage to stick to my principle and ignore the begging children. But once I did not succeed. A begging boy came up to me and from his face spoke the pure despair, he gurgled for a bite of food and I ignored him, but he did not leave. He clung to my shirt and at this moment, my rational viewpoint shook. Despite my principle I gave him money. But the seconds in which the boy begged me to let go and remain, became eternity. They burned themselves into my memory. A mixture of doubts and helplessness has remained to me today. To give food instead of money seems to me better but both are not a selfless act. With a donation, I do something good for myself and I feel better at this moment and the belief that something has been done against poverty facilitates. The question of conscience, why the child has to live on the street, falls into the background. I hardly helped the boy", the photographer says.
Portait photography of beggars in India
What the photographer especially like about portrait photography is the melancholy that are often seen in the faces of beggars in India and portrait photography or portraiture in photography is a photograph of a person or group of people that captures the personality of the subject. With these child beggars wheteher it is a begging boy or a begging girl, they may be found in public places such as transport routes, urban parks and near busy markets and besides money they may also ask for food, drink, cigarettes or other small items. "- Beggary is actually an age old social phenomenon in India. In the medieval and earlier times begging was considered to be an acceptable occupation which was embraced within the traditional social structure and this system of begging and alms-giving to mendicants and the poor is still widely practiced in India with over 400,000 beggars a couple of years ago", the Photographer says again.
Read also: Child poverty in India