This is a poverty photo of a woman photographed in Delhi, India.
Life conditions in India can be seen everywhere like with this crying woman, who was photographed in Delhi, India. The rough shawl, her rich brown eyes and serene gaze all evoke determination. She is just one out of hundreds of millions of people in the world who faces the daily struggle of living in the streets.



In this blog post the photographer Kristian Bertel reflects on the poverty in the cities of India. Poverty in India is widespread as the photographer has documented during his photographic journeys to India, and a variety of methods have been proposed to measure it. One of the causes of poverty in India is the high population growth rate...

The vast immigration in India
When a city is unable to contain its populace in terms of providing livelihood, housing and infrastructure. This is mainly due to the vast and continuous immigration of the rural poor into urban areas. Immigration creates a shortage of resources in the cities. Urban poverty in India and other third world countries has resulted in the formation of large slums and shanty towns. Since the 1950s, the Indian government and non-governmental organisations have initiated several programmes to alleviate poverty, including subsidising food and other necessities, increased access to loans, improving agricultural techniques and price supports, and promoting education and family planning. These measures have helped eliminate famines, cut absolute poverty levels by more than half, and reduced illiteracy and malnutrition. Although the Indian economy has grown steadily over the last two decades, its growth has been uneven when comparing social groups, economic groups, geographic regions, and rural and urban areas.

Between 1999 and 2008, the annualised growth rates for Gujarat, Haryana, or Delhi were much higher than for Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, or Madhya Pradesh. Poverty rates in rural Orissa with fortythree percent and rural Bihar with fortyone percent are among the world's most extreme. Internationally there has been mad poverty line definition based on purchasing power parity basis. This definition is inspired by the reality that the price of same goods, and services such as a haircut, are quite different in local currencies around the world.


Poverty photo of a man in India.
Poverty in India is widespread as the photographer has documented during his photographic journeys to India. Rises in the costs of living making poor people less able to afford items and poor people spend a greater portion of their budgets on food than richer people. In this poverty photo from India a man is crunching down in Delhi, India.



Photos and photographs of poverty in India
When the photographer ventured through the many streets in India it was hard not to ignore the poverty, which can be seen in its people. Poverty is general scarcity or dearth, or the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money. Also in India it is a multifaceted concept, which includes social, economic, and political elements. Poverty seems to be chronic or temporary, and most of the time it is closely related to inequality.


This is a poverty photo of a boy photographed in Mumbai, India.
Because children are at such a young and impressionable age, the scars they gain from experiencing poverty early in life inevitably carry on into their adult life. In this photo an Indian boy is sitting on the pavement in Mumbai, India.



Children and poverty in India
Child poverty refers to the phenomenon of children living in poverty not only in the country of India but in countries all over the world. This applies to children that come from poor families or orphans being raised with limited, or in some cases absent, state resources. Children that fail to meet the minimum acceptable standard of living for the nation where that child lives are said to be poor. In developing countries, these standards are lower and when combined with the increased number of orphans the effects are more extreme. The easiest way to quantify child poverty also in India, is by setting an absolute or relative monetary threshold. If a family in India does not earn above that threshold, the children of that family will be considered to live below the poverty line. Absolute poverty thresholds are fixed and generally only updated for price changes, whereas relative poverty thresholds are developed with reference to the actual income of the population and reflect changes in consumption. The absolute poverty threshold is the money needed to purchase a defined quantity of goods and services. While there is no exact standard used to set the threshold, and it varies from country to country, it generally reflects the minimum income needed to acquire the necessities of life. Boys and girls have equal rates of poverty through their childhoods but as women enter their teens and childbearing years the rates of poverty between the genders widens.

Children are most at the mercy of the cycle of poverty. Because a child is dependent on his or her guardian or guardians, if a child's guardian is in poverty, then they will be also. It is almost impossible for a child to pull him or herself out of the cycle due to age, lack of experience, lack of a job, etc. Because children are at such a young and impressionable age, the scars they gain from experiencing poverty early in life inevitably carry on into their adult life. Childhood lays the foundations for adult abilities, interests, and motivation. Therefore, if they learn certain poverty-related behaviors in childhood, the behaviors are more likely to perpetuate.


This is a poverty photo of an Indian girl photographed in Mumbai, India.
An Indian girl is seen at a large trash can in Mumbai, India. The photo is just one out of many poverty photos taken by the photographer in India. Boys and girls have equal rates of poverty through their childhoods but as women enter their teens and childbearing years the rates of poverty between the genders widens.



The definition of poverty in India and in the rest of the world
As a dynamic concept, poverty is changing and adapting according to consumption patterns, social dynamics and technological change. As the photographer learned the term absolute poverty or destitution refers to the deprivation of basic human needs, which commonly includes food, water, sanitation, clothing, shelter and health care. Relative poverty is defined contextually as economic inequality in the location or society in which people live. Absolute poverty, extreme poverty or abject poverty as the photographer learned about during his photosgraphy is a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services. The term 'absolute poverty', when used in this fashion, is usually synonymous with 'extreme poverty'.


Portrait photo of poverty with a woman in Mumbai, India.
The issue of urban poverty in India can be best expressed with the term pseudo urbanization. The causes of poverty in India are its high population growth rate, agrarian form of economy, primitive agricultural practices, illiteracy, ignorance, unemployment, underemployment, caste based politics, urban rural divide, social iniquity and discrimination.



How poverty is developing in India
Rises in the costs of living making poor people less able to afford items. Poor people spend a greater portion of their budgets on food than richer people. As a result, poor households and those near the poverty threshold can be particularly vulnerable to increases in food prices. Research has found that there is a high risk of educational underachievement for children who are from low-income housing circumstances. This is often a process that begins in primary school for some less fortunate children. Instruction in the educational system, as well as in most other countries, tends to be geared towards those students who come from more advantaged backgrounds. As a result, children in poverty are at a higher risk than advantaged children for retention in their grade, special deleterious placements during the school's hours and even not completing their high school education. There are indeed many explanations for why students tend to drop out of school. One is the conditions of which they attend school. Schools in poverty-stricken areas have conditions that hinder children from learning in a safe environment. The cycle of poverty has been defined as a phenomenon where poor families become impoverished for at least three generations, for example for enough time that the family includes no surviving ancestors who possess and can transmit the intellectual, social, and cultural capital necessary to stay out of or change their impoverished condition. In calculations of expected generation length and ancestor lifespan, the lower median age of parents in these families is offset by the shorter lifespans in many of these groups.


Poverty photo of a woman and a girl digging at a trash can in Mumbai, India.
One third of the Indian population has emerged from the squalor of poverty in recent year's inspite of the above factors. The photos above belong to a series of Indian photographs that are captured in five regions of India.



Poverty photos from India taken by photographer
Globally, women are far more impoverished than men and poor children are more likely to live in female-headed households. Attempts to combat the cycle of poverty, therefore, have often targeted mothers as a way to interrupt the negative patterns of poverty that affect the education, nutrition and health, and psychological and social outcomes for poor children. Such families have either limited or no resources. There are many disadvantages that collectively work in a circular process making it virtually impossible for individuals to break the cycle. This occurs when poor people do not have the resources necessary to get out of poverty, such as financial capital, education, or connections. In other words, impoverished individuals do not have access to economic and social resources as a result of their poverty. This lack may increase their poverty. This could mean that the poor remain poor throughout their lives. This cycle has also been referred to as a 'pattern' of behaviors and situations which cannot easily be changed.
"- Eversince I started photographing in India as a photographer, I encountered a country with huge contrast between rich and poor, and it hard not to forget the poor people I hav portrayed through my poverty photos", the photographer says. The official measure of Indian government, before 2005, was based on food security and it was defined from per capita expenditure for a person to consume enough calories and be able to pay for associated essentials to survive. Since 2005, Indian government adopted the Tendulkar methodology, which moved away from calorie anchor to a basket of goods and used rural, urban and regional minimum expenditure per capita necessary to survive.


Photo of a man laying down in Mumbai, India.
A realistic definition and comparison of poverty must consider these differences in costs of living, or must be on purchasing power parity basis. On this basis, currency fluctuations and nominal numbers become less important, the definition is based on the local costs of a basket of essential goods and services that people can purchase. In this poverty photo a man laying down in Mumbai, India.



The history of poverty in India
Poverty in India is a historical reality. From late 19th century through early 20th century, under British colonial rule, poverty in India intensified, peaking in 1920s. Famines and diseases killed millions each time. After India gained its independence in 1947, mass deaths from famines were prevented, but poverty increased, peaking post-independence in 1960s. Rapid economic growth since 1991, has led to sharp reductions in extreme poverty in India. However, those above poverty line live a fragile economic life. Lack of basic essentials of life such as safe drinking water, sanitation, housing, health infrastructure as well as malnutrition impact the lives of hundreds of millions. People that you can see of in this blog post with the poverty photos from India.


Photo of an Indian girl laying down on the pavement in Mumbai, India.
Child poverty refers to the phenomenon of children living in poverty not only in the country of India but in countries all over the world. This applies to children that come from poor families or orphans being raised with limited, or in some cases absent, state resources.



How to determine the poverty
A realistic definition and comparison of poverty must consider these differences in costs of living, or must be on purchasing power parity basis. On this basis, currency fluctuations and nominal numbers become less important, the definition is based on the local costs of a basket of essential goods and services that people can purchase. Internationally seen India's poverty rate is however significantly lower than previously believed. But as the photographer can document with his photos of the Indian poverty, the poverty as visual and mind-bending and just in front of your eyes in India. India determines household poverty line by summing up the individual per capita poverty lines of the household members. This practice is similar to many developing countries, but different from developed countries that adjust poverty line on an incremental basis per additional household member. For its current poverty rate measurements, India calculates two benchmarks. The first includes a basket of goods including food items but does not include the implied value of home, value of any means of conveyance or the economic value of other essentials created, grown or used without a financial transaction, by the members of a household. The second poverty line benchmark adds rent value of residence as well as the cost of conveyance, but nothing else, to the first benchmark. This practice is similar to those used in developed countries for non-cash income equivalents and poverty line basis.

Photographing issues of interest in India
Kristian Bertel was born in Denmark. One good day, he discovered documentary photography and he has contributed with powerful stories online documenting poverty in India. His photographs, many of them street portraits, portray the life conditions in India. "- Storytelling is a great tool for me as a photographer. By telling stories I can present my photos and reflect over the people and their life conditions that I have seen in the streets. I was stunned by the woman on the first photo in this blog post, who was just standing there and was crying in front of me, but also of the gripping photo of the girl laying down on the pavement, as you can see in this blog post", the photographer says. He works as a photographer and he is available for editorial assignments all over Europe, Asia, Africa and in the Middle East. For further information and inquiries please:
Contact the photographer

More photographs from India
If you are interested to see more photos and imagery from India, you can see one of the slideshows, which also appears on the photographer's website.
See the slideshow | press here



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