Vasanti Shinde, at home with two of her daughters Vrinda, 8 and Shruda, 10. Maharashtra. India ©Tom Pietrasik 2008 The struggle against the over-zealous patenting of life-saving drugs was dealt a victory in India last week. So it seemed an appropriate time to revisit my photographs, commissioned by UNDP, of Vasanti Shinde, an HIV-positive mother [...]
The Guardian website now features a short film I made about a health project in rural India called Jan Swasthya Sayhog (JSS). I have photographed the JSS several times before and always felt that their ceaseless commitment to the rural community they serve together with their understanding of healthcare in India would warrant the making of [...]
Administering the polio vaccination at a clinic inaugurated by the local Imam outside his madrassa in Moradabad. Polio eradication efforts are improved with the blessing of local community leaders. Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. India ©Tom Pietrasik 2006 Two weeks ago India announced that 12-months had elapsed since the country last recorded a new case of polio. [...]
Attempting to specify where photojournalism ends and art begins is a pretty pointless task. But in the case of Norfolk, I raise the issue because later in the Radio 4 interview, by explaining his approach to photography, Norfolk seemed to perfectly define the merit of photojournalism – as oppose to art – and the obligations that are incumbent upon all of us lucky enough to have been brought up in the Developed World but who work in much poorer countries.
It is clear that acts of corruption including fraud and bribery are incredibly difficult to photograph but I did recently have the privilege of witnessing first hand, the work of those whose responsibility it is to confront corruption by holding public officials to account.
Dhanga’s is not an isolated case. Thirty-three percent of Indians are underweight with a BMI (Body Mass Index) below 18.5 which, Dr Binayak Sen says amounts to a “genocide without bullets”. Sen, a public-health activist and advisor to the JSS, currently resides in prison, serving a life sentence on false charges of sedition. Sen’s real crime has been to expose the Chhattisgarh state government’s appalling failure to represent the interests of those to whom it was elected to serve: ordinary people like Dhanga Baiga.
Think of an Indian farmer and it is likely that you will conjure up the image of a man, dressed a dhoti – or perhaps wearing a turban – toiling in a field of wheat or rice. But as Neelam Prabhat of AROH pointed out to me last week, it is women who shoulder the burden of 70 to 80 percent of the agricultural work that takes place in India.
Ela Bhatt is founder of the Self Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA), a union which represents the rights of over one million workers. She lives in the west Indian city of Ahmedebad and while I was there to photograph her last month she took me to meet some of SEWA’s members among the vegetable vendors of the city.