As part of our studies of India, the class watched a documentary entitled "Born Into Brothels" which profiled a group of children living in a brothel in the red light district of Calcutta, India. The children from these brothels seemed to be like any other child, glowing with curiosity. Though unlike other children, children who have more of an opportunity to realize their curiosity by being privileged with a better education and better circumstances, these children were bound for a destined track. The girls, like their mothers, would become prostitutes at the brothel and the boys, like their fathers, were headed towards a more uncertain future. These children lacked opportunity to grow and expand their horizon until an American woman, whom the children called Zana Auntie, came to the red light district of Calcutta to work with them. With her, she brought cameras, introducing the children to this technology, but also embarking on a journey that would eventually give these children an opportunity to escape the evils of the brothels.
As Zana Auntie worked with the children, teaching them photography, they showed their real potential as many of them became quite proficient with a camera in hand. Many of their photographs gained local and even international attention, and the children were realized as more than just kids born into brothels, they held real potential and all they needed was an equal opportunity. What Zana Auntie strived to do next was to gain entrance for these children into boarding schools, to get them away from the brothels and headed towards a life apart from the red light district. She succeeded in getting these kids into schools, but after some time, most of them dropped out or were withdrawn by their parents. It seems as though these children, like any other child, had great potential, and having been granted entrance to the boarding schools they had great opportunity to succeed. But it was ultimately their families, their parents, the circumstances surrounding them that caused so many of the kids to drop out of the schools. It seems simple enough to get underprivileged children into school and lead them to success, but in reality, there are many factors that surround such a plan which make it extremely difficult to bring such children out of poverty.
Though it is apparent that poverty in India exists, and that something must be done about it, it is imperative to analyze what causes this poverty and what effects it has. A video I watched, entitled "India - A New Life", brought some more light to the realities of poverty in India. The video showed children on the streets of big cities in India, with nowhere to go. Theses children had been separated from their parents, whether they were abandoned or if perhaps their parents had tragically died. Some of these children are able to find shelter and comfort in certain centers which strive to help these kids. Though some have this opportunity, most reject it because they are simply too accustomed to a life on the run. The video showed that though, yes, poverty may be caused by geographical factors or more generic circumstances, it also happens to be that many children are in fact abandoned or perhaps torn from their parents by tragic death. And these are the kids who roam the streets, fending for themselves spotlighting the extent of poverty in India.
In my studies of India, I also did some light reading on the topic of poverty in the nation. I read two articles, one which brought attention to "ragpickers" and another which focused on India's economic growth. The article about ragpickers discusses people in India working to separate trash and as a result keeping cities running. Despite their valuable work, these workers are discriminated against and earn an awful wage, seldom making more than a dollar per day. The other article focuses on the rapid growth of India's economy. As more people retreat from rural areas in search of better opportunity, India's economy grows with heightened productivity. And though the economy is growing, India's massive population is a cause of a great divide between the rich and the poor. As in the first article, there are many of those in poverty working for petty wages and though these people help India's economy grow, only a fraction of people will prosper greatly as a result. The rest are left impoverished. The cause for poverty comes from the fact that it takes many workers earning small wages for one person to profit greatly. And the result of this is that even though as a whole India's economy is expanding, the means by which it grows puts more and more people in poverty. India must find a balance in its economic strategies to maintain high national economic success and solve the issues of widespread poverty within the nation.