Of Human Dignity

WATER EXPORT - 017.jpg
The descent into anarchy in New Orleans may have many reasons. But events like those make me wonder whether civilization exists only on the surface, for all it took was 3 days for a people to spiral back to tribalism.
And yet, the people you see in this photograph are defiantly celebrating life and community in the face of abject poverty ..

The kid on the left is actually doing a pretty nifty version of a break dance.
This group,like thousands of others, live underneath the 100 odd fly-overs (over passes) that are bieng built or planned in Mumbai, in India. Most of them have little to eat, and all live on the streets. The kids, judging by their clothes, are probably rag pickers, or just beg and steal.
And yet, they celebrate life as you can see. Families live together, hold each other in the embrace of love. They celebrate all the festivals with a lot more abandon than those I know with a lot lot more going for them in life. Atleast materially.
What gives them the courage ? The Dignity ?
These photographs are part of my research for a film I am writing called Paani (Water in Hindi). It deals with a city of 20 million that runs out of water. And the water wars begin between those that have and own the few water resources, and those that do not. Water becomes a political and ecnomic weapon of control. Shekhar

8 thoughts on “Of Human Dignity

  1. Water as a political and economic weapon of control? It would be interesting to draw some parallels with the small villages of India where certain wells are restricted to higher castes/have mores, dipicting that but in the context of Mumbai. Suppose a water war happens and the control of the water resources ends up with the poor/masses and the fortunate are not so fortunate anymore because they have all the money in the world but no water. So the people we think of as ‘poor devils’ or becharas are now the big dogs. How will they handle power? Just like in New Orleans where they looted because they could?
    And speaking to the point of the kids in the picture- “…defiantly celebrating life and community in the face of abject poverty”. I always wonder why we are amazed when we see that. What is a poor person to do? That would be an interesting thing to examine in Paani, several people (probably even the kids in the picture) struggle for water everyday without exception. So when the big water crisis happens, how much of a big crisis is it for them?

  2. O child in time
    embracing life with all its miseries,
    you are the light in this darkness
    called Reality,
    You who laugh and smile
    and make a mockery of all,
    giving each one of us the courage to laugh at life.
    Forcing each to dig deep within
    and rise beyond the personal stuggle
    to live free and happy
    and create a reality
    that exists in your laughter
    Showing the ability to stay alive
    not becoming a victim but
    a victor of each moment
    laughing all the way through life.

  3. i come from a very small town in assam,and a place which is extremely disturbed…where killings are just a matter of the day…after every terror,deepest human fear…..pain..loss diaster….people still do smile,they still celebrate,sing and hope,ofteen when i visit villages,where reckon people have nothing to smile abt. yet one evening i saw a group of women,in a thatched hut,with a fading candle singing for a bride..i kept wondering what gives them the courage to move on..to smile,to hope…thats human dignity i reckon.

  4. What a wonderful picture this one is!
    I do not think the title of your blog be Human dignity but maybe Human condition.
    The more I think about stories, the more clear I become that true, genuine stories are found in poverty.
    I still am looking at this picture…those two boys dancing…a girl looking amused…maybe there is music…or Dhol…Children defy povery Shekhar Bhai, Children do not accept “pareshani”, children live life to king size and I really like the word “tribal” that you have used either consciously or by your instinct.
    You see, this picture the more I feel, again I am convinced this kids are kings. Do I find them worried, no they are majestic, they dont care a damn and they are in tune with present, enjoying every moment and not even bothering.
    No matter how much eye opener Paani subject is going to be, one cannot take away the “tribal” condition of people living in such condition for the very visual of these children lies something more, more then what I actually feel, just to let out a thought that the so called rich dominance has absolutely no preveledge to even experience what these kids have. There is so much deeper level in this very picture.
    I really know now how paani is going to end.
    Shekhar Kapur…You really rock!
    Bas, taali nehi bajni chahiye picture khatam hoone par…just see that audience must not clap after paani film is screened.
    bas, when film is over, people must not be able to comment..taali nehi bajni chahiye…hona yeh chahiye ki jab koi aadmi shave karta hei…jo paani waste ho raha hei…nehi hona chahiye…
    bahut kuch kahena hei aap ko…par asamarth hoon

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