photos of poverty | Of Mind and Money

photos of poverty


From Subsistence to Suprasistence

Posted on August 16, 2011 by Tara Thiagarajan in Physics of Poverty, Writing. 2 comments

Over half the world simply subsists – caught in a cycle of supporting ones immediate survival. More than half of India is a subsistence economy. The word subsistence is a derivative of the word ‘exist’ which comes from the Latin word existere meaning ‘to emerge’ or ‘to be’. But what does it really mean to subsist? Typically it is thought of in terms of poverty – some amount of money that people earn – but to me it is not equivalent – I think it is better defined in terms of an energy use cycle.

Here’s what I mean. In rural India, according to the NSSO studies, people use 50% to 70% of their income to buy food which means the majority of expenditure goes towards fueling the survival of the body. Compare this to the United States where it is … Read More »


Go on. Innovate!

Posted on January 10, 2011 by Tara Thiagarajan in Uncategorized. 3 comments

(as posted at YourStory.in)

You’d think that with almost a billion people out there in the rural areas that there would be amazing innovations to be found there every day. But there aren’t. Search as we might innovation is hard to come by. Implicit in the definition of innovation is change, but the village ethos is about tradition. It’s about holding on to age old practices. Walk into a village and life looks almost the way it did hundreds of years ago. In my column last week I talked about celebrating human innovation. Why is there so little of it? Take a look at what India looks like from the sky, ask people a few questions and the answer is quite obvious really.

Most of India looks like this.

Tiny settlements of a hundred or fewer households smattering the landscape. … Read More »


Interpreting Poverty through Images

Posted on June 23, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Writing. 1 Comment

Here is an interesting post that I came across.

Exploring Different Perspectives of Poverty Through Photography
by Duncan McNicholl

Some excerpts:
Many people only experience sub-Saharan Africa through photographs. The teary-eyed child in rags is familiar to all of us as the portrait of poverty charities use to communicate a hopelessness in need of our pity and charity. I reacted very strongly to these images when I returned from Africa in 2008 after a 4 month volunteer placement in Malawi, working with Engineers Without Borders Canada. I compared the images I saw to my Malawian friends – people who embodied intelligence, resilience, and compassion – and I felt lied to.

It seemed that these photos presented by development organizations and the media were deliberately providing only one perspective of rural Africans like my friends in Malawi, which was despair.

…..This photo project, which I am dubbing … Read More »