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Youth of two different Indias – a photo essay

September 10, 2007

About a quarter or more of our population is young, but the young belong to vastly different Indias. I would not even classify it simply as urban and rural…because these worlds exist within cities. Through the pictures below I have tried to capture these different worlds.

The photograph below shows our young energetic youth, mobile, educated and with a bright future to look forward to.


These guys on the other hand seem destined to live in the shadows


These students have exams to pass and is that why they are serious?


These youngsters have a life of hard labour to look forward to, and is that why they are taking a moment to enjoy life and are taking a break?



This is a common sight in the cities today. Boys and girls are free…


These boys and girls are equally free…or are they abandoned?


Well groomed and fresh, he is on his way to a good life…


The picture below is taken outside a suburban station. Interesting to see the number of young people captured in a casual shot…


But the majority have nowhere to go and are lucky to have a roof over their heads and perhaps a cycle…


Yet, there is the middle class youth who are rising and have a future…and an emerging India can well give it to them


(The photographs have been taken by me on the streets of Mumbai and Pune)



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39 Comments leave one →
  1. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 10, 2007 11:02 am

    That is a most touching piece of photojournalism. I would be happy if the contributors of the various posts on this blog, singing paeans of “India Shining”, would also keep this in mind.

  2. September 10, 2007 11:04 am

    Vivek, this is the first compliment I got from you and I value it highly! πŸ™‚ Thank you.

  3. September 10, 2007 11:34 am

    Wow…Well done, I am very happy to find the BRT crossing, I dare say Satara road…

    Yes, you right, the Indian youth is indeed changing thanks to the efforts of some of our past generations..

    However, all of us need to make appropriate efforts so as the energy and creativity of we, the young people should be channalized in efficient and right ways, no doubt there are some positive effects of globalization and free economy, but we need to distribute the good among many parts of society..

    Again, its written, rather photographed extremely well, I could relate some things directly.. πŸ˜›


  4. September 10, 2007 11:42 am

    Thanks Harshad.
    And yes, thats Satara Road!
    As to your suggestion about distributing the goods, yes that is a good suggestion. I think sponsoring a poor child’s education is a must for every Indian. If every Indian sponsored the education of just one child, our country will beat China in no time! πŸ™‚

  5. September 10, 2007 12:09 pm

    Nice one, Nita! But I must say, not as good as your earlier young-and-old photoessay…that was more touching somehow.

    Keep up the good work. You have an uncanny ability to photograph moments from ordinary routine life, and churn out amazing posts from them! πŸ™‚

  6. September 10, 2007 12:14 pm

    You Photo essays are always thought provoking

  7. An Only Mouse permalink
    September 10, 2007 2:21 pm

    Nita, I hate to say this but if you claim to be a ‘writer’, you should know that apostrophes do not make plurals. In the title of this post, where you wanted to say “Two Indias”, you did not need the apostrophe. Tut tut…

  8. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 10, 2007 2:28 pm


    You do me injustice!

    OK, agreed I have not paid effusive compliments (even this one was not); but that’s because I believe that others would be as embarrassed to receive my compliments as I feel when I am complimented. You should realise that even when I say something like “I find this useful, interesting, though-provoking” etc., that is a compliment.

    I am just not given to freely dispensing superlatives. Maybe that’s a flaw in personality, but It has by and large stood me in good stead, and I am not about to reinvent myself. I’d much rather be accused of stinginess than of shallowness or hypocrisy.

    Actually, come to think of it, you have not reacted to too many of my posts . I never thought that was due to lack of appreciation.

    I think if one is reasonably confident of the worth of what one is doing, then whether others express their appreciation or not ceases to be material.

  9. September 10, 2007 2:54 pm

    I never scored well on grammar in school and if I make a list of my howlers you would probably say how I dare call myself a writer! Stupid of me not to realize that without good grammar I cannot claim to be a writer. Perhaps I can claim to be a bad writer, instead of a good writer? But please don’t take away the tag of writer, it will make me lose my identity!! πŸ˜€
    I guess I gave the editors hell when I was a journalist. Now I have to depend of ‘kind’ souls like you to correct me!

  10. September 10, 2007 3:02 pm

    Vivek, I understand, you don’t have to explain! I do not need effusive compliments at all! I think you misunderstood me…and no it is NOT a flaw in your personality, you have a more muted way of expressing that is all. But if suddenly you do give a direct compliment, I notice it, and thats what I commented on.
    Also, if I do not react to any comment, it is only because I have nothing to say! If I do, then I respond.
    Please be your natural self! I know you will, but saying it all the same.

  11. Phantom permalink
    September 10, 2007 4:36 pm

    Awesoem new look to the site Nita…I like it. Much brighter and more cheerful than before.

    Re multiple youths in India….too true. I believe, from personal experience, that there really exist multiple lifestyles within India. At a broad level, there is India and then there is Bharat. The majority of the population belongs to Bharat….right from the majority of the rural sector, small town folk through to the more vernavular middle class in the cities. India on the other hand comprises what my mum always calls the EMTs (English Medium Types)….these are mostly urban, towards the upper rungs of the middle class, or aspiring to be anyway…more enthused towards westernisation etc.

    Growing up….i never realised how diverse and amazingly variant the indian population is. Its very very very easy to get so complately insulated from the true harsh realities of Bharat if one has been brought up in the sheltered confines of urban “India”. Actually….living overseas for almost a decade now has actually made me immensley more egalitarian at heart than when I lived in India. Most of my well to do friends in the South bbay’s and the South Delhi’s of “India” are so incredibly insulated and detached from the “Bharat” that stares them in the eye everytime they step out onto the streets…..that it almost makes them desensitised to the ground realities.

    I think it is in this willing mental detachment from the “other side of the fence”….that characterises much of the urban EMTs…that is truly unique to India. In India…one can actually visually make out the difference between one from the EMT or affluent category, relative to one from the less fortunate side of the fence…its not that the latter arent dressed as well or as clean lookign etc….all that does matter too to some extent…but i’m talking abt the aura of resignation to fate, slight subserviance displayed by the latter. This visual distinction is not so apparent among white people, or wven among orientals.

    I dream of an India where there is true egalitarianism, where the class divide isn’t as vivid as it is, where a child from a slum can indeed not only dream of accomplishing the best, but actually is afforded the opportunities to realise those dreams.

  12. September 10, 2007 5:14 pm

    Phantom, thanks for the detailed comment. I too look forward to an India like that. About the reference to not being able to classify white people so easily, could it be due to the fact that you are still new to their society? Wouldn’t a white person born and brought up there be able to distinguish through body language, dress or otherwise, the class differences?
    And I am glad you liked the new theme. I like it much better too. Its more cheery and also, easier to read. Hadn’t realised how difficult to read the other one could get!

  13. September 10, 2007 5:54 pm

    I do like the new look, it’s a nice theme. It’s very interesting to see the debate about education and youth. Certainly America is faced with problems with poverty and educational drop-outs; many who then turn to crime. Since the population in America is roughly one-quarter of India’s, the gap between success and failure would seem to be much greater in India.

    I want to thank you for your blog, I am learning much about your country.

  14. September 10, 2007 6:03 pm

    Phantom if I may. Being a white person in America I can safely safe that class differences exist here as well. Although there is ‘free’ movement to anyone, the reality is that money or the lack there of determines the social hierarchy. It is true there is no dress code per se, however, many people, especially the youth, dress in code according to their social and economic backgrounds. Plus, regional accents play a large role as well.

  15. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 10, 2007 6:10 pm


    Phantom’s post helped solve a mystery I had been trying to figure out since this morning — the new look. Is this your doing or is it the people? It is certainly brighter and more cheerful. In the old arrangement, especially while inputting, the white letters against a black background, and that too in so small a type size, were very disturbing. I was particularly embarrassed by the number typos that escaped my attention.

    The only inconvenience in the new format is that one does not immediately see the “Your Say” listing near the start of the right hand margin. One has to scroll all the way down to the bottom (quite a task if one is in the South vs. North thread).

    Thanks, anyway, for saving me a premature visit to my opthalmologist!

  16. B Chopra permalink
    September 10, 2007 7:28 pm


    Great work.. and Great Post.. Those pictures clearly speaks well-enough about our country and we Indians.. and an energy with us.. Really nice.. Keep it up.

    BTW, Honestly – I feel old theme was better than thisone…

    and This is for you.. what I felt in your post..

    Feelings not to supress…
    Feelings not to express…
    Feelings are there just to feel…
    or share them, its a good deal…


  17. September 10, 2007 7:58 pm

    Brian, its nice to have you here. πŸ™‚ About America, yes I think a person used to seeing all kinds of people will immediately be able to spot the background of the person, specially from the accent. Here perhaps it is more overt, because the way rural folk dress is so different.
    In America too there must be people who are unable to get out of the rut of poverty (although America’s definition of poverty would be different!), for different reasons. Not for lack of opportunity as here, but other complex social reasons.
    I am glad you liked the theme!

    Vivek, wordpress and other blog hosts all offer dozens of themes to choose from. As I prefer a theme with two sidebars plus a custom header (we get to choose a photo to place at the top), there is not much choice for me. Most of the themes are with one sidebar! This particular theme (Called Digg) was introduced just today and I immediately tried it out! A new theme with the kind of specifications I like…actually I prefer brighter themes too, though in this one I don’t like the green. But I have no choice but to stick with it.
    What you said about the Recent Comments not displaying properly is something I must look into. Sometimes if links are not put into html format and go across the page, the sidebar slips down. At times it can happen if the window is not maximised. It can also happen with old versions of IE. I will check if everything is okay.

  18. September 10, 2007 8:00 pm

    Bharath, I am touched at your small poem. Thanks. πŸ™‚
    About the theme, I know the older one had more style, but I had got several requests from people to change the theme to a more easy to read one. I wish it had as much style as the Neo theme, but anyway, its more practical so for now I will stick with it. And wait for a better one to come along!

  19. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 10, 2007 8:25 pm


    My grouse regarding display was not about “Recent Comments”. It was about the difficulty of clearly reading, in the old theme, the text as one was inputting it (in the box which I am using at this moment). That particular sans-serif font, in the size available, using white letters on a black background, was a considerable strain on the eye (and while I do use specs I don’t have an excessively high number).

    The other comment concerned not so much the legibility as the location of the “Your Say” section at the very bottom of the right hand margin. It is simply too far down to scroll to in a long thread, especially one such as S vs. N

  20. September 10, 2007 8:27 pm

    For some reason, this reminds me of a train journey from Chennai to Tirupati many years ago. The train stopped at some station and a poor woman climbed into the compartment asking for alms. My initial reaction was like those of many – ignore, try to look away, hope she moves on without tugging at my heart strings too much. But something caught my eye – she was with her daughter, a small girl – in tatters, dirty. The girl was not begging and was just tagging along. I took one look at her and suddenly there was rush of thoughts – “Here I am – born into a reasonably well-off family; studied in a good school. Went to the US, and am quite comfortable, and generally happy. This little girl will never see an glimpse of such a life – and I am not even living in luxury. Does she know what exists out there? Does she dream? Did she choose her current life? No – she was just born into extreme poverty. Sure some like this can get out – but the effort seemed monumental, compared to what it takes for me to be “successful”.

    Only one thought circled my mind for the rest of the journey: How sad it is that some are dealt with such bad cards when they are born, while others get much better ones!

    Two sides indeed. I still can picture that incident clearly. It has been almost 15 years I think.

  21. September 10, 2007 8:38 pm

    Arunk, thanks for sharing that experience! It wonderful to see that inspite of living a comfortable life, you are sensitive to the fact that people like you and me are born with priviliges. In India those without accept their fate so readily that it makes me wonder at their belief in Karma! What you said about them not even knowing what exists can be illustrated with a simple conversation I had with my maid the other day. She has a mobile phone, wears fashionable clothes, but did not know that such a thing as a dishwasher exists in the world…

    Vivek, now I get it. You mean the comment box. Yes the white against the black background was difficult to use. There were others who told me about it…and I was looking for a better theme.
    About the Recent Comments (which I termed as Your Say) – I have moved it up a little. Hope it helps. But in any case it should not appear at the bottom. If it does, something is not functioning properly

  22. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 10, 2007 9:18 pm


    Re. “Your Say”, I think the problem is that the column width of it clashes with your main (centre) column. My guess is that if you make them mutually compatible, the right-hand text will automatically slip up.

  23. September 10, 2007 9:25 pm

    Vivek, it is not up to me to adjust the column width. That comes with the theme.
    However I can view them perfectly on my comp. I use Mozilla Firefox. In this post for example the title Your Say is up to the top level of the first photo.

  24. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 10, 2007 9:35 pm

    That’s interesting. I have Blog Stats lined up just below the horizontal border below “submit comment”, and there is an overlap of about 12 mm between them. That’s on “Youth of two different Indias”.

    When I swithch over to S vs. N., the main text column shifts to extreme left, the material in the left hand margin goes down below, and the right hand margin, which now has enough room, remains where it was at the bottom.

    I don’t seem to have Mozilla Firefox installed on my laptop. Must check out your blog on my desktop tomorrow.

    Vivek: Get Mozilla. Its free. It is a fantastic browser and one can view all themes with ease.

  25. September 10, 2007 11:42 pm

    Now let me tell you something. Your previous template was very intimidating. I found it difficult to read, with the background and the fonts conspiring to send me to the Optometrist.
    An Only Mouse seems to be a VERY interesting person, isn’t it? She (is she now?) seems extraordinary in her wit and language, apart from being fearless in what she has to say. Hope she hangs around….
    Is she Arundhati Roy in disguise?

  26. September 11, 2007 4:36 am

    lots of new changes in ur blog
    yes there are disparities in india, nicely highlighted.

  27. September 11, 2007 7:18 am

    Rambodoc, yeah I know, you were one of those who had mentioned the hard to read Neo theme. I liked the looks of it but there were were a lot of cons.
    About the only mouse, its interesting that you thought of the mouse as a woman, i though of it as a man. Now that you mention it, I think it could well be my school mam in disguise. πŸ™‚
    p.s. yes, this comment had gone into spam.

    Prax, thanks.

  28. vish permalink
    September 11, 2007 10:36 am

    Nita, nice theme you have now. I am sure there is a third India…the rural India and most of us have no idea about the rural India. What about the youth over there?

  29. September 11, 2007 10:42 am

    Well, it looks the majority prefer this theme!
    Vish, About the third India, that is a very interesting question. I do know a little about rural Maharashtra as my uncle is a farmer and have been visiting since childhood, but about the rest of rural India, my knowledge comes from reading.
    From what I have garnered, the rural youth grow up fast, and often have no youth of speak of. Early marraiges for both boys and girls, less education, and no place to hang out, have fun and certainly an inability to be free. They are bound by family occupations…the ones that break out and leave for the cities can carve out an individual existence.

  30. priyank pujara permalink
    September 11, 2007 11:53 am

    a wonderful and miraculous output of journalism.
    both leading and lagging features of india seen in this pictures.

  31. Mudit permalink
    September 11, 2007 6:31 pm

    Hi…. very interesting ….
    Ahhh the BRT lane…. The bane of 2 wheeler riders….
    Anyways did u also notice that of all the youth of today that were shown, not one was wearing a helmet….
    To think that India’s future is the one that is also the most lax when it comes to rules especially the ones that could keep them alive for their bright futures…

    Though … very gud work showing the disparities present in India….

    Was going through ur other posts and though would not agree with some but it made for a nice read because of a frank opinion….

  32. September 11, 2007 6:45 pm

    Priyank and Mudit, thanks.
    Mudit, that point about the helmet is a valid one! Even in Mumbai no one bothers.
    And even if your views are contradictory to mine in any post, they are very welcome! that is what makes the discussion more interesting!

  33. September 11, 2007 9:58 pm

    Nice nww theme Nita, and wonderful photos too.
    Hey I just had a thought, do you ask the people whom you photograph if it was okay to publish it on the internet? In Canada you could be sued.

    The last photo has an ad about Coaching classes. Have you written on how today its more important for people to get an admission to a coaching class rather than a school or college? It would be a nice read. I havent looked in the archives, I will now, thanks πŸ™‚

  34. September 11, 2007 10:21 pm

    Now you’ve caught me. I was hoping no one would mention that…!
    Actually I mostly take the photos in the presence of the people but I guess they have no idea that they are going to be on here. I console myself by saying that I am not using this for any commercial purpose…and if anyone recognizes themselves here they are welcome to demand that I take down their picture immediately! I will ofcourse oblige and opologize! There are no laws here like in Canada ofcourse.
    But if you notice, I try very hard not to show the faces…but sometimes I do. Do you think its a terribly wrong?
    About the coaching classes, one post is on the anvil. Have been researching the subject… wanted to find a nice angle…

  35. September 12, 2007 7:43 am

    What a wonderful photo essay. Thanks for undertaking it.

  36. September 12, 2007 6:02 pm

    Nahh, I think they are fine! Like you said, (1) No commercial usage (2) Consious attempt to hide identity and (3) Harmless content. Photos of public in general (the one outside station) are legal anyway πŸ™‚

  37. September 12, 2007 6:18 pm

    I think photos of people where they are intended to be anonymous representatives of the topic being discussed are perfectly fine. You are neither attempting to identify the person nor write something ‘specific’ to that individual.

    I had similar questions in my mind when taking and posting pictures of the restaurant…I too tried to make the people anonymous and wherever possible avoid them altogether…

  38. Thoams permalink
    January 25, 2008 2:48 pm

    said yaar.

    i fear, unless ‘we’ the ‘better half’ care about the other half, we will be part of a group which will have to answer for truning theim to Nex…… or something worse to happen


  39. November 10, 2008 11:46 am

    Wow Nita, you are a really creative person. And this is a very new kind of creativity for me. The choice of topic and the execution teaches us so much.

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