Photographer Anjali Tiwari is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From the project ‘They sell to Survive, Not to Save’. To see Anjali’s body of work, click on any image.
In India, due to poverty in rural areas and lack of employment opportunities, many people from rural areas of India migrate to urban areas. Since these migrants usually lack skills and education, they cannot opt for formal sector jobs; hence, many of them have no other alternative and they start street vending in order to survive in the city. Many of them are also folk artist, who otherwise do not have any means of selling their products.
According to a source, there are an estimated 50-60 lakh street vendors in India, with the largest concentrations of migrants in cities of like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Ahmedabad. Most of them are migrants, due to their low paying work, typically work for 10–12 hours every day on average.
Like everyone, since childhood, street vendors are part of my daily life. As a child I used to go with my mom to shop from streets. It feels lively when I see them all over the streets sitting, shouting and trying to attract customers to buy their products. But thing that affects me the most is understanding their struggle for livelihood, for their family.
I remember one incident when I was on a photo walk at Connaught Place in Delhi, I asked a vendor to smile at the camera. And it was very disheartening to hear what he said – “Madam my life is full of responsibilities and problems, I forgot how to smile”. Irrespective to weather, their personal physical and mental health status, they have to sit on street every day to earn every day fulfill their needs.
By selling products on street they are trying live with dignity and respect. Their family goes to bed without food if on a day they are not able to earn sufficient money. Not all, but for some street vendors haggling also creates a challenge for them. They may sell it for the price you want under compulsion but that would not be sufficient for their survival.
Here I am exhibiting portraits of a few street vendors in Delhi, India.
All images and text © Anjali Tiwari
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wow, what an intimate glimpse into the lives of these extraordinary people