Pictures speak volumes, emotions depicted in them can do wonders. Some camera clicks make you fall in love with the world, thank almighty God for his wonderful creations. But there are some other pictures which make you feel sad. They make you question the basic traits of humanity, and makes you wonder even if humanity exists. Such is the strength of photography. Remember that picture of the drowned body of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi? That shook the world. The refugee crisis, the magnitude of ISIS genocides started surfacing after this. The world’s attention was drawn towards the Middle East all of a sudden just because of this picture.
There is another picture that flashes around my eye when I write about “Images that shook the world” is the iconic photo clicked by Kevin Carter in Somalia. In March 1993, while on a trip to Sudan, Carter was preparing to photograph a starving toddler trying to reach a feeding center when a hooded vulture landed nearby. Carter reported taking the picture because it was his “job title”, and then leaving the spot. He was told not to touch the children for fear of transmitting disease. After taking the picture, he got up and chased the vulture away. He sold it to The New York Times, the photograph first appeared on 26 March 1993 and was carried in many other newspapers around the world. Hundreds of people contacted the newspaper to ask the fate of the girl. The paper reported that it was not known whether she had managed to reach the feeding Centre. In April 1994, the photograph won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. Kevin Carter was criticized for being inhumane in his approach towards the kid. He was taken aback by this, mentally broken and was in a state of depression that he committed suicide the very next year on the fateful day of July 27th, 1994. Such was the strength of this picture. Such was its impact. This picture made the world understand the existence of third world countries and the magnitude of hunger, famine, and malnutrition in these places. Help and support started flowing in from different parts of the world.
The two depictions above speak a lot about the images captured and their impact on the society. But when we consider what more could the photographer do, we see a lot of differences in opinion. Clicking a candid picture and waiting for the right opportunity to do so, makes you a better photographer, but maybe taking the kid to the feeding Centre would have made him a better human being. But this split opinions about his morals and priorities leaves us ample space for discussions. We should agree that Kevin Carter couldn’t have done much more about the kid.
But that reminds me of two separate incidents in the recent past, one which happened in Bangalore. Here a bike rider met with a fatal accident and was cut into two pieces. He survived the initial injuries and was begging people for help. He was found repeatedly pleading people around to call an ambulance and take him to a hospital. But no one did it. And sadly this guy died of bleeding and injuries sustained in the accident after a gruesome torturous half an hour fight. And guess what, this entire scene was pictured, videoed and broadcasted around on social media. I just wonder what difference it would have made if at least one of those who pictured/video graphed this event had lent his helping hand to the victim. Maybe the guy would have survived, or maybe he would have died, but it would have been a humanitarian gesture to do. I would rather see it as our responsibility to do so.
The other story is the recent DANA MANJHI incident. This story comes from one of the country’s poorest districts in Odisha, here Dana Manjhi carried the corpse of his deceased wife on his shoulder, with his weeping 12- year old daughter by his side. He had no vehicle to take his wife’s body home after she died of tuberculosis at a government hospital in Kalahandi, about 60 km from his village. He pleaded the hospital officials for a vehicle. But they refused. So he wrapped his 42-year old wife Amang Dei’s body in a sheet, hoisted it on his shoulder and began to walk home. His daughter walked by his side holding a bag, weeping.
“I told the hospital authorities that I am a poor man and cannot afford a vehicle. I kept requesting them but they said they could not help,” Mr. Manjhi said to a television crew that found him after he had walked about 10 km with the body. The crew then called up a senior officer and arranged for a vehicle. But in that stretch of 10 kms, many had seen him walk carrying the dead body of his wife, but no one gave a helping hand.
Incidents of this kind keep asking me just one question. In an era of a technological revolution where all physical borders and barriers have been seamlessly integrated, where mobile phone’s keep changing every next day, where Internet of Things is the next big revolution, where artificial intelligence, artificial simulation of emotion is achieved, people are losing their natural morals. They are losing their values. I fear that if we continue like this, words like humanity, kindness, and help are only going to be seen in books. Let us wake up before it’s too late and decide to do the right things which matter. Let us change the way we look at others problems and get into their shoes and understand their pain. Let us all strive to make this world a happy place to live… For me, for you and for the entire human race.