For the nearly eight million visually-impaired Indians, life is a daily battle.
Adapted amenities remain few and far between even though the country is home to the world’s largest population of blind people, around 20% of the global total. Merely 5% of such children (pdf) even receive an education, for instance, even though research shows that specialised learning can make a big difference to them.
Beyond the statistics, though, it’s often just their dignity that is most ignored. And that’s what photo-journalist Sutirtha Chatterjee wanted to capture at a school for the blind in Kolkata.
The 25-year-old, one of the winners of the 2017 TFA-Tasveer Emerging Photographer award, notes that as India’s visually-impaired population increases every year, often due to avoidable conditions left untreated in early stages and an inefficient eye donation system, such schools are ever more important.
“The way ahead lies within the blind school—the institution that allows for the hope-filled possibility of education and rehabilitation for children,” Chatterjee said in his artist’s statement. “It is the only place where we can enable them to blend into an everyday life of dignity and self-sufficiency.”
For Chatterjee, the portraits in the project, titled The Sixth Sense, are an attempt to raise awareness about the importance of such schools, as well as the individuality and humanity of the students.
Here are some of the photographs from the series: