Photos: A resolute man’s blind stumble along Delhi’s streets

Vinod Kumar Sharma is one of an estimated 63 million visually impaired people in India, according to the World Health Organization. Of those, some eight million are completely blind. Having lost his sight as a teenager while working in the fields of his village, Sharma moved to Delhi for treatment and eventually got a job, making children's braille toys for more than two decades before the factory shut. Now retraining as a massage therapist he spends four hours a day in the commute to his classes in New Delhi. The International Day of People with Disabilities was on Tuesday.

Updated On Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST 11 Photos
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Vinod Kumar Sharma, 44, a visually impaired person stands at the entrance of his home in Asaoti, Haryana. Tapping his white cane, Vinod Kumar Sharma spends four hours a day running the gauntlet of crowded trains and New Delhi’s congested, potholed and often pavement-less roads. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Vinod Kumar Sharma, 44, a visually impaired person stands at the entrance of his home in Asaoti, Haryana. Tapping his white cane, Vinod Kumar Sharma spends four hours a day running the gauntlet of crowded trains and New Delhi’s congested, potholed and often pavement-less roads. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Updated on Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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Vinod Kumar Sharma is watched by his wife Indrapti (L) and younger daughter Mahima as he prepares to leave home in Asaoti early in the morning. Sharma is one of an estimated 63 million visually impaired people in India, according to the World Health Organization. Of those, some eight million are completely blind -- around 20% of the global total. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Vinod Kumar Sharma is watched by his wife Indrapti (L) and younger daughter Mahima as he prepares to leave home in Asaoti early in the morning. Sharma is one of an estimated 63 million visually impaired people in India, according to the World Health Organization. Of those, some eight million are completely blind -- around 20% of the global total. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Updated on Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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Sharma (back, C) prepares to exit a train upon arriving at Okhla railway station on his way to the Blind Relief Association in New Delhi. On trains, where passengers are packed like sardines in the megacity of 20 million people, he is dependent on fellow commuters helping him to navigate platforms and squeeze in and out of carriages. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Sharma (back, C) prepares to exit a train upon arriving at Okhla railway station on his way to the Blind Relief Association in New Delhi. On trains, where passengers are packed like sardines in the megacity of 20 million people, he is dependent on fellow commuters helping him to navigate platforms and squeeze in and out of carriages. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Updated on Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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Vinod Kumar Sharma (L) walks from a platform onto the rail tracks with his wife Indrapti (R) after arriving at Okhla railway station in New Delhi. Sharma told AFP that people always help him to get on and off trains. “The people are good. But there are broken roads and open sewage holes which are always a risk,” he added. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Vinod Kumar Sharma (L) walks from a platform onto the rail tracks with his wife Indrapti (R) after arriving at Okhla railway station in New Delhi. Sharma told AFP that people always help him to get on and off trains. “The people are good. But there are broken roads and open sewage holes which are always a risk,” he added. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Updated on Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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Vinod Kumar Sharma sits outside a temple after saying his prayers on his way to the Blind Relief Association. Many roads lack pavements, forcing the 44-year-old father-of-three to walk on the roadside, probing his white cane in front as cars and trucks tear past just inches away. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Vinod Kumar Sharma sits outside a temple after saying his prayers on his way to the Blind Relief Association. Many roads lack pavements, forcing the 44-year-old father-of-three to walk on the roadside, probing his white cane in front as cars and trucks tear past just inches away. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Updated on Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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Vinod Kumar Sharma gets off a public bus while on his way. Sharma, like many other blind Indians, also battles a dire lack of opportunities in education and employment for disabled people. Many are forced to beg or turn to charity to make ends meet. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Vinod Kumar Sharma gets off a public bus while on his way. Sharma, like many other blind Indians, also battles a dire lack of opportunities in education and employment for disabled people. Many are forced to beg or turn to charity to make ends meet. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Updated on Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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Poverty and poor access to healthcare in rural areas also contributes to the high prevalence of vision impairment in the country, experts say. Sharma -- from Bihar -- lost his sight as a teenager while working in the fields of his village. He moved to Delhi to try and get treatment but when doctors were unable to help him, he stayed on. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Poverty and poor access to healthcare in rural areas also contributes to the high prevalence of vision impairment in the country, experts say. Sharma -- from Bihar -- lost his sight as a teenager while working in the fields of his village. He moved to Delhi to try and get treatment but when doctors were unable to help him, he stayed on. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Updated on Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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Sharma trained at a school for the blind and landed a job in a factory, making children’s braille toys, for more than two decades before it shut down last year. He started to retrain as a massage therapist in January, resolutely making the long commute to classes at the Blind Relief Association in Delhi. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Sharma trained at a school for the blind and landed a job in a factory, making children’s braille toys, for more than two decades before it shut down last year. He started to retrain as a massage therapist in January, resolutely making the long commute to classes at the Blind Relief Association in Delhi. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Updated on Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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Vinod Kumar Sharma (L) is assisted by his wife Indrapti at a market in New Delhi. “I have picked up massage as I have become older and there aren’t many other avenues for me,” he said. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Vinod Kumar Sharma (L) is assisted by his wife Indrapti at a market in New Delhi. “I have picked up massage as I have become older and there aren’t many other avenues for me,” he said. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Updated on Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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Vinod Kumar Sharma (2nd R) checks a padlock as his wife Indrapti (R) and daughters watch during grocery shopping at Oklha wholesale vegetable market. Swapna Merlin from the Blind Relief Association said many of its trainees are from rural regions and have been brought up to believe that they could not exist outside their families’ care. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Vinod Kumar Sharma (2nd R) checks a padlock as his wife Indrapti (R) and daughters watch during grocery shopping at Oklha wholesale vegetable market. Swapna Merlin from the Blind Relief Association said many of its trainees are from rural regions and have been brought up to believe that they could not exist outside their families’ care. (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Updated on Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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Sharma is led by his wife Indrapti (R) along a road to Asaoti station in Asaoti. “Once they come out and know they can do different things, that itself is a big exposure to them... Every story of success is an inspiration for many others.” (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Sharma is led by his wife Indrapti (R) along a road to Asaoti station in Asaoti. “Once they come out and know they can do different things, that itself is a big exposure to them... Every story of success is an inspiration for many others.” (Xavier Galiana / AFP)

Updated on Dec 04, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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