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Photographer: Sumit Dayal/Bloomberg Markets
Women prepare to give birth at Mirzapur District Women’s Hospital in northern India. Other patients saysome staff... Read More
Photographer: Sumit Dayal/Bloomberg Markets
Man Kumari helps care for her three granddaughters after Sita Devi, their mother and her daughter-in-law, died in childbirth.




Sita Devi was in labor when her family paid the day’s first bribe. The wife of Shivvaran Pal, a subsistence farmer whom she’d married at 15, Sita worked on their land and earned a monthly wage of 1,000 rupees, about $16, cooking school lunches. By 23, she had three daughters under age 3.
She shared a cluster of mud-and-dung huts with her in-laws in the north Indian village of Ukhdand, where Shivvaran tended buffalo and grew vegetables in rocky soil on the edge of the Vindhyachal hills.
When Sita went into labor with the couple’s fourth child on Jan. 8, 2014, Paudhari, the community’s health aide, called an ambulance. As with most maternity services for women using state-run hospitals, the ride was supposed to be free. It wasn’t. The driver demanded 150 rupees. Sita’s family appeased him with 50, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its February issue.
All told, they would hand out at least 750 rupees on the final two days of Sita’s pregnancy, a sum it would have taken three weeks to earn at her cooking job.