Ajaib S. Kochar

Indian women near river carrying water on their heads
WHO/A.S. Kochar

Ajaib S. Kochar was born in 1937 in Nowshera, in the district of Sargodha in what is now Pakistan. He joined WHO at the age of 25 as an Information Officer in New Delhi. He spent 20 years in the Public Information section, mainly in the SEARO Regional Office. He retired from WHO in 1997 after 35 years of service.

Mr Kochar taught himself to use a camera at age 30. With his supervisor's encouragement, he began officially photographing WHO activities. He produced photo reports for WHO publications on topics from malaria to mental health to traditional medicine. Mr Kochar aimed always to contextualize his reports, photographing aspects of the life and landscape in the Indian sub-continent that extended beyond health. These images illustrated numerous WHO publications becoming a major source for imagery on health activities in the whole of India.

Where age brings honour: India, 1981
For this photo report, Ajaib S. Kochar took a series of photographs of elderly people in the rural Indian villages of Goyla and Tajpur. His images accompanied a story by Jitendra Tuli called Where age brings honour that appeared in World Health in 1982.

The music of water: India, 1982
This photo report focuses on access to water in rural Indian villages. Ajaib S. Kochar's photographs show a campaign to install water pumps throughout the state of Rajasthan. They were published in World Health with the story The music of water.

"I used to take pictures of my family as an amateur. Once my boss, Karl Frucht, saw these pictures. He thought these were good, and encouraged me to take photos of health activities for official use by WHO. Though this was not a part of my job, I started doing it any way and taught myself by practice. That's how my journey as a photographer began."
Interview with Ajaib S. Kochar, March 2009