We find the blood tout, Rajesh, sitting on a tattered blanket next to a stall drinking milky tea from a flimsy plastic cup as monkeys traverse electrical lines overhead. Posing as the relatives of an accident victim, we tell him we need three units of blood.
“Three thousand rupees ($48; £30) per donor,” Rajesh says. “I’ll arrange everything.”
Selling blood and paying donors in India is illegal, but across the country, a vast “red market” proliferates. Taboos Blood is in chronic short supply in India, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which stipulates that every country needs at least a 1% reserve. India, with its population of 1.2 billion people, needs 12 million units of blood annually but collects only 9 million – a 25% deficit.