Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts

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9780140259841: Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts

The poor in India are, too often, reduced to statistics, In the dry language of development reports and economic projections, the true misery of the 312 million who live below the poverty line, or the 26 million displaced by various projects, or the 13 million who suffer from tuberculosis gets overlooked.

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Often reduced to statistics, the misery of the 312 million who live below the poverty line in India, is often overlooked. These stories show how they manage, what sustains them and efforts made to help. The book pays attention to districts, and the issues it raises are universal in their relevance.

Review:

This book collects Sainath's controversial column for the Times Of India about India's poorest districts--reporting what was shocking to many in India itself. Sickened by glossy lifestyle articles celebrating India's private schools, designer fashion and weight loss clinics, Sainath began a one-man mission to document what was really happening. He concentrated on Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Bihar's poorest communities, populated mainly by dalits (untouchables) and tribal minorities--people who often work 18 hours a day for one pound a month.

The format is 800-word bulletins that tell it like it is. They are statistic-filled but easy to absorb and absolutely compelling. They reveal how poverty is compounded by corruption, incompetence, laziness, greed and stupidity. Instead of improving life, many government schemes/development programs only make the poorest poorer, while making corrupt politicians, land- owners and the complacent new middle class of Mumbai (Bombay) richer.

Your jaw will drop at the revelations--callous contractors steal tribal lands, never paying compensation; doctors turn public hospitals into private clinics; schools are used as cow-sheds while teachers still claim wages; villages are used for target practice by the army and aid money is siphoned off by corrupt officials. Worst is the scandal of drought relief, rural India's biggest growth economy--drought often caused by racketeers selling water or the rich pumping it away for themselves.

Forget spiritual texts. Simultaneously fascinating and distressing, this is the book visitors to India should read. --Sarah Champion

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