For thirty years, until his conviction in 2010 by the High Court, pediatrician Binayak Sen and his sociologist wife Ilina worked among people in Chhattisgarh s tribal heartland. They came here seeking fresh ideas for change and stayed on. This fascinating memoir illuminates their journey and how their world imploded. Ilina vividly describes their years at the trade union CMSS, led by the iconic Shankar Guha Niyogi, where Binayak and three doctors started a hospital, and she organized workers education, joined the feisty women mine-workers struggles, and discovered the rich local history, cultural and farming traditions. These experiences later found expression in Rupantar, their own NGO, and when the new state s government sought their advice for its women s policy and for Mitanan, a precursor of the national rural health mission. Candid and deeply felt, the book celebrates Chhattisgarh but also laments the lost opportunity for its inclusive and violence-free development.
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Ilina Sen has been active in the women s and other rights-based movements for over three decades. Educated at Shillong, Kolkata and at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, her research, writing and action has focused on women s politics and livelihood issues, as well as issues of sustainable development, agro-biodiversity and peace.
During the years her husband, Dr Binayak Sen, was in prison on charges that many considered were trumped up, she was actively involved in the campaign for his release. She has been professor of women s studies at the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya [International Hindi University], Wardha, and at the Tata institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Currently, she is senior fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi. Her major publications include A Space Within the Struggle (1990) and Sukhvasin: the Migrant Woman of Chhattisgarh (1995).
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