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Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts Paperback – 8 Jul 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review; New edition edition (8 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074726032X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747260325
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,509,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon 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

Review

Must read for the Gen X and specially all the bureaucrats and politicians who don't even know or care what is going on. India is not about IT or massive industrial growth or reforms its about the farmers and the millions who live on agriculture. We in this modern world don't even know that such kind of India exists. We campaign to save our Tigers but none of us know that there is another endangered breed called as the Farmers. Someone said it correctly "In this part of the word the value of human life is less than that of an animal" Hats off to you Mr Sainath please continue your crusade hope some day this county will realize it is too big to go to a mall on a weekend!! --Paul Joseph Feb 5, 2012

"Everybody loves a good drought" features stories from some of India's poorest districts. This book is a thoroughly researched study of the poorest of the poor and how they manage to live, or rather survive. To cover all the issues faced by the poor in India will be a mammoth task; and hence the book features/covers places which is the author's account of visits to these places. The featured incidents in the book widely fall under the categories of Crazy development project schemes, Health & Education, money matters, crimes committed against the people, Water problems etc all with statistics.Though the places featured were kind of expected, the extent of the situation was truly an eye-opener. Even though the statistics was as of 1992-93, there is no hope that will make us say 'its going to be alright'. --Rani Nov 16, 2011

I'm a regular & avid reader of Thiru.P.Sainath.I never miss his articles in " The Hindu " and always thinking to visit Higginbotham book store to purchase Sainath's works. Fortunately,it seems,I hope that Flipkart has started to sell his work(s).I wish many more works of Sainath must be put for e-sale.About this particular book: as soon I got the book I started to read till I completed it.A thorough study & analysis of the mass suffering is portayed in all the essays & some have,after appearing in the newspaper,awakened the concsiouness of the people in the corridors of power and urged them to do something to alleviate the misery,suffering and sorrow,though the power mongers dare not to eradicate the poverty of millions & millions of the poormass who are the vote bank.I believe that every Indian must make a soul search & teach some kind of lesson to the so called leaders,if any one there in our country. --David Chandran Jul 30, 2012 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
Sainath's book provides vignettes of soul-destroying poverty and degradation in the poorest states in India. It is an attempt to correct the 'event' approach which the majority of the media takes to India's ills, which tends to view India's problems simplistically as singular aberrations, rather than taking a broader 'process' approach, which looks to less immediate causes. His writing is angry and passionate, but always clear. What certainly comes through in Sainath's book is the incredible arrogance of much of the Indian administration. Save a few isolated cases, the examples of the arrogant official class are myriad - the official insistence that they know better than the very natives who had lived in an area for years; the mass sterilisation of perfectly good cattle, already adapted to the environment, in order to make way for a so-called "super cattle", which turns out to be useless; or the mass uprooting of millions of people to make way for useless dams, now brought to the attention of the West through the thankless activism of Arundhati Roy (the author of the God of Small Things). A consistent theme running through Sainath's reporting is a lack of honest and sincere consultation with the very people the 'reforms' are supposed to help.
There are hopeful stories too - like the story of women's collectives. Sainath tells of how groups of women have gotten together and formed organised labour, and which do a better, more efficient work than the more 'sophisticated' industries and companies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Nov. 1998
Format: Paperback
The stories from the poorest villages from rural india are both touching and funny. And so true!
This book did not win all the awards for nothing.
It brings these people alive, and shows poor people are not beggars but human beings with dignity.
Good books are surprisingly hard to find. Usually a book is good if you find even one new thought from it. This one gave me a whole bunch of new thougths and provoked many others.
I recommend this book to everybody, especially to all those of us who are lazy and rich.
Very healthy reading. A good lesson on journalism as well!
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book is gud but i am indian and i knw none of these things happens now in india.

I agree with author , these things use to happen in 90,s but we are in 2015 now. lot of things has changed .

still some stories are worth reading
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R Ravin Royer on 16 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
any body who wants to be involved in community devel0pement in India should read this book. The authors stories are real life stories from different areas of India and different contexts.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding 14 Mar. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Sainath's book provides vignettes of soul-destroying poverty and degradation in the poorest states in India. It is an attempt to correct the `event' approach which the majority of the media takes to India's ills, which tends to view India's problems simplistically as singular aberrations, rather than taking a broader `process' approach, which looks to less immediate causes. His writing is angry and passionate, but always clear.
What certainly comes through in Sainath's book is the incredible arrogance of much of the Indian administration. Save a few isolated cases, the examples of the arrogant official class are myriad - the official insistence that they know better than the very natives who had lived in an area for years; the mass sterilisation of perfectly good cattle, already adapted to the environment, in order to make way for a so-called "super cattle", which turns out to be useless; or the mass uprooting of millions of people to make way for useless dams, now brought to the attention of the West through the thankless activism of Arundhati Roy (the author of the God of Small Things). A consistent theme running through Sainath's reporting is a lack of honest and sincere consultation with the very people the `reforms' are supposed to help.
There are hopeful stories too - like the story of women's collectives. Sainath tells of how groups of women have gotten together and formed organised labour, and which do a better, more efficient work than the more `sophisticated' industries and companies. Indeed, industries come across as monopolies only interested in maintaining their corner of the market, and more than willing to resort to nasty tricks in order to maintain their dominance (for instance, creating rival groups to undermine the administration's trust in such organised groups, social ostracism, even physical abuse). Corrupt officials don't help these collectives' chances either - since the collectives' cheaper and more efficient labour threaten the kickbacks the officials get from the industries.
The Indian middle class are also chastised by Sainath. Like their Western counterparts, they require a diet of horror stories to grab their attention. Hence, stories are often reported as ahistorical events, rather than dealing honestly with the process which led to the `event' in question. More than this, the middle classes have become so numbed to the poverty of the majority, that they require exceptional suffering to warrant their time - thus, there are reports of `epidemics' and `droughts' which are often exaggerations or mistruths.
After a while, I felt myself becoming numbed by the stories. There were simply too many tales of woe. This isn't really a complaint about Sainath's reporting, but maybe more of a plea for longer, more detailed stories from him. But this is the nature of his book, which is essentially a compilation of newspaper articles. Although Sainath makes a plea in his book for a view of Indian poverty as process rather than event, sometimes I felt his stories were too short to support the process approach he himself advocates. Still, this should not stop any reader interested in India from reading this book. It is a shocking indictment of the India that should have been.
A standard criticism of works like Sainath's would be that it is merely critical, and doesn't provide any answers. How can one learn from the mistakes of one's predecessors? The impression I got from Sainath was that the best that could be done is more consultation, more historical awareness, more backup studies, more studies of the actual effects of the reform process itself on the environment and the people actually involved, and so on. It's not a particularly innovative conclusion, but it's probably realistic.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Sainath's book opens a window onto the real India. 15 Aug. 1999
By Romi Mahajan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This timely and important book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the India that does not make it onto the covers of coffee table books and glossy magazines. Sainath spent years in the poorest districts in India, attempting to understand how people with absolutely nothing by way of resources manage to eke out a living--one story is about men who transport over 900 pounds of coals on their bicycles, walking marathon-length distances every day, to earn the princely sum of 10 Indian Rupees (25 cents) per day.
Sainath is the most irreverent and committed journalist in India today. His stories, written for the Times of India, are full of pathos, but also of optimism--optimism born of his discovery that the poor in India are organizing to fight for their rights, have maintained a sense of dignity, and continue to live their lives against the most difficult odds.
The stories of government mismanagement of funds earmarked for rural uplift are perhaps not surprising, but for many, the stories of the venality of corporations and the tales of institutions like the Army running roughshod over the rights of hundreds of millions of India might just open eyes that were glued shut to the injustices prevalent in the Indian social matrix. The stories of India's 80 million tribal and indigenous people, Adivasis, are heart wrenching and fantastic--such stories cannot be found in mainstream publications.
Sainath has done an enormous and important task here: I recommend this book to everyone.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Insightful and Sobering. 11 April 2005
By Ajit G. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
With the recent hype of globalization and the changes transpiring in India, the myth that poverty has been eradicated, or is at least receding in India has pervaded the media. P Sainath takes this illusion head on and dispels it in this compelling account of the realities of rural poverty in India. Gritty, no-nonsense, Sainath avoids sensationalism and sticks to the facts through well-researched accounts of the living conditions of what is, in truth, a majority of Indians. Over 600 million people still live below the poverty line in India(depending on what source one uses for defining poverty) and Sainath, through years of work in the field, details their plight. He brings to light that hunger is but a single element of poverty--one might meet the minimum caloric intake to be considered "above the poverty line", while in truth living in a state of real poverty. Having had the opportunity to hear him speak live, I can say with the confidence that the book conveys his firebrand approach to the issues; with passion and verve he relates his tales of woe with critical insight and uncompromising integrity.

If this book has a weakness, it is in its repetition of account upon account of despair without offering potential solutions to alleviate the crisis. A great companion book to this excellent work would be Abraham George's "India Untouched: The Forgotten Face of Rural Poverty", which examines the crisis of poverty and offers realistic and pratical solutions that have been implemented.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
10 years of living in rural villages in India as a reporter, uncovering a tragedy 21 Oct. 2006
By John Inman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mr. Sainath captures the plight, hopes, and loss in rural villages in India. Farmers are committing suicide at an unprecedented rate. People are trying to adjust but hope is lost. As I regularly network with friends in the Telangana, I can honestly say that farmer suicide is a huge issue and a tragedy. Yet we still seem to move resources to the wealthy rather than address the serious issues in rural areas of the world. Even in the US, if we fully understood the tragedy of the destruction of the family farm, we would learn that here too loss leads to suicide. Despair and loss of hope is a horrible thing.

Read this compelling study into a problem happening all over the world. If you get a chance to hear Mr. Sainath speak, make sure you do not miss it. He is fantastic. One of the great investigative reporters in Indian.
Excellent book! Details how local governments use drought money in India 23 Oct. 2013
By Kimberly Fujioka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an eye opening and profound book! You would be surprised how local governments in India are using drought money. In each of the books chapters the author tells a story (narrative) that sounds as entertaining as a novel because the author is such an excellent writer--about specific incidents in different prefectures of India where federal drought money was allocated. In each case the money was never spent or utilized in a manner that aided the actual drought survivors or the families of those who had perished.

The topic sounds sad. But the shenanigans that happen, as we see the route the money takes to get to the local people, are almost funny because of the way the author uses his skills with words and his use of the "understatement" to heighten the absurdity of the situation.

This book is very eye opening about the government in India. It almost reminds me of how ineffective the U.S. has been in its attempt to implement funds for natural disaster relief like with Katrina or others.

The book tells so much about the mentality of the people of India, their perseverance and strength and, in the end, their wisdom in dealing with the government.

Excellent read! Informative and, in a absurdist way, humorous.
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