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Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts Paperback – September 1, 1996

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 435 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140259848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140259841
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'...it is a beautifully judged account, bristling with vigorous humanity.' --The Mail on Sunday

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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 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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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Romi Mahajan on August 15, 1999
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.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Iago on April 11, 2005
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.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Inman on October 21, 2006
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.
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