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Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  496 ratings  ·  95 reviews
In Uttar Pradesh—known as the "badlands" of India—a woman’s life is not entirely her own. This is one explanation for how Sheelu, a seventeen-year-old girl, ended up in jail after fleeing her service in the home of a powerful local legislator. In a region plagued by corruption, an incident like this might have gone unnoticed—except that it captured the attention of Sampat ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 25th 2014 by W. W. Norton Company (first published February 24th 2014)
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There is a female ‘gang’ to be reckoned with in India. This ‘gang’ is known as the Pink Sari Gang comprised of numerous women serving females in need of assistance and/or support. Their formidable leader and founder, the memorable Sampat Pal.

The book explains the flagrant corruption in politics and law enforcement, the ill treatment of women, and the poverty suffered by provincial citizens. These deep rooted issues have been plaguing India for some time, nothing new to the reader or anyone aware
Jul 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC radio listeners

Blurb:India's struggle with justice for women in the 21st century is becoming one of the most prominent news stories of the moment. In the last few months, another terrible gang rape hit the headlines. Women's collectives are growing up all over the country and beginning to fight back. The most prominent and potent is the Pink Sari Gang. This is their story.

Sampat Devi Pal, raised in India's Uttar Pradesh region, was married off at twelve, had her first child at fifteen, and is essentially
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, non-fiction
Fontanella-Khan does an excellent job of bringing Sampat Pal Devi and the injustices and corruption of Uttar Pradesh to a wider audience, but disappointingly she focuses so much on presenting the very one-sided view of Sampat and the particular case addressed in the book that she does not manage to successfully convey the challenges of life in India and the way things have been changing. Her portrayal is that of Sampat and the Gulabi Gang as seemingly the only forces against corruption - barely ...more
I think if I hadn't read this right after reading Shiv Sena Women: Violence And Communalism In A Bombay Slum and Street Corner Secrets: Sex, Work, and Migration in the City of Mumbai as well as various essays about women in India, my reaction would be different. I know that I did enjoy the program I saw about these women.

My problem with the book is this - there is no real context or background. There is no real sense if what the women are fighting is an epidemic or just a one area problem. There
Interesting report on a group of women who use the power of numbers and their gender to assist other women in need of aid. Most of the material the author includes isn't a surprise; just about any non-fiction book about today's India will point out the corruption rampant in politics and law enforcement, the poor position of women, and the enormous poverty of most of the country's rural citizens. It is rather entertaining, though, to read about the formation of Sampat Pal's Pink Sari Gang, althou ...more
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
India's struggle with justice for women in the 21st century is becoming one of the most prominent news stories of the moment. In the last few months, another terrible gang rape hit the headlines. Women's collectives are growing up all over the country and beginning to fight back. The most prominent and potent is the Pink Sari Gang. This is their story.

Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the American publishing industry is to be believed, we live in an age of unprecedented revolutions. Even a cursory search on Amazon reveals that we are currently undergoing a revolution in how we eat (The Paleo Revolution, The Slow Cooker Revolution, The Green Smoothie Revolution), where we live (The Metropolis Revolution), how we run our businesses (The Social Media Revolution), how we live our lives (Work Life Revolution), and the role of government (Ron Paul's The Revolution: A Manifesto), ...more
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's a slightly different approach to write from the perspective of those directly involved only and not the author's voice although it does creep in with the description of "wild beasts" that lurk around Bundelkhand waiting to snap up unsuspecting women washing or walking or going to the bathroom in typical "wild beasts" fashion as they have since called "wild beasts" from colonial times. Oh and snakes aren't wild beasts, fortunately. "Wild beasts" as it turns out aren't the biggest fear the Gu ...more
Annie Bose
{an initial reaction, not a summary}

In December 2010, Sheelu Lal Nishad, a Dalit (lowest of the Hindu caste system) teenager who had run away from home to escape her alcoholic father, was raped by Purushottam Naresh Dwiwedi, a legislator from Atarra, who later accused her of stealing from him and had her arrested when she tried to escape the clutches of his violent attacks. At the same time, a vigilante group of women fighting violence and injustice against women, the lower castes and the poor,
I cannot recommend this book enough. If you are interested in global women's rights, this book is a must-read. Amana Fontanella-Khan is a gifted writer and she knows how to weave in all the interconnected details surrounding the complexities of a women's movement trying to remain vigilant. ...more
Chitra Ahanthem
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Amana Fontanella Khan's Pink Sari revolution: A tale of women and power in India narrates how Sampat Pal forms and then becomes the leader of the Gulaabi Gang in Attara in Uttar Pradesh where caste prejudices, social and cultural norms and bindings on women do not make it easy for womrn to have a mind of their own, much less take a lead role. But Sampat, starting from a young age not only questions her own place in the family but also in society...
Like many other women, Sampat becomes a childbri
Aug 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Sampat pal is the founder of the Gulaab Gang in Uttar Pradesh, which works for the welfare and empowerment of women. The Gulaab gang was formed to fight against the various atrocities that women were facing in Bundelhkhand and its neighboring regions. These women wear Pink sarees and always carry bamboo sticks with them, in case of arousal of any violent situation.
This book is more of a journalist report form in which the author gives us the details of how Sampat pal stands for a girl who is rap
Mar 28, 2017 rated it liked it
It's a good story, very interestingly told. Almost reads like fiction.

The language used is very "Indian" sometimes directly translating phrases said in an Indian language. This makes for rather awkward constructs that kept distracting me.

Even though Sampat Pal is the heroine of the book, some of the writing leaves you with doubts about her motivations. There is no doubt that she helped a lot of women and brought about change and hope in a very desolate place, but you cannot help but think there
Nicole Means
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Inspiring story of women’s grassroots movement to fight inequity in Indian society.
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What makes this lecture truely engaging is building whole story around scandalous case of Sheelu Nishad, young rape victim. Those events are an exuse to tell about inspiring work of Sampat Pal, who she is and what makes her a fearless, defiant leader. It's not a memorial, the author is very objective and presents also the flaws of Pink Sari movement. ...more
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't think about what was going to happen to me. If that were inside me, how could I fight? In this world at least one person has to fight. All over the world, someone comes forward who has courage... You have to forget your life and not be scared. That's how the country will go ahead. - Sampat Pal


When atrocities are happening to people around us, we just shrug our shoulders with a- I tried to help them as much as I could, what more do you expect me to do or a- look I don't want to get t
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Powerful and energetic story!
I can feel the spirit of Sampat Pal, a woman who lead vigilante group, Gulabi Gang or known as Pink Sari Gang, throughout this book.

Reading this book make me feel like watching Tamil drama series, but with good script, great character development and less unnecessary added effect.

I really enjoy reading this book and have quoted many Sampat-ji saying. Eventhough there are many character and too much flashback moment, still author have done beautiful job.

Sampat Pal Devi is a BADASS. That is all. If you want to know more about the context of Indian politics and society in which she operates, sadly, Amana Fontanella-Khan doesn't really offer much other than broad, mechanical facts about the socially-blighted region in which the Gulabi Gang operates. However, if you want a portrait of founder Pal, mainly drawn from interviews with Pal, her family, and colleagues, Pink Sari Revolution is a fast & palatable.

What stands out in Fontanella-Khan's portra
You know those celebrity interviews in magazines of dubious quality? The ones that read something along the lines of: "When I sat down with [fill in celebrity name here] for a quick brunch on Saturday, I was impressed by how great she looked in her simple blues jeans and t-shirt. I asked her about her dog and she giggled, 'My doggie is my best friend in the world! He's so sweet!'" etc? That's what this book reads like. I was really excited to read this book and read about a women's grass roots m ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This took me ages to read in part because I was 3/4 through it when I had to go to abroad for a couple of weeks for work. Clearly I wasn't going to take it with me & when I came back I had other things I was more interested in.
There's an interesting story here but it's lost in the structure or lack thereof and the writer can't seem to make her mind up whether she's telling the story of the Pink Sari Gang, and / or its founder, or the story of a specific girl, Sheelu, whose case they took on.
Farahin Nadh
"when i die, the indian goverment should look in my brain and find out how i have become like this". after a moment she added, "they should look into my heart too, that could help" -sampat pal-

the pink gang was famous in India, a place where women sometimes worth nothing, nothing. when women were beatan, abused, raped their cases where neglected and often ignored or worse, they were blamed for what had happened. but one woman, sampat pal did not tolerate injustice, so she started a movement to g
Juan Rivera
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lecturas-2020
One of the countries that I admire the most for its ancient culture is India.

I have traveled to India several times and I have seen how the country has grown and improved, but it still lacks a lot. In fact I have only seen the tourist and business part mainly. But how do the poorest people in India live?

One of the poorest states in India is Uttar Pradesh, where a heroine came from who is helping to change things.

Sampat PAL married at twelve and has formed a community of Indian women who call
Tiffany Anderson
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This is one of many non-fiction books I have recently read about India that brings to light the level of corruption that's spiderwebbed all throughout Indian politics, law enforcement, and society that's often most severely felt by women or families living below the poverty line. This storyline follows the work of Sampat Pal and her Pink Gang; a organization of women who protest and publicly shame individual politicians or official groups such as local law enforcement who have abused their power ...more
Rachel Carr
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
I received this book from a goodreads giveaway.

I enjoyed learning more about India/Indian culture, but overall found this book difficult to read. It meandered from topic to topic and I never got a true sense of any of the characters or their motivations. The writing style was very unfocused. At times the verb tense would change which made it difficult to know what was happening/what had happened and when. A glossary of characters would also have been helpful since some characters were introduced
Sam Wilkinson
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, possibly the best thing about this book is the fact that it's real! It's women making their country better for each other and I hope that one day, Indian women celebrate Sampat Pal!

Beautifully narrated by Meera Syal, I'm glad I know more about the founder of the Gulabi Gang, and also a more balanced rhetoric than the news' description of a "vigilante gang", which makes them out to be well intentioned thugs. These women are fighting social injustice and corruption throughout India and h
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
An interesting read and an introduction into the corruption in India and the movements therein. The writing style is basic and I think that a more in depth look into the problems in India would have been what I wanted, plus I find that the book wants you to be on the side of Sampat, Sheelu and the Pink Gang without question, which is difficult. Still a good starting point for looking into social justice in India, albeit one to be read with a critical mind.
Briana Escamilla
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-books
Just finished this book and it's awesome. It's about a group of women in India who have formed a vigilante organization known as the Pink Gang to combat violence against women and corruption in their communities. It's an incredible story about the power of grassroots organizing.

"If the problem is big, we must become even bigger." -Sampat Pal, founder and leader of the Pink Gang
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is about a group of female activists in India, who campaign against corruption and for women's rights. It is an interesting topic, but I thought the author jumped from anecdote to anecdote too quickly, without fully explaining any of them. So, it was a good introduction, but not necessarily deep enough. ...more
Chandra Powers Wersch
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Creatively and thoughtfully told. I felt like I was listening to an NPR podcast, rather than reading a book. Heartfelt and engaging. I learned a lot, as a historian and educator too, very ready to add in a lot of this information into my World History lectures.
I look forward to reading more by Amana!
Claire O'Sullivan
Oct 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
Read with Blackwells Book group. Great material but a little dry at times. Going to see a stage production which I think will bring the material to life.
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Amana is a reporter and writer. Her articles and op-eds have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Wall Street, Foreign Policy, Slate Magazine, Double X; Slate’s women’s blog, The Christian Science Monitor, VOGUE, Conde Nast Traveller and others. She is a former Contributing Editor for VOGUE (India).

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