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Everybody Loves a Good Drought

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  2,677 ratings  ·  237 reviews
The human face of poverty

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. In this thoroughly researched study of the
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Paperback, 470 pages
Published October 14th 2000 by Penguin India (first published 1996)
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Nandakishore Varma
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, india
My friends... I am devastated. Shaken to the core by what happens in my beloved country. Ashamed to eat three square meals a day, and call myself Indian, when in parts of India children die like flies due to malnutrition and preventable diseases.

The fact that I am a cog in the machine which contributes to this disaster we call "development" rankles still further.

Review to come... after I recover.

--------------------------------------------

Well, I think I have recovered sufficiently to do an obje
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Sookie
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In this country:
To read this book is a privilege.
To read this book written in English, is a privilege.
To buy this book is a privilege.
To read this book at night under lights, is a privilege.
To read this book in my home, is a privilege.
To read this book in my own room, is a privilege.
To discuss this book on an online forum, is a privilege.
To express angry opinions regarding some articles in this book, is a privilege.
To drink water after, is a privilege.
To snack while reading, is a privilege.
And i
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Palash Bansal
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: india-general, social
This book encompasses a number of oxymorons. At one moment you feel like laughing at the mindless policies of the government and various commissions, whereas at the very next moment the pain of the helpless catch your imagination making you feel thoroughly depressed and heartbroken.
A very lucid description of the poor of India with a pretty detailed version of the problems faced by them. This book proves that an official can change the lives of a huge number of people and the only factor hinder
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Rakesh
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
"Development is the strategy of evasion. When you can't give people land reform, give them hybrid cows. When you can't send the children to school, try non-formal education. When you can't provide basic health to people, talk of health insurance. Can't give them jobs? Not to worry. Just redefine the words 'employment opportunities'. Don't want to do away with using children as a form of slave labour? Never mind. Talk of 'improving the conditions of child labour'. It sounds good. You can even mak ...more
Vikas Lather
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Unspeakably brilliant.
Karn Satyarthi
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: india
The first thing that struck me after finishing the book was that there was a time in India when a newspaper like Times of India could hire someone like Sainath and give him a free hand over his own reportage. Although the book was compiled in the early 1990s and the wide ranging effects of the economic reforms of 1991 had not yet been understood fully Sainath brilliantly indicates the possibilities in case the reform is not handled with utmost care. To a conscientious reader who belongs to the s ...more
S.Ach
Jan 29, 2014 rated it liked it
When you read these short accounts (mostly newspaper reports) of some of the poorest people of India, about their lives and livelihood, about their gullibility and superstitions, about their victimization by the corrupt and mindless policy-makers, about their misery and public apathy towards their sufferings, you will go through a series of emotions - starting from a mix of anger, amusement and pity , slowly moving to frustration and sympathy and finally succumbing to hopeless depression.

Good L
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Vaishakh Ravi
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book provides an account of the life of the other India, one that's rarely portrayed in media, an India which many of us grow up unaware of, being raised in cities. The narrative is chilling, affects one at a deep level and is quite perspective altering.

It's a story about the sheer apathy India shows to these less fortunate citizens. It questions the very concepts we use when we think of progress - GDP? What does that even mean for the millions of Indian citizens who're cut-off from the lar
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Raman
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Must read for the privileged, elite class.We do know that poverty exist but we turn a blind eye towards it.
We pay our taxes and think our deed is done.
While reading it, you will visit lives of people living in remote and poor villages of india in 80s and 90s and how the government policies have effected them, their struggles, their fight for the survival.
Just hoping that things might have changed now but I know its a high hope.
Book teaches us to be humble and thankful for what we have and also p
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Bharathwaj
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Half way through, ‘Everybody loves a good drought’, I almost made up my mind to not finish the book. All the anecdotes capturing the miserable lives of rural India cut too close. These were not stories that I could brush aside as having taken place 25 years before. The major causes of these wretched people’s predicament exist even today. The long line of displaced workers who walked out of Delhi when the Corona lockdown began comes to mind. Be it well intentioned government policies gone awry or ...more
Shrinidhi
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

In this insightful and exceptional work of journalism, Mr Sainath attempts to deconstruct poverty in India by covering the stories from some of the poorest of the poor districts.
Why are these people so poor even after all these years of poverty alleviation programmes, relief work and financial aid?

The author covers two districts each from Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The stories cover the inefficiency of relief programmes, the prevention of funds trickling down to alleviate the
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Saloni
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing

To my beloved country, I stand disgusted as I understand the meaning behind the title of this book.

Compiled in the early 1990's, no doubt, when I first picked it up, I had my qualms about this book's due relevance today, after almost 30 years. While reading, I kept on thinking that this has to be all part of the history and I am definitely not that incognizant to not have known about these brutal realities that dance naked in our country today. Laughable? Yes, it shockingly is! What popped me ou

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Mathur Sathya
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is going to be one of my all time favorites now.
"... that rural poverty and it's miserable cousin, suburban squalor, most vividly represented by Dalit India, are seen by the power structures of the country as the cause of India's backwardness, when they're, in truth, it's result"

I chose this line because this broadly is the theme of this book. Book is a collection of articles by the author in 90s about conditions of different villages in India. We tend to think of contemporary issues in ov
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Kartik Muthuswamy
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It took me about a week to finish this book- Almost thrice longer than it takes me to finish a book of this length. And that despite the brilliant readability of P. Sainath's works. It's just that hard to get through these pages. This book is not a flowery description of 'Incredible India'- It grabs you by the collar and punches you in the gut. It's not an uncontrolled tirade against the system, it's the why and how of rural poverty in India put in terms of stories, facts and statistics. It's ch ...more
Ragavendra Natarajan
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
This review was a long time coming, but I finally managed to get around to writing one. This book is special since it is the only book to have left a deep impress on me although I never actually finished the entire book.

The description of the book is fairly bland - it's a collection of newspaper articles written by the journalist P.S Sainath on rural India while he was on a journalism fellowship. However, I literally wept when I read the chapters - each of which is an article from the newspaper
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Arjun Ravichandran
Dec 17, 2012 rated it liked it
P.Sainath is one of my heroes ; the last true journalist. This collection of articles which he authored for the Times of India (there is an irony to end all ironies) focused on the farmer suicides that were sweeping the heartlands of India during the prosperous 90's.
Sainath's writing is hit-and-miss ; he falls back occasionally on some cliches. Additionally, the book reads as what it essentially is ; i.e. a collection of newspaper articles. There is no overarching theme, other than the crushing
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Kaśyap
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, bharat
This is great journalism, this is a collection of stories from the poorest districts in India, showing how the governments fail to see the reality . even though the research for this was mostly done in 1993-1995, this book is as relevant today as it was more than ten years ago.
Hrishikesh
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Soul-stirring case studies. P Sainath goes to show that even if there were no corruption, faulty policy-making is going to keep development chained, and our people weak.
Kaushik
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: india
I recently read about a very curious catch in the way we declare our exam results. Take the PUC(12th) results for example. In Karnataka, about 62% of the 685k students appearing for the exams passed PUC. But there are about 1 million students in the state who should ideally have taken the PUC exam but never reached the PUC level. That means, only 35-40% of PUC-age students in the state are clearing PUC. The grass suddenly does not appear so green now. [1]


This is the kind of perspective and stark
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Ashok Krishna
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am afraid that this book will stay relevant for a long time to come!
Utkarsh Sankhla
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What I liked:
1) This book reminded me of my TISS days and readings.
2) Sometimes, we need reminders on the bubble we live in and the plight of people outside this bubble. Sainath does just that

What I didnt like:
The fact that the book is 20 years old, meaning that current facts and figures for our welfare report cards require a reader to research himself/herself.
Vaidya
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Given the nature of the topic, it would have been tempting for the author to wallow in the poverty of the people he writes about. It could have sold a lot more copies for sure. Remember Lapierre's La ciudad de la alegría? At the end of it, you just wanted the characters to die and be rid of their suffering.

It's a huge credit to Sainath for side-stepping that and going straight to the matter. Straight to numbers. Number of PHCs, number of schools, number of teachers, percentage attendance, number
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Uzma Shamim
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
'People find ways, sometimes curious ones, of hitting out at their backwardness, of expressing defiance, of hammering at the fetters that hold them.'

I consider it a personal loss that I finally picked up this book at the age of 23 and not before even though this has been around for almost as long as I have.

Published in 1996, this book is the most revelatory exercise on the apathy most of the country possesses towards the most marginalised communities of the nation and the huge mass of populat
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Shruti Pandey
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book is a compilation of articles P. Sainath penned during 1992 , when on a Times of India fellowship he has toured some of the poorest districts in the country to know how the poorest of the poor citizens of free India eke out a living in rural areas. "It is about policies, schemes and programs launched with great fanfare and soon left to take their own wayward course, making a mockery of the intended aims." ...more
Kushal Srivastava
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: india
So, in the middle of the most dope decade of all time - the nineties, Indian middle class was sitting on a sofa watching late night horror show on zee TV. This was early nineties and cable TV was a recent addition to the monotone of Doordarshan. People were fascinated with new shiny colors, fresh faces and latest songs and trailers. But most of all there were shows apart from regular family affairs - shows which had promiscuity, wives cheating husbands, husbands hitting on their exes, and horror ...more
Alok
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, india
This book is journalism at its finest and truest to the core spirit that this profession is(should be?) known for. Mr. Sainath spent multiple years on the ground, travelling and living with the people belonging to the lowermost level of the food chain of our esteemed democracy, the poorest districts in the country. But reading through the actual incidents described and meeting the people Sainath met, I feel Lincoln must be delusional when he said democracy is 'for the people' or at least 'for al ...more
Ved Gupta
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of reports written by a very insightful journalist P. Sainath. This collection brings to you a journey through some of the poorest villages from 4 states of India. In almost every report, some common points have come up. Wide gap of communication between expected beneficiaries i.e. villagers and those who design such schemes, lack of awareness and education among tribal people and villagers, corrupt practices and insensitivity of those at position of power and misguided jour ...more
Sandeep
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Simply superb!! If only every journalist were as focused on the real issues as P. Sainath. Although this book deals with issues prevalent 20 years ago, many of these issues are still unresolved. The vested interests of the political system are still there, so is the focus on "development" economics rather than involving people in the growth discussion. Our government assumes that poor people are not reasonable - worse, the govt. assumes that these people don't even know what they need and lack a ...more
Sunny
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Respected P. Sainath India's only Rural Reporter exposes spine chilling reality of grassroots. Book is all about the 2/3 of India and its problems that are never under the radar of the Glamorous mainstream media. Government policy and its implementation are not only questionable but pitiful in regards of development of the nation. It's about the insensitive bureaucratic mindset and their actions that don't understand the logic and the rational behind the existing problem. And instead of improvin ...more
Divya
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is very difficult to read, not because of the writing, but because it highlights issues through such personal stories. Though the stories are all from the 90s, and much has (hopefully) changed since then, I was most curious to know if it has. There was one story with a follow-up, but even that left me wanting to know more. This is a great piece of research, and extremely eye-opening. I hope that at some point, Sainath goes back to each of these people and can tell us what successive go ...more
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Palagummi Sainath (born 1957) is an Indian journalist who focuses on social & economic inequality, rural affairs, poverty and the aftermath of globalization in India. He is the founder editor of the People's Archive of Rural India and a senior fellow for Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He was the Rural Affairs Editor at The Hindu before resigning in 2014,. The website India Together ...more

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“If we were to define a sleeping bag as a house, India would move swiftly towards ending her housing shortage. A shortage of nearly thirty-one million units. Accept this definition, and you could go in for mass production of sleeping bags. We could then have passionate debates about the drastic reduction in the magnitude of the housing problem. The cover stories could run headlines: ‘Is it for real?’ And straps: ‘Sounds too good to be true, but it is.’ The government could boast that it had not only stepped up production of sleeping bags but had piled up an all-time record surplus of them. Say, thirty-seven million. Conservatives could argue that we were doing so well, the time had come to export sleeping bags, at ‘world prices’. The bleeding hearts could moan that sleeping bags had not reached the poorest. Investigative muckrakers could scrutinise the contracts given to manufacturers. Were the bags overpriced? Were they of good quality? That ends the housing shortage. There’s only one problem. Those without houses at the start of the programme will still be without houses at the end of it. (True, some of them will have sleeping bags, probably at world prices.)” 12 likes
“Too often, poverty and deprivation get covered as events. That is, when some disaster strikes, when people die. Yet, poverty is about much more than starvation deaths or near famine conditions. It is the sum total of a multiplicity of factors. The weightage of some of these varies from region to region, society to society, culture to culture. But at the core is a fairly compact number of factors. They include not just income and calorie intake. Land, health, education, literacy, infant mortality rates and life expectancy are also some of them. Debt, assets, irrigation, drinking water, sanitation and jobs count too. You can have the mandatory 2,400 or 2,100 calories a day and yet be very poor. India’s problems differ from those of a Somalia or Ethiopia in crisis. Hunger—again just one aspect of poverty—is far more complex here. It is more low level, less visible and does not make for the dramatic television footage that a Somalia and Ethiopia do. That makes covering the process more challenging—and more important. Many who do not starve receive very inadequate nutrition. Children getting less food than they need can look quite normal. Yet poor nutrition can impair both mental and physical growth and they can suffer its debilitating impact all their lives. A person lacking minimal access to health at critical moments can face destruction almost as surely as one in hunger.” 11 likes
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