India’s Forgotten Country by Bela Bhatia 

India's Forgotten Country by Bela Bhatia

A Lifetime of Work in Activism

About the book

There is a time when we are growing but we merely grow and a time when we start understanding how things around us function. Some things make sense and some don’t, and we begin to ask why . . . Suddenly life takes on a meaning and we start searching for more meanings.

Over the course of more than three decades, Bela Bhatia’s work and concerns have brought her face-to-face with the harsh nature of people’s lives in India’s ‘forgotten country’—the hamlets, villages and slums—and the oppressive forces that rule and ruin the lives of Dalits, Adivasis, bonded labourers, women and other downtrodden groups. She has also witnessed how their everyday lives are pockmarked with violence and the brutality—often organized—they face when they resist.
India’s Forgotten Country captures Bela’s early years as an activist in rural Gujarat, her research on the Naxalite movement, her investigations of violations of democratic rights in different regions, and her recent years dealing with the ongoing conflict between the state and Maoists in Bastar. The essays build on first-hand investigations conducted in states ranging from Bihar and Telangana to Rajasthan and Nagaland, besides Kashmir. People such as Deepa Musahar, Kaliben, Muchaki Sukadi, Zarifa Begum, Tareptsuba and others have ample space in this book to speak for themselves.
These essays are stories of life, death and despair, but also serve as inspiring accounts of resistance, resilience, courage and hope.

About the author

Bela Bhatia lives in Bastar, a predominantly tribal area of south Chhattisgarh, and works there as an independent human rights lawyer, researcher and writer. After completing her post-graduation in social work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and securing a law degree from the University of Gujarat, Bela also pursued a doctorate in social and political sciences from the University of Cambridge. She then began her work life as a full-time activist organizing labourers and marginal farmers in rural Gujarat. The people there, and in other parts of rural India where her concerns took her later, have been—she believes—her best teachers.
Bela spent two years doing peace and human rights work in Iraq and Palestine. She is the co-author (with Miriam Shaheen and Mary Kawar) of Unheard Voices: Iraqi Women on War and Sanctions and the co-editor (with Jean Drèze and Kathy Kelly) of War and Peace in the Gulf: Testimonies of the Gulf Peace Team. Bela loves nature, books, jazz and dogs.

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