The mem­oir cel­e­brates Chhattisgarh but laments the lost op­por­tu­nity for its in­clu­sive and vi­o­lence-free devel­op­ment

Down to Earth - - REVIEW - KATE CHAILLAT

the guid­ance of so­cial ac­tivist Shankar Guha Niyogi, the mine work­ers who were on con­tract at the plant had set up their own trade union, the Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik San­gathan (cmss),to fight for their rights.In due time,Niyogi in­cluded the tribal com­mu­nity in the strug­gle.The cmss no­tably lob­bied for the con­struc­tion of a hos­pi­tal in Dalli-Ra­jhara for the work­ers and lo­cal peo­ple,who were ini­tially not given ac­cess to bsp health fa­cil­i­ties. Doc­tors Bi­nayak Sen, Ashish Kundu and Saibal Jana were in­stru­men­tal in set­ting up the Sha­heed Hos­pi­tal.

With lit­tle re­sources, the doc­tors de­cided to train lo­cal vol­un­teers to run the hos­pi­tal. Ilina de­scribes how the mine work­ers and their fam­ily stopped work­ing one whole day to cast the roof of the new hos­pi­tal build­ing,which is now a source of pride for the com­mu­nity. She also high­lights how women from the state were an in­te­gral part of cmss, though she notes that no woman reached lead­er­ship po­si­tion. Fur­ther­more, women par­tic­i­pa­tion re­duced in cmss as the sit­u­a­tion of the peo­ple im­proved.

In the late 1980s,the cou­ple

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