Stories of Forgotten Lives
The Bhopal gas tragedy, the communal carnage of 1984 and 1989 in Delhi and Bhagalpur, the Orissa super cyclone, among others, are part of collective memory, But, often forgotten are those who actually were affected by thee happenings, and others like them, street children, sex workers, dalits, HIV and leprosy patients, the homeless and the famine-stricken. These are people who in many ways are pushed to the outermost, most hopeless margins of society in the name of development and progress.
In Unheard Voices, civil servant and social activist Harsh Mander draws on his own and his colleagues’ experiences to explore the lives of twenty such people who have survived and coped despite all odds. In Bangalore, for instance, a onetime street child now counsels other such children seeking education and self-employment; in Bhopal, and eleven year-old has brought up two of his siblings after they were orphaned in the gas leak, at great emotional cost. A young sex worker fights for the rights of her HIV positive sister-workers when their ‘home’ in Hyderabad’s red-light area is demolished. A patient combats the stigma of leprosy by helping to establish a leprosy colony in Ashagram. In Tenali, Andhra Pradesh, a blind musician couple struggles to get land from the government to set up a colony for the blind.
Going beyond mere survival, these stories are a testimony of how people have overcome their condition with humbling courage, resilience, and humanism, Marked by understatement and rare warmth, they bring out their determination to seek a better life in the face of enormous suffering. Reaffirming people’s creativity and indomitable spirit, this book challenges all those who despair about India.