Behind the Indian Boom, an exhibition in London and its catalogue



Catalogues attract catalogues—who knew? We had just finished Mark Elliot’s exhibition catalogue—Another India: Explorations and Expressions of Indigenous South Asia, when Alpa Shah, who’d been to the exhibition contacted us  to collaborate on another one.  The London School of Economics, Department of Anthropology and the School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS, at the University of London were planning an exhibition dealing with the exclusion dalits and Adivasis suffer under the neoliberal economic policies applied in India. With the scholars behind the project approaching adivaani our newest title in our imprint One of Us came to life —  Behind the Indian Boom: Inequality and Resistance at the heart of economic growth.

In this volume, our readers can explore the powerful collection of images displayed at the Brunei Gallery of SOAS, that tell the stories of everyday, backbreaking labour that our peoples engage in to survive in this country. These images are testimonies of Adivasis and Dalits living with rights denied, identities, culture and languages undermined.

So please, grab a copy at our usual online platforms and bookstores too or buy it directly from us with at Instamojo.

Here’s a little treat—a preview of the introductory paragraphs of the book:

Much has been made of the boom currently taking place in India. One of the world’s fastest growing economies, it is predicted that by the middle of the century India will be one of the two largest, alongside China, leaving the West behind. But what does this growth look like for the people on whose land and labour it is based?

Although India is now home to more than a hundred billionaires, around 800 million people still survive on less than two dollars a day, and eight Indian states have more poor people than twenty-six of Africa’s poorest countries put together. It could be said that while the wealth of the West is founded on colonising other countries, the extreme wealth of a small minority in India is based on colonising parts of its own country and its people. Since the 1990s, when India liberalised its economy, foreign corporations have also been investing in India, benefiting from and also exploiting its resources and its cheap labour.

BEHIND THE INDIAN BOOM travels across the country to meet some of its Dalits and Adivasis—its low caste and tribal communities—historically stigmatised
as ‘untouchable’ and ‘wild’, in order to understand the roles they play in the Indian and the wider global economy. Despite India’s significant economic growth, these tribal and low caste communities remain at the bottom of its social and economic hierarchies. Though economists have said that some advances have been made in the reduction of absolute levels of poverty, they have also shown that some groups have fared much worse than others and that income and wealth inequality is increasing in India. Adivasis and Dalits are some of the people who have gained the least from growth in India and, as this visual essay shows, millions have lost out because of it. They are a source of cheap labour from which much of the world economy benefits, and some of the lands on which they have traditionally lived for generations are today important crucibles of global industry. Dalits and Adivasis count for more than 200 million and 100 million people respectively; that is a staggering one in twenty-five people in the world. Their situation also reveals insights into the conditions of other oppressed people across the globe.

BEHIND THE INDIAN BOOM draws on material collected by researchers affiliated with the London School of Economics, Department of Anthropology, Programme of Research on Inequality and Poverty. It also includes the work of local journalists and activists. The social anthropologists involved have lived for several years, sometimes decades with the people whose lives they are documenting. The aim is to give a sense of the everyday struggles that Adivasis and Dalits go through
to survive in the contemporary economy, and also their fight back against the situations they find themselves in.


Book Release: A girl swallowed by a tree by Nzanmongi Jasmine Patton



Please join us in celebrating the release of:

A girl swallowed by a tree

Lotha Naga Stories Retold

by Nzanmongi Jasmine Patton.

Saturday, 29th April, 2017
6 PM

India International Centre
Seminar Hall 2
40 Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi–110003

The year that’s been

2016 has been the most engaging year for us by far; so much so that we weren’t able to reach out to you regularly. Our sincerest apologies for that!

January opened with the news that I was selected as Asia Foundation Development Fellow 2016—an opportunity that has been such an enriching experience, where I have been able to explore new geographical terrain, test my capabilities and hone my skills.

January also had adivaani travelling to the Jaipur Literature Festival, where I spoke at three sessions (one at the Jaipur Book Mark) engaging new audience with Adivasi literature and those who produce it.

In March adivaani in collaboration with Dr. Mark Elliott, Senior Curator for Anthropology, Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge organised a workshop with Adivasi sculptors and artisans in preparation for an exhibition in 2017; where the participating artists could respond to the existing collection from 19th century Adivasi India and contribute with their own artworks.

All along we were working on four books. The first was Jacinta Kerketta’s bi-lingual (Hindi-English) poetry book Angor and its German version Glüt; which were released in May, first in Ranchi and then in Germany. I had the opportunity to speak on Santali Literature at the annual India Literature Forum, Germany before heading on a cross-country tour along with Jacinta, presenting both books at events at universities, bookstores and cultural hubs.

In September, Ngaire Gardner’s book Illustrated Pursuits: W. S. Sherwill in India 1834–1861 was published; a collection of drawings, published articles and maps by Walter Stanhope Sherwill, who spent a total twenty-seven years in India as Revenue Surveyor.

Gardner is the great-great-granddaughter of Sherwill and when she proposed the book to us, we knew little of Sherwill except that the iconic drawing of Sidhu Murmu in jail, one of the brothers famous for leading the Santal Rebellion 1855–57, was in all probability drawn by him. That and his other works showcased my people and their locales from a hundred and fifty years ago and that was incentive enough to produce that book.

Then the first week of October had us gather at Gangpur College of Social Work-Sundargarh, Odisha for the Second National Congress (Jatra) organised by the Tribal Intellectual Collective India and several co-hosts (including adivaani). We launched volume 3 of the Tribal and Adivasi Studies Series—Social Work in India, edited by bodhi s. r.

This year adivaani also got its 12AA (tax exemptions certificate) and 80G (50% tax exemption for donors from India) consolidating it’s legal status as a non-profit.

As the year comes to a close, we are only grateful for the year that’s been. We appreciate everyone who has stood by us, sustained us and celebrated every milestone big and small with us.

As we step into the New Year, we look forward to another eventful year and we hope you’d share this journey with us. More books and more projects are in the pipeline for 2017.

We have had a year long running online fundraising campaign that flows into next year as well. Do mark your support on Generosity or contact us for a domestic donation.

We thank you for your solidarity, always.


Best wishes,


Adivaani and Tribal Intellectual Collective India’s second book is out!


Adivaani and the Tribal Intellectual Collective India is proud to present its second title from the Tribal and Adivasi Studies series—Social Work in India, Edited by bodhi s. r.

bodhi. s. r sums up the book for us: ‘This specific volume of the TAS series attempts to unravel key constitutive elements of perspectives from within in Tribal and Adivasi Studies. This being a subject area not sufficiently explored by scholars and whose myriad questions remain definitively unanswered to this day, both in academia and within progressive activist scholarship. Evidences to assert and augment propositions related to unraveling this distinct methodological position have been sourced from a practice discipline–social work. Discursive in nature and drawing extensively from the experiences of those who have directly engaged in critical and strategic practice in Tribal/Adivasi empowerment, this volume; also an act in epistemological reconstruction, envisages asserting and achieving greater depth and clarity of the said perspective in the identified subject domain’.

We released the book at the Second National Congress in Bihaband, Orissa on 6th October 2016 at the inaugural session of the three-day jatra.

Here are some snapshots from the book release, the congress and the tribal and adivasi students, scholars and postgraduate students who attended the event.


Illustrated Pursuits: Why we chose to do the book?


Illustrated Pursuits by Ngaire Gardner


Almost two years ago adivaani received the proposal for Illustrated Pursuits: a collection of drawings, published articles and maps by Walter Stanhope Sherwill, who spent a total twenty-seven years in India since he first arrived as a young man in 1834 to work for the British East India Company. He served as an ensign, Assistant Revenue Surveyor, Revenue Surveyor of what was then known as the Bengal Presidency. He held positions of Lieutenant; Captain—a position he held until 1859 when he became Major Sherwill. On his retirement in 1861 he was given the title Honourable Lieutenant Colonel.

When Ngaire Gardner, the author, a retired school teacher who taught History of Art, Classical Studies, Visual Arts, Design and Photography and also great-great-granddaughter of Sherwill contacted us; we knew little of Sherwill except that the iconic drawing of Sidhu Murmu in jail, one of the brothers famous for leading the Santal Rebellion 1855-57, was in all probability drawn by him.

‘Hot Wells and Springs in the bed and on the banks of the Bum Buklesir Nullah – Zillah Beerbhoom’; W. S. Sherwill, 1851; Indian ink on paper; © Dunedin Public Art Gallery; 40.8 x 27 cm.

That image has been in circulation and used by Santals and Adivasis for years now to represent and assert our identity rights and self-determination.

What are the odds that an Adivasi publisher comes in contact with Sherwill’s descendant and has access to more material that serves as the only window to the life and times of our people over a century and half ago. Well, it happened and Illustrated Pursuits came to life.

‘The Great Tree embedded Gun, at Moorshedabad’; W. S. Sherwill, 1850; Indian ink on paper; © Dunedin Public Art Gallery; 41 x 27 cm.

Sherwill’s “Notes Upon a Tour of the Rajmahal Hills” (1851) and “Notes Upon a Tour of the Sikkim Himilayahs” (1852), both published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and included in this book, give us a glimpse of the tribal people and their customs in those regions. Actually, Sherwill’s work does reflect British colonial positions and this book will help us engage with those thought patterns and approaches.

We did not want to pass up the prospect of having this historical material, curated in one place and made available to the descendants of Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu and the others who have been represented in Sherwill’s drawing.

Ngaire Gardner sums up the intention of the book: ‘the consequences of British colonial attitudes to the land, resources and indigenous population of India continue to reverberate today and readers will inevitably bring their own perspectives to Sherwill’s images and words. My aim has been to share the material he has left behind and to allow readers to form their own opinions of his legacy’ .

Ngaire Gardner

Ngaire Gardner

The book, from our imprint ONE of US, is now available for you to read. Go ahead and grab your copy.


Adivaani and Tribal Intellectual Collective India’s first book is out!

Earlier this year adivaani and the Tribal Intellectual Collective India’s paths crossed. Conversations turned to collaborations and the plans to co-host their First National Congress, in Shillong in September 2015 were consolidated. Not only that; ideas to produce books together were also explored and formalized. The first product from this association is a series: Tribal and Adivasi Studies: Perspectives from Within.

Adivaani and Tribal Intellectual Collective India is very proud to present its first title of that series: Identities and their struggles in North East (volume 2).

We very fittingly released the book at the First National Congress in Shillong on the 18th September, 2015 at the inaugural session of the two day event.

Here are some snapshots from the book release, the congress and the tribal and adivasi scholars and postgraduate students…

From left to right: Dr. Alex Akhup (Editor of the volume), Prof. Virginius Xaxa (Convener, Tribal Intellectual Collective India), Prof. Bipin Jojo (Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Tribal Intellectual Collective India), John F. Kharshiing (Chairman, Grand Council of Chiefs, Meghalaya), Ruby Hembrom, (Director, adivaani), Prof. Xavier Mao (Department of Philosophy, NEHU, Shillong). Photo by John Minz.

The sales table

Ruby speaking at the Plenary of the Tribal Intellectual Collective India National Congress

The participants…

You can buy the book at our regular venues…

CDC sponsors adivaani!

It’s raining goodwill for adivaani. This time it comes from CDC Printers, Kolkata.


After reading the feature on us in The Telegraph, Kolkata, CDC Printers got in touch with us saying they’d like to sponsor some of our work. We could hardly believe our ears.

Two meetings down the line we had it all figured out. They were impressed with our work and wanted to contribute to help us grow. They’re printing few of our productions for free and to encourage us to continue printing books without being burdened by budget constraints or compromising on quality, they’ve offered us a long-term arrangement that is the perfect solution for us.

Earth rests on a Tortoise being printed

Earth rests on a Tortoise being printed

Our books now seem secure.

We’re now adding three products to the adivaani list:

1. Earth rests on a Tortoise, part two of the Santal Creation Stories. Once again, text by Ruby Hembrom and illustrations by Boski Jain.

2. The success of We come from the Geese; part one of the Santal Creation Stories in English prompted us to have it translated in Hindi. So grab your copy.

3. A Santal Hul calendar, beginning the 30th June, 2013 to the 30th June, 2014 as a memento to remember the Santal Rebellion (1855-57) and to uphold the spirit of freedom and dignity.

The Santal Hul Calendar

The Santal Hul Calendar

All we can say is a heartfelt thank you to Mr. Chittranjan Choudhury and the entire team at CDC Printers.