ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Half-forgotten Vital History

Inside Chhattisgarh: A Political Memoir by Ilina Sen, Gurgaon, Haryana: Penguin Books India, 2014; pp xi + 307, Rs 399.

Inside Chhattisgarh: A Political Memoir is an important book that can be read at many levels, bearing witness to some extremely significant chapters in the history of Central India’s heartland, culminating in the creation of an exceptionally beautiful state called Chhattisgarh in 2000, the region’s descent into civil war and the sentencing of the author’s husband, Binayak Sen, to life imprisonment.

The story starts—inasmuch as any story has a beginning—at the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi—where Sen began his exceptional career in community health in 1976, while Ilina went for population studies. Within five years, the couple had shifted to Rasulia in Hoshangabad District of Madhya Pradesh, where they brushed shoulders with eminent Gandhians at the Friends Rural Centre, set up by Quakers, as the centre underwent a series of transitions from J C Kumarappa’s eminently Gandhian Economy of Permanance, to Green Revolution “improved agricultures,” to organic farming inspired by Fukuoka’s “one straw revolution”; complemented by Kishore Bharati’s programme of grass-roots science education, with their “fierce faith in the scientific method.”

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