Thursday, December 14, 2006

Covering the poor: ruminations on the best book of the year

Marginal revolution suggests Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh’s book, 'Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor'.

The book covers a wide range of related themes –
crime, gangs, poverty, micro-finance, the foundations of cooperative behavior, urban economics, Jane Jacobs, what the police maximize, and why so many barbershops rent out their back .

This theme had earlier been covered by Barbara Ehrenreich’s great work, ‘Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America’. It covered all the factors that contribute to making what they call being (working) poor in America.

Steinbeck was a great chronicler of life at the ground floor of the great tower of America.

In India, we had Premchand. Who else?

I remember a time when P.Sainath wrote great reportage from the interiors of India, writing about poverty which is still spread like a shroud of doom. I remember a print article where an unemployed M.A., M.Phil somewhere in North Bihar saying he is not unemployed, he is working on a book.

Such reportage about the interiors is missing from the mainstream media in India, save the inevitable kidnapping, election-reportage and flood or famine. How is it like living in the interiors? I wrote once on the topic before.

We have the tools. I am looking forward to blogging from the interiors, cyber-writers reporters from the friendly cyber café near the railway station.


At 1:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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