Book: Shoes of the Dead
Author: Kota Neelima
Publisher: Rupa Publication
Price: Rs 495
This book is serious business. Coming from someone who is an editor at the Sunday Guardian, I wouldn't expect any less. With this book, Kota Neelima takes you on a tour of the real world the farmers in our country occupy. Farmer suicides happen in abundance, many because of debts. Others because of successive crop failures. Either case, the farmers' families want the compensation by claiming it to be a debt related death. The government on the other hand, keeps rejecting claims after claims of debt related deaths, real or not.
Crushed by successive crop failures and the burden of debt, Sudhakar Bhadra kills himself. The powerful district committee of Mityala routinely dismisses the suicide and refuses compensation to his widow. Gangiri, his brother, makes it his life’s mission to bring justice to the dead by influencing the committee to validate similar farmer suicides. Keyur Kashinath of the Democratic Party - first-time member of Parliament from Mityala, and son of Vaishnav Kashinath, the party’s general secretary - is the heir to his father’s power in Delhi politics. He faces his first crisis every suicide in his constituency certified by the committee as debt-related is a blot on the party’s image, and his competence. The brilliant farmer battles his inheritance of despair, the arrogant politician fights for the power he has received as legacy. Their two worlds collide in a conflict that pushes both to the limits of morality from where there is no turning back. At stake is the truth about ‘inherited’ democratic power. And at the end, there can only be one winner. Passionate and startlingly insightful, Shoes of the Dead is a chilling parable of modern-day India.
Not that you should judge a book by it's cover, but I really liked the simple yet compelling cover of Shoes of the Dead. A barren drought affected land at one end, and Rashtrapti Bhawan, the corridors of power at the other.Separated by "Shoes of the Dead" (Not literally though!)
The book deals with the farmers' suicides in the much publicized Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. The book is gripping because as you read, you realize you are reading something that is true, even though you wish it weren't. It gives you deep insights into the so-called democratic system of the country where the only driving factor for the political babus is public votes. Pursuing the chair and sticking to it is the only thing that matters. An account of how dynasty politics still runs in the system. The book will scare you as you realize the ministers care a hoot about the farmers. And if this trend of suicides continue, who's going to produce grains and food for a country of 1.25 billion?
Even though this is not fiction, names have been suitable changed and the author has done justice to character building in the book. The language is simple and the book is a clear winner as it stands on a strong foundation of good content, etched out beautifully.