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Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India

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In Uttar Pradesh—known as the "badlands" of India—a woman’s life is not entirely her own. This is one explanation for how Sheelu, a seventeen-year-old girl, ended up in jail after fleeing her service in the home of a powerful local legislator. In a region plagued by corruption, an incident like this might have gone unnoticed—except that it captured the attention of Sampat In Uttar Pradesh—known as the "badlands" of India—a woman’s life is not entirely her own. This is one explanation for how Sheelu, a seventeen-year-old girl, ended up in jail after fleeing her service in the home of a powerful local legislator. In a region plagued by corruption, an incident like this might have gone unnoticed—except that it captured the attention of Sampat Pal, leader of India’s infamous Gulabi (Pink) Gang. Poor and illiterate, married off around the age of twelve, pregnant with her first child at fifteen, and prohibited from attending school, Sampat Pal has risen to become the courageous commander and chief of a women’s brigade numbering in the tens of thousands. Uniformed in pink saris and carrying pink batons, they aim to intervene wherever other women are victims of abuse or injustice. Joined in her struggle by Babuji, a sensitive man whose intellectualism complements her innate sense of justice, and by a host of passionate field commanders, Sampat Pal has confronted policemen and gangsters, officiated love marriages, and empowered women to become financially independent. In a country where women’s rights struggle to keep up with rapid modernization, the story of Sampat Pal and her Pink Gang illuminates the thrilling possibilities of female grassroots activism.


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In Uttar Pradesh—known as the "badlands" of India—a woman’s life is not entirely her own. This is one explanation for how Sheelu, a seventeen-year-old girl, ended up in jail after fleeing her service in the home of a powerful local legislator. In a region plagued by corruption, an incident like this might have gone unnoticed—except that it captured the attention of Sampat In Uttar Pradesh—known as the "badlands" of India—a woman’s life is not entirely her own. This is one explanation for how Sheelu, a seventeen-year-old girl, ended up in jail after fleeing her service in the home of a powerful local legislator. In a region plagued by corruption, an incident like this might have gone unnoticed—except that it captured the attention of Sampat Pal, leader of India’s infamous Gulabi (Pink) Gang. Poor and illiterate, married off around the age of twelve, pregnant with her first child at fifteen, and prohibited from attending school, Sampat Pal has risen to become the courageous commander and chief of a women’s brigade numbering in the tens of thousands. Uniformed in pink saris and carrying pink batons, they aim to intervene wherever other women are victims of abuse or injustice. Joined in her struggle by Babuji, a sensitive man whose intellectualism complements her innate sense of justice, and by a host of passionate field commanders, Sampat Pal has confronted policemen and gangsters, officiated love marriages, and empowered women to become financially independent. In a country where women’s rights struggle to keep up with rapid modernization, the story of Sampat Pal and her Pink Gang illuminates the thrilling possibilities of female grassroots activism.

30 review for Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    There is a female ‘gang’ to be reckoned with in India. This ‘gang’ is known as the Pink Sari Gang comprised of numerous women serving females in need of assistance and/or support. Their formidable leader and founder, the memorable Sampat Pal. The book explains the flagrant corruption in politics and law enforcement, the ill treatment of women, and the poverty suffered by provincial citizens. These deep rooted issues have been plaguing India for some time, nothing new to the reader or anyone aware There is a female ‘gang’ to be reckoned with in India. This ‘gang’ is known as the Pink Sari Gang comprised of numerous women serving females in need of assistance and/or support. Their formidable leader and founder, the memorable Sampat Pal. The book explains the flagrant corruption in politics and law enforcement, the ill treatment of women, and the poverty suffered by provincial citizens. These deep rooted issues have been plaguing India for some time, nothing new to the reader or anyone aware of India. Sampat Pal is memorable. We learn of her as well as her story in the creation of her ‘gang.’ She’s brash, lacking a filter and often resorts to physical means. Arrogant and fearless, she uses her position and power to help others but her vigilante tactics leave you questioning her approach. I am thrilled women are being heard in India, there is a loud voice supporting women but the amount of aggression demonstrated leaves me asking Is this the ONLY way for females to be heard? The only means to achieve equality? Interesting story, wonderful concept but you will question Sampat Pal as well as her tactics. I hope this is the beginning for women not only limited to India but world wide to be treated equally and their voices heard, encouraging the respect woman are due. Perhaps a brusque and forceful manner is the only way to breakthrough the oppression females face, this juror is still deliberating.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    BOTW Blurb:India's struggle with justice for women in the 21st century is becoming one of the most prominent news stories of the moment. In the last few months, another terrible gang rape hit the headlines. Women's collectives are growing up all over the country and beginning to fight back. The most prominent and potent is the Pink Sari Gang. This is their story. Sampat Devi Pal, raised in India's Uttar Pradesh region, was married off at twelve, had her first child at fifteen, and is essentially BOTW Blurb:India's struggle with justice for women in the 21st century is becoming one of the most prominent news stories of the moment. In the last few months, another terrible gang rape hit the headlines. Women's collectives are growing up all over the country and beginning to fight back. The most prominent and potent is the Pink Sari Gang. This is their story. Sampat Devi Pal, raised in India's Uttar Pradesh region, was married off at twelve, had her first child at fifteen, and is essentially illiterate. Yet she has risen to become the fierce and courageous founder and commander in chief of India's Pink Gang, a 20,000-member women's vigilante group fighting for the rights of women in India. In narrating the riveting story of the Pink Gang's work on behalf of a young girl unlawfully imprisoned at the hands of an abusive politician, journalist Amana Fontanella-Khan explores the origins and tactics of a fiery sisterhood that has grown to twice the size of the Irish army. Merging courtroom drama, compelling personal history, and a triumphant portrait of grassroots organisation, Pink Sari Revolution highlights the extraordinary work of women who are shaking things up within their own country. Amana is a Mumbai-based writer of Pakistani and Irish descent. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times and the FT magazine. An honorary gulabi member, this is her first book. Read by Meera Syal Written by Amana Fontanella-Khan Abridged by Eileen Horne Producer: Clive Brill A Pacificus production for BBC Radio 4. #1: Sampat Pal, grassroots crusader for women's rights, takes on a new case of injustice against women in rural India. #2: Sampat Pal confronts the local police, in her quest to find justice for the wrongly-accused Sheelu. #3: Sampat continues to investigate the case of Sheelu, whose harrowing story has now emerged. #4: As the legislator steps up his threats against both Sheelu's family and Sampat herself, Sampat enlists the accused girl's terrified father to help in her quest for justice. #5: Sampat Devi Pal is essentially illiterate, yet has become the courageous founder of India's Pink Gang, a 20,000-strong group fighting for the rights of women in India. Utter Pradesh = Utter Misogyny, Police Corruption and Bullying of the Poor.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Darcey

    Fontanella-Khan does an excellent job of bringing Sampat Pal Devi and the injustices and corruption of Uttar Pradesh to a wider audience, but disappointingly she focuses so much on presenting the very one-sided view of Sampat and the particular case addressed in the book that she does not manage to successfully convey the challenges of life in India and the way things have been changing. Her portrayal is that of Sampat and the Gulabi Gang as seemingly the only forces against corruption - barely Fontanella-Khan does an excellent job of bringing Sampat Pal Devi and the injustices and corruption of Uttar Pradesh to a wider audience, but disappointingly she focuses so much on presenting the very one-sided view of Sampat and the particular case addressed in the book that she does not manage to successfully convey the challenges of life in India and the way things have been changing. Her portrayal is that of Sampat and the Gulabi Gang as seemingly the only forces against corruption - barely addressing Mayawati's absurdities and egregious funds usage, or the struggles occurring elsewhere and the work being done to resolve them. While this is certainly a book focusing on the Gulabi Gang and Sampat herself, one would have expected at least an acknowledgement that this is not exclusively the purview of the Gulabi Gang, and that there are other women and NGOs involved in the evolving status of women. Additionally, I was disappointed with the overly sympathetic writing style which seemed to portray the acts of the women as reasonable and justified, when vigilante action is the sort of behaviour which plays into the hands of those who would see continued corruption and the use of thugs for their own ends. Fontanella-Khan encourages the reader to support Sampat and the Gulabi Gang as they fight against The Establishment - but her portrayal condones the violence that only assists in perpetuating a number of the problems the women fight against in the first place. As a woman who lives in North India, I enjoyed the chance to read about this group and see them portrayed from what I hoped was a neutral perspective, but my hopes were dashed and this left me more than a bit disappointed in the writing, portrayal, and positioning. It clearly caters to a foreign audience in an attempt to stir sympathies, but for those of us who see the sorts of social injustice and corruption problems the women fight against, this will give foreign readers a skewed view from Sampat's perspective, expressed by Fontanella-Khan. Activism is well and good - but vigilante behaviour only perpetuates the problem, and Fontanella-Khan's promotion of this vigilante behaviour runs the risk of inspiring further problems.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    I think if I hadn't read this right after reading Shiv Sena Women: Violence And Communalism In A Bombay Slum and Street Corner Secrets: Sex, Work, and Migration in the City of Mumbai as well as various essays about women in India, my reaction would be different. I know that I did enjoy the program I saw about these women. My problem with the book is this - there is no real context or background. There is no real sense if what the women are fighting is an epidemic or just a one area problem. There I think if I hadn't read this right after reading Shiv Sena Women: Violence And Communalism In A Bombay Slum and Street Corner Secrets: Sex, Work, and Migration in the City of Mumbai as well as various essays about women in India, my reaction would be different. I know that I did enjoy the program I saw about these women. My problem with the book is this - there is no real context or background. There is no real sense if what the women are fighting is an epidemic or just a one area problem. There are some figures that are thrown out towards the end of the book, but it's just too narrow. I really didn't learn anything, and after reading the two other books, it felt like a let down.

  5. 5 out of 5

    PDXReader

    Interesting report on a group of women who use the power of numbers and their gender to assist other women in need of aid. Most of the material the author includes isn't a surprise; just about any non-fiction book about today's India will point out the corruption rampant in politics and law enforcement, the poor position of women, and the enormous poverty of most of the country's rural citizens. It is rather entertaining, though, to read about the formation of Sampat Pal's Pink Sari Gang, althou Interesting report on a group of women who use the power of numbers and their gender to assist other women in need of aid. Most of the material the author includes isn't a surprise; just about any non-fiction book about today's India will point out the corruption rampant in politics and law enforcement, the poor position of women, and the enormous poverty of most of the country's rural citizens. It is rather entertaining, though, to read about the formation of Sampat Pal's Pink Sari Gang, although I remained somewhat puzzled by the woman herself. I mostly ended up feeling she was an arrogant bully who fortunately just happens to use her powers for the good of others rather than for personal gain. I'm also not a fan of vigilante justice, and still find myself asking if the kind of aggression the group displays toward those they disapprove of is truly a valid means of achieving equality for women. I also thought the book painted a fairly one-sided picture of the group and of the aid available to women of India.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week: India's struggle with justice for women in the 21st century is becoming one of the most prominent news stories of the moment. In the last few months, another terrible gang rape hit the headlines. Women's collectives are growing up all over the country and beginning to fight back. The most prominent and potent is the Pink Sari Gang. This is their story. From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week: India's struggle with justice for women in the 21st century is becoming one of the most prominent news stories of the moment. In the last few months, another terrible gang rape hit the headlines. Women's collectives are growing up all over the country and beginning to fight back. The most prominent and potent is the Pink Sari Gang. This is their story.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    If the American publishing industry is to be believed, we live in an age of unprecedented revolutions. Even a cursory search on Amazon reveals that we are currently undergoing a revolution in how we eat (The Paleo Revolution, The Slow Cooker Revolution, The Green Smoothie Revolution), where we live (The Metropolis Revolution), how we run our businesses (The Social Media Revolution), how we live our lives (Work Life Revolution), and the role of government (Ron Paul's The Revolution: A Manifesto), If the American publishing industry is to be believed, we live in an age of unprecedented revolutions. Even a cursory search on Amazon reveals that we are currently undergoing a revolution in how we eat (The Paleo Revolution, The Slow Cooker Revolution, The Green Smoothie Revolution), where we live (The Metropolis Revolution), how we run our businesses (The Social Media Revolution), how we live our lives (Work Life Revolution), and the role of government (Ron Paul's The Revolution: A Manifesto), among others. Almost all of these revolutions are gratuitous in nature, christened as such by a series of agents, book editors, and publishers, not to mention the slew of writers who hope to redefine themselves as oracles important enough to warrant fame, follow-ups, and a hefty paycheck. The only true "revolution" here--that is, the only widespread change in the status quo--is not political or economic or even dietary, but linguistic: we've taken a word with a deep historical and political meaning, especially here in the United States, and redefined it to fit our own silly lifestyles and ideologies. What's worse is that, while Americans plod along with focus-group revolutions, there are actual blood-and-sweat revolutions taking place throughout the world--the very kind of social movements we should be watching and supporting from start to finish. First and foremost was the Arab Spring, which began with one man's self-immolation and spread to more than a dozen Middle Eastern countries, resulting in the overthrow of five dictators as of this writing.* A 2010 revolution in Kyrgyzstan ushered in democratic elections and a new Constitution in a region of the world where democracy is often suppressed, and protests in Brazil over a simple spike in bus fares earlier this year highlighted growing issues of poverty, poor education, and the spending of taxes in one of the world's biggest economies. Other protests and revolutions across the world--Spain, Greece, Turkey, the Central African Republic, Syria--exemplify a changing world in which those who are downtrodden or oppressed see a solution in free speech and assembly, even in the face of violence and death. There is no better example of this than the Pink Sari Revolution happening now in Uttar Pradesh, a Michigan-sized region of norther India that is home to over 200 million people. There, as in many places throughout India and the world itself, corruption among politicians and police is rampant; because of this, crime often goes unpunished and even unreported, especially when committed against girls and women. Much of Indian society relies on an outdated understanding of social class and gender roles, and marrying off underage girls--which means taking them out of school--is still commonplace. Another common occurrence is violence--physical, sexual, emotional--against women, though only recently has the issue gained widespread media attention beyond India's borders. Leading the charge against all of this--corruption, poverty, and crimes against women--is Sampat Pal, an unassuming housewife who, against a myriad of odds, has raised an army of over 200,000 women to fight alongside her. Together, they push back against long-standing obstacles, no matter the danger. Dressed in pink saris and wielding large sticks, the women organize as best they can--very few have cell phones, and even fewer have the means to travel--and descend upon police stations, jails, power plants, doctors' offices, and anywhere else they're needed to rail against injustice, oppression, and wrongdoing. Should their demands not be met or their grievances be laughed off, they are not above using the sticks to their advantage, even against men in positions of power; often, they are followed by the news media, which delights in gathering soundbites from the savvy and well-spoken Pal for rebroadcast across the region and nation. Amana Fontanella-Khan's Pink Sari Revolution follows Sampat Pal and the Gulabi Gang over the course of a criminal investigation involving Sheelu, a 17 year-old Indian girl who is at the heart of a conspiracy involving theft, rape, and threats of murder. Though the facts of the case are unclear, what isn't is Sheelu's innocence: she is little more than a pawn in the machinations of a local political hack and a corrupt police force, all of them acting in tandem to deflect attention from the politician's many crimes and malfeasances. As Sheelu's story unfolds from arrest to trial, so does Sampat Pal's, and the book alternates between past and present in a way that shows us the importance of progress for two very different people: a young girl who defied the norms of the day for her own benefit grows up and continues to defy them, this time for the sake of someone else, just as Sheelu is transformed into a symbol of hope for girls throughout the country. What makes Fontanella-Khan's book so beneficial, however, is the author's ability to talk about Sampat Pal without ignoring the aspects of her life and the Pink Sari revolution that are less than commendable. More than once, Fontanella-Khan details Pal's own home life, which includes a husband who has little visible input in their marriage, at least one daughter who was herself married off young, and a home that is more often than not without its matriarch. There are also issues with the gang's management; as Pal herself admits--on record--there are those below her using the revolution to their own selfish advantages, and a few of them are in positions of power. On top of all of this is Pal's relationship with Sonia Gandhi and the United Progressive Alliance, respectively India's most admired politician and its greatest political party. By aligning herself with politicians, even those who are progressive in their own rights, Pal is both increasing her gang's influence while also attaching it to the very same government that suffers under corruption and social stagnancy. Some in India say this alliance has cheapened Pal's movement by politicizing what was otherwise a grassroots uprising against injustice; Pal, always honest, brushes aside such accusations and says powerful allies are better than no allies at all, though her words do little to address the paradox of fighting abuse alongside the very people who have the power to end it. Fontanella-Khan's focus on these issues, which goes beyond a simple mention here or there for the sake of appearing even-handed and unbiased, lends her book credibility, as she is able to paint Pal as someone who is leading the charge against a system she herself is still struggling to break. It is an indictment not so much of Pal but of a country--a people--so deeply mired in its past that change requires much more than empty words. It requires action, even if that action comes at the end of a stick, and in a region of 200 million people, her small revolution--less than one-tenth of a percent of Uttar Pradesh's overall population--is a minor one. But how do big revolutions arise if not for the smaller ones? After all, even the tiniest of waves will eventually break down the mountains if given enough time. *Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, and Mohamed Mursi in Egypt. This review was originally published at There Will Be Books Galore.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Yasmin

    It's a slightly different approach to write from the perspective of those directly involved only and not the author's voice although it does creep in with the description of "wild beasts" that lurk around Bundelkhand waiting to snap up unsuspecting women washing or walking or going to the bathroom in typical "wild beasts" fashion as they have since called "wild beasts" from colonial times. Oh and snakes aren't wild beasts, fortunately. "Wild beasts" as it turns out aren't the biggest fear the Gu It's a slightly different approach to write from the perspective of those directly involved only and not the author's voice although it does creep in with the description of "wild beasts" that lurk around Bundelkhand waiting to snap up unsuspecting women washing or walking or going to the bathroom in typical "wild beasts" fashion as they have since called "wild beasts" from colonial times. Oh and snakes aren't wild beasts, fortunately. "Wild beasts" as it turns out aren't the biggest fear the Gulabi group nor other women, instead it is the ever increasing rise of rape, domestic violence and other violent acts against girls and women. The second biggest worry is the survival of their group. Can Sampat Pal stay in the charge of this remarkable group of women or will politics mar the ideals she has, like so many others before politics, and will the group become disillusioned and fade away if this were to happen to her? No one person should ever be the heart and brains of any grassroots formation. However, it is by a single individual that keeps or breaks them. Unfortunately already Sampat has had to turn a blind eye to things that could seriously jeopardise the entire group. So will it last? It may as yet be too early to say, however, there is a strong possibility that Sampat Pal could be led astray into dubious India's politics by her son. If that won't bring about a decline then perhaps less than honest members of the group could create deep internal bickering that should spell the end of the Gulabi group. As with all groups there is always problems, internal and outward, temptations to take out unscrupulous handouts to improve monetary issues, etc. etc. and there is always a good chance and a hope that matters will be smoothed out and things will go on as fairly and ideally as they started out.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Annie Bose

    {an initial reaction, not a summary} In December 2010, Sheelu Lal Nishad, a Dalit (lowest of the Hindu caste system) teenager who had run away from home to escape her alcoholic father, was raped by Purushottam Naresh Dwiwedi, a legislator from Atarra, who later accused her of stealing from him and had her arrested when she tried to escape the clutches of his violent attacks. At the same time, a vigilante group of women fighting violence and injustice against women, the lower castes and the poor, {an initial reaction, not a summary} In December 2010, Sheelu Lal Nishad, a Dalit (lowest of the Hindu caste system) teenager who had run away from home to escape her alcoholic father, was raped by Purushottam Naresh Dwiwedi, a legislator from Atarra, who later accused her of stealing from him and had her arrested when she tried to escape the clutches of his violent attacks. At the same time, a vigilante group of women fighting violence and injustice against women, the lower castes and the poor, called the "Gulabi Gang" (christened so by the Indian media because of their uniform, which is a pink sari), led by its founder and commander-in-chief, Sampat Pal Devi, was gaining support and attention across the nation. The book recalls the struggles for justice for Sheelu and the Gulabi Gang's role in starting the dialogue as well as obtaining this justice not only for Sheelu but for all downtrodden by the oppressive, corrupt and patriarchal political and justice system based in crime-ridden Uttar Pradesh. The book shall go on to detail the formation, motives, operations and composition of the Gulaabi Gang by largely recounting Sampat's experiences with fighting injustice for herself and those who approached her. It offers an account of prevailing patterns of domestic violence, sexual assault, corruption in the political and legal systems in place, subjugation on the basis of gender, caste and class, party lobbying amongst others, and how Sampat led large groups of women to oppose these forces and stand united. The book additionally offers a glimpse into the political motives of parties getting involved in only particular cases of violence. As a vigilante group, the Gulaabi Gang is definitely problematic (and definitely not without problems of its own), but I do see how it came about as a result of necessity. In the land of the lawless, there is strength in unifying and becoming bigger, more powerful, more threatening than the problem itself. When caught in a cage, a lion has two options: become servile or continue to bare its teeth. When caught in a system of oppression in a lawless land, one can either succumb or emerge stronger, in bigger numbers, and fight back. This is the message the Gulaabi Gang aims to dispel to anyone who has ever been victimised. Unlike most of the books I have picked up in the past, I read this book cover to cover in one stretch, breaking the flow only once to go to the restroom and eat food. Not because this is the best book I have ever read, or the writing was compelling enough for me to continue in this manner, but because at the heart of this narrative lie some themes that I feel very strongly about. Certainly illuminating in some regards in terms of the subjects the book has chosen to tackle, it proved to be a rather frustrating read and this I attribute to the failure of the editor of this book, and to some extent the author too. Fontanella-Khan clearly had a western audience in mind when she wrote this book, which does not remotely resemble accurate news reporting. I'd expect to read this story in some semi-fiction magazine and if I wanted to read a dramatically portrayed trial that reads more like a Bollywood script than serious piece of journalism. A clearer map of the areas detailed in the book would've been much appreciated. The notes at the end were extremely inconvenient to trace back to the chapters. The narrative is discordant and was unnecessarily obfuscated at certain parts. I was amused by the verbatim translation of the people quoted, however I think it makes the read awkward keeping in ming the western demographic I suspect it was intended for. Additionally, I think Fontanella-Khan fails to present the development of socio-political issues outside of vigilante action, however I think she has successfully remained unbiased in her presentation of Sampat, which must have been difficult to achieve.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deanna

    I cannot recommend this book enough. If you are interested in global women's rights, this book is a must-read. Amana Fontanella-Khan is a gifted writer and she knows how to weave in all the interconnected details surrounding the complexities of a women's movement trying to remain vigilant. I cannot recommend this book enough. If you are interested in global women's rights, this book is a must-read. Amana Fontanella-Khan is a gifted writer and she knows how to weave in all the interconnected details surrounding the complexities of a women's movement trying to remain vigilant.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chitra Ahanthem

    Amana Fontanella Khan's Pink Sari revolution: A tale of women and power in India narrates how Sampat Pal forms and then becomes the leader of the Gulaabi Gang in Attara in Uttar Pradesh where caste prejudices, social and cultural norms and bindings on women do not make it easy for womrn to have a mind of their own, much less take a lead role. But Sampat, starting from a young age not only questions her own place in the family but also in society... Like many other women, Sampat becomes a childbri Amana Fontanella Khan's Pink Sari revolution: A tale of women and power in India narrates how Sampat Pal forms and then becomes the leader of the Gulaabi Gang in Attara in Uttar Pradesh where caste prejudices, social and cultural norms and bindings on women do not make it easy for womrn to have a mind of their own, much less take a lead role. But Sampat, starting from a young age not only questions her own place in the family but also in society... Like many other women, Sampat becomes a childbride and is married off to a much older man. Sampat holds to her questioning of social cultural norms that ends up victimizing women and it is this spirit that shapes her and the action she takes up. Her rallying spirit gets a few women to join her in the beginning and then in course of time, there are hundreds joining her and then thousands. Her intervention over cases involving public good like construction of roads, solving issues of wife beatings etc makes her a power player. Over a matter of a few years, Sampat becomes a force to reckon with in Atarra and then of course comes in the push and pull of politics. The narrative on the indomitable spirit of Sampat Pal and how she copes with the hurdles in her path could all have ended being a giddy and affectionate portrayal of things and events as they went but the author reins that by giving voice to people around Sampat who begin to question her alliances with political parties. The most relevant questions over Sampat's steps towards becoming a part of the system come from a cautious Jai Prakash Shivhare, the man who involved Sampat in setting up Self Help Groups in the village and in the process, honing Sampat's organizational leadership skills. The book ends on Shivhare's cautious note that Sampat has to remember her path of calling out when systems are not in place and that the greater good can never be compromised for personal reasons.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ashwini

    Sampat pal is the founder of the Gulaab Gang in Uttar Pradesh, which works for the welfare and empowerment of women. The Gulaab gang was formed to fight against the various atrocities that women were facing in Bundelhkhand and its neighboring regions. These women wear Pink sarees and always carry bamboo sticks with them, in case of arousal of any violent situation. This book is more of a journalist report form in which the author gives us the details of how Sampat pal stands for a girl who is rap Sampat pal is the founder of the Gulaab Gang in Uttar Pradesh, which works for the welfare and empowerment of women. The Gulaab gang was formed to fight against the various atrocities that women were facing in Bundelhkhand and its neighboring regions. These women wear Pink sarees and always carry bamboo sticks with them, in case of arousal of any violent situation. This book is more of a journalist report form in which the author gives us the details of how Sampat pal stands for a girl who is raped by the political leader and how she strives her war against the system. With the due course of the book the author gives details of the life of sampat pal and how she founded Gulaab gang. The author tries to give us a jest of the working of the gang and also a brief overview of some of its members. The portrayal of how the entire justice system works in India didn’t go down well for me. Too much focus was given on corruption, illegal issues, violence, and other stuff rather than the gang. Sampat pal is married of as a child bride. She stands up against the village atrocities and starts working for the welfare of the women. But overdue course of time, you start to doubt about what path does Sampat pal really wants to lead. She starts playing political games similar to the politicians once whom she was opposing in the past. Even her gang members start feeling that she is drifting from their motto and that causes disrupt among them. Somehow I felt this book was not clearing my doubts and I wasn’t exactly in a position to understand Sampat pal. Nevertheless a book to read with a sound and analytical mind. So I don’t regret reading it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Hm. This is very hard for me to rate. I really don't want to sound like an ignorant white person, but something about this... escaped me? I get that feminism has to take on forms more drastic than it does here in Europe, because women have a longer way to go than they do here, and they have bigger hurdles to jump because politics and society are not interested in their equality, but everything about the Gulabi Gang struck me as violent and non-democratic. I don't want to say one has to be likabl Hm. This is very hard for me to rate. I really don't want to sound like an ignorant white person, but something about this... escaped me? I get that feminism has to take on forms more drastic than it does here in Europe, because women have a longer way to go than they do here, and they have bigger hurdles to jump because politics and society are not interested in their equality, but everything about the Gulabi Gang struck me as violent and non-democratic. I don't want to say one has to be likable to be a good feminist, but Sampat Pal was depicted as very much unlikable here. She is so self posessed? In interviews, she apparently says things like "I've never been wrong" and thinks eveybody who dislikes her is simply jealous. she doesn't talk to her fellow gang members and just demands they follow her blindly. Maybe it has to be that way. Maybe I just can't imagine having to go through such lenghts to initiate change, because I'm just to priviliged. I don't know. I still found their story very intersting though and am glad to have read such a particular story ab out feminism in a culture I know almost nothing about.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anagha

    It's a good story, very interestingly told. Almost reads like fiction. The language used is very "Indian" sometimes directly translating phrases said in an Indian language. This makes for rather awkward constructs that kept distracting me. Even though Sampat Pal is the heroine of the book, some of the writing leaves you with doubts about her motivations. There is no doubt that she helped a lot of women and brought about change and hope in a very desolate place, but you cannot help but think there It's a good story, very interestingly told. Almost reads like fiction. The language used is very "Indian" sometimes directly translating phrases said in an Indian language. This makes for rather awkward constructs that kept distracting me. Even though Sampat Pal is the heroine of the book, some of the writing leaves you with doubts about her motivations. There is no doubt that she helped a lot of women and brought about change and hope in a very desolate place, but you cannot help but think there are some parts of her that are very similar to the politicians that she is fighting. Or maybe it's just me.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Means

    Inspiring story of women’s grassroots movement to fight inequity in Indian society.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Grandiflora

    What makes this lecture truely engaging is building whole story around scandalous case of Sheelu Nishad, young rape victim. Those events are an exuse to tell about inspiring work of Sampat Pal, who she is and what makes her a fearless, defiant leader. It's not a memorial, the author is very objective and presents also the flaws of Pink Sari movement. What makes this lecture truely engaging is building whole story around scandalous case of Sheelu Nishad, young rape victim. Those events are an exuse to tell about inspiring work of Sampat Pal, who she is and what makes her a fearless, defiant leader. It's not a memorial, the author is very objective and presents also the flaws of Pink Sari movement.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Thanaku

    I didn't think about what was going to happen to me. If that were inside me, how could I fight? In this world at least one person has to fight. All over the world, someone comes forward who has courage... You have to forget your life and not be scared. That's how the country will go ahead. - Sampat Pal When atrocities are happening to people around us, we just shrug our shoulders with a- I tried to help them as much as I could, what more do you expect me to do or a- look I don't want to get t I didn't think about what was going to happen to me. If that were inside me, how could I fight? In this world at least one person has to fight. All over the world, someone comes forward who has courage... You have to forget your life and not be scared. That's how the country will go ahead. - Sampat Pal When atrocities are happening to people around us, we just shrug our shoulders with a- I tried to help them as much as I could, what more do you expect me to do or a- look I don't want to get tainted in this murky business, stay away from me. I admit, I belong to this group. I shied away from thinking about a whole lot of ugly things and spent most of my time in a whole bunch of wonderlands. This book ripped away all of the embellishments. It taught me a great deal. And being an enthusiast in psychology, it helped me to understand the thought processes of the players in our world a lot better. So if you've been hiding behind Mommy's skirt, this book's for you. Yes, its time to get to know some reality. The synopsis of the book makes you believe that this is almost some kind of a mystery novel but better 'cause its non-fiction. But Sheelu doesn't get centre stage here. The book primarily focuses on the Gulabi Gang- its conception followed by its inception with Sampat Pal being the parchment on which the events are painted. The narration can be a little confusing especially so for those who find it hard to remember the names of the people involved. The author does not make it easy by touching upon the induction story of many of the pink gang members who don't really play a major role in the book. I however had no problem whatsoever. Each meeting unfolded the many layers of the problem which Sampat Pal had to face and how she astutely tackled them. Reading the book was like a journey down a long meandering river with many loops and rapids. Sometimes the flashback stories were so engaging that it was pretty easy to loose track of the actual destination. The author gives a very detailed unbiased account of the Pink Gang. The author mostly states accounts and words exchanged between the speakers and rarely gives her own opinion. Sampat Pal herself time and again reasserts her larger than life image and I definitely don't think she's a braggadocio, simply because Bundelkhand needs hope, like lots of it. If hope could be measured, Bundelkhand has a -1000 units of hope. So for a person to believe in another, a Godlike image would definitely push things forward. In short, this book bares to the bones the workings of a wretched society- now here's hell on Earth- and how an ordinary person swallows all her hurt and pain and plants hope in the hearts of its inhabitants with whom she shakes its very foundation. And they all live happily ever after... yeah right. This is not fiction people. Sampat Pal and her Gulabi Gang grabbed the eyes of the nation for a long time with a promise of justice for Sheelu but things haven't changed much for Sheelu though she's trying extra hard to hold her head high and not get bogged down by the society. All the hullabaloo this incident sparked has whiffed away to nothing with the same age old tug-of-war of power between equally corrupt political parties and goonda raj reigning supreme. Lastly, here are some pictures I had to look up once I completed the book. You are welcome :) Purushottam Naresh Dwivedi Sheelu Nishad- revamped Why should I hide my face or name? If they play with our honour, should we be ashamed or should they?-Sheelu

  18. 5 out of 5

    ILYA ROSLAN

    Powerful and energetic story! I can feel the spirit of Sampat Pal, a woman who lead vigilante group, Gulabi Gang or known as Pink Sari Gang, throughout this book. Reading this book make me feel like watching Tamil drama series, but with good script, great character development and less unnecessary added effect. I really enjoy reading this book and have quoted many Sampat-ji saying. Eventhough there are many character and too much flashback moment, still author have done beautiful job.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kaion

    Sampat Pal Devi is a BADASS. That is all. If you want to know more about the context of Indian politics and society in which she operates, sadly, Amana Fontanella-Khan doesn't really offer much other than broad, mechanical facts about the socially-blighted region in which the Gulabi Gang operates. However, if you want a portrait of founder Pal, mainly drawn from interviews with Pal, her family, and colleagues, Pink Sari Revolution is a fast & palatable. What stands out in Fontanella-Khan's portra Sampat Pal Devi is a BADASS. That is all. If you want to know more about the context of Indian politics and society in which she operates, sadly, Amana Fontanella-Khan doesn't really offer much other than broad, mechanical facts about the socially-blighted region in which the Gulabi Gang operates. However, if you want a portrait of founder Pal, mainly drawn from interviews with Pal, her family, and colleagues, Pink Sari Revolution is a fast & palatable. What stands out in Fontanella-Khan's portrait out to me is how shrewd Sampat Pal is. While articles often focus on her humble origins and her bravery of the stick-wielding, death-threat variety, it's her shrewdness with the media & other social institutions which show a keen social intelligence. Particularly Pal's lessons on how group unity can empower women & how to use shame is a powerful motivator should be of interest show why this story is of interest on the world stage. For example, even the way the Gulabi Gang is uniquely structured to face the challenges of grassroots organization in a largely underdeveloped area. Fontanella-Khan touches upon some of the more controversial aspects of the group, particularly accusations of self-promotion and corruption, but mostly offers a positive picture of the founding of the group and its aims. While I expected a little more analysis, Pink Sari Revolution is an interesting introduction and offers a timely look into on-the-ground activism. Rating: 3 stars

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    You know those celebrity interviews in magazines of dubious quality? The ones that read something along the lines of: "When I sat down with [fill in celebrity name here] for a quick brunch on Saturday, I was impressed by how great she looked in her simple blues jeans and t-shirt. I asked her about her dog and she giggled, 'My doggie is my best friend in the world! He's so sweet!'" etc? That's what this book reads like. I was really excited to read this book and read about a women's grass roots m You know those celebrity interviews in magazines of dubious quality? The ones that read something along the lines of: "When I sat down with [fill in celebrity name here] for a quick brunch on Saturday, I was impressed by how great she looked in her simple blues jeans and t-shirt. I asked her about her dog and she giggled, 'My doggie is my best friend in the world! He's so sweet!'" etc? That's what this book reads like. I was really excited to read this book and read about a women's grass roots movement that helps give women a voice in a country notorious for the ill-treatment of women. But I didn't get that. I got a book about a serious topic that felt silly and shallow and a bit hero-worshippy. And while I'm glad that someone is trying to change things in India, I was also a bit confused by this book's condemnation of vigilantes who feel like they have been treated unjustly by the government, while it simultaneously praises this group, which is apparently a vigilante organization who rallies when someone feels they have been treated unjustly by the government. Between the writing style and this odd double standard, I couldn't finish this book. (Also, while this is a slightly minor complaint, I cannot take a book with a dangling modifier seriously, and this book introduces us to a man "with a mustache called Sangham Lal Singh." Things like that are a result of lazy writing or lazy editing or both.)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    This took me ages to read in part because I was 3/4 through it when I had to go to abroad for a couple of weeks for work. Clearly I wasn't going to take it with me & when I came back I had other things I was more interested in. There's an interesting story here but it's lost in the structure or lack thereof and the writer can't seem to make her mind up whether she's telling the story of the Pink Sari Gang, and / or its founder, or the story of a specific girl, Sheelu, whose case they took on. Fon This took me ages to read in part because I was 3/4 through it when I had to go to abroad for a couple of weeks for work. Clearly I wasn't going to take it with me & when I came back I had other things I was more interested in. There's an interesting story here but it's lost in the structure or lack thereof and the writer can't seem to make her mind up whether she's telling the story of the Pink Sari Gang, and / or its founder, or the story of a specific girl, Sheelu, whose case they took on. Fontanella-Khan will introduce a new character (they are supposed to be real people but none of them felt real to me) and then start an anecdote about this new person, go off on some tangent, come back to finish the anecdote, give a physical description of the person in the present tense as though you were reading a newspaper interview with this new character and then continue - but at this point you've forgotten (if you ever knew) how and why the character fits into the story of the pink sari or Sheelu's story. I thought it was really poorly written and surprisingly unengaging.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Farahin Nadh

    "when i die, the indian goverment should look in my brain and find out how i have become like this". after a moment she added, "they should look into my heart too, that could help" -sampat pal- the pink gang was famous in India, a place where women sometimes worth nothing, nothing. when women were beatan, abused, raped their cases where neglected and often ignored or worse, they were blamed for what had happened. but one woman, sampat pal did not tolerate injustice, so she started a movement to g "when i die, the indian goverment should look in my brain and find out how i have become like this". after a moment she added, "they should look into my heart too, that could help" -sampat pal- the pink gang was famous in India, a place where women sometimes worth nothing, nothing. when women were beatan, abused, raped their cases where neglected and often ignored or worse, they were blamed for what had happened. but one woman, sampat pal did not tolerate injustice, so she started a movement to gather all the ladies because when you came to the police station in thousands, they will pay attention. I had a thing for India, not because of the taj mahal, the food or bollywood (shah rukh khan yes

  23. 5 out of 5

    Juan Rivera

    One of the countries that I admire the most for its ancient culture is India. I have traveled to India several times and I have seen how the country has grown and improved, but it still lacks a lot. In fact I have only seen the tourist and business part mainly. But how do the poorest people in India live? One of the poorest states in India is Uttar Pradesh, where a heroine came from who is helping to change things. Sampat PAL married at twelve and has formed a community of Indian women who call One of the countries that I admire the most for its ancient culture is India. I have traveled to India several times and I have seen how the country has grown and improved, but it still lacks a lot. In fact I have only seen the tourist and business part mainly. But how do the poorest people in India live? One of the poorest states in India is Uttar Pradesh, where a heroine came from who is helping to change things. Sampat PAL married at twelve and has formed a community of Indian women who call themselves “the pink gang”; because all of them are dressed in pink and defend trampled rights in a state plagued by chieftains and corruption. Sad the narration where you see how the poorest people in India live, with only one dollar a day. Corruption by the police and politicians rivals that of Mexico. One of the most common crimes is rape. However, when a woman is raped, doctors have to manually explore her and give her verdict. Tragic like many things in India. Sampat at least knows he can make a difference. Now it is a policy and you know that it should not be corrupted and sold, that is the difference between doing something or being someone just like those that exist in other countries, such as our beautiful Mexico. In the photo I took several years ago it can be seen how women in India dress according to their customs and traditional clothing, men can dress as they like. Another major difference between the sexes in India.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gurpreet Kaur

    This book mostly revolves around the incredible woman behind the creation of a grassroots movement called the Gulabi Gang, Mrs Sampat Pal. What is so inspiring about her story is just how much she has managed to achieve in so little time, whilst being illiterate and juggling family/cultural pressures. Reading about her interactions with other members and journalists, you quickly come to learn of her cheeky personality and solid air of confidence. It was quite shocking and upsetting to read about This book mostly revolves around the incredible woman behind the creation of a grassroots movement called the Gulabi Gang, Mrs Sampat Pal. What is so inspiring about her story is just how much she has managed to achieve in so little time, whilst being illiterate and juggling family/cultural pressures. Reading about her interactions with other members and journalists, you quickly come to learn of her cheeky personality and solid air of confidence. It was quite shocking and upsetting to read about just how corrupt the 'higher ups' (politicians, police, doctors etc.) in small villages in India are and how they exploit their power/positions (positions that they often bought their way into). Sampat's story is so inspiring within itself but to see all these women collectively come together, donned in pink Saris, taking control of their own lives is an incredible display of strength in numbers. Reading about the many lives the Gulabi Gang have changed by helping those in need and dealing with wrong doers, it leaves you with a feeling of immense pride. Even though their methods may not be the most orthodox, they have proved themselves a force to be reckoned with.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Anderson

    This is one of many non-fiction books I have recently read about India that brings to light the level of corruption that's spiderwebbed all throughout Indian politics, law enforcement, and society that's often most severely felt by women or families living below the poverty line. This storyline follows the work of Sampat Pal and her Pink Gang; a organization of women who protest and publicly shame individual politicians or official groups such as local law enforcement who have abused their power This is one of many non-fiction books I have recently read about India that brings to light the level of corruption that's spiderwebbed all throughout Indian politics, law enforcement, and society that's often most severely felt by women or families living below the poverty line. This storyline follows the work of Sampat Pal and her Pink Gang; a organization of women who protest and publicly shame individual politicians or official groups such as local law enforcement who have abused their power, often taking advantage of the least fortunate. In a grassroots effort to get a abused and wrongfully accused teenage girl released from prison, Sampat Pal rallies her pink supporters, and gives a voice back to a ignored population in Uttar Pradesh. It isn't exactly a "feel good" book meant to be read right before bed, but it is a book that should be read nonetheless. It felt well researched, and organized, and the stories and interviews came to life with careful description. I will recommend the book to others.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Carr

    I received this book from a goodreads giveaway. I enjoyed learning more about India/Indian culture, but overall found this book difficult to read. It meandered from topic to topic and I never got a true sense of any of the characters or their motivations. The writing style was very unfocused. At times the verb tense would change which made it difficult to know what was happening/what had happened and when. A glossary of characters would also have been helpful since some characters were introduced I received this book from a goodreads giveaway. I enjoyed learning more about India/Indian culture, but overall found this book difficult to read. It meandered from topic to topic and I never got a true sense of any of the characters or their motivations. The writing style was very unfocused. At times the verb tense would change which made it difficult to know what was happening/what had happened and when. A glossary of characters would also have been helpful since some characters were introduced, given pages of description and then dropped away for whole sections. Also nicknames were used which made it challenging remembering who was who. If you're seriously interested in learning more about the Pink Gang and Sampat Pal, maybe this would be a good book to refer to, but otherwise, I'm not sure who I would recommend to read this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Honestly, possibly the best thing about this book is the fact that it's real! It's women making their country better for each other and I hope that one day, Indian women celebrate Sampat Pal! Beautifully narrated by Meera Syal, I'm glad I know more about the founder of the Gulabi Gang, and also a more balanced rhetoric than the news' description of a "vigilante gang", which makes them out to be well intentioned thugs. These women are fighting social injustice and corruption throughout India and h Honestly, possibly the best thing about this book is the fact that it's real! It's women making their country better for each other and I hope that one day, Indian women celebrate Sampat Pal! Beautifully narrated by Meera Syal, I'm glad I know more about the founder of the Gulabi Gang, and also a more balanced rhetoric than the news' description of a "vigilante gang", which makes them out to be well intentioned thugs. These women are fighting social injustice and corruption throughout India and have discovered that together, they are stronger. As Sampat explains, it's like the difference between a slap with your open hand and hitting something when all your fingers are together, in a closed fist! I highly recommend this book!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kimberley

    An interesting read and an introduction into the corruption in India and the movements therein. The writing style is basic and I think that a more in depth look into the problems in India would have been what I wanted, plus I find that the book wants you to be on the side of Sampat, Sheelu and the Pink Gang without question, which is difficult. Still a good starting point for looking into social justice in India, albeit one to be read with a critical mind.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Briana Escamilla

    Just finished this book and it's awesome. It's about a group of women in India who have formed a vigilante organization known as the Pink Gang to combat violence against women and corruption in their communities. It's an incredible story about the power of grassroots organizing. "If the problem is big, we must become even bigger." -Sampat Pal, founder and leader of the Pink Gang Just finished this book and it's awesome. It's about a group of women in India who have formed a vigilante organization known as the Pink Gang to combat violence against women and corruption in their communities. It's an incredible story about the power of grassroots organizing. "If the problem is big, we must become even bigger." -Sampat Pal, founder and leader of the Pink Gang

  30. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This book is about a group of female activists in India, who campaign against corruption and for women's rights. It is an interesting topic, but I thought the author jumped from anecdote to anecdote too quickly, without fully explaining any of them. So, it was a good introduction, but not necessarily deep enough. This book is about a group of female activists in India, who campaign against corruption and for women's rights. It is an interesting topic, but I thought the author jumped from anecdote to anecdote too quickly, without fully explaining any of them. So, it was a good introduction, but not necessarily deep enough.

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