Skip to main content

Adivasi Will Not Dance - Book Review


The Adivasi will not dance by Handsa Sowvendra Shekhar is one of the most disturbing books I have read this year - 8 yrs after it was released and has won awards as well. I read this book because I was intrigued by the title and as I am currently engaged with the Adivasi network and trying to create a way of conserving their way of life and world view while surviving the current market forces. The following is my short reflective review after finishing the book. 

Ram, Dec 2023


In the past decade, there have been many books that have brought out several facets of the ‘’development’’ pathway, its ironies, idiocies, and conflicts. Some have managed to capture the human stories with such detailing that they leave you with a disturbed mind for a long time. The Adivasi Will Not Dance is an interesting genre of development parody told with some of the most disturbing characters, while they may remain fictional, the proximity and the background of the reality that is braided into the stories leaves you with anger and disgust.

I read the book after ordering it without much thought because I was engaged with some Adivasi communities. It was the title that caught my attention, I should confess despite its several raw details, I was not able to put it down and finished it through several busy days and travel.

The title story that comes towards the end is the one that leaves you with the greatest sense of frustration and anger on behalf of the people of the land that that country had disregarded. Whether it is the santhals, gonds, the jharwas or the several that about in the dandakaranya region of central India, the first people of the land in India are the most negatively impacted by the inherited colonial system that the country decided to govern itself with.

Each of these stories are a reminder of a real newspaper title that one may have read tucked away insignificantly in page six. I could relate many of the stories in this book to real stories I have heard or read before. That the author narrates these with the emotions of the key human players involved and, in the process, takes you closer to their reality, as life, with warts and all, makes one want to cry at the end of each chapter.

Lives, millions of them, are dis-regarded and destroyed everyday in this country, being stamped under the heel of modern market system (‘’modernity’’ as Gandhi called it with much foresight in Hind Swaraj) to be relegated to those pages in history that are never written and will never see the light of the day. To record those stories with details is to facilitate a cathartic societal process and the author of this book has done it with amazing clarity of purpose and simple storytelling style.

This book will haunt me for a long time.

Ram | 11/12/2023