Harsh Mander is a disruptive writer who constantly places the plight of India’s poor in front of the country’s middle and upper classes.
He is a human rights worker, writer, columnist, scholar and teacher. Mr Mander works with survivors of mass violence, hunger, homeless persons and street children. He has authored 12 books and writes regular columns in Indian national newspapers.
Mr Mander’s latest book, ‘Looking Away, Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India,’ has just been published to critical acclaim. The week of writing this article, the work was number one in Amazon India’s Social Welfare and Social Services section.
The front cover photograph of the book shows the underside of a street sleeper’s feet, with one of the big toes missing.
Harsh Mander’s work is characterised by the use of real life examples, children and adults from India’s twilight world of destitution. I find myself gripped by his stark stories in a benign vice.
There’s little escape from Mr Mander’s inconvenient reality.
In his latest book he asks the rapidly growing Indian middle class to shake itself out of its apathy and confront its attitude to the underclass it uses, sometimes abuses and mostly ignores. Mander advances his thesis through three stages called ‘Many Exiles of India’s Poor, The Legitimization of Prejudice and The Imperative for Public Compassion.’
His main points are about the need for food security, the politics of the poverty line, banning child labour, the plight of homeless children and what India is like from the point of view of its Muslims.
Describing one of the reasons he wrote his current opus, Harsh Mander said a short time ago,
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