Breaking Through India Summary

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Book: Breaking Through India’s Stories of Beating the Odds on Poverty

Author: Meera Mitra
Publishing house: Rupa, 2015
Submitted by: Anjali Singla, APCP
In the last decade, while India has witnessed tremendous economic growth, poverty and economic disparity have also increased manifold, attracting social scientists to further decipher the phenomenon. ‘Breaking Through’ is one such narrative account of poverty and its facets in India. The author, Meera Mitra, is a PhD from Delhi School of Economics, with an expertise in fields of gender, education, health and governance. This book highlights the complexity of poverty in India while maintaining optimism, suggesting solutions, and recognising
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Another issue discussed is that of governance and reimagining of caste and gender. Mitra talks about the increased participation of women after the implementation of 73rd and 74th amendments which discuss Panchayati raj, portraying the emancipation of women and breaking of the caste system. The last three sections talk about protection of the vendor protection acts, lack of access to formal credit sources in India, and the cotton farmers of Andhra Pradesh who are caught in the macro forces, debt, input and output deficits and are pushed to commit…show more content…
The linkage between education, livelihood and access to healthcare, microfinance is evident to me after reading this book. The book provides a direct correlation between high levels of motivation and better living standards. This can be used to include more people to fight for their rights. Also, it follows that families with stability have better relations. As witnessed with Nazma and her family, she feels proud of her daughters and has better hope for them.
Unlike Oscar Lewis, who in his book Children of Sanchez (1961) focused only on negative attributes such as neglect for planning, violence, etc. (this has influenced more studies which initiated what was termed as “the culture of poverty”), Meera Mitra has focused on aspirations of the people and their struggle to access resources. She elucidates on the fact that the people look for support from the government rather than complete dependence. The book takes a stand that caste structures do not perpetuate poverty, contrary to popular belief.
The book ‘Breaking through’ talks of poverty and its dimensions but does not dwell on the depressing side of the story. Rather it creates hope to overcome it and suggests way of getting rid of it. However, the lopsided approach is like looking through rose colored glasses and doesn’t provide the holistic view of the socio economic policies and the critiquing of the same.

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