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

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

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by Amana Fontanella-Khan
 

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A vibrant and inspiring portrait of third-world feminism emerges through this story of India’s pink-sari-wearing, pink-baton-wielding Pink Gang.

Sampat Devi Pal, raised in India’s notoriously corrupt Uttar Pradesh region, was married off around the age of thirteen, had her first child at fifteen, and is essentially illiterate. Yet she has risen

Overview

A vibrant and inspiring portrait of third-world feminism emerges through this story of India’s pink-sari-wearing, pink-baton-wielding Pink Gang.

Sampat Devi Pal, raised in India’s notoriously corrupt Uttar Pradesh region, was married off around the age of thirteen, 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 infamous 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 organizing, Pink Sari Revolution offers a refreshing counternarrative to stories of American intervention in the third world by highlighting the extraordinary work of women who are shaking things up within their own country.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A maze of political intrigue, personal melodrama, and feminist activism unfolds in this account of the Pink Gang, a band of Indian women clad in pink saris and carrying pink sticks, who operate both as vigilantes and saviors of abused women. In her first book, journalist Fontanella-Khan relates the development of the organization—established by Sampat Devi Pal and operating in Northern India’s Uttar Pradesh region—while following the case of Sheelu Nisad, falsely accused of stealing by a prominent political figure who raped her. It’s a heady mix; the large cast is entangled in familial relations and caste complexities, and the story is complicated by conflicting accounts of the girl’s case. The Pink Gang grows from a handful of “old widows and middle-aged gadflies” to a political force to be reckoned with, as Sampat has a “highly publicized meeting with Sonia Gandhi.” In telling the story of the now 20,000-strong Pink Gang, who chose pink as the only color in India free of political or religious associations, the author delves into the roles played by the gang’s supportive husbands, pro bono lawyers, and the attentive press. Having interviewed the principals and reviewed available newspaper accounts, Fontanella-Khan brings a novelist’s pacing to a timely page-turner that is essentially political; party politics, political corruption, and the wretched treatment of rape victims are her true subjects. Agent: Sophie Lambert, Conville & Walsh. (Aug.)
Hanna Rosin
“With her usual deep reporting, humane storytelling, clarity of explanation, and wry humor, Fontanella-Khan brings to life a group of women who have overcome origins and odds most of us can not even imagine to create a movement that might very well change India—and the West’s image of what it means to be a woman in the Third World.”
Sonia Faleiro
“A powerful, engrossing portrait of one woman’s fight for female empowerment in India. Sampat Pal’s extraordinary courage will inspire you, delight you, and fill you with hope.”
John McMurtrie - San Francisco Chronicle
“A nuanced humanizing portrait of a teenage-mother-turned-social-crusader who is loud, boastful and blessed with a wicked sense of humor.”
Library Journal
Sampat Devi Pal is an Indian activist who in 2006 started the Pink Sari Gang, a woman's vigilante group; by 2008, there were 20,000 members. Operating in the badlands of Bundelkhand (a region in the state of Uttar Pradesh), the women protest domestic violence and seek justice against the machinations of corrupt politicians and unresponsive police. They also conduct the traditionally forbidden mass "love-marriages" of couples. The group gets its name from the pink saris worn by its members. The author, a journalist of Pakistani-Irish heritage, spent over four years in India. She begins her book with the investigation of a case involving the wrongful imprisonment of a minor allegedly raped by a legislator. Along the way the reader learns of the Pink Sari Gang's modus operandi and of Pal's background and mettle. Despite her lack of a formal education, Pal emerges as an enlightened leader who could teach a thing or two to all vigilantes. VERDICT An inspiring profile of an extraordinary woman who breaks all stereotypes and of her cause. Dealing with a timely topic, this title is highly recommended for all applicable collections.—Ravi Shenoy, Naperville, IL
Kirkus Reviews
A journalist's inspiring story of the "Pink Gang," a group of ordinary women fighting for justice in the political badlands of Northern India. Corruption was a fact of life in Uttar Pradesh, and females were too often the victims of the social, political and economic inequalities that defined this Indian "Wild West." But as Fontanella-Khan shows in this lively account, they were not without hope, nor were they without a champion. Sampat Pal, a community organizer who knew firsthand what it meant to endure such common gender injustices as forced childhood marriage to an older man, knew she needed to help make a difference in the lives of women. She began by creating an NGO to foster female financial independence. Soon, however, she discovered that when women came to her, their concerns included issues that affected whole communities, such as access to better roads and "bribery-free bureaucracy." Pal responded by organizing the women her NGO helped into a stick-wielding, pink sari–uniformed group that local journalists christened the Pink Gang. Fontanella-Khan deftly interweaves her portrait of Pal and her amazing sisterhood into the larger story of a notorious 2010 court case involving a dishonest politician's rape, abuse and imprisonment of a young girl accused of stealing from him. Through confrontation with police, marches in the street and acts of humiliation aimed at publically embarrassing "rogue politicians," the Gang succeeded in helping to get the wronged girl freed. More significantly, they, and especially Pal, established themselves as a social and political force to be reckoned with in a country that, for all its economic gains, is a place where life is "steadily worsening," rather than improving, for women. As delightful as it is intelligent and important.
Eve Ensler
“A call to women everywhere to take the world into your hands, to rise and resist.”
The New Republic
“A fine tribute to a remarkable woman, a close look at an India that still exists beneath the economic boom of recent years, and a rousing reminder that formidable will can make a difference.”
Meenakshi Venkat - New York Journal of Books
“Riveting, inspiring, and relevant…. A fast-paced, powerful, and sympathetic portrait of a victim and her subaltern champion in the dusty heart of northern India.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“A nuanced humanizing portrait of a teenage-mothe-rturned-
social-crusader who is loud, boastful and blessed with a wicked sense of humor.”
New Statesman
“A fascinating portrait of a country in flux.”
Financial Times
“Powerful. . . . draws the reader in.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393062977
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
08/05/2013
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
1,338,145
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Amana Fontanella-Khan is a Mumbai-based writer of Pakistani and Irish descent. She is a contributor to Slate’s Double X, Daily Beast, New York Times, and Christian Science Monitor.

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Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Melinda_H More than 1 year ago
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 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.