When Godavari Comes
People's History of a River- Journeys in the Zone of the Dispossessed
The book cruises through the length and breadth of Godavari (as much as possible), between years 2006 and 2013, into the villages to be submerged by the Indira Sagar Polavaram National multi-purpose Project of Andhra Pradesh-Telangana. Through an engaged first-person journal of journeys in these villages, the author records people's voices (and faces) and reflects on the issues, such as, historical past of Godavari region and its bearing on the present, idea of a river, forest and land and the male construct of a dam. When Godavari comes, there is a churning that brings in new life, crops, on fields, marshes and wetlands and at the same time she also leaves some people stranded, manoeuvering their life's boat through, even as they are rendered at the mercy of the state. Yet, the destruction from a Godavari's coming is not permanent, nor an apocalypse, as a massive 'modern' displacement from 'development' is. In journeying on Godavari, travelling with its flow, you meet these people- adivasi/tribal, dalits (and the other marginalised)- and hear their stories, their philosophies of life and of being reduced to a sunyam (zero). Indeed, a whole history is in the process of being written from above in this geographical-cultural-social space. This is the first book of this nature based almost entirely on people's voices from the submergence zone. R. Umamaheshwari is currently Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. She has been, for most part of her career, an independent journalist-academic. She has a PhD in History - on the social history of the Tamil Jaina community in Tamilnadu - from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has also been Fellow for short terms at the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University and IIT-Madras, besides being a receipient of a few journalism and academic fellowships.