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

by Meera Mitra

  • Category Non-Fiction
  • Format Hardback
  • Imprint Rainlight
  • Price 500
  1. ISBN: 978-81-291-3488-2
  2. Pages: 224 pages
  3. Date: January 2015


If India is described in conflicting and exaggerated terms—a growth miracle, yet a poverty stricken country—Breaking Through creates a more nuanced portrait of the nation. It presents an India that is at the cusp of change, attempting to emerge from poverty.

In Breaking Through, this India is exemplified through individual, representational stories of innovation, endeavour, struggle and ‘success’. We meet poor and orphaned Neelu, who becomes a serial house owner in the capital; health-worker Santosh, who strives to meet her own health needs; penurious Nazma, who is concerned about the quality of her children’s education; underprivileged entrepreneurs Shan and Dhan, who wrest the rich dividends of growth.

These narratives highlight a complex journey. They present the roadblocks that hinder the entry of the poor into economic life (markets, or credit and infrastructure, or businesses governed by transparency) and obstruct their capacity to seize the basic entitlements of health, education and political participation. This makes social or economic transition difficult, circuitous and sometimes, rife with danger.

Breaking Through reminds us that to look past these stories of struggle, energy and drive—these narratives of people emerging from poverty—is to miss the vibrancy and complexity of India and her growth story.


Meera Mitra has a PhD from the Delhi School of Economics. She is a sociologist and development specialist. She has taught at Jesus and Mary College (Delhi University), Millersville University and Franklin and Marshall College (USA). Mitra has also been involved with consultancy research in India and the USA. In India, she has been responsible for the research, design and management of development projects in the areas of gender, health, education and governance, implemented in different parts of the country, and funded by national and international organizations. She is the author of the book, It’s Only Business: India’s Corporate Social Responsiveness in a Globalised World. Mitra has penned several reports, journal and newspapers articles on development and has been a speaker at national and international forums on the subject.

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