Adivaani “the Adivasi voice”: A publishing house for India’s indigenous population – West Bengal

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Who is adivaani

Ruby Hembrom

I believe not everyone is meant to do just one thing in life, I certainly am not. My 8 years of work experience in the Legal field, the Service Industry, the Social Development Sector and the Learning, Research, Development and Instructional Designing field bears testimony to this fact.

My education, training, skills and career define only part of who I am; my identity as a tribal, a Santal, is fundamental to my being and that completes who I am.

2nd of April, 2012 found me trading four months of my life to learning a new skill. I attended a course on publishing to explore the possibilities of what I could do with my love for Language and the written word and stories. The course would just be an extension of what I was already doing. […]

I try playing around with letters around the word tribal and Adivasi and Voilá! the name as if by magic appears: adivaani, the Adivasi voice.

That’s how an idea became adivaani and adivaani became the fuel that keeps the dreamer and storyteller in me alive.

Source: Who is adivaani | adivaani
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Date Visited: Sun Mar 24 2013 21:44:14 GMT+0100 (CET)

Adivaani, a publishing house is archiving, chronicling and publishing stories of tribals, primarily Santhals | Read the full story by Manasi Shah (16 Junie 2019) in The Telegraph >>

“Since its inception in 2012, Adivaani has produced 19 books” […]

Hembrom’s family had shifted from Benagaria village in Jharkhand to Shillong and then to Calcutta in the mid-1970s. “There was some conflict with the church leaders because of which my father and his students had to move out,” she says. In Calcutta, he taught at the theological college, Bishop’s College. Says Hembrom, “We come from a culture that has an oral tradition. Engaging with textbooks was really difficult.” […]

At the Hembrom residence, Santhals living in Calcutta would gather every now and then to discuss culture and politics. Many of her father’s friends too would contribute to the Santhal newsletter, Jug Sirjol. Hembrom’s mother, Elveena, assisted the treasurer, and her father, Timotheas, was its editor for 30 years. Jug sirjol meant a new era. She says, “None of them were professional writers, but they wrote. It was not just a cultural expression, there was also political commentary.” When Hembrom started Adivaani, the first book off the press was a Santhali translation of a part of her father’s doctoral dissertation titled Santal: Sirjon Binti Ar Bhed-Bhangao, which is about the Santhal people, their way of life and so on. […]

“I have grown up bereft of many stories and people in villages too are no longer growing up in that tradition. Not because they are displaced by their regions but because of changing lifestyles and taking over of our lands by mining companies. You go to Jharkhand, you will see grandparents and grandchildren working in stone quarries. Where is the time to sing or tell these stories?”

Source: Stories of the Santhals, by the Santhals
Date visited: 14 September 2019

A new publishing house gives Adivasis a chance to preserve their stories and speak up, writes Ajachi Chakrabarti,, 2013-03-30 , Issue 13 Volume 10

THE ADIVAANI time machine needs your help,” goes the subject line of the email Ruby Hembrom sends out to the world. Time machine. That’s how Hembrom looks at her nascent attempt at creating a publishing house for India’s indigenous population: a time machine that documents Adivasi history and culture, fundamentally an oral tradition, before they are forgotten in the wake of modernity. Running the machine, of course, isn’t free, and Adivaani’s teething troubles are giving Hembrom — who describes herself as “just a regular working-class Adivasi girl, trying to make ends meet, with a treasure of an idea” — sleepless nights, and have prompted an attempt at crowdsourcing funds through the Internet in order to survive. […]

Dungdung feels that Adivasis have been treated more as objects than subjects for literature, and cites the role of books in the Dalit movement, saying that the thriving publishing industry for Dalits means that they can speak and write for themselves, while Adivasis still need others to take up their cause. […]

Hembrom says she wants to expand Adivaani’s scope to a pan-India one, that the focus on Santals is only a natural starting point, since both she and Tudu belong to the tribe. She intends the books to be aids for Adivasi children to learn English as well as read the stories of their own people. A lot of schools in Jharkhand have picked it up for their libraries, she says, while a number of colleges have asked for copies of her father’s book to include in their syllabus. […]

But setting up a distribution system has been the most disheartening experience, she says, as every distributor and bookstore she contacted turned her down, saying they were not interested in “such kinds of books”. Currently, only three bookstores — one in Kolkata, two in Ranchi — carry Adivaani’s books, which has made funding future projects very doubtful. But Hembrom refuses to give up. “We are in a hurry,” she says. “The urgency of recording every Adivasi narrative cannot be stressed enough. We cannot risk losing indigenous languages, folklore, literature, traditions and identities. We refuse to be a forgotten people.”

Source: In Their Own Words
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Date Visited: Sun Mar 24 2013 21:28:21 GMT+0100 (CET)

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