A Hindu top 10 non-fiction book of 2018.

London: Pluto Press

Delhi: Oxford University Press

Order: US/Canada | UK | India

Travelling the length and breadth of the subcontinent, Ground Down by Growth shows how India’s ‘untouchables' and ‘tribals' fit into the global economy.

India’s Dalit and Adivasi communities make up a staggering one in twenty-five people across the globe but remain amongst the most oppressed. The book shows how capitalism entrenches, rather than erases, social difference and has transformed traditional forms of identity-based discrimination into new mechanisms of exploitation and oppression. 

Through studies of the working poor, migrant labour and the conjugated oppression of caste, tribe, region, gender and class relations, the social inequalities generated by capitalism are exposed.


'Explodes the myth of the modernising power of capitalism. This sensitive and acute analysis shows that, far from doing away with inherited inequalities of power, Indian capitalism uses and intensifies them.' Jayati Ghosh, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

'A kaleidoscopic view of how established social forms morph and realign to produce deepening inequality and persistent, patterned disadvantage. Super-rich material and compelling analysis.' Tania Murray Li, Anthropology, University of Toronto

'An exceptional book coming from researchers who lived with the most marginalised people to present the India of dislocation and despair'. Anand Teltumbde, writer, civil rights activist and Senior Professor of Business Management, IIIT Hyderabad

‘Analytical rigor paired with lucid prose makes this co-researched and co-authored book indispensable for scholars and citizens concerned with the Global South, inequality, capitalism, economic growth, and social difference.’ New Books Network

'Highly recommended for its careful attention to ethnographic detail, its systematically comparative approach and its grasp of political economy.' Journal of Contemporary Asia

'A fascinatingly grounded book that explores and demonstrates how India’s, otherwise, impressive economic growth post-liberalisation, far from ‘trickling down’ to all groups has, in fact, worsened further the already precarious position of the Dalits and the Adivasis, including in the more economically developed states of the Indian Union.' Indian Journal of Labour Economics

‘The research team has worked together over several years, collaborating, obviously mentoring each other. They have produced nuanced development studies and specific methods of research as models for further work.’ The Hindu

‘An exciting multi-authored volume that poses fundamental challenge to the simplistic growth stories pedalled by media pundits and governing politicians alike.’ Journal of South Asian Development

‘A much-needed and timely contribution for policymakers and scholars in the fields of development studies, anthropology, and sociology.’ H-net reviews

We would recommend that students, scholars and policy makers working on India should read this book to gain a better understanding of the country’s economic, social and political landscape, and of the challenges that would need to be overcome to ensure truly inclusive social processes.’ Internal Labour Review

Related Features and Events

‘Ground Down by Growth’ was the result of research carried out over the course of an EU and ERC funded Programme of Research on Inequality and Poverty for which Alpa Shah was the Principal Investigator. It involved a wide ranging series of related features and events which included an exhibition of photographs, a policy brief, an Adivasi Fellowship programme and a programme of seminars, lectures and talks.

‘Behind the Indian Boom: Inequality and Resistance at the heart of economic growth’

Based on ‘Ground Down by Growth’

Radio Broadcasts

BBC Radio 4 Four Thought.

Alpa Shah reflects on democracy, mining and development for tribal people. Live broadcast from Somerset House on 9/12/2015

BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed

A discussion with Laurie Taylor and Akhil Gupta on poverty programmes in India broadcast on 28/11/12.

BBC World Service Weekend

A discussion with Michael Binyon and Shoma Chowdhry on the growth of inequality in India (17/12/2017)

New Books Network radio interview with Alpa Shah on ‘Ground Down by Growth’ (08/2019)