Encounters is an exceptional narrative. A political autobiography that highlights the dramatic turns of the author’s life and career, it traces her initiation into trade union activism, particularly her work in the coal mining areas in eastern India, as well as her transition from the social elite of pre-Independence Patiala to a life of political and social service in Bihar and Jharkhand. The book also captures her immense cultural contributions as a poet, writer and essayist under whose influence several literary initiatives were started in Dhanbad and later in Delhi where she founded the All India Tribal Literary Forum.
Ramnika Gupta’s tale is also the more unusual because she details the tribulations of political life as a woman, experiencing and overcoming hostility from both her political comrades and the state. Ramnika, who has fought long and hard for her largely tribal constituents and survived within the violent political environment of India’s coal belt, still retains a clear-eyed memory and spiritual distance to ‘tell it like it is,’ with an amazing capacity for personal candour that would be astonishing anywhere in the world.
In her mid-80s today, she remains incredibly busy: writing poetry, essays, articles, editing journals and books, and maintaining contact with friends and disciples in her beloved Jharkhand.