Adivasi– an umbrella term for a heterogeneous set of ethnic and tribal groups considered the aboriginal population of South Asia. Adivasi make up 8.6% of India’s population according to the 2011 census.

dhanyvaad– Thank you.

dharna– A peaceful demonstration; historically may include fasting.

gumpu mestris– middlemen or labour brokers who hire workers for contractors. They often transport rural workers to urban construction sites and may “loan” workers money for the service.

head-load workers– unskilled construction workers who carry bricks, cement, sand, water and other materials from place to place on building sites. Kerala’s Kudumbashree estimates that 51% of head-load workers are women.

kadiya-naka– roadside site where construction day laborers find work.

Kudumbashree– literally, prosperity of family. The Kudumbashree Initiative is an anti-poverty program of the State of Kerala begun in 1998 and dedicated to eradicating poverty through women’s empowerment. More at

Mobile Creches- Indian NGOs that provide daycare, education and nutrition services on construction sites to the children of women construction workers. The first program was founded in Delhi in 1969 by Meera Mahadevan.

panchayat- a village council in India.

PIL– In India, any person who believes that there has been a breach of public duty or violation of the Constitution or of the law can file Public Interest Litigation. A PIL can be filed in any High Court or directly in the Supreme Court. It is not necessary that the petitioner has suffered personal injury or has a personal grievance to litigate. PIL is a right given to the socially conscious citizen or a public spirited NGO to espouse a public cause by seeking judicial redress. With public interest litigation, the Indian judiciary has a direct link to the citizenry and recognizes judicial activism as a positive benefit of democracy..

roko– a protest or demonstration, typically one that involves the obstruction of a railway or road. In Hindi, raasta roko means “obstruct the road.” In Massachusetts, some legislators want to make this form of protest as felony.


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