The Brass Notebook: A Memoir
Feminist Economics,Indian Economic History
In this no-holds-barred memoir, Devaki Jain begins with her childhood in
south India, a life of comfort and ease with a father who served as dewan in the
Princely States of Mysore and Gwalior. But there were restrictions too, that
come with growing up in an orthodox Tamil Brahmin family, as well as the rarely
spoken about dangers of predatory male relatives. Ruskin College, Oxford, gave
her her first taste of freedom in 1955, at the age of 22. Oxford brought her a
degree in philosophy and economics-as well as hardship, as she washed dishes
in a cafe to pay her fees. It was here, too, that she had her early encounters with
the sensual life. With rare candour, she writes of her romantic liaisons in Oxford
and Harvard, and falling in love with her 'unsuitable boy'-her husband,
Lakshmi Jain, whom she married against her beloved father's wishes.
Devaki's professional life saw her becoming deeply involved with the cause
of 'poor' women-workers in the informal economy, for whom she strove
to get a better deal. In the international arena, she joined cause with the
concerns of the colonized nations of the south, as they fought to make their
voices heard against the rich and powerful nations of the former colonizers.
Her work brought her into contact with world leaders and thinkers, amongst
them, Vinoba Bhave, Nelson Mandela, Henry Kissinger, and Iris Murdoch.
Jain, Devaki. The Brass Notebook: A Memoir. India, Speaking Tiger Books, 2020.