Ruby Hembrom

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Ruby Hembrom
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Kolkata, India
  • publisher
  • culture documentarian
  • author
  • Elveena Murmu (father)

Ruby Hembrom (born 1978) is an Adivasi publisher, cultural documentarian and author from India.

Early Life and Education

Hembrom, was born on 2nd April 1978 in Kolkata, India. She is second daughter of Elveena Murmu, a primary school teacher and Theologian and author Rev. Dr Timotheas Hembrom. Ethnically, Hembrom is a Santal, one of India’s Adivasi peoples. Her roots are in Jharkhand, her paternal home being Lukhipokhor, Pakuria, Pakur District, and maternal, Benagaria, Dumka District. Her family moved to Kolkata in 1977, where she grew up with her siblings—elder sister, Dr. Bani Hembrom, an anesthesiologist, and younger sister, Judith Hembrom, a social development professional.[1]

She completed her schooling from La Martiniere for Girls, Kolkata in 1997, and received her Bachelors of Law degree (LL.B) from the Department of Law, Calcutta University, 2002.[2] She has a Post Graduate Diploma in Instructional Design from Symbiosis Centre of Distance Learning, Pune, 2011 and a Certificate Course in Publishing, specialization in Editing and Book Design, 2012.[3]


From a law degree, to corporate training in the Information Technology sector, a stint in the non-governmental organisation (NGO) field to instructional design to publishing in 2012, Hembrom has had a chequered career. While her work with and through adivaani[4] remains her mainstay, she is actively involved in indigenous rights and knowledge production and reproduction—through workshops [5], speaking assignments, being a panelist, guest lectureship for publishing courses, and through being a member of networks like Tribal Intellectual Collective India, and Learn2Change, Global Network of Educational Activists and Women in Governance – India (WinG-India).


She is the founder and director of adivaani[2], a platform for indigenous expression started in July 2012 as a non-profit organization in Kolkata, West Bengal. Hembrom is the first Adivasi—a Santal woman to found and run a publishing house in English, for the production and dissemination of Tribal literature. Her archiving, publishing and documentation initiative grew out of a need to claim Adivasi stake in historical and contemporary social, cultural and literary spaces and as peoples.[2]

Book fairs and Literature Festivals

1. 2014, Frankfurt Book Fair, Visitors Program.[6]

2. 2016, Jaipur Literature Festival.[7]

3. 2016, Literaturforum Indien e.V., Germany.

4. 2017, Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival.

5. 2018, Literaturhaus Zurich – Days of Indian Literature.[8]

6. 2019, Neev Literature Festival (NLF) to be held in Bangalore, on September 20th & 21st, 2019.[9]



2013, We come from the Geese & Earth rests on a Tortoise, Santal Creation Stories for children, a recast of the Santal Creation myths in English.

2014, Disaibon Hul, on the Santal Rebellion of 1855–57.[10] This was adjudged joint winner of the Printed Children’s Book of the Year at the Publishing Next Industry Awards 2015.


1. 2014, This 'punishment' is unheard of among Santhals.[11]

2. 2016, A phrase that eclipses key histories.[12]

3. 2016, Of being imprisoned in a democracy.[13]

4. 2016, Penalised for the State's mistakes.[14]

5. 2016, Clearly, the people don't matter.[15]

6. 2017, Some Adivasis want to burn a ‘pornographic’ book. Here’s why we Adivasi intellectuals oppose this.[16]

7. 2020. Why the pandemic has made little difference to adivaani, Ruby Hembrom’s Adivasi publishing house.[17]

Recognition, Fellowships and Residencies

1. Nominee NDTV L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Awards. 2016. Ruby Hembrom: Founder & Director, Adivaani Award Category: I Write,Therefore I Am (Literature).[18]

2. 2013, Kolkata Heroes, A Times of India initiative.[19]

3. Joint winner of the Printed Children’s Book of the Year at the Publishing Next Industry Awards, 2015.

4. Asia Foundation Development Fellow, 2016.[20]

5. 2018, Research Residency awarded by Pro-Helvetia, Swiss Arts Council, India to explore the history and tradition of storytelling in Switzerland in relation to Indigenous Peoples of India.[21]

In the media



  1. Shah, Manasi (June 15, 2019). "Stories of the Santhals, by the Santhals". The Telegraph. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mitra, Ipshita (September 6, 2019). "Ruby Hembrom: 'We never needed to write because we were living documents'". The Hindu BusinessLine. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  3. "2016 Asia Foundation Development Fellow". The Asia Foundation. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  4. Chakrabarti, Ajachi (March 21, 2013). "In their own words". Tehelka. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  5. "DTSA: Academic Writing Workshop for Scholars Engaging on Adivasi/Tribes Issues". Tata Institute of Social Sciences. March 8, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  6. Dibyajyoti, Sarma (October 2, 2014). "Series of events at GBO New Delhi for Frankfurt Book Fair". PrintWeek India. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  7. Anasuya, Shreya Ila (October 23, 2015). "Eight unusual writers we're looking forward to seeing at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2016".
  8. "Literaturhaus Zurich – Days of Indian Literature". Pro Helvetia New Delhi. February 26, 2018. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  9. "Neev Literature Festival (NLF)". Neev Literature Festival 2019. June 24, 2019. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  10. Deepa, D (January 1, 2017). "That's How I See Things: Looking for the Adivasi and Dalit presence in Indian children's literature". The Caravan. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  11. Hembrom, Ruby (January 25, 2014). "This 'punishment' is unheard of among Santhals". The Times of India. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  12. Hembrom, Ruby (May 18, 2016). "A phrase that eclipses key histories". The New Indian Express. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  13. Hembrom, Ruby (June 23, 2016). "Of being imprisoned in a democracy". The New Indian Express. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  14. Hembrom, Ruby (August 11, 2016). "Penalised for the State's mistakes". The New Indian Express. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  15. Hembrom, Ruby (October 26, 2016). "Clearly, the people don't matter". The New Indian Express. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  16. Hembrom, Ruby (August 3, 2017). "Some Adivasis want to burn a 'pornographic' book. Here's why we Adivasi intellectuals oppose this". Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  17. Hembrom, Ruby (May 26, 2020). "Why the pandemic has made little difference to adivaani, Ruby Hembrom's Adivasi publishing house". Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  18. Sarma, Dibyajyoti (March 23, 2016). "The Mad, Mad World of Print: Snippets from Around India III". Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  19. Yengkhom, Sumati (December 31, 2013). "Voice of the Santhals". The Times of India. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  20. "Asia Foundation Names 5 South Asians as 2016 Development Fellows". March 2, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  21. "Ruby Hembrom – researching the history and tradition of storytelling". Pro Helvetia New Delhi. Retrieved October 19, 2020.

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