Gently and with the quiet dignity that characterised the way he lived his entire life, Anupam Mishra left the world on December 19, 2016. He was 68, felled after a long and painful battle against cancer.
On May 11, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched on the floor of Parliament a bitter and frontal attack on India’s judiciary. In words now famous, he claimed: “Step by step, brick by brick, the edifice of India’s legislature is being destroyed.”
Faced with the unrelenting juggernaut of manufactured hyper-nationalism and majoritarian fundamentalism from the powerful political right, the response of India’s largest national opposition political party, the Indian National Congress, has for long been unsteady, confused and lacking in the courage of its convictions.
Punjab has lost one generation to militancy, and the next generation to drugs. I hear this lament over and over again, whenever I travel into Punjab. The drugs problem is one of many faces of a deeply troubled society.
Twenty five years ago, on July 24, 1991, Finance Minister Dr Manmohan Singh rose in Parliament to present a budget speech that was to alter the destinies of India and its people in fundamental ways.
My mother was forced to leave behind the city of her birth, Rawalpindi, when she was just 18 because of the tumultuous ruptures of Partition. She had never returned. When she was to turn 75, I thought the best gift I could give her was to take her, if it was at all possible, to the city and to the home in which she was born.
Menacing clouds have gathered earlier as well over the picturesque lake city of Bhopal. Clouds of dangerous, even criminal, public malfeasance. In the winter of 1984, the people of the city endured the world’s worst industrial disaster in history.
This blistering summer of 2016, two years have passed since Prime Minister Narendra Modi triumphantly assumed office, heading the first Bharatiya Janata Party-led national government with a comfortable majority in Parliament.
Early on a winter morning at the Chuna Mandi labour adda near Paharganj in Delhi, the capital’s “dispensables” were gathering to scour for their day’s work, as they do every day. The fog was yet to set in, and the air had a sharp nip. The mood among the casual workers was visibly downbeat.
These are times of global disquiet. Gales of hatred and bigotry are sweeping country after country around the world. After Donald Trump’s emphatic and stunning electoral success to the office of the president of the US, I wrote this mail to many American friends: