Over the Years, a collection of 106 short articles, offers us interesting sidelights on the currents and cross- currents in the public life of India during two distinctive periods: (I) 1987 to 1991 and (II ) 2010 to the present.
The author Sudip Bhattacharya by training and profession is an economist with specialization in merchant banking and international trade; It is therefore natural that the major focus of the book is economic issues : policy decisions and their implications. From this angle the two periods the book covers, even though separated by two decades, should be seen as twins. The first showing distinct signs of the dissolution of Nehruvian model of economics, the country getting ready, and being pushed, to opt for its dismantling and choose liberalization ( Narsimha Rao- Manmohan duo) and the second representing the last phase of the degeneration into which liberalization fell during Manmohan's second term as PM and its subsequent recovery and reorientation (Modi) including contemporary action areas like skill development, digitization, black money and demonetization. Sudip of course doesn't spell out these in a sledgehammer manner; he is subtler than that; he only leaves pointed hints for the reader. He is, however, more explicit about the seamy side of globalization and the evils of crony capitalism that threatened to undo the salubrious impacts of liberalization. He suggests measures to negate them.
The book is not limited to economic issues alone; it is in fact divided into three sections namely ‘Society and Related’, ‘Politics and Governance’ and ‘Economy, Trade and Related’. Sudip's interest range over a truly wide area. The rise of Mamata, Kejriwal and Modi, tangled issue of language and language politics,, the dissipation of liberal values from our private and public life, the growing disconnect with our own roots, the hollowness of our education system and recent assembly polls may be cited as some random examples.
The book is avowedly not a history of a given period nor the enunciation of a or a set of specific themes; it is rather a collage. And, that to the reviewer is one of its major virtues. Moreover, it is refreshingly free from ideological baggage. The author's style is straightforward and simple and not overloaded by verbiage. This greatly adds to the pleasure of reading.