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A Prattler's Tale: Bengal, Marxism, Governance

 
Ashok Mitra (Author)
Synopsis Offering a thought-provoking, incisive analysis of Bengal and India, Ashok Mitra's memoirs, translated for the first time into English from the Bengali original, Apila-Chapila (Ananda, 2003), brings contemporary India alive, Growing up in British India, in old East Bengal, as a member of the Bengali middle class, he dissects its ideals, foibles, prejudices and flaws.  The Partition of India found him and his family in the new country of East Pakistan that they were to leave, like millions of other refugees, to a new India where they had to re-build lives.  He goes on to analyse the fledgling democracy of India, taking readers through the days of the early Five Year Plans, with which he was involved in the 1950s.  Ashok Mitra's involvement with economic policy continued in his work as Chairman of the Agricultural Prices Commission, and with his appointment as Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India when Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister.  Soon after, the political crisis in East Pakistan turned into the war of liberation and the author provides much new insider information.  Highlighting a different aspect of his life, that of his association with writers and intellectuals, Ashok Mitra talks of his friendship with Sachin Chaudhuri and his brothers and the founding of the Economic Weekly and its second coming as the Economic and Political Weekly.  Throughout the book, he also weaves in the cultural and literary history of Bengal as his literary interests have been as vital as his political ones.  Mitra's reminiscences are enriched by his analysis of Marxism and Marxists in a poor country, of how the alliance of parties that formed the Left Front that has been elected to power in the state of West Bengal functioned, his story of his stint as the Minister of Finance and Planning in the late 1970 and 1980s, and what lay behind his sudden resignation.  He is open about his disagreements with the current worldwide mantra of globalization and liberalization.  The memoirs give valuable insights, adding to our understanding of India's past, present and possible future.
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About the author

Ashok Mitra

Ashok Mitra has had a fabulous academic career, including a brilliant Ph.D. under Jan Tinbergen, and he has held important offices in the economic administration of India; he was Chairman of the Agricultural Prices Commission and Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India. He has taught in some of the premier institutions in India; and academic work took him to many places of higher learning all over the world. But throughout these years, his deep commitment to the cause of the people had found constant expression in overt and covert political action and in a stream of stimulating writing, both learned and popular, in English as well as Bangla. The long stint as Minister of Finance in the Left Front Government of West Bengal from 1977 onwards was, in fact, a culmination and a beginning for a man of enormous intellectual and political energy. He was also a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) for a time. His involvement in Leftist politics is still as active as ever and his writing has continued, as this book demonstrates. Dr. Mitra and his wife Gauri live in Kolkata.

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Bibliographic information

Title A Prattler's Tale: Bengal, Marxism, Governance
Author Ashok Mitra
Format Hardcover
Date published: 19.03.2007
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher Samya
Language: English
isbn 8185604800
length ix+473p., Plates; Index; 25cm.