Book Review: Gripping Tales Of Defining Moments In Life & Polity

In domain of public service there are instances of champion performers, brilliant insightful thinkers and pathfinders who define  new pathways in the governance system to make it more citizen friendly and outcome oriented. The book under review ‘Defining moments and reminiscences’ edited by Prasanna Mishra, retired IAS officer, is a collection of experiences of few of those, who one way or other have treaded the path along the aforesaid line and left a distinct mark in realm of public service during their career as civil servants.

There are 32 contributions, out of which one such contribution, ‘My reminiscences of London School of Economics’ by Dr Bidyadhar Mishra, an outstanding academician, provides not only a contrasting portrayal of academic environment in our universities prevalent at present with that of environment as existed then there at London but also comes out with a thoughtful observation what needs to be prioritised in our field of education so that our system catch up by staying relevant and robust.

Read along with another piece in this education field by another distinguished social scientist, Dr Baidyanath Mishra ‘When I was a student and now’ which spans time zones of almost 8 decades, illustrates  glimpses of our failings in nurturing and sustaining academic temper and perspective in our educational institutions. There he also comes up with useful suggestion and advice which shall provoke any keen observer how to stem the tide of decline. Both a compelling read.

The contribution by Dr Aditya Prasad Das, a distinguished scientist of life science ‘Transforming institutes of lifesience’ and another ‘Initial years of AIIMS Bhubaneswar’ by Dr Ashok Mohaptra, an eminent paediatric neurosurgeon, only go on to reinforce the idea ‘where there is a will there is a way’. Both an exhibition on how these two individuals consumed with passion to build institutions nearly accomplished mission the impossible despite the malaise of delay, procrastination and indecision afflicting our system in project execution. These two are champion performers from whom one should learn value of commitment, sense of purpose and decisive action.

Given the generally poor impression and perception persisting in our criminal justice system, the two articles, one “Dara” by Prakash Mishra and other ‘Sister Abhaya death case’ by V thiagrajan, both belonging to IPS cadre, provide  refreshingly new intonation about crime investigation conducted with rare thoroughness and rigour to strengthen criminal justice system and succeed to some extent in restoring peoples faith in it. 

Article on ‘’Saheed LaxmanNayak’’ by Somanath Mishra, highlights how oversight or lack of it without due diligence in meting out justice can sometime play havoc in lives of people, as happened in case of Laxman Nayak being sent to gallows under miscarriage of justice but nonetheless acquired immortality by attaining martyrdom, a cruel irony. This little known facet makes the reading more gripping.

The compilation contains 32 articles each providing a glimpse of diverse aspects embedding life and people, society, polity spanning across several decades, reading of which sustains readers interest alive as they find ready opportunity to contrast and compare with the present as they experience and take away the essence coming out of comparison.

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