With the searing sky above and the blistering earth below, like cactus the people of this parched terrain are determined to stay alive. Emaciated children scurry along, dejected farmers pawn their ploughs, weary women sleep on empty stomachs.... Would those perishing now have died anyway? Or is hunger calling them away prematurely?
Filled with social concern, Satisha, the district commissioner, wants to help the afflicted. But he is caught between the politicians who are unwilling to declare the district drought-hit and the murky local realities where a religious outfit strives to protect cows, the desperate youth hold a deity responsible for the failed rains, and petty activists seek to secure their own interests.
Can the idealist Satisha win the game, where corrupt politicians are rolling the dice, and stand by his conviction to help the afflicted? Written during the Indian Emergency, Bara depicts the tortuous realities of Indian democracy, and captures the political and moral dilemmas of the educated middle class.
U.R. ANANTHAMURTHY (1932-2014) was a distinguished Kannada writer and public intellectual. Samskara and Bharathipura are among his best-known novels. He was honoured with the Jnanpith Award in 1994.
CHANDAN GOWDA teaches at the School of Development, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. He is presently completing a book on the cultural politics of development in old Mysore state.
During the Emergency, I happened to stay in the house of an IAS officer. I was struck by the house because it was built during the medieval times. It was circled by a fort. The bureaucrat was not like other bureaucrats. He had some idealism. He was influenced by the Communist Party of India (CPI) while he was a student at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. At that time, the CPI believed that we could promote our ideals even during the Emergency if we worked hand in hand with a national bourgeois party like the Congress. The bureaucrat was sym pathetic to that view. He tried to implement pro-gressive laws. He had made a survey of the drought conditions and wanted to convince the chief minister that he should declare the district drought-affected. The chief minister, who had an enemy in the area's Member of the Legislative Assembly, who was also a minister, wanted to postpone doing so. The officer was caught in a dilemma. I thought there was great material here for a very realistic story which could take on a metaphorical character. I hope I have done it in depth. I have of course changed several details. Reality can be grasped only when we go beyond reality in metaphorical ways of exploration.
I must thank Mini Krishnan for accepting a long story like Bara translated by my dear friend Chandan Gowda because I had visualized it as a story that can stand on its own. That has happened because it is now being published as a book by itself.
Item Code: NAQ435 Author: Chandan Gowda Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 2016 Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi ISBN: 9780199469406 Language: English Size: 7.50 X 5.50 inch Pages: 110 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.2 Kg