The Renaissance Man From the Ramparts by Ashok Mitra; Tulika Books, New Delhi, 2006;
G P DESHPANDE As the readers of this journal know very well, the EPW has two distinct parts. The latter part is academic, highly specialised and almost a little frightening. The first part also carries dense statistics. But, until 2003, once you did your customary kowtow to such statistics what followed in the first part was sheer delight, the Calcutta Diary of the redoubtable Ashok Mitra or AM for the readers of the EPW. No other column has been read with as much of regularity and indeed with devotion as the Calcutta Diary has been. It occupied the pride of place in the first half of the weekly. There were any number of people who would jump at the first part, first savour the columns and then turn to the more dense academic pieces. There were days when Romesh Thapar adorned the first part with his Capital View and freewheeling political comment. But there was nobody that could equal the erudition and humanism of AM. His perceptive and penetrating commentary made the world suddenly comprehensible.