ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Anupam Mishra (1947–2016)

A Clerk Who Saw the Genius in the Ordinary

Anupam Mishra’s personal qualities characterised his work. There are others who researched and wrote about traditional water management in India with great depth and commitment. Mishra, however, saw himself as the voice of his people, his society. He did not see with the eyes of academic objectivity or impartial commentary, but with empathy and imagination. He noticed the environmental wisdom in the ways of ordinary people and appreciated the cultural threads and values that carried that wisdom from generation to illiterate generation.

Since Anupam Mishra’s death on 19 December 2016, after an 11-month battle with cancer, numerous tributes have been published, several condolence meetings held. Most have dwelt on his personality, more than his work. Not without reason, for his work is now quite well known, especially his bestselling Hindi book Aaj Bhi Khare Hain Talab, first published in 1993. An extraordinary person in several ways, Mishra steadily and actively managed to avoid attention. On the day that Mishra died, journalist Ravish Kumar said on his show on NDTV India that he could now talk about the person, and not just his work, since Mishra was not around to deter him from doing so.

Mishra’s work is inseparable from his life; his personality created his work, his work shaped his persona. He is often described as an environmentalist, although he did not like the term; he was averse to new-fangled language or any kind of emphasis on classical/technical learning. His words of choice came from farms and pastures, railway stations and bus terminals, from dialects and sensibilities not often found in learned circles. He called himself a faithful clerk of ordinary people, of ordinary communities.

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Updated On : 28th Jan, 2017

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