Monday, Aug 08, 2022
Outlook.com
review

Many Openings

More than mere autobiography, this book encompasses a large slice of contemporary history

Many Openings
Many Openings
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Lakshmi Chand Jain was a man of many parts: not just a social activist; he was a part-time politician, diplomat and economic planner. His mild manners concealed an unflinchingly tough character. His flirtations with those in power notwithstanding, he was uncomfortable when he had to hold such positions—as member, Planning Commission, for instance. His life epitomised much that was contradictory about a new country’s attempts to hold its head high in the comity of nations, with its widening economic inequalities and social conflicts.

As a young man, he delivered bombs to militant nationalists but remained wedded to Gandhian philosophy. He was inspired by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya to play a pioneering role in the marketing of handicrafts through the Cottage Industries Emporium. He was overly enamoured of Vinoba Bhave’s bhoodan movement before the latter’s support to Indira Gandhi’s Emergency regime disillusioned him. Yet he went out of his way to help her government set up the country’s first consumer-oriented retail outlet, Super Bazaar, to contain food inflation. He unsuccessfully tried to broker a truce between JP and Indira in the run-up to the Emergency. In fact, some of the most interesting anecdotes in the book relate to this dark period when many so-called liberal thinkers supinely accepted an authoritarian regime suppressing people’s fundamental rights.

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