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A glimpse into the intricacies and challenges of governing remote and overlooked areas in the North East
'Balagopal, this is Kerala. This is not Manipur!
This was a refrain that I often heard and was something that I only gradually came to understand. It was clearly based on the unstated premise that Manipur belonged to a region that was quite different from the rest of India, where presumably even the laws were different (not true) and where the administration approached issues from a very different perspective (quite true).
Using notes and diaries from his days as an IAS officer, C. Balagopal presents a collection of anecdotes from his brief sojourn in Manipur nearly three decades ago. A clear-eyed look at the nitty-gritty of governance in the remote north east of India, On a Clear Day, You Can See India is embellished with Balagopal s memories which were remarkably fresh despite the passage of time. With a narrative that tries to steer clear of commenting on the contentious issues and tensions that arose in the area after Balagopal's departure, we see how the administration working in distant district and sub-divisional headquarters contends with issues at the ground level, far from the legislatures and High Courts and get a glimpse into the inner processes of a typical small government office.
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C. Balagopal studied economics at Loyola College, Madras and then enrolled for a PhD programme, which he walked out of after a disagreement with his guide. He joined the IAS in 1977 and worked in Manipur and Kerala before resigning in 1983 to set up a pioneering venture to make hi-tech medical products. The enterprise today employs 1100 people, and ships products to more than 50 countries. He has just announced his retirement and plans to spend his time consulting, writing, reading, travelling and playing golf on unfamiliar courses. He lives in Trivandrum with his wife.
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