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

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Builder of the Bridge of Dreams

Govind Purushottam Deshpande (1938-2013), more popularly known as GPD, feared nobody, certainly not sacred cows. He was a socialist, a scholar in China Studies, Sanskrit and Marathi, a poet and a playwright, and taught history, politics, and foreign policy. GoPu, as he was known in the Marathi world, also wrote on the contesting ideas that constitute the modern Marathi intellectual universe. Four of his contemporaries write about the EPW columnist, classical music lover and witty conversationalist.

Govind Purushottam Deshpande (1938-2013), more popularly known as GPD, feared nobody, certainly not sacred cows. He was a socialist, a scholar in China Studies, Sanskrit and Marathi, a poet and a playwright, and taught history, politics, and foreign policy. GoPu, as he was known in the Marathi world, also wrote on the contesting ideas that constitute the modern Marathi intellectual universe. Four of his contemporaries write about the EPW columnist, classical music lover and witty conversationalist.

Only a creative mind such as Govind Purushottam Deshpande’s could settle for a title of the volume that he and Alka Acharya edited in 2000 on 50 years of India and China as Crossing a Bridge of Dreams. He decided to quote lines from the Japanese poet Lady Sarashina – “Cross it, trouble lies ahead/Do not cross and you are still trouble bound”. In those lines he captured the promises and dilemmas of the reconstruction of post-Independence India and post-liberation China. Leaders of both countries, long-standing civilisations themselves, wished to transform their societies keeping in view the aspirations and visions debated in their freedom struggles and revolutionary movements, yet both had experienced challenges to those very values. The 1990s had already witnessed, in both countries, sharp breaks with past efforts to achieve development with equity. But the values still haunted the leaders. GPD conveyed a clear message through this volume and the contributors shared his thought, that the crossing process itself was the most valuable and most exciting experience. The bridge straddled different worlds, all of which were important.

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