Keeping Up the Good Fight
From the Emergency to the Present Day
‘A timely memoir from an Indian journalist under siege.’ — N. Ram
‘Prabir Purkayastha’s memoir recalls the past, with thoughtful comments on the present, and hopefully he will be free to project his vision of the future.’ — Romila Thapar
September 25, 1975. The students of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi had called for a strike to protest the expulsion of Ashoklata Jain, an elected councillor of the students’ union. Three months before, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had declared a state of Emergency. It was the second day of the strike and the campus was tense. A black Ambassador car pulled up near a group of students, a few cops in plainclothes got out, and abducted one of them. The student spent the next one year in jail.
February 9, 2021. Officers from the Enforcement Directorate raided the home of the founder of an online news portal. The raid lasted 113 hours, over five days. The office of the news portal was also raided.
October 3, 2023. Officers of the Special Cell of Delhi Police remanded the founder of the news portal and his colleague to custody under the dreaded Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Keeping Up the Good Fight is the story of Prabir Purkayastha, incarcerated by two authoritarian regimes, half a century apart. It is also the story of a young man’s political coming of age, told with wit and humour, and of his engagement with some of India’s most pressing social, political and economic issues over the decades.
“All the while as I hold his book in my hands, and as I write this account of why the book is necessary reading to understand our times, I am haunted by the image of Prabir, now 47 years older than when he was first jailed in the Emergency of 1975-77, once again in prison, feebler in body, challenged by serious health ailments, but as blameless, as resolute and as brave as the first time.”
Harsh Mander, The Wire
"[Purkayastha writes in] elegant prose of a consummate writer."
John Dayal, The Federal
"In this modern masterpiece, Purkayastha weaves in his own personal story with the nation’s story of standing up to overbearing authority figures. Written in lucid prose, this autobiography is not an exercise in self-glorification or a boring story boringly told. It is a fighter’s examination of his own life and the people who shaped it. It is told without malice or rancour."
Sanjay Hegde, The Wire