While you can evade taxes in India, there’s no escaping death. It comes unannounced for most of us; it comes often when we think there’s more time left. Sometimes, though, a deadly disease announces itself, gobbling away the remainder of lives. It’s the point where doctors give up, where medicines don’t work. The advanced stage of cancer is one such prognosis. While the chances of recovery are slim, the patient has to live a life of excruciating pain in most cases. It is here that palliative care or pain management can play a big part in ensuring that the last days are lived with dignity and in relative comfort. Unfortunately, palliative care in India is not a priority for anyone—policy makers, hospital entrepreneurs and even doctors.

Our cover this month “The Fall” is in two parts. One is the personal history of a 57-year-old diagnosed with advanced stage bone cancer who along with his family members graciously agreed to share their story with writer G B S N P Varma. The second part is a stock-taking of palliative medicine in India. It speaks about the acute shortage of personnel and infrastructure, the result of which is that millions in need are denied care.

Our other narrative this month is a look into Greater Noida’s real estate sector, about how farmland got converted into multi-storey apartments, and how when things go wrong it is usually the farmer or the flat buyer that suffers. In “A poet called Moon” we tell the story of Maha Laqa Bai, a courtesan and poet in 19 century Hyderabad, whose legacy is being revived by a determined scholar.

We start a new section “Bookmark”, critical engagement with interesting and recent works of non-fiction. Our endeavour is to select books that question established ideas and theory in any sphere and provide a new way of looking at a subject. We start with Dina L. Eck’s India, A Sacred Geography, the premise of which is that the idea of India long existed in the pilgrims’ mind, independent of its existence as a political entity.
Don’t miss our photo story on the floating labour population in the higher reaches of Laddakh. Arko Datto documents the lives of workers, many of them from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, who come here to work under extremely inhospitable conditions.

Saurav Kumar, Editor

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