Book Review: Impeachment
A whole city driven to the brink of extinction; amidst the chaos of ‘perceived justice’, one woman asks questions that no one seems to have the answers to; all leaving us with one thought: who deserves impeachment?
In a country where industrialists are thought of as godsent, what happens when this blessing becomes a curse? Anjali Deshpande’s Impeachment questions the Indian government’s ability to govern and the judiciary’s ability to yield justice to its people.
Impeachment book cover.
The book is set four years after the infamous Bhopal Gas Tragedy that came to pass in 1984. One of the worst industrial catastrophes the world has seen, it consumed the lives of over one lakh people. The value of those lives was measured against a monetary standard of a settlement between Union Carbide and the government. Justice was not delivered. The book provides a lot of insight about the tragedy, its aftermath, and the constant denial of justice to the survivors, whose right to take the culprit to court had been taken away.
“Carbide is a foreign company, out to make profits. What could we expect of them? Nothing. This government is ours. We elect these people. Look how they have bartered away our rights. Would the court have done this had the victims been rich?”
The plot revolves around an eccentric group of activists who have taken up the cause of delivering justice to the victims of the Bhopal disaster, led by Avidha, a journalist who is deeply passionate about their cause. As the story progresses, however, she finds herself caught between her morality and the love she harbours within herself for a married man, seemingly uninterested in anything else, save for her warmth in his bed. She is limited by her own turbulent relationship and her waning desire to fight a battle not her own. The coherent cacophony of the supporting cast—the two lesbian lovers being a stark example of the same—complements the lead character well. The author pays meticulous attention to detail, as seen in the extensive descriptions of the lives of the characters, though it seems a little too drawn out in some instances.
Even though the book revolves around serious, appalling events, it is those very events and Deshpande’s engaging tenor that make the book rather entertaining, along with the liveliness and the dynamic participation of the characters; be it the activists, lawyers, survivors, or the journalist herself.
Impeachment is a must-read novel; a scintillating take on one of the most horrible and tragic industrial accidents that the world has seen (the survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy have not received justice until today). The author doesn’t provide the reader with a cohesive and definite conclusion, leaving a sort of a void in the completion of the story itself. For purists, the lack of adherence to current facts regarding the case might be a deal-breaker, but as far as the story is concerned, you will not be disappointed.
[Hachette India; ISBN 9789350092767]