Pratip Chattopadhyay

As India’s influence in global politics increases, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of books on Indian foreign policy. Increasingly, one sees more books and articles based on India’s archives. However, the impact of India’s domestic politics on the formulation of foreign policy remains an under-researched area.

Reviewed by: Uma Purushothaman
Rajiv Bhatia

he publication of two important books on India-Africa relations in early 2022 is a striking event. The authors are Foreign Service Africanists with multiple assignments on the Continent. They complement each other rather well.Rajiv Bhatia addresses the wide historical canvas, and a range of political and other connections.

Reviewed by: Kishan S Rana
Mohd. Shahzad

Euriphides once remarked, ‘There is no greater sorrow on earth than the loss of one’s native land.’ It does not augur well for today’s modern civilized world that a whopping number of people are born and die in refugee camps, and millions of people each year are forced to leave their countries and seek refuge in other countries, while many others are displaced within their own countries.

Reviewed by: Abidullah Baba
Shail Mayaram

Eric Hobsbawm in the introduction to Nations and Nationalism since 1780 notes that although the idea of nationalism is constructed chiefly from above, it needs to be studied from below as this is where it takes root and is most powerful and capricious. Shail Mayaram’s new book The Secret Life of anOther Indian Nationalism: Transitions from the Pax Britannica to the Pax Americana is a sincere attempt in this direction. 

Reviewed by: Amol Saghar
Anirudh Suri

The Great Tech Game comes with a promise to explain one of the pre-eminent challenges of our times, which concerns the rapid growth in the technological domain and its implications for the economic and strategic sectors in countries across the world. The fact that a book on geopolitics is written around the theme of technology underscores the high stakes now attached to the gadgets and algorithms that were once dismissed as a domain for ‘geeks and freaks’.

Reviewed by: Aasim Khan
Sangeeta Dasgupta

The debates on colonial construction of tribal identity and the need to revisit the concept are gathering space in academic discourse in recent years. Dasgupta stretches this debate a little further from her previous work. Tribal identity is similar to caste used extensively by colonial ethnographers, anthropologists, and census enumerators to fix identities of the numerous communities living in India.

Reviewed by: L David Lal
Ranjana Padhi and Nigamananda Sadangi

No story has ever been fully told, it is said, because no story can ever be fully told. However, as Ranjana Padhi and Nigamananda Sadangi tell us in Resisting Dispossession: The Odisha Story, all stories are only half told. That said, it ought to be conceded that this book, which sets out to tell the story of development and its discontents in Odisha from 1948 to the present, tells it remarkably well.

Reviewed by: Bijay K Danta
Monoj Kumar Nath

Muslims in Assam comprise one-third of its population. Since Independence, the politics of Assam has been shaped by the question of alleged illegal immigration from erstwhile East Pakistan. The spectre of an illegal immigrant minoritizing the ‘khilonjia’(original inhabitants) of Assam has been a constant in the popular as well as political discourse.

Reviewed by: Parvin Sultana
Vasanthi Srinivasan

Studies abound of Arthashastra, Mudrarakshasa, Panchatantra and Hitopadesha; not so many of Dasakumaracarita, Vetala Panchavimshati and Simhasana Dvatrimshika (2nd century BCE to 13th century CE). Srinivasan is the first to study them together vis-à-vis western political thought. It is the first study based upon Telegu translations which provide different versions of some tales.

Reviewed by: Pradip Bhattacharya
Parimal Bhattacharya

One of the popular traditional games played by children in Bengal is kumir (crocodile)-danga (elevated land). One player who is designated as kumir has to catch the other players when they trespass their area (danga). This game encapsulates the very identity of Bengal and it is about the movement of players across the shifting territory of kumir and danga.

Reviewed by: Aditya Ranjan Kapoor
Kavery Nambisan

The author is a truly amazing doctor, a surgeon, and a writer of fiction. But many doctors write fiction, the most famous of course being Chekov, who I just discovered was not Russian, but Ukrainian, like Tchaikovsky. But unlike Chekov and most clinicians like Oliver Sacks, who mine their case histories for stories, Kavery Nambisan has a deep appreciation of the need for public health.

Reviewed by: Mohan Rao
Mahasweta Devi. Translated from the original Bengali by Radha Chakravarty

She donned many mantles. It is a well-known fact that Mahasweta Devi (1926-2016), the Bengali novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, columnist, editor, and above all a socio-cultural activist, had relentlessly worked for decades highlighting the problems of the rural poor and the tribals. Standing as she did at the intersection of vital contemporary questions of politics, gender, class and caste, she was perhaps the most significant figure in the socially committed literature field.

Reviewed by: Somdatta Mandal
Saeed Naqvi

An itinerant and renowned journalist with a distinguished career and several books to his credit, Saeed Naqvi continues his literary output with a play in three acts. It would be difficult to give details about the play and yet do justice to its ringing tones of anger over a heritage betrayed, or the distress over what has come to pass.

Reviewed by: Asma Rasheed
Shazi Zaman

Akbar: A Novel of History is an English translation of Shazi Zaman’s Hindi novel Akbar (Rajkamal, 2016). The novel had attracted lots of critical attention and was applauded for its intricate narrative weave, historical authenticity and creative scholarship. In its present English avatar, the author repositions himself as a writer-translator to revalidate his labour of love and make it available to a potentially larger readership.

Reviewed by: Anup Singh Beniwal
Kaveree Bamzai

Ramachandra Guha is one of the few historians to have considered with any degree of seriousness the role of the Hindi film in keeping the chaotic diversity of India together. Kaveree Bamzai’s engaging book under review extends Guha’s basic premise by examining the making of a shared cultural space, even as it traces compellingly the journey of the three Khans through the Hindi film industry and a globalizing India.

Reviewed by: Rohini Mokashi-Punekar

To miss making one’s way through Sukrita Paul Kumar’s Vanishing Words and to forgo being absorbed into the vortex of its supraconscious stillness would be, for any reader of poetry, a serious deprivation. Many layered, teasing in its apparent simplicity, and haunting in its profundity, this slim collection of thirty-four poems interspersed with artwork by the poet herself, is dedicated to ‘all those who are struggling to survive the onslaught of disease and the loss of dear ones in the recent times.’

Reviewed by: Basudhara Roy
Smita Agarwal

On reading the poems in Speak Woman! what comes up powerfully is how the world is perceived and made visible through the eyes of Agarwal. She is visible in her poems and makes sure that her presence and that of other women are not reduced to being in the background in comparison to traditional forms of writing where one is supposed to remove oneself from actively identifying with their works.

Reviewed by: Semeen Ali
Jhilam Chattaraj

Jhilam Chattaraj is a Hyderabad-based academic and poet. Her debut poetry collection, Noise Cancellation, covers wide-ranging themes, including, but not limited to, food, politics, memory, and the body. In addition, the poet employs, in a versatile manner, disparate styles to explore, sketch, and examine these themes.

Reviewed by: Ankush Banerjee
Sanjeev Sethi

Sanjeev Sethi’s fourth collection of poetry, Bleb, depicts the transcendence of human soul from self-love to spirituality and detachment. Bleb explores varied aspects juxtaposed with love—sexual exploration, paternity, spirituality, and death. The providential merges with the personal, the everyday with the unusual, offering life lessons to artists and lay readers alike.

Reviewed by: Shamayita Sen
Lavanya Karthik

I have read many of RK Narayan’s stories and novels. To me his books epitomize the adage ‘Simple Living-High Thinking’. His words flow like soft rain, gentle and beautiful, bringing to life dormant thoughts and emotions in the reader’s mind. The quirky people of Malgudi—the loving ayah, shrewd matchmaker, naughty Swami and his friends are all like family for avid readers India of the 80s.

Reviewed by: Jyothi Malhotra
Dipavali Sen

I enjoyed reading the book Unheard Voices from Ancient Times. But would I enjoy reviewing the book, I wondered. To my delight, I found that I did! Beginning with the cover design, I looked at it from all angles. It set me thinking. I stared at the expanding, green spiral. Did it show the passage of time from the Jurassic Age to the Age of the Puranas

Reviewed by: Indira Ananthakrishnan
Sanjena Sathian

In India everyone buys gold. We are the world’s largest gold consumers. Indian households are the world’s largest holders of gold and household gold is believed to be 40 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. The country’s obsession with the precious metals has been there since time immemorial.  Gold has always been held as a symbol of success. Considered auspicious, it has helped many people and families sail through in both good times and bad. Gold symbolizes the aspirations, the dreams, the success that everyone seeks.

Reviewed by: Sushmita Ghosh