Historian Dinyar Patel has won the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2021 for his biography, Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism.
Patel’s biography of the politician shines a light on his multifaceted career, especially his campaign to be elected to the British parliament. Dadabhai Naoroji was one of the first Indian political leaders of the modern era with a truly national following and one of the most significant figures in the freedom movement.
Read our review: Dadabhai Naoroji, a new life for the grand old man of India
Patel, an assistant professor of history at S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research in Mumbai, has previously taught in the Department of History at the University of South Carolina.
Patel's evocative and deeply researched biography resurrects a man who has been largely forgotten, other than for the textbook sobriquet of being the Grand Old Man of India. He details Naoroji's work as founder of the Indian National Congress and the man who inspired Gandhi and Nehru. Naoroji was a devastating critic of British colonialism who served in Parliament as the first-ever Indian MP, forged ties with anti-imperialists around the world, and established self-rule or swaraj as India’s objective.
Instituted in 2018, the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize celebrates high-quality non-fiction literature on modern and contemporary India from writers of all nationalities published in the previous calendar year. This year's winner was selected from a shortlist of six books that covered a variety of themes and subjects and showcased a range of non-fiction writing about the world’s largest democracy.
Patel's book was selected by a jury that included political scientist and author Niraja Gopal Jayal (jury chair), entrepreneur and author Nandan Nilekani, historian and author Srinath Raghavan, historian and author Nayanjot Lahiri, and entrepreneur Manish Sabharwal.
Previous winners of the prize include Milan Vaishnav (When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics), Ornit Shani (How India Became Democratic), Amit Ahuja (Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties Without Ethnic Movements) and Jairam Ramesh (A Chequered Brilliance).
The prize will be presented to Dinyar Patel at an December 4 held in collaboration with the Bangalore International Centre.