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Books on Gandhi, Naoroji, BJP in NIF Prize shortlist

Six non-fiction books covering a variety of themes and periods of history shortlisted for Rs15-lakh prize

Six books have been shortlisted for the NIF Prize.
Six books have been shortlisted for the NIF Prize. (Unsplash)

Six works of non-fiction have been shortlisted for this year's Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize. This is the fourth edition of the prize instituted in 2018 by the New India Foundation.

The books cover variety of topics from The Emergency and the early years of the BJP to Gandhi's influence on artists to the role that labourers played in World War I, combining strong research with compelling writing.

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The six books are: The Death Script: Dreams and Delusions in Naxal Country by Ashutosh Bhardwaj, India's First Dictatorship: The Emergency, 1975-77 by Christophe Jaffrelot and Pratinav Anil, Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism by Dinyar Patel, Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of Disobedience by Sumathi Ramaswamy, The Coolie's Great War: Indian Labour in a Global Conflict 1914-1921 by Radhika Singha and Jugalbandi: The BJP Before Modi by Vinay Sitapati.

The winner will be announced on December 1. The prize carries a cash award of 15 lakh and a citation.

It a statement, the jury acknowledged the challenges that the covid-19 pandemic had created for the publishing industry and said the books produced in the previous calendar year “captured unique and diverse angles of modern India”. 

This year's jury comprised political scientist Niraja Gopal Jayal, entrepreneurs Nandan Nilekani and Manish Sabharwal, and historians Srinath Raghavan and Nayanjot Lahiri. “The six books comprise creative and conscious insights into the history of India as it has emerged today: its diversity, difference, heterogeneity, and the very idea of the nation-state itself,” it said.

The prize is named after Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, who contributed significantly to the freedom struggle and the women's movement and to the renewal of Indian theatre and craft.

Previous winners of the prize include Milan Vaishnav for When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics in 2018 and Ornit Shani for her scholarly work How India Became Democratic in 2019. The 2020 Prize was jointly awarded to Amit Ahuja for Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties Without Ethnic Movements and Jairam Ramesh for his biography of VK Krishna Menon, A Chequered Brilliance.

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