From the biography of River Brahmaputra to an expose of pharma companies in India, a diversity of themes run through the 6 books that have made it to the shortlist of the third edition of the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize.
Administered by The New India Foundation (NIF), the prize is meant to recognise excellence in non-fiction writings on modern and contemporary India by emerging writers from all nationalities, published in the previous calendar year. Established in 2018, the prize carries a cash award of Rs15 lakhs and a citation.
This year's shortlist of 6 titles, picked from a longlist of 12, includes books on ecology, ethnic movements, technology, and a biography of the politician V.K. Krishna Menon, among others.
The jury includes political scientist and author Niraja Gopal Jayal (Chair), historian and author Ramachandra Guha; entrepreneur and author Nandan Nilekani; historian and author Srinath Raghavan; historian and author Nayanjot Lahiri; and Manish Sabharwal, Chairman, Teamlease Services.
The Kamaladevi NIF Book Prize is named after Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, patriot and institution-builder, who contributed significantly to the freedom struggle, the women’s movement, refugee rehabilitation and the renewal of handicrafts. The prize is meant to award outstanding and original works of non-fiction that throws light on a significant aspect of modern India.
Previous winners of the prize include Milan Vaishnav for his debut book, When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics (HarperCollins Publishers) in 2018, and Ornit Shani for How India Became Democratic (Penguin Random House) in 2019.
The six books shortlisted for the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2020 are:
Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements by Amit Ahuja (Oxford University Press)
Midnight's Machines: A Political History of Technology in India by Arun Mohan Sukumar (Penguin Random House)
The Unquiet River: A Biography of the Brahmaputra by Arupjyoti Saikia (Oxford University Press)
A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of V.K. Krishna Menon by Jairam Ramesh (Penguin Random House)
Bottle of Lies: Ranbaxy and the Dark Side of Indian Pharma by Katherine Eban (Juggernaut)
Wild Himalaya: A Natural History of the Greatest Mountain Range on Earth by Stephen Alter (Aleph)