75 Years of Indian Sports: Game, Guts, Glory, Chandresh Narayanan

As India celebrates its 75th year of Independence, Narayanan looks back at the nation’s sporting achievements and revisits the moments that created history. Nothing has united India, even in times of despair, as much as a fantastic performance in a sport.

India has produced a number of brilliant individuals and teams who have made the country proud on various international stages. Whether it is the national sport of hockey or niche sports like shooting, Indian athletes have always aimed for the highest honours. 75 Years of Indian Sports is the story of India as a sporting nation and the journey of amateur athletes to becoming world champions.

Tears of the Begum: Stories of the Survivors of the Uprising of 1857, Khwaja Hasan Nizami, translated from the Urdu by Rana Safvi

In 1857, the mighty sword of the Mughal empire fell powerless to the forces of the British empire. After the fall of Delhi and Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s tragic departure from the Red Fort in 1857, members of the Mughal court had to flee to safer places as the new enemy was on its prowl.

Driven out from their palaces and palanquins onto the streets in search of food and shelter, the dethroned royals scrambled to survive. Some faced their fate with bitter pride, while others succumbed to adversity.

Through twenty-nine accounts of the survivors of the Uprising of 1857, Nizami documents the devastating struggle of the Mughal royalty. In vivid and tragic stories drawn from the recollection of true events, Tears of the Begum chronicles the turning of the wheel of fortune in the aftermath of India’s first war of independence.

Samaaj, Sarkaar, Bazaar: A Citizen-First Approach, Rohini Nilekani

The book showcases philanthropist, journalist, and writer Rohini Nilekani’s learnings from her civic engagement and philanthropy over three decades. She advocates that the quest for a good society begins with positioning Samaaj as the foundational sector in order to keep the state and markets accountable to the wider public interest.

Through Nilekani’s writings, speeches and interviews over several years, the book traces the evolution of her understanding of the societal landscape over this time. From her early work on the responsibilities of citizens, the issues within the justice system, and the challenges of sustainability to the potential offered by the digital age along with key takeaways from the Covid-19 pandemic, she discusses the intricate equilibrium between the state, society, and markets.

Flaming Forest, Wounded Valley: Stories from Bastar and Kashmir, Freny Manecksha

The urban middle class India has little idea of what it means to survive in places deeply impacted by the politics of a nation. Flaming Forest, Wounded Valley brings stories from the highly militarised regions of Bastar and Kashmir, and examines how residential spaces become battlefronts.

Concepts of home as a safe and inviolate place, courts as gateways to justice and inherent rights to livelihood, movement and human dignity, undergo a profound change. With spirited protests and confidently affirming their truth in court, the people of Kashmir and Bastar continue to rally against injustices against them. Through stories of resilience, the book celebrates heroic deeds performed by ordinary people.

The Bellboy, Anees Salim

After his father’s death, 17 year-old Latif is forced to take up the role of the man of the house and provide for his ailing mother and sisters. Despite discovering a dead body on his first day of duty, Latif is content with spying on guests and regaling the hotel’s janitor, Stella, with made-up stories. However, when Latif finds the corpse of a small-time actor in Room 555 and becomes a mute-witness to a crime that happens there, his life is irretrievably altered.

The Bellboy is a commentary on how society treats and victimises the intellectually vulnerable and the quiet resentment brewing against religious minorities in India today. With a mix of wry humour and sombre poignancy, the book narrates a young boy’s coming-of-age on a small island, and his innocence that persists even in the face of adversity and inevitable tragedy.

A Small Step in a Long Journey, Akkai Padmashali, translated from the Kannada by Gowri Vijayakumar

A Small Step in a Long Journey is a powerful and passionate account of one woman’s battle to claim her identity and place in society. Akkai Padmashali, a trans rights activist and campaigner, writer, poet, and actor demands acceptance, recognition, and respect. Brutally honest and self-critical, Padmashali lays bare the hurt, humiliation, love, and solidarity that made her who she is.

“A journey we all travel,” the author concludes about gender and sexuality as she connects personal and political lives, and how each of us face difficult, disturbing questions about prejudice and privilege.