Sisterhood Economy: Of, By, For, Wo(men), Shaili Chopra

Shaili Chopra travels across India to understand why we are so eager to put women into slots. The author speaks to internet entrepreneurs, homemakers, impact shapers, politicians, policewomen, and intellectuals to capture how Indian women are coursing through economical, political, and social changes.

Sisterhood Economy aims to understand the women’s economy and takes a look at how women are contributing, where they are yet untapped, and how their paid work is rewarding for the country. Case studies, statistics, and interviews give a fuller picture of what it means to be a woman in today’s India.

Extinctions, Sharmishtha Mohanty

There are things on this subcontinent – rituals, objects, gestures – that have existed for centuries but are now vulnerable, dying, or barely surviving. Extinctions catches them in this uncertain moments. These are individual memories merged with the memories of a civilisation. Extinctions follows the ridge of regrets, fate, and thoughts that have played a crucial part in our past, present, and future.

True to Their Salt : The British Indian Army and an Alternative History of Decolonization, Ravindra Rathee

True to Th­eir Salt is a retelling of how India came to be colonised by a handful of Europeans in the 18th century, how the British held sway over the country for almost two centuries, and their sudden departure from India in 1947, all told from the perspective of Indian soldiers.

Th­e British held India by an army predominantly comprising Indian soldiers, and relied on their fidelity. Th­is loyalty stood the test of time but was eventually breached during the Second World War, leading to India’s independence. The book looks at the inner worlds of the Indian soldiers who enlisted in the armies of India under British rule and how they preserved their faith despite racism and ill treatment.

From the Frugal to the Ornate: Stories of the Seat in India, Sarita Sundar

The book investigates the seat’s relationship with its sitter, and other people in its periphery. It examines the power the seat wields, and the power it grants by sheer association. Bestowing life and spirit into objects, the book asks: What is the seat for, what are the worlds to which it belongs, what worlds have been (and will be) opened by it?

By deconstructing the seat, From the Frugal to the Ornate reflects upon the marked shift in the way practitioners, users, and analysts conceptualise and engage with object culture, and a subsequent ‘turn to the material’.

The Many Lives of Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, Veejay Sai

Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, an internationally renowned Carnatic musician from the illustrious musical lineage of composer Saint Tyagaraja, wore many hats in his lifetime. Having made a stage debut at the age of seven, he was hailed as a child prodigy. From then till the time he died, at age 86 in 2016, he continued to be in the spotlight, not just for his extraordinary talent and versatility as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, but as a composer, playback singer and even, briefly, as a character actor.

The Many Lives of Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, a definitive biography of the musical genius, is not only a revealing account of the personal traits and facets of an unparallelled genius, but is also a portrait of India’s classical music world, a place as much of beauty as of untrammelled egos.

The Maverick Maharaja : The Life and Times of His Highness Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, Deepti Navaratna

Can someone find the divine in a Carnatic Kriti and a Western Symphony at once? Can one revere ancient knowledge while being fully aware of its limitations? Can a mind steeped in Advaita Vedanta seek Spinozist counterpoints? Can one’s spirit be contemporary and classical at the same time?

The Maharaja of Mysore Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar’s life beautifully negotiated such paradoxes and impossibilities. Philosophy, wildlife conservation, philately, photography, music, statesmanship – he was a man of diverse interests. And now there’s finally a book that tells the story of his king-size life.

The Idol Thief : The True Story of The Looting of India’s Temples, S Vijay Kumar

Subhash Kapoor was a New York-based antiques dealer whose pieces can be seen in every major museum of the world. In October 2011 when he presented his passport at immigration in Germany, Kapoor was unceremoniously whisked away into Interpol custody. India had weeks earlier issued a red-corner notice for his arrest after connecting him to audacious idol thefts in two Tamil Nadu temples.

This is the unbelievable true story of how Kapoor was caught, told by a man who had for years been chasing him and is still tracking idols that have passed through his hands. Prepare to be shocked by the 21st century pillaging of India’s temples by a glittering cast of suave criminals.

This Seat is Reserved, Caste, Quotas and the Constitution of India: Abhinav Chandrachud

By examining the history and evolution of the equality provisions in the Constitution of India, This Seat is Reserved seeks to shed light on the emotionally charged, decades-old debate concerning caste-based reservations in India. Its objective is to introduce the reader to the law and history of quotas in the country.

Chandrachud traces how groups eligible for reservations were identified and defined: how the terms ‘depressed classes’ and ‘backward classes’ were used in British India and how they evolved into the constitutional concepts of ‘Scheduled Castes’ (SC), ‘Scheduled Tribes’ (ST), and ‘Other Backward Classes’ (OBC). He also takes a look at how the Supreme Court invented tests to impose limits on quotas in the country – the rule that no more than 50% of the available seats or positions can be reserved, the principle that the ‘creamy layer’ must not receive the benefit of quotas, the requirement that governments must have “quantifiable data” before providing certain kinds of reservations.

This is followed by an examination of the intellectual debates that have taken place on these questions over the course of India’s history in the Constituent Assembly, the Supreme Court, and Parliament. For instance: are reservations an exception to the principle of equality of opportunity? Do quotas in government service, especially in promotions, undermine efficiency? Can ‘merit’ really be defined neutrally and do marks in board exams or entrance exams really demonstrate a student’s intelligence?