Courting Hindustan: The Consuming Passions of Iconic Women Performers of India, Madhur Gupta

Courting Hindustan brings the stories of some of the most intriguing women figures practising traditional Indian entertainment art forms of music, dance, and poetry. It relives 2,500 years of women being elite traditional performers and how, over the centuries, they have captured the imagination of the country and the world at large, their art and lives being a complex response to social forces and cultural conditions.

The book delves into the scintillating world of courtesans who went on to become empresses, queens, prima donnas, pioneer filmmakers, music directors, ace dancers, and so much more. In many ways, these were the first women of their kind to survive an entrenched patriarchal society and break the chains imposed on them, paving the way for generations of women to come and conquer.

A Life with Wildlife: From Princely India to the Present, MK Ranjitsinh

MK Ranjitsinh was the prime architect of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 and of the Central government schemes to assist national parks and sanctuaries. His passion for saving endangered species continues after his retirement, whether in planning the relocation of the Asiatic lion from Gir forest, the reintroduction of the cheetah into the grasslands of central India, or in saving from extinction the Kashmir stag, the Manipur brow-antlered deer and the Great Indian bustard.

A Life with Wildlife traces the course of wildlife from the princely and British era to the present and shows how wildlife conservation efforts in India have always emanated from the upper echelons of power. The book reveals the challenges of conservation in a democracy like India, and how to counteract them. This delightful first-hand narrative is in its essence the history of nature conservation in India, written by a person who was part of it and contributed to it during its most tumultuous period.

The Crooked Timber of New India: Essays on a Republic in Crisis, Parakala Prabhakar

In these essays written over almost three years – from 2020 to 2023 – Prabhakar looks closely at facts and data and analyses events and public statements to show why he fears for the future of our democracy, social harmony, and economy.

The Prime Minister’s Independence-Day speeches from 2014 to 2022; the speeches of the RSS chief; the unemployment and inequality statistics that the government suppresses; the partisan role of investigative agencies and the income tax department; the new BJP’s “tiraskar” or clear rejection of India’s Muslims as citizens and voters; the mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic – in these and many more developments, Prabhakar finds unmistakable evidence of religious majoritarianism, a creeping authoritarianism and serious economic mismanagement. And he argues that silence and complacency are no longer an option for any citizen invested in the future of our Republic.

Sachin @ 50: Celebrating a Maestro, Boria Majumdar

For more than two generations of Indians, and cricket fans from elsewhere, Sachin Tendulkar’s has been a name that opened doors and hearts wherever you were on the planet. Even in the days before the social media revolution, Sachin was a truly global icon. It didn’t matter if you were in Sydney or South Africa, Kolkata or Kingston, Sachin’s name was a conversation starter.

The teenage wonder who exploded into the global consciousness with his bloodied nose in Pakistan in 1989, before becoming the greatest batting sensation ever, transcended the boundaries of sport. As with Jesse Owens, Ali, Pele and Maradona, Sachin’s role in making Indian cricket a household phenomenon globally can never be underestimated.

It was not just the runs he scored. It was the manner in which he scored them – with matchless flair, scoring 100 international hundreds in the process. On his 50th birthday it is time to add to these stories. The very best from India and beyond on the man they adore.

The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule, Angela Saini

Science journalist Angela Saini goes in search of the true roots of gendered oppression, uncovering a complex history of how male domination became embedded in societies and spread across the globe from prehistory into the present.

Travelling to the world’s earliest known human settlements, analysing the latest research findings in science and archaeology, and tracing cultural and political histories from the Americas to Asia, she overturns simplistic universal theories to show that what patriarchy is and how far it goes back really depends on where you are.

Despite the pushback against sexism and exploitation in our own time, even revolutionary efforts to bring about equality have often ended in failure and backlash. Saini ends by asking what part all of us play – women included – in keeping patriarchal structures alive, and why we need to look beyond the old narratives to understand why it persists in the present.

Droupadi Murmu: From Tribal Hinterlands to Raisina Hill, Kasturi Ray

“Johar!” began President Droupadi Murmu’s first presidential address. That word, a tribal greeting, marked a milestone in the history of the nation and a new direction in its politics.

Droupadi Murmu: From Tribal Hinterlands to Raisina Hills encapsulates the journey of a tribal girl who defied all odds to grow up into an institution signifying resilience, determination and grit. Charting a path less travelled, Murmu carved out many firsts, right from stepping out of the nondescript village Uparbeda in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha to becoming the First Citizen of India.

Through interviews and detailed analysis, journalist Kasturi Ray tracks Murmu’s life, through school and college, from being a teacher to social worker, councillor to minister, from taking charge as the governor of Jharkhand to becoming the president of India. This is a story of an extraordinary life.