The Day I Became a Runner: A Women’s History of India through the Lens of Sport, Sohini Chattopadhyay

Sohini Chattopadhyay presents the compelling stories of eight athletes spanning the history of independent India and involving women from a wide range of social and geographical backgrounds.

Whether it is Ila Mitra, who could have been the first Indian-origin woman at the 1940 Olympics, or Mary D’Souza, who ran and played hockey for India through the 1950s, whether it is Kamaljit Sandhu, a star hockey player who made history for India in Bangkok, 1970, or PT Usha, who redefined the 1980s and the decades that followed for women in sport across the country, each of the women in this book will inspire and encourage the women reading it to break barriers and chase their dreams.

The Day I Became a Runner is an alternative account of the Indian Republic chronicled through the lens of its women athletes. In that sense, it is a women’s history of India.

Three Countries, Three Lives: A Doctor’s Story, Lindy Rajan Carter

Set between three countries, Burma, India, and England, and spanning three generations, Three Countries, Three Lives: A Doctor’s Story spans the period 1870 to 1977. Tracing India’s journey towards Independence in 1947, Lindy Rajan Cartner’s story explores racial attitudes under the influence of the Raj and highlights the complexity of the relationship between Britain and India.

An Indian Tamil born in Rangoon, Cartner recounts her unusual childhood, the Mandalay bombing of 1942, her coming of age at the end of the British occupation of the subcontinent, and her remarkable experiences as a doctor and as a woman following India’s independence, in both India and, later, 1960s England.

Beginning with the extraordinary experiences of her grandfather who became a doctor against all the odds, and her mother, an ardent woman in many ways ahead of her time and a despatch rider for the British in Rangoon during the war, the book is deeply revealing of Indian women’s struggles, exposing the conflicts between adhering to traditional customs and individual fulfilment. Cartner’s dual perspective, as an Indian woman and as a doctor, adds a new dimension, as she recalls her career in both deprived Indian communities and in the NHS.

Bullets and Bylines: Reporting War from Kabul, Delhi, Damascus and Beyond, Shyam Bhatia

War reporters tend to have shorter lives than most journalists, simply because they are exposed to more day-to-day risks in some of the world’s most violent places. Shyam Bhatia is one of the lucky few who has lived to recall and recount unique survival stories, including his eyewitness experience of a mini massacre on the Kabul to Kandahar highway, followed by his own detention, torture and daily threats of execution by the Mujahideen.

The Afghan experience was followed by an equally chilling episode in southern Sudan where Bhatia’s media convoy drove over a carefully concealed landmine, resulting in one colleague’s death and injuries to several others. Just as gripping are his accounts of uncovering mass murders in Delhi in 1984, breaking the story of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, as well as his encounter with the besieged Marsh Arabs of Iraq that won him the Foreign Journalist of the Year award. Bhatia also recounts memorable encounters with, among others, the legendary Yasser Arafat, leader of Palestine; and Benazir Bhutto before she rose to power in Pakistan.

This first-hand account of life as a foreign correspondent is packed with drama, danger, and fascinating, sometimes hilarious, anecdotes.

Another Sort of Freedom: A Memoir, Gurcharan Das

Gurcharan Das was born in Lyallpur, Punjab, during World War II, when Hitler, Churchill and Hirohito were bashing everyone around. His mother noted in her diary, “This is a restless baby.” By age two he had become “a difficult child”, and by three she was calling him a “troublemaker”. He discovered one day that he could run, and he has been running ever since.

There are strange twists in his journey, from Partition’s chaos to misguided attempts at winning over first loves. Setting out to become an engineer, he ends up with a philosophy degree from Harvard University. He then abandons a promising academic career in ivy-covered halls to become a salesman for Vicks VapoRub in India’s dusty bazaars. This led him to the CEO’s position at Procter & Gamble India. One day, at the peak of his professional life, his high-powered corporate mask crumbles, and he walks away to become a celebrated writer and public intellectual.

The Lords of Wankhede: Tales Between Two Titles, WV Raman and R Kaushik

The Lords of Wankhede explores the evolution of Indian cricket in the 28 years between the two World Cup successes. Seen through the eyes of a former Test cricketer, who has been associated with the game for four decades, and a cricket writer with 30 years of experience, the book provides a perspective of the successes and strife, the trials and tribulations that made the journey of Indian cricket so fascinating over between these two momentous events.

Fire On The Ganges : Life Among the Dead in Banaras, Radhika Iyengar

Banaras, Uttar Pradesh. A place where life and death co-exist in the most unimaginable way.

The Doms are a Dalit sub-caste in Banaras designated by tradition to perform the Hindu rite of cremation. They have ownership of the sacred fire without which, it is believed, the Hindu soul will not achieve liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. Despite this, the community is condemned to the lowest order in the caste hierarchy, and its members continue to be treated as “untouchables”’.

Fire on the Ganges is the first attempt to chronicle the everyday realities of the Doms. It plunges into Banaras’s historical past while narrowing its lens to a few spirited characters from the Dom community. Through their tales of struggle and survival, loss and ambition, betrayal and love, it tells the at-times-heartbreaking, at-times-exhilarating story of a community struggling to find a place beyond that accorded to it by ancient tradition.