Being Muslim in Hindu India: A Critical View, Ziya Us Salam

Anyone who follows the news knows that the Muslims of India are under siege. They face what author Ziya Us Salam calls the gravest challenge to the community, and to the definition of a secular India enshrined in India’s Constitution, since independence. To be a Muslim in India today is to live with the reality of daily stigmatisation and ever-increasing threats of violence. In several places, Muslims are expected to abide by the preferences of the majority community. At others, they might be killed on mere suspicion of cow slaughter, or much worse, just because they “look” Muslim. There are attacks on their attire, language and culture. Being Muslim in Hindu India is an attempt to highlight just what has gone wrong with our polity and society in recent years.

Monsoon Economy: The Price of Conquering Nature, Tirthankar Roy

In the monsoon regions of South Asia, the rainy season sustains life but brings with it the threat of floods, followed by a long stretch when little gainful work is possible and the threat of famine looms too. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, a series of interventions by the Indian government and other actors mitigated these conditions, thus enabling agricultural growth, encouraging urbanization and bringing about a permanent decrease in death rates. But these actions – largely efforts to ensure wider access to water – came at a cost to environmental sustainability. In Monsoon Economy, Tirthankar Roy explores the interaction between the environment and the economy in the emergence of modern India.

The Assamese: A Portrait of a Community, Sangeeta Barooah Pisharot

“Aami kun? Who are we?”

So begins journalist Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty’s enquiry into the diverse cultures and peoples of Assam. Her book looks in detail at all the varying aspects of the land and its people – the diverse physical appearance of the Assamese and what it reveals about their origins; the multiple kingdoms and rulers of the region from antiquity onwards; the Assamese language and its rich linguistic provenance; the folk beliefs and celebrations; the significance of the mighty Brahmaputra in the lives of the people; the quintessential food, drink, and cooking techniques to be found across the region; the clothes, jewellery, literature, music, dance, cinema, drama, and art; and, finally, the politics of the state and how it informs the nature of contemporary Assam.

H-Pop: The Secretive World of Hindutva Pop Stars, Kunal Purohit

Away from the gaze of mainstream urban media, across India’s dusty, sleepy towns, a brand of popular culture is quietly seizing the imagination of millions, on the internet and off it. From catchy songs with acerbic lyrics, to poetry recited in kavi sammelans, from social media influencers shaping opinions with their brand of “breaking news” to books rescripting historical events, “Hindutva Pop” or H-pop is steadily creating societal acceptability for Hindutva’s core beliefs. By cleverly inserting Hindutva into popular culture, H-Pop normalises Islamophobia, demonises minorities and vilifies its critics each day, without ever making headlines.

What makes H-pop so popular? Who are its stars and its audience? Who is pouring in the money, the effort and the resources to produce and broadcast it? What is its impact on the BJP and Prime Minister Modi’s popularity? And what kind of an India is it trying to create?

A Modern History of Jammu and Kashmir, Volume Two: The Karan Singh Years (1949-1967), Harbans Singh

This book examines the politics of the period that followed Maharaja Hari Singh’s exile from the State in 1949. Focusing on Hari Singh’s son, the book examines the history of Jammu and Kashmir through Yuvraj Karan Singh’s journey from becoming the Regent at the young age of eighteen, then the Sadar-i-Riyasat and finally the Governor.

During the challenging time when the Sheikh Abdullah-led National Conference and the Dogra-backed Praja Parishad were locked in a fierce tug-of-war for control of the State, it was the Yuvraj who prevailed as the voice of reason. He strove to maintain equitable power sharing between the three major provinces – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh – throughout the 18 years of his career in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Final Farewell: Understanding the Last Rites and Rituals of India’s Major Faiths, Minakshi Dewan

What are the beliefs associated with death in India? How do final rites and rituals reveal the misogyny and caste-based discrimination that plague the country? Who are the people involved in managing the deceased and laying them to rest? What are the economic and environmental costs of saying that final goodbye?

With compassion and sensitivity, Minakshi Dewan explores the many ways in which some of the country’s major faiths treat the dead: this includes avoidance of human remains, believed by some to be spiritual pollutants; the worship of bodies at the pyre; professional mourners hired to wail loudly for the dead; and musicians devoted to celebrating life at funerals.