The Dilemma of an Indian Liberal, Gurcharan Das

Gurcharan Das has been a lifelong and passionate champion of both economic and political freedom. “For over two centuries,” he writes, “liberal democracies and free markets spread around the world to become the only sensible way to organise public life.” After years of the stifling “license raj”, he watched and celebrated India’s long-delayed move towards a liberal order in the 1990s, as market reform and a maturing democratic process began to yield remarkable results, bringing prosperity and dignity to the many millions who had been denied both for decades. He recorded this progress in his classic study, India Unbound. But after three decades, that light seems to be fading. As in the rest of the world, liberalism is in retreat in India as well. Society is hopelessly polarised and populists are on the march. The debate appears to be about economic freedom versus political freedom as if it is a given that the two cannot coexist. The liberal today is on a lonely road.

In order to elucidate the dilemma of the Indian liberal, Gurcharan Das recounts his own professional and intellectual journey: how and why he became a liberal. While telling his story, he also narrates the story of a nation struggling still to become a successful liberal democracy the late promise and its seeming betrayal, but also the possibility of course correction.

The Online Effect: Decoding X to Predict Election Outcomes, Sanjeev Singh

Is it possible to crack the election enigma and provide the correct answer to that most fateful of all political questions: Who will win?

This is the real-life story of how an Indian journalist used the latest data tools to accomplish something no one had ever achieved before the ability to predict the winning party of any election even before the votes are counted. The tale of how Sanjeev Singh and data scientist Rishabh Srivastava converged their expertise to build the Singh-Srivastava Model is told in everyday, easy-to-understand language. Singh takes us step by step through the process of putting the model together, from the first hint that the idea would actually work to the final elation of victory and beyond.

Broken Promises: Caste, Crime and Politics in Bihar, Mrityunjay Sharma

Mrityunjay Sharma traces the post-independence socio-politics of Bihar and the momentous events leading up to the 1990s: the unravelling of long-standing Congress governments, the rise of OBC assertion with Lohiaite politics, the JP movement that put the spotlight on young leaders like Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar, Karpoori Thakur's reservation formula, the rise of Naxal movements and the entry of socialist governments.

March 10, 1990, the day Lalu took oath, was one of hope for millions in the state battered by poverty, caste atrocities and inequality. The political triumph of Lalu, a vociferous champion of the marginalised, as a reaction to centuries of oppression and the promise of upliftment and inclusion, ironically, worsened the socio-economic disparities in the state, accompanied by grave misgovernance, flourishing crime syndicates and caste armies, and the centre-staging of formidable bahubalis in politics.

Broken Promises is an eye-opening account of a large and socially complex participant in India's democracy, any shift within which sends ripples across national politics.

Savarkar and the Making of Hindutva, Janaki Bakhle

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966) was an intellectual, ideologue, and anticolonial nationalist leader in India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule, one whose anti-Muslim writings exploited India’s tensions in pursuit of Hindu majority rule.

Janaki Bakhle examines the full range of Savarkar’s voluminous writings in his native language of Marathi, from political and historical works to poetry, essays, and speeches. She reveals the complexities in the various positions he took as a champion of the beleaguered Hindu community, an anticaste progressive, an erudite if polemical historian, a pioneering advocate for women’s dignity, and a patriotic poet. This critical examination of Savarkar’s thought shows that Hindutva is as much about the aesthetic experiences that have been attached to the idea of India itself as it is a militant political program that has targeted the Muslim community in pursuit of power in postcolonial India.

India’s Historic Battles: Imphal-Kohima, 1944, Hemant Singh Katoch

The clash between the British Fourteenth Army and the Japanese Fifteenth Army at Imphal in Manipur and at Kohima in the then-Naga Hills of Assam in 1944 was the turning point in the Burma Campaign of the Second World War. It was at these twin battles that the Japanese invasion of India was stopped, with the Allies subsequently driving them out of Burma in 1945. The Japanese lost some 30,000 men, with another 23,000 injured, in what is considered one of their greatest-ever defeats on land.

In April 2013, Imphal-Kohima was named “Britain's Greatest Battle” by the UK's National Army Museum. Indians fought on both sides as part of the British Army and alongside the Japanese as soldiers of the Indian National Army (INA). This book is the first battlefield guide for Imphal and Kohima and makes extensive use of maps and present-day photographs of the sites to tell the thrilling, tragic story of the historic battle of Imphal-Kohima in 1944.

Audacious Hope: An Archive of How Democracy is Being Saved in India, Indrajit Roy

As the pillars of democracy crumble across the globe, big and small actions of resistance prop up hope and keep alive a way to rebuild. In the past few decades, ordinary folk in India have stood up to repressive state authority over and over again. Their vital acts of hope preserve the collective spirit of resistance and unwavering resilience necessary to continue the fight for democracy.
Audacious Hope is a careful, rigorous archive of these struggles, including the protests that united farmers across state borders in 2020 and the national outcry following the controversial CAA legislation. From the myriad ways people came to the aid of their fellow citizens during the pandemic to the testing of free-speech boundaries by cultural activists, this book undertakes the task of documenting resistance in its many forms.

Roy challenges the reader with his account of how a proud people are battling to save their beloved democracy. The question is, how can we, through individual and collective action, resist authoritarianism, casteism and majoritarianism? The answer is, of course, through the audacity of hope.