The Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay New India Foundation Book Prize on Thursday announced two winners – author Amit Ahuja’s Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of VK Krishna Menon.
“The two winners were selected from a diverse shortlist of six books covering a century of modern Indian history and encompassing several genres,” a statement read. “The Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Book Prize recognises and celebrates excellence in non-fiction writings on modern/contemporary India by writers from all nationalities.”
The award winners will share the prize money of Rs 15 lakh, and will also receive the Book Prize trophy. A six-member jury committee, including author Ramachandra Guha, entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani, and historian and author Srinath Raghavan, chose the winners.
Ahuja’s Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements is about the performance of Dalit ethnic parties in Indian states. It also highlights the social mobilisation of the Dalit community, dividing their support across parties, leading to better “welfare outcomes” than when they vote for one ethnic party, according to the book’s jury citation. The author is an associate professor of political science at the University of California in Santa Barbara.
Ramesh’s A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of VK Krishna Menon is a biography of the former Cabinet minister. The book’s jury citation said: “Ramesh has delved deep into new archival materials to produce a compelling portrait of a brilliant, complicated, and controversial man, whose public life came to a rather tragic end.”
The award was established in 2018 and based on the New India Foundation’s aim of sponsoring high-quality research and writing on all aspects of Independent India. Last year, the prize was given to Ornit Shani’s How India Became Democratic, and, in 2018, it was bestowed upon Milan Vaishnav for When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics.