2024 in books: Sudhir Kakar and Upendra Baxi, diplomacy and climate change...

What readers can look forward to: Highlights of some of the works to be published in the new year

GN Bureau | January 1, 2024

#politics   #psychology   #climate change   #environment   #law   #books   #Literature  
(Photo courtesy of Abhi Sharma/Flickr CreativeCommons)
(Photo courtesy of Abhi Sharma/Flickr CreativeCommons)

In 2024, readers can look forward to selected writings of two of the pre-eminent intellectuals of our times, Sudhir Kakar and Upendra Baxi. Also on offer are essays by S. Jaishankar, a collection of poems by Gulzar, a biography of Kamal Haasan and a mix of mythologies and thrillers. Also, there is a lot that young readers will look forward to. Here is a first look at some of them, based on the publishers’ briefings.

The Mind in the World: Selected Writings by Sudhir Kakar
Vol 1: Sculpting Psychoanalysis in India, Vol 2: Religion and Spirituality, Vol 3: Culture, Mind, and Being,  Vol 4: Biography and Psychology

The four volumes cover Sudhir Kakar’s selected writings on psychoanalysis, culture and society, and religion and biography. As the 'psychoanalyst of civilizations', Kakar's essays are unique in ranging over wide swathes of Indian cultural imagination.

Law, Justice, and Society: Selected Works of Upendra Baxi
Vol 1: Human Rights, Vol 2: Constitutionalism, Vol 3: Law and Society, Vol 4: Legal Education

This is a set of four volumes intended at documenting the evolution of Upendra Baxi's thoughts and writings over more than four decades as an academic as well as a social and human rights activist. This set will critically engage with the work of one of the foremost legal scholars from India.

The Diary of Manu Gandhi (1946-1948)
Edited and translated by Tridip Suhrud

Manu Gandhi, M.K. Gandhi's grandniece, joined him in 1943 at the age of fifteen, as an aide to Kasturba Gandhi during their imprisonment in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune. She actively participated in his final yajna, an experiment in Brahmacharya, and was present during his invocation of Rama at the time of his passing. The first volume of ‘The Diary of Manu Gandhi’ was published in 2019. The concluding volume is a comprehensive record of her life and experiences authenticated by Gandhi himself. Her entries shed light on his life as a prisoner, his relentless pursuit of collective non-violence, his ideological struggles, and his efforts to find his true voice. They also offer a glimpse into his lonely pilgrimage to Noakhali during the 1946 riots. The diary chronicles turbulent times, including Gandhi's marches, fasts, negotiations leading to Indian independence, partition riots, and concludes with his tragic assassination on January 30, 1948.

The Oxford Handbook of Indian Politics
Edited by Sumit Ganguly, Eswaran Sridharan

This volume provides the most comprehensive, up-to-date coverage of the state of contemporary Indian politics. To that end, it examines the evolution of core institutions, processes, policies, and associated issues that are being debated in India's politics. It also provides historical contexts, discusses the state of the extant literature in each issue area, and suggests avenues for future research.

Institutional Roots of India’s Security Policy
Edited by Milan Vaishnav

Despite widespread concerns over the severe institutional constraints that India faces, there is a lack of scholarly research on the administrative and organizational effectiveness of India's security institutions. Myriad inadequacies related to both procedure and personnel continue to hamper the Indian state's ability to perform one of its most essential functions: protecting Indians from security threats at home and abroad. ‘Institutional Roots of India's Security Policy’ aims to deconstruct and interrogate disparities in India's security institutions through high-quality analytic examinations of more than a dozen foreign policy and national security institutions spread across four domains: the armed services, intelligence, border and internal security, and police and investigative agencies.

Why Bharat Matters
By S. Jaishankar

In ‘Why Bharat Matters’, India’s external affairs minister argues that while rising powers seek stability most of all, India must plan to rise amidst serious unpredictability. This process is also exceptional as it represents the rejuvenation of a civilizational state. Simultaneously, he also explains why foreign policy in a globalized world matters increasingly to all citizens in their daily lives.

Anger Management: The Troubled Diplomatic Relationship between India and Pakistan
By Ajay Bisaria

On 7 August 2019, High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria was expelled from Islamabad – the first time an Indian head of mission had been asked to leave by Pakistan. His expulsion marked yet another low in the troubled relationship between the two neighbours who had been born within a day of each other in 1947. After providing readers with a gripping account of the events he was witness to, the author goes deep into the conflict and tension that have characterized the connection between the countries. He looks at this fractious history from a unique perspective, that of Indian diplomats who have served in Pakistan from Independence onwards.

Love Jihad and Other Fictions: Simple Facts to Counter Viral Falsehoods
By Sreenivasan Jain, Mariyam Alavi, and Supriya Sharma
The book interrogates some theories that are part of the landscape of WhatsApp chats and social media feeds of millions of Indians every day. ‘Love jihad’, ‘population jihad’, a “sinister Christian scheme” to take over India through mass forced conversions, the theory of Muslim appeasement and other claims comes up for rigorous investigation through facts and data from three reputed journalists.  

Raising the Bar: Cases that Changed Indian laws
By Pinky Anand

This book explores in detail the cases that have shaped the citizenry and the country going forward.
Showing spine and being the nation’s conscience keepers, the judiciary has always stepped in when the legislature has decided to resort to petty politics. Passing landmark judgements like the ones against triple talaq and honour killings, or preserving the citizen’s right to identity and expression, the courts of India have consistently set a high bar when it comes to putting its citizens first. Written with detailed analysis by one of the country’s foremost lawyers, this book is a must-read to grasp the legal history of independent India.

Lazzatnama: The Taste of the Indian food
By Pushpesh Pant

Like Indian music, Indian cuisines is not dependent on a written score but is akin to a melody that is improvised by the inspired artiste. Lazzat is enjoyment of delicious food. From simple everyday staples to elaborate delicacies prepared for celebratory occasions this enjoyment is what raises food to an art form. Lazzatnama is documentation of Indian cuisines and how our Myth, legend and lore cover references to what our ancestors ate and how our signature recipes have evolved in a thick haze. Many mouth-watering recipes is featured in this book, written by none other than Pushpesh Pant, an academician and a serious food connoisseur.

Chief Ministers of UP: From GN Pant To Yogi Adityanath Life and Politics
By Shyamlal Yadav

The country’s most populous and politically most significant state has determined the course of national politics, throwing up a legion of political stalwarts, chief ministers, and prime ministers. This book provides an insight into the political and electoral history of Uttar Pradesh through the lives and politics of its 21 chief ministers—from Govind Ballabh Pant, the first chief minister, to Yogi Adityanath, the present chief minister. A well-known journalist presents an overview of them.

Modern Hindutva Concepts For the 21st century
By Subramanian Swamy

This book seeks to articulate the rediscovery of Hinduism’s Sanatana Dharma, traditionally known as core Hindutva concepts developed in the last century, within the framework of the Constitution and Supreme Court judgements. It provides a fresh look at Hinduism through a nationalist perspective. Not written from a theological or sectarian standpoint, it is guided by the Sanatana Dharma perspective, which is socially focussed, inclusive, ethical, pluralistic and, tolerant of other religions.

The Indian Reality
By Ram Madhav

This is a collection of essays addressing diverse public interest issues, originally published in prominent national newspapers. In his unapologetic and distinctive style, Madhav presents his perspective on significant events of the recent years
By Ram Nath Kovind

Ram Nath Kovind, former President of India, writes about the trajectory of his eventful journey spanning more than six decades, not to mention the role of people, including his father, who have left an indelible mark on in his life. The 14th President of India shares his story, with its struggles and pain, disappointments and triumphs, and his dogged determination and courage of conviction that helped him cope with the slings and arrows of life.

The Lion and the Lily: Rise and Fall of Awadh
By Ira Mukhoty

In the eighteenth century, two great behemoths, France and Britain, fought global wars to establish empires around the world and their clashes would shape the course of world history. The maelstrom of the American Wars of Independence, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars would have enormous consequence for events in India, as both these countries fought proxy wars through their India empires. The Lion and the Lily is the story of the way in which one state, Awadh, through its begums and its nawabs, negotiated these complex currents to establish a luminous court far from the chaos of the Mughal Delhi, and the unexpected ways in which French adventurers, soldiers, artists, and aesthetes shaped this journey.

The Gujaratis: A Portrait of a Community
By Salil Tripathi

Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Indian of the modern era, was Gujarati. As was his political colleague, Vallabhbhai Patel. In the world of business, some of India’s largest dynasties such as the Tatas and Ambanis are Gujarati. Scientists such as Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai were Gujarati. The state has given us some of our most dazzling painters (Ghulam Mohammad Shaikh and Bhupen Khakhar), cricketers (Vinod Mankad and Ravindra Jadeja), writers (K. M. Munshi) as well as a variety of other glittering cultural figures (Zubin Mehta and Mallika Sarabhai) Equally, Gujarat has produced its share of infamous conmen, tyrants and other unsavory figures. So, who are the Gujaratis? In this masterpiece, Salil Tripathi answers that question in a variety of ways.

The Tamils: A Portrait of a Community
By Nirmala Lakshman

Tamil culture and civilization are thousands of years old, but there hasn’t yet been a detailed one-volume portrait of the community that traces its origins, evolution, history, and present-day status in a meaningful way. In her ambitious biography of the Tamils, Nirmala Lakshman starts with the pre-history of the Tamils and then takes the reader through every epoch of the civilization including the Sangam period, the Pallava, Pandya and Chola empires, major turning points in Tamil society including the emergence of the caste system, the Bhakti movement, the Dravidian movement, and the shaping of modern Tamil Nadu to provide an indelible portrait of the community.

Fallen City: A Double Murder, Political Insanity & Delhi’s Descent From Grace
By Sudeep Chakravarti

On 26 August 1978, the brutal murder of school-going children Sanjay and Geeta Chopra in a quiet neighborhood in Delhi shocked the capital and provoked national hysteria. When the murderers were captured a couple of weeks later, there was an outpouring of public sentiment that demanded retribution. When they were hanged some years later, the grief and revulsion over the killing of the Chopra children refused to settle down and cast a pall over Delhi. Worse was to come and soon a storm of violence would break over the capital, plunging it into further shock and sorrow. Fallen City is a vivid chronicle of a time of madness and despair.

The Hindi Heartland
By Ghazala Wahab

It is the most populous region in India, sends the largest number of parliamentarians to the Lok Sabha, has given the country more PMs than any other region but is also home to some of the country’s poorest, most illiterate and crime-ridden districts. All the inhabitants of the region use some form of Hindi as their first language. In the ancient and medieval periods, empires rose and fell, great battles were fought, religions were born and it was in this region that some of the most critical battles in the struggle for Independence would take place. Surprisingly, there hasn’t yet been a definitive account of the region in the past fifty years. Award-winning author Ghazala Wahab, born and raised in the region, provides a comprehensive and insightful account of the region.

Snakes, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: My Early Years
By Romulus Whitaker with Janaki Lenin

The first volume of the memoirs of the well-known naturalist promises an enthralling, unputdownable read. A legend in the arena of wildlife conservation and affectionately hailed as the ‘Snakeman of India’, Romulus Whitaker has had a lifelong love affair with the environment and the ‘fierce creatures’ who share the planet with us. The story of his life is colourful, lively and rambunctious. His encounters with people and snakes in India, the US and on his voyages are related with vividness and humour which recall Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’. A major theme in the book is his transformation from a hunter to protector.

The Incarcerations
By Alpa Shah

The bestselling and award-winning author of ‘Nightmarch’ returns with an explosive book on the Bhima Koregaon case.

2024: India in Free Fall
By Sanjay Jha

From a well-known commentator, this book promises to be an uncompromising look at where we are as a country as the nation heads into the general elections.

The Incredible History of the Indian Revolution
By Sanjeev Sanyal

A children’s book. The history of India's struggle for freedom is usually told from the perspective of the non-violent movement. Yet, the story of armed resistance to colonial occupation is just as important. Names such as Vinayak Savarkar, Aurobindo Ghosh, Rashbehari Bose, Bagha Jatin, Sachindra Nath Sanyal, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad and Subhas Chandra Bose are still widely remembered. ‘Revolutionaries’ tells their story, one that is replete with swashbuckling adventure, intrigue, espionage, incredible bravery, diabolical treachery and shockingly unpredictable twists of fate.

Our Potpourri World
By Ranjit Lal

A children’s book from the beloved nature writer. A book about the environment and climate change.




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