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India’s first-ever consul general to Karachi says Pakistan is not a failed state. He is convinced that its middle class will save it from the Taliban, and that it can engage with India and set aside historic hostilities.
Like political contestation between India and Pakistan, their respective nationalist historiographies are equally contentious and, in their efforts to offer grand narrative, they do not shirk from an abrasive self-righteousness. While amongst Pakistani nationalist historians, their country has been a historically ordained reality varying from its Indus Valley distinctness to its predominantly Muslim credentials, whereas in India its formation is perceived as a forced as a forced partition of an otherwise untied Mother India.
A very intellectual book, written to mark the 50th anniversary of independence. It’s a Nehruvian book, with the idea of the synthesis of Hindu and Muslim, the urban cities and the countryside and whether the idea is sustainable. Nehru was a socialist, really Fabian society, Labour party, with a kind of keeping-it-all-together secularism. I think India has proved that these ideas are sustainable. The traditions of agitation and peaceful process are all still strong. This is a summary of the intellectual process of development.
Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics at Cornell and former Chief Economist of the World Bank (2012-2016), says there’s a Gandhian way of evaluating society that takes account of both growth and inequality, and tells us why his job is an anthropologist’s dream come true. He picks the best books to understand India’s economy.
Nehru’s Hero is about how you relate politics and cinema, how a non-didactic, non-academic medium reflects a political era. It’s about how film roles change, how the social aspect of life is always changing people’s idea of what India was and the ideal of manhood, what your hero should be like. His early films are tragic, he’s losing the woman and crying and groaning and singing. It’s all about forces beyond his control shaping his destiny. But later he is a do-something hero, facing challenges and getting the girl. He is fighting the world and succeeding. In the mid-50s India became more hopeful, I think. People felt they could do something about their situation.
South Asia has become the beating heart of cricket, with wild enthusiasm for the game at every level of society. Historian Prashant Kidambi—whose book, Cricket Country, was shortlisted for the 2020 Wolfson History Prize—takes us through the history of cricket in India, from its traditional, colonial roots through to the colourful, frenetic national game of today.
What is economic development? What does it take to make it happen? What can we learn from the days Britain was still a developing country? Eminent Indian economist, Pranab Bardhan, recommends the best books to better understand economic development.
Bardhan’s book is erudite, informative, and accessible, and his scrutiny of the conventional wisdom about the past quarter century of reform in China and India is always provocative. You do not have to agree with him to be stimulated and rewarded by his insightful scholarship. This book deserves a wide audience. (Tarun Khanna, author of “Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India Are Reshaping Their Futures, and Yours” )
Human history has been founded on the banks of great rivers – but in the East they are increasingly the focus of bitter international and environmental dispute, says Victor Mallet, the journalist and author of River of Life, River of Death. Here he selects five brilliant books that profile Asia’s most celebrated waterways.
Gandhi's peaceful resistance to British rule changed India and inspired freedom movements around the globe. But as well as being an inspiring leader, Gandhi was also a human being. Ramachandra Guha, author of a new two-part biography of Gandhi, introduces us to books that give a fuller picture of the man who came to be known as 'Mahatma' Gandhi.
The context of the story is Empire and colonialism. The relationship is between this guy who comes from India to Cambridge and the grand figure of Eddington, and a denouement completely tainted by colonial strategies. I think that’s interesting as a picture of the world at the time.
India has a thriving literary community working in 22 official languages plus English, says Rana Dasgupta, the literary director of the JCB Prize: a major award for the best new novel by an Indian author. Here, he talks us through their 2019 shortlist.