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HT picks: three most interesting books of the week

Must-reads

books Updated: Jun 23, 2017 19:58 IST
This week’s interesting reads
This week’s interesting reads

India Dissents; 3000 Years of Difference, Doubt and Argument
Edited and Introduced by Ashok Vajpeyi
Rs 499, 546pp
Speaking Tiger

Throughout Indian history, various individuals and groups have questioned, censured and debated authority - be it the state or empire, religious or political traditions, caste hierarchies, patriarchy or even the idea of god. These dissenting voices have persisted despite all attempts made to silence them. They have inspired revolutions and uprisings, helped preserve individual dignity and freedom and promoted tolerance, and a plurality in thought and lifestyle. India Dissents; 3000 Years of Difference, Doubt and Argument brings together some of these voices that have sustained India as a great and vibrant civilization. Collected in these pages are essays, letters, reports , poems, songs and calls to action - from texts ranging from the Rig Veda to Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste; and by thinkers as varied as the Buddha, Akka Mahadevi, Lal Ded, Nanak, Ghalib, Tagore, Gandhi, Manto, Jayaprakash Narayan, Namdeo Dhasal, Mahasweta Devi and Amartya Sen. Their words embody the undying and essential spirit of dissent in one of the world’s most diverse, dynamic and oldest civilisations.*

Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains
Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent
Rs 499, 371pp
Simon & Schuster

A mountainous state clinging to the far north-eastern corner of India, Arunachal Pradesh - meaning ‘land of the dawn-lit mountains’ - has remained uniquely isolated. Steeped in myth an mystery, not since pith-helmeted explorers went in search of the fabled ‘Falls of the Brahmaputra’ has an outsider dared to traverse it. Travelling some 2,000 miles, from the jungles of Assam to snowy Himalayan passes, Antonia Bolingbroke -Kent sets out to chronicle this forgotten corner of Asia. On the way, she meets shamans, hunters and lamas, attends fantastic tribal gatherings, relates little-known stories from the Second World War and discovers a world, and a way of living , that is on the cusp of vanishing forever. *

Keeping India Safe; The Dilemma of Internal Security
Vappala Balachandran
Rs 599, 308pp
HarperCollins

It is a lesson new policemen in India learn early on: they are in charge of everything except perhaps the weather. Their duties range from maintaining law and order and investigating crime to rounding up beggars and disposing of unclaimed bodies. Checking video piracy was one a priority for the Tamil Nadu police as their political leaders came from the film fraternity while the Mumbai police became obsessed with dance bars under a moralist home minister.

This situation has come about because the responsibility for internal security in India is fragmented and lies with the different state police forces without a substantive role for the Centre. The tussle between the Centre and the states has meant that the basic police function of maintaining internal security has often been the casualty. This glaring chink in India’s armour was laid bare on 26 November 2008 in Mumbai, where the state machinery was completely unprepared to respond to the terror attacks despite several alerts, while the Centre stood by passively in the crucial first few hours.

Security and intelligence specialist Vappala Balachandran - former IPS officer and member of the high-level committee which looked into police performance during 26/11 - analyses the shortcomings of India’s security system in Keeping India Safe. He traces the origins of the problem, makes a case for reducing the burden on the police to make them more efficient, and offers solutions to fix the system.*

*Text from book flap