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HT Picks: Good reads of the week

This week’s interesting reads

books Updated: May 18, 2018 18:47 IST
HT Team
A book on the ramifications of caste on the Dalits in modern India, a naxalite’s prison diary, and a study of the colonial view of India - all this on the weekend reading list.
A book on the ramifications of caste on the Dalits in modern India, a naxalite’s prison diary, and a study of the colonial view of India - all this on the weekend reading list.(HT Team)
432pp, Rs 695; Navayana


Commanding in its scope, revelatory and unsparing in argument, Republic of Caste amounts to a new map of post-Independence India.

Anand Teltumbde identifies the watershed moments of its journey: from the adoption of a flawed Constitution to the Green Revolution, the OBC upsurge, the rise of regional parties, all the way up to the nexus of neoliberalism and Hindutva in the present day. Joining the dots between a wide range of events on the ground and the prevailing structure of power, he debunks the pieties of state and Constitution, parliamentary democracy and identitarian rhetoric, to reveal the pernicious energies they have unleashed and their dire impact on India’s most marginalized people, the dalits.

The exclusion and disempowerment of dalits emerge as intrinsic to India’s republican system, whether expressed through state policies on education, agriculture and land ownership, or the tacit encouragement of caste embedded in both law and political practice. Here, the carrot of reservations comes with the stick of atrocities,. As a politics of symbolism exploits the fissile nature of caste to devitalize India’s poorest whilst appropriating their votes, Teltumbde’s damning analysis also shows progressive politics a way out of the present impasse. *

107pp, Rs 395; Navayana


September 1970. Ramchandra Singh enters the Hardoi District Jail in Uttar Pradesh as a naxalite undertrial. Barely twenty, his life of expanding prospects – in studies, politics and love – is reduced to the horizon of a life term. The odds are stacked against the survival of his humanity and imagination, but Singh regenerates his gifts of empathy, humour, reflection and, above all, language in a secret diary smuggled out with the help of friends.

A singular record of recent history and of individual witness, Singh’s prison diary, newly expanded, appears in English for the first time. Offering unprecedented intimacy with the everyday life of the imprisoned everyman, Singh challenges us to look without flinching and question our assumptions about crime and punishment.*

208pp, Rs 795; Routledge


This book explores literary and scholarly representations of India from the 18th to the early 20th centuries in South Asia and the West with idolatry as a point of entry. It charts the intellectual horizon within which the colonial idea of India was framed, tracing sources and genealogies which inform even contemporary descriptions of the subcontinent.

Using idolatry as a concept-metaphor, the book traverses an ambitious path though the works of William Jones, James Mill, Friedrich Max Muller, John Ruskin, Alice Perrin, EM Forster, Rammohan Roy and Bankimchandra Chatterjee. It reveals how religion and paganism, history and literature, Oriental thought and Western metaphysics , and social reform and education were unfolded and debated by them. The author underlines how idolatry, irrationality and social disorder came to be linked by discourses informed by Enlightenment, missionary rhetoric and colonial reason.

This book will appeal to scholars and researchers in history, anthropology, literature, culture studies, philosophy, religion, sociology and South Asian studies as well as anyone interested in colonial studies and histories of the Enlightenment. *

*All copy form book flaps