Nepal, the north east and the Mahabharata all feature on the reading list. (HT Team)
Nepal, the north east and the Mahabharata all feature on the reading list. (HT Team)

HT Picks; New Reads

This week’s pick of interesting reads includes a nuanced account of the complicated story of India’s northeast region, the long view on Nepal’s foreign relations and on China’s emergence as a global power, and a collection of lesser known stories from a great epic
By HT Team
PUBLISHED ON APR 10, 2021 06:51 AM IST

Nepal’s Turn to China

290pp, ₹799; Westland
290pp, ₹799; Westland

In the June 2020 territorial dispute over Kalapani, India was faced with a newly assertive Nepal, and blamed the latter’s deepening relations with China for the tension. But beyond the accusations and the grandstanding, there was a new reality to reckon with: the power equations in South Asia had been rearranged to make space for China.

Nepal did not turn northwards overnight, however. For one, Nepal-China ties have deep historical roots built on Buddhism, going as far back as the early first millennium. For another, while the 2015 unofficial Indian blockade provided momentum to the rift, the Himalayan nation had long wanted greater ties with its northern neighbour to counteract India’s oppressive intimacy. With China’s growing ambitions, both globally and in South Asia, Nepal now has a new primary bilateral partner – and Nepalis are forging a path towards modernity with its help, both in the remote Himalayan borderlands and in the cities.

All Roads Lead North is the long view on Nepal’s foreign relations, as well as the story of China as a global power in the twenty-first century. With never-before-told stories about Tibetan guerrilla fighters, failed coup leader and trans-Himalayan traders, this book examines the histories that tie remote Himalayan communities to each other. Part historical study, part journalistic account and all of it rigorously researched, Nepal analyst Amish Raj Mulmi writes a new, complex and compelling account of a small country caught between two neighbourhood giants.*

India and its northeast

278pp, ₹599; Navayana
278pp, ₹599; Navayana

The directional name Northeast India, and its derivative Northeasterner, are postcolonial coinages. The region’s modern history is shaped by the dynamics of a “frontier” in its multiple references: migration and settlement, resource extraction, and regional geopolitics. Partly as a result of this, the political trajectory of the region has been different from the rest of the country. Ethnic militias and armed groups have flourished for decades, but they coexist comfortably with functioning electoral institutions. The region had some of India’s highest voter turnout rates, but special security laws that are now almost as old as the Republic produce significant democracy deficits. Sanjib Baruah offers a nuanced account of this impossibly complicated story, asking how democracy can be sustained, and deepened in these conditions. *

Epic Beyond the Obvious

208pp, ₹499; Bloomsbury
208pp, ₹499; Bloomsbury

An epic that never dies and still remains relevant even thousands of years later – Vyasa’s Mahabharata has always captured our imagination. The saga of two feuding families, the Mahabharata, with its various twists and turns, has been a compelling read across generations, inspiring many to dig deeper into the great poem. This collection of 20 short stories brings out characters and incidents that are largely unheard of and are buried in the vastness of the epic. Capturing every emotion from valour, lust, loyalty and treachery to goodness and ethics so relevant to the world w live in, these stories help us understand the epic better by bringing us to a different dimension altogether.*

*All copy from book flap.

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