HT Picks; New Reads

This week’s reading list includes the story of how colonial Indian brands were produced, distributed, and marketed between 1847 and 1947, a book that looks at four encounters that Nehru had with contemporaries from across the political spectrum that are critical to understanding his ideas, and their impress on the present, and a volume on viruses as a major actor in the human body and in civilization
This week’s good reads include a book on colonial Indian brands, another that looks at four encounters critical to understanding Nehru’s ideas, and one on viruses. (HT Team)
This week’s good reads include a book on colonial Indian brands, another that looks at four encounters critical to understanding Nehru’s ideas, and one on viruses. (HT Team)
Published on Nov 12, 2021 05:36 PM IST
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ByHT Team

Fresh Marketing Lessons From Vintage Brands

309pp, ₹499; Hachette
309pp, ₹499; Hachette

What did advertising campaigns look like a hundred years ago? How did early brands capture the imagination of Indian consumers? How deep as the roots of modern consumer behaviour in the country? Lux soaps, Jabakusum hair oil, Woodward’s Gripe Water, Atlas Cycles, Dalda, Mafatlal Textiles – thee evergreen brands have immortalized themselves by capitalizing on emerging trends for almost a hundred years. These popular brands as well as other lesser known (though equally iconic) can teach modern-day brands a thing or two about surviving in a market that is in constant flux.

Focusing on a century bookended by two movements for independence, Branded in History draws readers into the fascinating story of how colonial Indian brands – both home-grown and foreign – were produced, distributed, and marketed between 1847 and 1947, a time when branding as a concept was still in its infancy.

From consumer goods to consumables, household utilities to toiletries, and heavy industries to medical supplies, this book explores the reasons behind the successes and failures of the earliest brands in the subcontinent, and presents valuable and relevant marketing lessons from an era gone by.*

Debating the most profound questions in South Asian history

275pp, ₹599; Harper Collins
275pp, ₹599; Harper Collins

From being elected as Congress president in 1929 till his death in 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru remained a towering figure in Indian politics, a man who left an indelible stamp on the history of South Asia. As a leading light of the nationalist struggle and as India’s first and longest-serving prime minister, his ideas shaped the political contours of the country and left and imprint so deep that his legacy continues to be debated furiously.

In life, as in afterlife, Nehru was many things to many people. Going beyond the imposed labels of contemporary discourse, this book illuminates four encounters that Nehru had with contemporaries from across the political spectrum – Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Sardar Patel and Syama Prasad Mookerjee – that are critical to understanding his ideas, and his long afterlife and impress on the present.

Nehru may no longer be alive to answer his critics today, but there was a time when he pitted himself vigorously against his opponents in the marketplace of ideas, debating the most profound questions in South Asian history and decisively influencing political events. It is this intellectually combative Nehru whom we meet in this book - voicing ideological disagreements, forging political alliances, moulding political opinion, offering visions of the future and staking out the political field – a key figure in the debates that defined India.*

The natural history of viruses

278pp, ₹799; Penguin
278pp, ₹799; Penguin

Viruses are the world’s most abundant life form, and now, when humanity is in the midst of a close encounter with their immense power, perhaps the most feared. But do we understand viruses? Possibly the most enigmatic of living things, they are sometimes not considered a life form at all. Everything about them is extreme, including the reactions they evoke. However for every truism about viruses, the opposite is also often true. So complex and diverse is the world of viruses that it merits being labelled an empire unto itself. And whether we see them as alive or dead, as life-threatening or life affirming, there is an ineluctable beauty, even a certain elegance, in the way viruses go about their lives – or so Pranay Lal tells us in Invisible Empire: The Natural History of Viruses.

This is a book that defies categorisation. It brings together science, history and great storytelling to paint a fascinating picture of viruses as a major actor not just in human civilization but also in the human body. With rare photographs, paintings, illustrations and anecdotes, it is a magnificent and extremely relevant book for our times, when we are attempting to understand viruses and examine their roles in the lives of humans.*

*All copy from book flap.

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Thursday, January 20, 2022