HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week
This week’s reading list includes a book of regional recipes, a meditation on identity, and an understanding of the anti-superstition movementUpdated: Oct 19, 2018 17:16 IST
TIFFIN BY SONAL VED
From Patiala Papad ki Sabzi to Kerala Chicken Fry and from the sumptuous Mizo Dal to Bajre ka Soyta, Indian regional cuisine offers an incredible variety. A country that has vast coastline and hosts six major climatic subtypes, it is no wonder India is home to cuisines that use ingredients that are local and seasonal. With over 500 recipes representing the various regions, ethnic groups, cultural choices and traditions, Tiffin showcases a flavourful blend of favourite Indian recipes (of course, there is Butter Chicken and Samosa) along with several lesser-known dishes. Featuring recipes by home chefs, celebrated chefs, and dishes made at festival and special occasions, this is a celebration of the diversity of Indian regional cuisine. With vibrant illustrations and photographs, Tiffin makes regional cooking more authentic than ever before. *
IDENTITY BY FRANCIS FUKUYAMA
Francis Fukuyama saw our current crisis coming. In 2014 he wrote that American and global institutions were in disarray and too weak to withstand the capture of the state by powerful interest groups. Two years later, his predictions were borne out with the rise of political outsiders whose economic nationalism and authoritarianism is destabilising the international order. These populist nationalists claim a direct connection with ‘the people’, a group usually defined in narrow and exclusionary terms.
It seems that the demands of identity define world politics today. Anti immigrant populism, the upsurge of politicized Islam, the fractious environment of many college campuses and the reemergence of white nationalism – all these are rooted in challenges to the universal recognition that is the basis of liberal democracy. Too many now gravitate towards restrictive forms of recognition based on nation, religion, sect, race or ethnicity.
In this urgent and necessary book, bestselling author and public intellectual Francis Fukuyama traces the development of the idea of identity from Plato, through Locke and Rousseau to feminism and modern gender politics. He draws on this history to deliver a sharp warning that unless we forge a universal understanding of human dignity, we are doomed to endure continual conflict. *
THE CASE FOR REASON BY NARENDRA DABHOLKAR
Originally published in Marathi as Timiratuni Tejakade, rationalist and activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar’s magnum opus, The Case for Reason is both a vision document for, and a chronicle of, the battle that he and his coactivists waged against obscurantism, superstition, pseudo sciences and blind faith in the scriptures.
In Dabholkar’s view, it is the constitutional duty of every Indian citizen to develop a scientific temper, and the Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti’s (ANiS) campaigns have made this the central argument of their work. A few days after Dabholkar was shot dead by religious extremists in 2013, the Maharashtra government issued an anti-superstition ordinance that was in essence a tribute to Dabholkar’s life-long struggle.
Watch: From Fukuyama to Ved
The Case for Reason is available in two volumens, the first of which - Understanding the Anti superstition Movement – lays out the theoretical frame work of the rationalist movement and also highlights the many practical battles that ANiS fought in a bid to insert rationalism in the public discourse. In this volume, Dabholkar discusses the concept of god and the role of religion, the importance of the scientific method and scientific outlook, and points in the direction of independent thinking and resolute action.
Argumentative and illuminating, this book is a guide to the thinking of one of India’s most independent, important voices – available for the first time in an English translation.*
*All copy from the book flap.
First Published: Oct 19, 2018 17:16 IST