HT Picks: This week’s most interesting reads
THE JUNGLE RADIO BY DEVANGANA DASH
When curious little Gul hears some strange sounds coming from her radio, she follows the musical clues into… an Indian jungle! On her walk, she finds feathered friends who tweet, tap, and talk. There are some who howl and hoot, and others who play the flute. With a kee here and kaw there, Gul discovers songs everywhere!
Brought to life by painterly illustrations, The Jungle Radio is a little story about the language of birds – their songs and sounds – with a loud and clear call to listen to the world around us.*
WRITING BADLY IS EASY BY AMITAVA KUMAR
When Lord Macaulay introduced English as the instrument of education in India, he also bequeathed to us a legacy of language use that is often stiff and bureaucratic. This awkwardness plagues academic, journalistic, legal, even creative writing in India.
You fail as a writer if your writing is not concrete, if it is vague and abstract, and your reader is unable to see what you mean. Writing Badly is Easy is a style guide for those who want to write well. It presents advice given by award-winning creative writers – including Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan, Suketu Mehta, Marilynne Robinson, George Saunders and Colson Whitehead – and noted thinkers like Alain de Botton, Andrew Ross, Anna Tsing, Kathleen Stewart and Rob Nixon, as well as numerous others. Amitava Kumar’s own essays on writing, including his collaboration with Teju Cole, demonstrate the importance of blurring the line between critical and creative writing. A manifesto for writing that is exuberant, imaginative and playful, Writing Badly is Easy will change the way you think about reading and writing., and reveal the pleasures to be had in the inventive use of language. *
MAJORITARIAN STATE: HOW HINDU NATIONALISM IS CHANGING INDIA EDITED BY ANGANA P CHATTERJI, THOMAS BLOM HANSEN, AND CHRISTOPHE JAFFRELOT
Majoritarian State traces the ascendance of Hindu nationalism in contemporary India. Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP administration has established an ethno-religious and populist style of rule since 2014. Its agenda is also pursued beyond the formal branches of government, as the new dispensation portrays conventional social hierarchies as intrinsic to Indian culture while condoning communal and caste- and gender-based violence.
The contributors explore how Hindutva ideology has permeated the state apparatus and formal institutions, and how Hindutva activists exert control over civil society via vigilante groups, cultural policing and violence. Groups and regions portrayed as ‘enemies’ of the Indian state are the losers in a new order promoting the interests of the urban middle class and business elites. As this majoritarian ideology pervades the media and public discourse, it also affects the judiciary, universities and cultural institutions, increasingly captured by Hindu nationalists. Dissent and difference are silenced and debate increasingly sidelined as the press is muzzled or intimidated in the courts. Internationally, the BJP government has emphasized hard power and a fast-expanding security state.
This collection of essays offers rich empirical analysis and documentation to investigate the causes and consequences of the illiberal turn taken by the world’s largest democracy. *
*All copy from book flap