This week’s interesting reads include a novel, a study of the subcontinent’s first newspaper and a look at why the liberal arts will rule the digital world
HICKY’S BENGAL GAZETTE; THE UNTOLD STORY OF INDIA’S FIRST NEWSPAPER BY ANDREW OTIS
Late Eighteenth Century Calcutta.
The British are well-ensconced in Bengal, but not yet an empire. Indian princes pose a danger to the East India Company’s plans of commerce and domination. Warren Hastings, the British governor general , is attempting to consolidate his power in the Company.
Johann Zacharias Kiernander is on a mission to convert heathen souls in a land far from his native Sweden, though he is not averse to lining his pockets while doing ‘God’s work’.
Into this steaming cauldron of skullduggery and intrigue walks James Augustus Hicky, a wild Irishman seeking fame and fortune. Sensing an opportunity, he decides to establish a newspaper, the first of its kind in South Asia. In two short years his endeavour threatens to lay bare the murky underside of the early British empire. Does it succeed?
This is the story of the forces Hicky came up against, the corrupt authorities determined to stop him and his resourcefulness. The product of five years of research by Andrew Otis in the archives of India, UK and Germany, Hicky’s Bengal Gazette: The Untold Story of India’s First Newspaper is an essential and compelling addition to the history of subcontinental journalism.*
ALL THE LIVES WE NEVER LIVED BY ANURADHA ROY
War, nationalism, and trees shape lives in unforeseeable ways in this novel about a family and a country struggling with enormous transformations.
‘In my childhood, I was known as the boy whose mother had run off with an Englishman’ – so begins the story of Myshkin and his mother, Gayatri, who is driven to rebel against tradition and follow her artist’s instinct for freedom. Freedom of a different kind is in the air across India. The fight against British rule is reaching a critical turn. The Nazis have come to power in Germany. At this point of crisis, two strangers arrive in Gayatri’s town, opening up to her the vision of other possible lives.
What took Myshkin’s mother from India to Dutch–held Bali in the 1930s, ripping a knife through his comfortingly familiar universe? Excavating the roots of the world in which he was abandoned, Mykshkin comes to understand the connections between the anguish at home and a war-torn universe overtaken by patriotism.
Anuradha Roy’s deeply moving novel tells the story of men and women trapped in a dangerous era uncannily similar to the present. Its scale I matched by its power as a parable for our times. *
THE FUZZY AND THE TECHIE BY SCOTT HARTLEY
Scott Hartley first heard the terms ‘fuzzy’ and ‘techie’ while studying political science at Stanford University. If you had majored in the humanities or social sciences, you were a fuzzy. If you had majored in computer science, you were a techie. This informal division quietly found its way into a default assumption that has misled the business world for decades – that it’s the techies who drive innovation.
But in this brilliantly contrarian book, Hartley reveals the counter-intuitive reality of business today: it’s actually the fuzzies – not the techies – who are playing the key roles in developing the most creative and successful business ideas. He looks inside some of the world’s most dynamic new companies, reveals breakthrough fuzzy –techie collaborations, and explores how such associations are at the centre of innovation in business, education and government, and why the liberal arts are still relevant in our techie world.
This is a revelatory and original book, of particular importance in India, where students are unduly pressurized to gain admission into institutes of technology in the hope that they will be at the forefront of change and innovation in the VUCA world. Our greatest leaders are those who have depth of human understanding and empathy.*
*All copy from book flap.