The Kamaladevi Chattodhyay NIF Book Prize 2021 : Longlist Announcement

Bangalore : The New India Foundation announces the longlist for the fourth edition of the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize, recognizing and celebrating excellence in non-fiction writings on modern and contemporary India. This longlist of 12 books reflect a compelling picture of the diverse narratives which embody independent India’s cultural, political, and social milieu in showcasing the finest non-fiction writing from and about the Indian subcontinent.

One of the most prestigious literary awards in the country, the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize celebrates high-quality non-fiction literature published in the previous calendar year by emerging writers of all nationalities. Instituted in 2018, the prize carries a cash award of INR 15 lakhs and a citation.

From a large pool of books encompassing a range of topics, the Jury has longlisted 12 books for the Prize this year. These books cover decades of modern Indian history, nourish creative and conscious conversations around the Indian polity, and display a diversity of approaches and themes. Many of these works mirror India’s heterogeneity and intricately blend the country’s complex past with aspirations for its future.

This year’s longlist was selected by an eminent Jury including political scientist Niraja Gopal Jayal, entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani; historian Nayanjot Lahiri; entrepreneur Manish Sabharwal; and historian Srinath Raghavan.

According to the Jury: “We are delighted with our longlist which is not merely a collection of outstanding books, but is also incredibly diverse, as it covers more than a century of modern Indian history, and encompasses several genres: biography and autobiography, politics and history, art and music, gender and society.”

The 2021 Longlist (in alphabetical order) is:

    • Muscular India: Masculinity, Mobility & the New Middle Class by Michiel Baas (Context, Westland)
    • The Death Script: Dreams and Delusions in Naxal Country by Ashutosh Bhardwaj (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins Publishers) 
    • India’s First Dictatorship: The Emergency, 1975-77 by Christophe Jaffrelot & Pratinav Anil (HarperCollins Publishers)
    • Brand New Nation: Capitalist Dreams and Nationalist Designs in Twenty-First-Century India by Ravinder Kaur (Stanford University Press)
    • India’s Founding Moment: The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy by Madhav Khosla (Harvard University Press)
    • Sebastian & Sons: A Brief History of Mrdangam Makers by T.M. Krishna (Context, Westland) 
    • The Greater India Experiment: Hindutva and the Northeast by Arkotong Longkumer (Stanford University Press)
    • I Could Not Be Hindu: The Story of a Dalit in the RSS  by Bhanwar MeghwanshiTrans. Nivedita Menon (Navayana)
    • Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism by Dinyar Patel (Harvard University Press)
    • Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of Disobedience by Sumathi Ramaswamy (Roli Books)
    • The Coolie’s Great War: Indian Labour in a Global Conflict 1914-1921 by Radhika Singha (HarperCollins Publishers)
    • Jugalbandi: The BJP Before Modi by Vinay Sitapati (Penguin Random House)

The Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize builds on the New India Foundation’s mission of sponsoring high-quality research and writing on all aspects of the world’s largest democracy. The prize was named to honour the legacy of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay: the great patriot and institution-builder who contributed significantly to the freedom struggle, to the women’s movement, to refugee rehabilitation and to the renewal of Indian theatre and handicrafts.

Last year, the prize was jointly awarded to Amit Ahuja for his debut Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements (Oxford University Press) and Jairam Ramesh for his biography A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of V.K. Krishna Menon (Penguin Random House). In 2019 it was awarded to Ornit Shani for her scholarly work How India Became Democratic: Citizenship and the Making of the Universal Franchise (Penguin Random House) and in 2018 to Milan Vaishnav for his remarkable debut When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics (HarperCollins Publishers).

The Shortlist of 6 titles of the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2021 will be announced in the last week of October.