New Releases from Asia: March 2020


2026_Front Cover

Title: 2062: The World that AI Made

Author: Toby Walsh

Publisher: Speaking Tiger

Year of Publication: 2020

Pages: 312

Price: INR 499

Links: Speaking Tiger

In 2062, world-leading researcher Toby Walsh considers the impact AI will have on work, war, economics, politics, everyday life and, indeed, even human death. Will automation take away most jobs? Will robots become conscious and take over? Will we become immortal machines ourselves, uploading our brains to the cloud? How will politics adjust to the post-truth, post-privacy digitised world? When we have succeeded in building intelligent machines, how will life on this planet unfold? What lies in store for homo digitalis—the people of the not-so distant future who will be living amongst fully functioning artificial intelligence?

Based on a deep understanding of technology, 2062: The World That AI Made describes the choices we need to make today to ensure that the future remains bright.

Timeless Tales of Marwar (front)

Title: Timeless Tales from Marwar

Author: Vijaydan Detha, Translator: Vishes Kothari

Publisher: Penguin Random House (Puffin Classics)

Year of Publication: 2020

Pages: 208

Price: INR 250

Links: Amazon 

For centuries, Rajasthan has been a gold mine of oral traditions and histories, with Padma Shri Vijaydan Detha being one of the foremost storytellers of all time.

Giving a new lease of life to his writings, Timeless Tales from Marwar is a handpicked collection of folk tales from the everlasting works of Detha’s celebrated Batan ri Phulwari meaning ‘Garden of Tales’. Collected and written over the span of nearly fifty years, this fourteen-volume assortment of Rajasthani folk stories earned him the moniker-the Shakespeare of Rajasthan.

This selection-retold in Detha’s magical narrative style complete with vivid imagery-offers some of the oldest and most popular fables from the Thar Desert region. Discover tales of handsome rajkanwars (princes), evil witches, exploitative thakars , miserly seths, clever insects, benevolent snakes and more. Vishes Kothari’s vivid English translation introduces one of the most venerated figures in Rajasthani folk culture to a wider audience. This tribute to Detha’s rich legacy is a collector’s edition for all ages.

 

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Title: Ritual

Author: Uttaran Das Gupta

Publisher:  Pan Macmillan India

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 272

Price: 350

Links: Pan Macmillan

Calcutta is in political turmoil and it is turning violent. It is also home to Vasant sena, a religious cult with a charismatic leader and militant devotees, engaged in drug-fuelled sex rituals. As bodies of girls, their hearts cut out of their chests, start appearing all over Calcutta, ACP Ashutosh and his deputy Pradeep are assigned the case. Soon, they find themselves spiralling into a mesh of double faces and blind alleys, even as the machinery of the state and the police turn against them. Can they catch the killer before the killer catches them?

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Title: The Museum of Broken Tea Cups: Postcards from India’s Margins

Author: Gunjan Veda

Publisher: Yoda SAGE Select

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 288

Price: INR 525

Links: Sage Publications

The performing arts in India have traditionally been the domain of Dalit communities. To this day, these men and women continue to nurture and foster their chosen art forms in the face of discrimination and prejudice. We consider ourselves to be connoisseurs of art and culture. Yet, we fail to recognise the very communities who have shaped this culture.

The Museum of Broken Tea Cups, using the symbology of the used, broken tea cup that upper caste households leave outside their doors for the use of Dalit workers, is an effort to recognise the immense cultural contribution made by Dalit communities through the stories of individual artists who languish in the forgotten gallis and mohallas of our villages and towns. At the same time, the book seeks to celebrate the everyday heroes, who have, despite all odds, managed to change not just their own lives, but the lives of those around them. These are students and teachers, artists and activists, storytellers and devadasis, daughters and mothers, sons and brothers—seemingly ordinary people—whose faces get lost in everyday life, but whose stories have the potential to inspire admiration, action and change.

 

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Title: Kidney Transplants & Scams: India’s Troublesome Legacy

Author: Dr Ramesh Kumar

Publisher: Vitasta SAGE Select

Year of publication: 2019 (December)

Pages: 268

Price: INR 495

Links: Sage Publications 

A live kidney weighing 150-200 gms is the most sought-after organ worldwide, with people willing to buy from unrelated live donors for a few lakh rupees. There are almost 2000 kidney transplants happening in India yearly – less than half this number meet the country’s legal requirements. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the Secretary General of Rajya Sabha, Sudarshan Agarwal are the two people who helped the enactment of an organ transplant law in India. India imports dialysis machines and its first made-in India machine has just gone on clinical trial though nephrological services began here some 50 years ago.

Harvesting of kidneys from unfortunate accident victims is the only solution to the shortage of kidneys for transplantation in India – with 150,000 accidents every year on the country’s deadly roads. To make kidneys available readily and legally from accident victims and the brain dead, the law needs amendment and a National Organ Harvesting Programme (NOHP) is urgently needed. In this book, Dr Ramesh Kumar reveals the stark reality of kidney scams in India and strongly advocates the need of a National Organ Harvesting Programme (NOHP).

 

Situating Social Media

Title: Situating Social Media: Gender, Caste, Protest, Solidarity

Editors: Samata Biswas & Atig Ghosh

Publisher: Women Unlimited

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 238

Price: 600.00

Links: Women’s Umlimited 

Social media produces numerous spaces and opportunities, globally, for people to link up, reach out, mobilise, assert their identity, build bridges… For those on the margins, this virtual alternative enables them to break down otherwise impenetrable social barriers and form close-knit digifams.

Is social media, then, a credible space for building social movements? Who is using it to register dissent, affect change? How successful have such movements been in taking over the digital public sphere? Are the prejudices that exist offline, present online as well? What is the political fallout of multidirectional conversations on the Internet? What about the backlash from trolls and gatekeepers?

Situating Social Media: Gender, Caste, Protest, Solidarity enquires into the possibilities and actual practices of activism and solidarity building on social media, across the tropes of gender, caste, class, religion, political ideology and disaster. Its wide-ranging essays examine the reportage of incidents and issues by a path-breaking YouTube channel like Dalit Camera; analyse different movements that not only trended online but also thrived on the streets. A deep dive into #e-activism!

Gaining Ground Cover

Title: Gaining Ground: the changing contours of feminist organising in post-1990s India

Author: Sadhna Arya

Publisher: Women Unlimited

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 273

Price: 650.00

The 1990s were a turning point for the Indian Women’s Movement (IWM). Feminists were pushed into questioning the universal category of ‘woman’, by women from minority communities and marginalised castes or sexualities, or by those with disabilities. New forms of feminist activism emphasised both the specificities and commonalities of oppression that women in different locations experience, based on power and privilege; they called for reconceptualising family, marriage, community, caste, sexuality, labour and violence.

Gaining Ground maps these new contours by taking up five critical interventions made by movements that grew out of the IWM but established distinct identities around their concerns. Muslim women came together around community identity; Dalit women highlighted gender and caste patriarchy; sex workers challenged prevalent definitions of work; queer politics critiqued heteronormative sexuality; and women with disabilities raised searching questions about what constitutes an ideal body. Sadhna Arya offers a compelling and comprehensive account of the expanding horizons of feminist organising, and of the vitality of women’s movements in India in the 21st century.

 

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