I want a unit of brave Indian women to form a “Death-defying Regiment” who will wield the sword which the brave Rani of Jhansi wielded in India’s First War of Independence in 1857.’ ¬– Subhas Chandra Bose
The Rani of Jhansi Regiment (RJR), the first all-female infantry fighting unit in military history, was created in Singapore in July 1943 by Indian nationalist and visionary leader Subhas Chandra Bose to liberate India from British colonial oppression.
His young recruits were girls from Indian families of the diasporas in Singapore, Malaya and Burma and consisted entirely of civilian volunteers lacking any prior military training. These soldiers, deployed to the steamy jungles of Burma during the last two years of World War II, were determined to follow their commander to victory. Seven decades later, their history has been forgotten, their service and the role played by Bose himself having remained largely unexplored.
Through in-depth interviews with the surviving Ranis – in their eighties and nineties – and meticulous archival research, historian Vera Hildebrand has uncovered extensive new evidence that separates the myth of the Bengali hero and his jungle warrior maidens from historical fact. The result is a wholly fresh perspective on the remarkable women of the RJR and their place in Indian and world history. The truth is every bit as impressive as the myth.
Welcome to a land called Dvarca. At the turn of the 22nd century, the world is a mess of warring factions (surprise!). The powers-that-be have fought insanity with an equal and opposite insanity. India has been remodelled under a new bicolour flag, and a State religion called Navmarg. Anyone who does not belong, is a threat.
Madhav Mathur’s Dvarca is a dark and humorous satire that follows the life of an ordinary family, struggling to get by, in this totalitarian regime. Gandharva, is a patriotic and pious low-level bureaucrat at the Ministry of Finance and Salvation, working hard on his status and overdue promotion. His dutiful and curious wife, Jyoti, works at Dvarca Mills and witnesses a ghastly act of terror, leading to perilous flirtations with dissent. Their two little children, Nakul and Mira, are model students in their predestined streams, indoctrinated and well on their way to becoming faithful and productive citizens.
The State religion and cutting-edge science combine to create new ways to make citizens safe, and to hound and hunt those who do not conform. Everything is ‘perfect’ in this controlled and policed system, until one fateful night, a man happens to break routine . . .
Over the course of two intense years Swati Sengupta spoke to dozens of surrendered Maoist soldiers. In this book she focuses on their complex individual narratives and examines the reasons for, and the methods and contexts of, their surrenders. The disquieting voices of these foot-soldiers of the Maoist struggle reveal a harsh, on-the-edge world.
Suman Maity gave up his family, friends and school at the age of thirteen to become an armed Maoist cadre. He quickly became a terror in the forested regions of West Midnapore but, ravaged by uncertainty and betrayal, he surrendered because he ‘did not want to die in an encounter’. Champa was shot in the arm when a police team swooped down and started firing while she was on sentry duty at her camp. She lost consciousness and woke up in a hospital under police custody. A portion of her arm is now simply a lump of flesh. When the police gave her the option of surrendering instead of facing arrest, she chose to surrender—and now survives with difficulty by running a tailoring shop. A disillusioned surrendered Maoist, whom the author met in Kondagaon, told her that the so-called ‘camaraderie’ displayed in the camps is often faked for the media and the real conditions—which are actually neither equal nor congenial—are hidden away like ‘family secrets’.
Out of War is an insightful, poignant and often disturbing book about an unrelenting conflict where, despite all the idealistic fervour, there is injustice, even brutality, on every side and the most vulnerable people pay the heaviest price.
The novel reintroduces a classic story, retelling Little Women from the point of view of its chief male character, in the context of Pakistan.
The Maliks live a life of relative freedom in 1970s’ Karachi. Four beautiful sisters—Maria, Ayesha, Leila and Bina—are warily watched over by an unconventional mother. Captain Malik is usually away and so the women forge the rules of their own universe, taking in a few men: Amir, the professor who falls in love with Maria, and Jamal or Jimmy, the neighbour who narrates this tale. The curious young man is drawn in by all four sisters, particularly rebellious Ayesha. But slowly, it becomes clear he will never completely penetrate their circle, just as they will never completely move with the tide that swirls so potently around them.
In the quietly seething world of This Wide Night, Little Women meets The Virgin Suicides in Pakistan. Moving from Karachi to London and finally to the rain-drenched island of Manora, here is a compelling new novel from the subcontinent—and a powerful debut to watch.
One of the pillars of Indian democracy who played a pivotal role in shaping the Indian Constitution, Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar is also known for his radical, no-holds-barred views on the discrimination against the backward classes, particularly the Untouchables, and the caste politics practised by Hindus. His path-breaking ideas, most of which are relevant even today, are reflected in his writings.
In The Essential Ambedkar, the finest extracts from Ambedkar’s impressive body of work have been selected and thematically arranged, covering issues such as caste and untouchability, the philosophy of the Hindu religion, the making of the Indian Constitution, the emancipation of women, India’s education policy, the Partition and much more. Both a handy reference guide as well as a useful introduction to readers unfamiliar with Ambedkar’s works, The Essential Ambedkar is a befitting tribute to the legacy of Babasaheb.
Named after a tragic figure in Indonesia’s and India’s shared mythology, Amba spends her lifetime trying to invent a story she can call her own. When she meets two suitors who fit perfectly into her namesake’s myth, Amba cannot help but feel that fate is teasing her. Salwa, respectful to a fault, pledges to honour and protect her, no matter what. Bhisma, a sophisticated European-trained doctor, offers her sensual pleasures and a world of ideas.
In this devastating novel of love and redemption, empathy and forgiveness, Amba, Bhisma and Salwa attempt to undo the ancient legend of the Mahabharata—that timeless allegory of war within a family—with tragic consequences, as the story moves from rural Java to Europe and to the prison camps of Buru Island, where approximately 12,000 alleged communists were incarcerated without trial during the Suharto dictatorship. Through its memorable cast of characters—each of them a metaphor for the vast diversity that is Indonesia—the novel asks us not to see history in terms of ‘black’ and ‘white’, ‘good’ and ‘evil’, but highlights, instead, the grey zones of human existence and the human spirit. It also shows us ways in which men and women often attain their highest humanity at the point of destruction.
From the acclaimed author of Maps for Lost Lovers and The Blind Man’s Garden, a brave, timely, searingly beautiful novel set in contemporary Pakistan about a community consumed by religious intolerance.
When shots ring out on Grand Trunk Road, Nargis’s life begins to crumble around her. Her husband, Massud—a fellow architect—is caught in the crossfire and dies before she can confess to him her greatest secret. Under threat from a powerful military intelligence officer who demands that she pardon her husband’s American killer, Nargis fears that the truth about her past will soon be exposed. For weeks someone has been broadcasting people’s secrets from the minarets of the city’s mosques and, in a country where the accusation of blasphemy is currency to be bartered, the mysterious broadcasts have struck fear in Christians and Muslims alike.
Against this background of violence and fear, two outsiders—the young Christian woman Helen and the mysterious Imran from Kashmir—try to find an island of calm in which their love can grow.
In his characteristically luminous prose, Nadeem Aslam reflects Pakistan’s past and present in a single mirror—a story of corruption, resilience, and the hope that only love and the human spirit can offer.
After losing all his family in a terrible famine, a man leaves his village with just the clothes on his back, never once looking back. For endless miles he walks through a landscape as desolate as his heart. Until two ancient women who have waited for rain for four hundred years lead him to the Village of Weavers where a prophecy will be fulfilled. A single drop of rain will impregnate the tiger-widow and her son will slay the spirit-tiger. The traveller will help the woman bring up the boy. He will witness miracles and tragedy and come close to finding a home again. And he will learn that love and life are eternal.
In her new novel, Easterine Kire, winner of the Hindu Prize, combines lyrical storytelling with the magic and wisdom of Naga legends to produce an unforgettable, life-affirming fable.
It took nearly five minutes for her ashes to cool down. Afterwards, someone held out a handful. “Here she is, your Lara. Take her.” The agony stuck within me like an iceberg for one thousand days shattered without warning and drowned me in a flood of tears.
A man sits before his wife lying comatose in a refrigerated chamber and tells her the thoughts he had never dared express when she was conscious; ‘When the Gods Left’ follows Rajula Dip, a carrion-picker, as he goes about his business and himself becomes carrion; in ‘Fragments’, a woman takes a bus to her rapist’s house to speak to him and to his family; God himself appears in court to give testimony in a case where justice has been miscarried; and in ‘The Hunt’, after a tiger kills a shepherd, the entire village turns on the victim’s family in revenge.
One Thousand Days in a Refrigerator includes fourteen stories of great power and beauty, startling in their variety and ambition. It showcases a writer at the very peak of his considerable abilities.
The son of a penniless refugee from Lahore, Arjun Bhatia has worked his way up from being an arms smuggler in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh to the most influential power-broker in Delhi.
But when the shadows of the past – of a friend he has lost forever and a woman he can never be with – finally catches up with him, Arjun finds himself fighting the biggest battle of his life. For at stake is not just his iron hold over the government, but something even greater – his family … and his soul.
Spanning five decades and two generations, Sultan of Delhi: Ascension is an explosive saga of ambition, greed, love and passion.
Gandhi on Non-Violence brings together the political and moral philosophies central to the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi, pared down to their essentials. Philosophies which have influenced generations and inspired some of the world’s most transformative leaders and its greatest movements; from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Steve Biko to Václav Havel and Aung San Suu Kyi; from the Civil Rights movement in America and anti-apartheid struggles in South Africa to non-violent battles for democracy in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
The principles of ahimsa and satyagraha as practised by Gandhi were selected for this volume by Thomas Merton, theologian, social activist, and one of the most influential religious thinkers of the twentieth century. In his comprehensive introduction, Merton describes ahimsa and satyagraha as not merely political tools, but a response to evil itself. Which, if followed with truth and faith, can bring men—and nations—to their ‘right mind’ and free them forever from violence. And emphasizing the universality of ahimsa and satyagraha, Merton describes how they are linked to the traditional concept of Hindu dharma, the teachings of the Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato, and to Christian thought, especially the act of forgiveness.
Challenging, provocative and eternally valid, Gandhi’s principles are, as Merton himself puts it, ‘required reading for anyone who is seriously interested in man’s fate in the nuclear age.’
Things to Leave Behind follows the intertwined story of spirited Tilottama Uprety, whose uncle is hanged during the ‘Mutiny’, her troubled daughter, Deoki, missionary Rosemary Boden and Deoki’s husband, Jayesh Jonas, into Boden’s utopian Eden Ashram where artist William Dempster seeks out new Indias. At its heart lies one singular painting: a portrait of love, longing and courage.
Set in the years 1840 to 1912, Things to Leave Behind chronicles the mixed legacy of the British Indian past and the emergence of a fragile modernity. The book is published by Penguin.
Illuminated with painstaking detail, told with characteristic narrative skill, this compelling historical novel—the final one in the Himalayan trilogy, after A Himalayan Love Story and The Book of Shadows—is Namita Gokhale’s most ambitious work yet.
The Book of Dhaka: A City in Short Fiction is an unique anthology inspired by the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The book features 10 stories by some of Bangladesh’s finest writers, all translated from the Bengali into English for the first. The authors include; Wasi Ahmed, Moinul Ahsan Saber, Shaheen Akhtar, Salma Bani, Bipradash Barua, Akhteruzzaman Elias, Parvez Hossain, Syed Manzoorul Islam, Rashida Sultana and Anwara Syed Haq. The book is edited by Pushpita Alam and Arunava Sinha.
The Indian Government has repeatedly described Maoist guerrillas as ‘the biggest security threat to the county’ and Bastar in central India as their headquarters.
This book chronicles how the armed conflict between the government and the Maoists has devastated the lives of some of India’s poorest, most vulnerable citizens, starting from 2005 when a government- sponsored vigilante movement killed hundreds and drove thousands of villagers into camps to the present day when it is the most militarized region in the country. It is not a coincidence that Bastar had some of India’s biggest mineral reserves.
Based on extensive filed visits, court testimonies, government documents and an active participant role in the events she write about, Nandini Sundar also tracks the responses of political parties, the media, human rights activities and the judiciary to the ongoing crisis.
An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India originated from a speech made by Shashi Tharoor at the Oxford Union in 2015, that went viral across digital platforms clocking 3.5 million hits.
In this explosive book, the author reveals with acuity, impeccable research, and trademark wit, just how disastrous British rule was for India. Besides examining the many ways in which the colonizers exploited India, ranging from the drain of national resources to Britain, the destruction of the Indian textile, steel-making and shipping industries, and the negative transformation of agriculture, he demolishes the arguments of Western and Indian apologists for Empire on the supposed benefits of British rule, including democracy and political freedom, the rule of law, and the railways. The few unarguable benefits—the English language, tea, and cricket—were never actually intended for the benefit of the colonized but introduced to serve the interests of the colonizers. Aleph Book Company will serve to correct many misconceptions about one of the most contested periods of Indian history.
Emperor Chandragupta is the story of a youth who must fight against all odds – within and without – to become one of the greatest emperors ever known. This is the story of Chandragupta Maurya.
Building an empire is not easy, especially when there are enemies everywhere and no one you can trust. India, 326 BCE. The world’s greatest conqueror, Alexander, the Greek emperor, is at its doorstep, having arrived at the Indus seeking to establish his dominion over the entire known world. In the east lies Magadha, ruled by the Nandas, a dynasty driven by greed, lust and hunger for power. From the embers of that lust and avarice a boy has been born, raised by a tribe of peacock-tamers – a boy named Moriya forced by the Nanda clan to be on the run. Aided by Chanakya, a political strategist at odds with his former rulers, who trains him in the ways of the world and christens him Chandragupta, the young man ventures across the vast Magadhan empire to form an army of his own and seek out the foreign invader. But being a warrior prince, he finds, comes at a heavy price – assassins appointed by the Nanda kings will stop at nothing to eliminate him, a rival prince seeks revenge through cruelty and friends are no longer what they seem…
Stained is British Asian lawyer turned writer Abda Khan’s debut novel. The novel was published in October 2016 by Harvard Square Editions in the USA.
The novel revolves around an 18-year British Pakistani girl who is raped by a trusted friend of the family. After the attack, she goes to extreme lengths to prevent bringing what she perceives as shame to her widowed mother’s door, and to avoid tarnishing the family’s honour and reputation. However, this leads her down a dark dangerous path from which there may be no return.
The Truth Seekers @ Haji Lane is a romance novella about a Singaporean girl, Sufiah, who was seeking her vocation in life as well as her imam or Mr Right. Raised in a Malay/Muslim family, Sufiah, the youngest of three children was schooled in a madrasah for ten years, before she chose to continue her education in the polytechnic, just because of the dress code. In the polytechnic, she was able to don the hejab unlike the junior college, eventhough this meant she had to enter a less prestigious institute of learning. As a teenager, she also had girly ambitions, one of which is to find love – a husband whose taqwa-metre (piety to Allah) is higher than hers.
This November, Inkshares published Quincy Carroll’s debut novel, Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside, which tells the story of two Americans living and teaching in rural China (Trade Paperback; $15.95). The first, Thomas, is an entitled deadbeat, content to pass the rest of his days in Asia skating by on the fact that he’s white, while the second, a recent college graduate named Daniel, is an idealist at heart. Over the course of the novel, these two characters fight to establish primacy in Ningyuan, a remote town in the south of Hunan, with one of their more overzealous students, Bella, caught in between. Quincy Carroll’s cleverly written debut novel examines what we bring from one country to another.
This book is a study of participation of the Muslim communities, with their intra-community socio-economic stratifications, in the politics of India’s eastern province, Bihar, during colonial and post-independence period. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in the resistance against the Bengali hegemony, the Urban educated middle class of Muslims along with their Hindu counterparts, more specifically the Kayasthas (the Hindu community of scribes), organized themselves along the lines of ‘regional patriotism’ or ‘subordinate nationalism’ and succeeded in creating province of Bihar out of the Bengal in 1912. The Congress made its significant headway in Bihar only after that. Gandhiji’s intervention (1917) in the Champaran Satyagraha (which had intermittently been manifesting since the 1860s under the leadership of local intelligentsia, and had re-intensified since 1907), and the subsequent Khilafat-Non Cooperation Movements (1920-22) galvanized the Bihar people in anti-colonial popular struggle once again, after the movement of 1857.
by MOHAMMAD SAJJAD
This study attempts to explore the social features, political behaviour and economic conditions of the Muslims and the way the Muslims of this locality were negotiating for their share in the power-structure. Also, what are or were their anxieties, problems and prospects in this regard? The monograph attempts to enquire as to whether or not the localities mirror the regional and all-India setting. The regional and local studies would enable not only a ‘greater approximation to reality but also a more searching analysis’.
by SUDHA MENON
I arrived for my 6.30 pm meeting with Zia Mody, possibly India’s best-known corporate dealmaker and legal eagle, expecting that she was going to be at the end of her working day and relaxed for a long chat with me. I was mistaken. Read More
by MEGHNA PANT
We enter a narrow muddy path with jhopadpattis on both sides. Lalit apologetically turns his head towards me; the car can move no further. Seven or eight dusty children in ragged clothes surround our car, their noses pressed flat against the windows, their teeth white through the tinted glass. If we leave the car here they’ll scratch the silver-grey paint, sit on the hood or steal the rear-view mirrors, so I tell Lalit, ‘I don’t trust these slum people. I think you better stay in the car.’
‘Memsahib, I can take you to Mary’s house,’ he says gently.
‘How would you know the way around this kachra place?’ I ask. Read More
by RITU LALIT
“Guruji, they are all gathering,” twelve-year-old Sumant, his cheeks covered with a fuzzy growth of beard, peered through the flap of the tent and informed the old man. He was skinny and looked as though he had recently shot up in height, and his clothes had not kept up.
The man addressed as Guru, or Teacher, sighed and stood up, his old bones aching. There was a time when he had considered the weather a non-issue. It had just been a matter of mind over body. But age had caught up, and he realized that even Japas could feel cold. It was freezing in the desert; he peered out of the tent at the full moon. He had read somewhere that the full moon in January was known as the Wolf Moon. How apt, he thought as he stepped out, his aged joints creaking. He felt a slight unease arising from his base chakra. He inhaled deeply and said, “I smell danger. This peace among them will not last the night, I know it.” Read More
by SULTAN SOMJEE
I was born in Nairobi on the day when the colonial soldiers opened fire on the crowd protesting against the imprisonment of Harry Thuku. Harry Thuku, a soldier in the Kings African Rifles, the star battalion at the legendary parades of the British army in Nairobi, had just returned home to Kenya from the war in Burma. He now defied the governor’s order on the wearing of the hated kipande. The kipande itself was just a numbered metal identity pass that all native casuals in the Indian business streets and plantation labourers in the White Highlands had to wear with a chain around the neck. But it was because of the memories of chained slaves that were not so distant from the workers’ minds that they could not but see their new metal ID as a symbol of slavery. Thus it did not surprise anyone when the bazaar folk talked cagily about the growing numbers of disgruntled workers around the country who objected to the wearing of the pass. “But,” they would argue, “it’s the law of Kenya Colony that all native subjects of the king must be seen with the metal ID at work.” What they did not know was what I learnt much later in my adulthood, that if the law was not peacefully obeyed, it would be brutally enforced. The Empire needed to recover from the war by developing its colonies as quickly as possible so it would be ready for another war. And for that a disciplined African labour force like Indian commerce and skilled builders, was essential. Read More
The Bliss and Madness of Being Human
by ANKUR BETAGERI
In this post-post-modern world without a discernible centre, personal becomes the political. In his poetry, Betageri attempts to connect personal with the universal. In the cosmological sense of the word. “The centre of the universe is where my/consciousness begins to throb…” he says in the poem entitled ‘At the Centre of the Universe’: “… I fling myself like a handful of sand/ over the sad limited space of the earth/ and begin to grow unchecked, unrestricted, uncontrolled.”
1. I Am Water
2. At the Centre of the Universe
3. The Quiet and Rising Tension in the Jaw of the Common Man
4. Walking in and out – of Apparitions
6. Evening at Tagore Park (Birdsounds)
This set contains 6 sounds, total time: 10.25
A Matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna
by AMITAVA KUMAR
Alef Book Company
This was the 18th March of 1974. It was the day after my eleventh birthday, and I stood on the roof of my parents’ home in Patna, along with my family and some visitors from Arrah and faraway Saharsa, who had been unable to leave because of the curfew imposed all over Patna. There were reports that police had fired into the crowds of rioting students who had marched on the state assembly. We were playing antakshri, in our small group, because one young woman with us, a distant relative, was a wonderful singer. She had light brown eyes, and her hair curled over her forehead in the manner of a Hindi film-star of that decade. The horizon was grey with smoke rising from burning buildings.
The Black Coat
by NEAMAT IMAM
March 17, Wednesday. Hundreds and thousands of my countrymen are on the road today. They are marching toward the city’s central public square where the Awami League – Sheikh Mujib’s party – has organised a massive open-air ceremony for his birth anniversary. The Awami League government, which has declared him Father of the Bengali Nation, has deployed an extravagant number of security personnel to maintain order. They are guarding local street corners, nearby highway intersections and strategically important rooftops, and stopping vehicles to look for dangerous goods. Hundreds of party workers are assisting them; they are carrying rods, pipes, batons and bamboo sticks, and are regularly applying them to anyone who appears to be unruly and suspicious. Dozens of loudspeakers mounted on electricity poles are announcing the arrival of national leaders and intellectuals as well as acclaimed singers and musicians who will perform after the speeches.
As I sit at the Shaheed Minar stairs and look at the posters, festoons and banners I think back on a different time. I hear a distinctively trenchant voice: ‘You have betrayed us! You have betrayed us!’ It was thirty-five years ago. He was a part of my soul – a brilliant man, an immaculate heart.