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indira gandhi

Review: Life of an Industani: Six Degrees of Separation by Shiv Kunal Verma

Filmmaker and military historian Shiv Kunal Verma’s account of his life, Life of an Industani: Six Degrees of Separation, is, in equal measure, a thrilling account of India’s sociopolitical landscape from the 1980s to the present. 575pp, ₹995; BluOne Ink Verma, who started as a reporter-photographer for a Delhi magazine, witnessed the riots that followed former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984. He rode his scooter around Delhi, urging people in power to step in to help, and photographing the city…

Review: My Life in Indian Politics by Mohsina Kidwai

In an era when politics is anything but admirable, can the autobiography of a political icon restore hope? The answer cannot be found in the world of narcissistic politicians. Some political memoirs, however, offer a gripping alternative narrative centring around efforts to shape national identity and affirm the core values that bind us. Mohsina Kidwai’s book is one of them. My Life in Indian Politics is slightly different in that it works within the as-told-to format with the journalist Rasheed Kidwai fashioning the key…

Review: Ideology And Organization In Indian Politics; Polarisation and the Growing Crisis of The Congress Party (2009-19) by Zoya Hasan

At the annual meeting of the British South Asian Studies Association (2014) at Royal Holloway College, London, there were several papers and panels on the AAP party but none on the Congress. While it is widely recognised that the life of the Congress party and modern India converges, there is very little research interest in it among scholars from India and abroad. The key reason for such intellectual indifference, particularly among progressive liberals, is that they continue to see the shadow of Indira Gandhi and…

Interview: Subrata K Mitra, author, Governance by Stealth: The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Making of the Indian State – “Patel…

What got you interested in writing a book about the Union Ministry of Home Affairs? The idea struck me in 2002 while collecting data for another book – The Puzzle of India’s Governance: Culture, Context and Comparative Theory (2005). I was in Delhi, at North Block, interviewing a civil servant who was an impressive Oxford-educated man. During our conversation, I began thinking about how crucial the bureaucracy is in a country like India. While politicians are in the limelight, civil servants get things done behind the…

Excerpt: Kishore Kumar: The Ultimate Biography

Twelfth June 1975. Justice Jaganmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court had just disbarred Indira Gandhi as an MP, owing to electoral malpractices. The judgement was consequent to a petition filed in 1971 by Raj Narain, who had lost the Raibareilly constituency to Mrs Gandhi. The vacation judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Krishna Iyer, granted only a partial stay. As a result, Mrs Gandhi could now speak as the Prime Minister but not as an MP. She could not even draw her salary as a Member of Parliament. 555pp,…

Review: India’s Undeclared Emergency by Arvind Narrain

The book has a contentious title. Depending on how much you love or hate the ruling dispensation, “Undeclared Emergency” is certain to evoke contrary emotions. The “Politics of Resistance” in the strapline makes it clear that the book is also about citizens’ struggles against authoritarianism. But never mind the provocative title, the book presents an interesting legal perspective on what ails Indian democracy today and what is worth saving for the future generations. It is never easy to theorise the contemporary without…

Review: Indian Media Giants; Unveiling the Business Dynamics of Print Legacies by Surbhi Dahiya

:How did some of the biggest media conglomerates in India script their success stories? Why were they set up in the first place, and to what extent have their priorities changed? What kind of managerial, editorial and technological decisions have helped them stay alive in difficult times? Surbhi Dahiya’s book Indian Media Giants: Unveiling the Business Dynamics of Print Legacies explores these questions in depth. A professor at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in Delhi, the author focuses on six media…

Review: Planning Democracy byNikhil Menon

Nikhil Menon’s Planning Democracy combines the history of Indian planning in its heyday with the biography of Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis – arguably the most influential architect of planning. As such, the book adds texture and details to the broad outlines of the history of Indian planning in addition to providing nuggets on the life of an extraordinary institution builder. 360pp, ₹799; Penguin On the eve of Independence, India was predominantly an agrarian economy. Three commodities – tea, jute and cotton –…

Essay: Shiva Naipaul’s notebook – Hindustan Times

In the archives and manuscripts section of the British Library in London, the item identified as ADD MS 89154/11/21 is a small notebook. This notebook is 4 x 6 inches with a black and white print on the cover that says “The Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood.” The first entry in the notebook begins: “Nov 1st. And so, suddenly, I’m off to India. The last time I had gone it was because of another death — that of Sanjay.” No Photography Allowed: A drawing by Amitava Kumar of Shiva Naipaul’s notebook stored in the British Library.…

5 Books on Trying Times in Indian History

Considered to be one of the most controversial periods in post-independent India, the then President of India, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed declared a state of Emergency in the country on the night of June 25, 1975. Journalists, academics and authors have over the years, penned literature about one of the most trying times in Indian history as they probed the role of Gandhi and her son Sanjay, among other details, here are 5 books that range of fiction to memoirs that deal with the subject of The Emergency. Midnight's…