Books on Himalaya, Brahmaputra, Krishna Menon in Kamaladevi NIF Prize shortlist

The New India Foundation on Monday announced the shortlist for the third Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize, with books on the Himalayas, the Brahmaputra and Jawaharlal Nehrus main advisor V K Krishna Menon among those making the cut.

The shortlist covers a century of modern Indian history and encompasses several genres – biography and investigative reportage, environment histories, anthropology and history – as well as a variety of themes that blend the countrys complex past to aspirations for the future, the presenters said.

This years jury is chaired by political scientist, author Niraja Gopal Jayal and also includes historians Ramachandra Guha, Srinath Raghavan and Nayanjot Lahiri; entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani and Manish Sabharwal, chairman of Teamlease Services.

The six shortlisted books are: “Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements by Amit Ahuja”; “Midnights Machines: A Political History of Technology in India” by Arun Mohan Sukumar; Arupjyoti Saikias “The Unquiet River: A Biography of the Brahmaputra”; “A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of V K Krishna Menon” by Jairam Ramesh; Katherine Ebans “Bottle of Lies: Ranbaxy and the Dark Side of Indian Pharma”; and “Wild Himalaya: A Natural History of the Greatest Mountain Range on Earth” by Stephen Alter.


According to the jury the shortlist “demonstrates the range and quality of non-fiction writing about modern India, from political biography to the sociology of politics, from investigative journalism to the history of ecology and of technology”.

Established in 2018, the prize carries a cash award of Rs 15 lakh and a citation and is given to non-fiction literature by emerging writers from all nationalities, published in the previous calendar year. The winner will be announced in early December.

The prize is named after Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, an institution-builder who had contributed significantly to the freedom struggle, to the womens movement, to refugee rehabilitation and to the renewal of handicrafts.

Previous winners include Milan Vaishnav for “When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics” and Ornit Shani for “How India Became Democratic”.

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