September 1970. Ramchandra Singh enters the Hardoi District Jail in Uttar Pradesh as a naxalite undertrial. Barely twenty, his life of expanding prospects—in studies, politics and love—is reduced to the horizon of a life term. The odds are stacked against the survival of his humanity and imagination, but Singh regenerates his gifts of empathy, humour, reflection and, above all, language—in a secret diary smuggled out with the help of friends.
A singular record of recent history and of individual witness, Singh’s prison diary, newly expanded, appears in English for the first time. Offering unprecedented intimacy with the everyday life of the imprisoned everyman, Singh challenges us to look without flinching and question our assumptions about crime and punishment.
Ramchandra Singh (1949–2018), of Bangarmau village in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, was a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Red Star, and served on its Central Committee. He was part of the editorial board of Red Star Monthly (Hindi). He passed away when this book was in press.
Madhu Singh is a professor in the Department of English and Modern European Languages, University of Lucknow. She has previously translated the scholar G.N. Devy’s work, A Nomad Called Thief, into Hindi as Ghumantu Hain Chor Nahin.
Jotiba Phule’s Fight for Liberty
In 1873, Jotirao Govindrao Phule wrote Gulamgiri (Slavery), a scathing, witty attack on the Vedas as idle fantasies of the brahman mind which enslaved the shudras and atishudras. A hundred and forty years hence, Srividya Natarajan and Aparajita Ninan breathe fresh life into Phule’s graphic imagination, weaving in the story of Savitribai, Jotiba’s partner in his struggles.
In today’s climate of intolerance, here’s a manifesto of resistance—Phule setting the dynamite of thought to the scriptures and ideas Hindus hold dear.
The classic collection of sixteen sermons preached and compiled by Dr. King
As Dr. King prepared for the Birmingham campaign in early 1963, he drafted the final sermons for Strength to Love, a volume of his most best-known homilies. King had begun working on the sermons during a fortnight in jail in July 1962. While behind bars, he spent uninterrupted time preparing the drafts for works such as “Loving Your Enemies” and “Shattered Dreams,” and he continued to edit the volume after his release. A Gift of Love includes these classic sermons, along with two new preachings. Collectively they present King’s fusion of Christian teachings and social consciousness, and promote his prescient vision of love as a social and political force for change.
Choudhury, here, reignites the debate over the appropriation of Ambedkar. Amidst rising echoes for Ambedkar-Marx, Ambedkar-Marx-Bhagat Singh, Ambedkar-Marx-Gandhi-Bhagat Singh, he provocatively asks us to think of Ambedkar’s singular exceptionality—from an excerpt in Indian Cultural Forum
What is most interesting about this difficult but beautiful book is that it is committed to the task of exposing the naked antagonisms that snake across the cracked surfaces of these oppressive structures. —Scroll.in
Nowadays when Ambedkar scholarship has become an industry, Choudhury’s thesis approaches him from an entirely new perspective.—The Telegraph
This book is an attempt at intimacy with B.R. Ambedkar in his hours away from history and headlines. The aim here is to recover the ephemera that attended Ambedkar’s life and died with him—his pleasure in his library and book-collecting, his vein of gruff humour, the sensation of seeing him in the flesh for the first time, or of stepping out of a summer storm into his house and hearing him at practice on his violin. Here, we have his attendants, admirers and companions speak of Ambedkar’s love of the sherwani, kurta, lungi, dhoti, and even his sudden paean to elasticated underpants. We meet Ambedkar the lover of dogs and outsize fountain pens, proponent of sex education and contraception, anti-prohibitionist teetotaler and occasional cook.
The fragments that make up this volume enable the recovery of his many facets—a rewarding biographical quest.
The Making of Babasaheb and the Dalit Movement
When India detonated a thermonuclear device in May 1998, Arundhati Roy wrote The End of Imagination . Since then she has written with clarity, precision and insight about a range of subjects of the utmost importance. This second volume of her collected writing brings together fourteen essays written between June 2002 and November 2004. In these essays she draws the thread of empire through seemingly unconnected arenas, uncovering the links between America s War on Terror, the growing threat of corporate power, the response of nation states to resistance movements, the role of NGOs, caste and communal politics in India, and the perverse machinery of an increasingly corporatized mass media. Meticulously researched and carefully argued, The Ordinary Person s Guide to Empire is a necessary work for our times.
with an Introduction,‘The Doctor and the Saint’ by Arundhati Roy
Annihilation of Caste ‘posseses a generic openness to the wounds and decisions of existence which can breach the prisons of the world as no amount of scholarship can’—Biblio
Read a comprehensive interview with Arundhati Roy in Outlook, where she says, ‘Caste is at the heart of the rot in our society. Quite apart from what it has done to the subordinated castes, it has corroded the moral core of the privileged castes. We need to take Ambedkar seriously.’
‘Angela Davis swings a wrecking ball into the racist and sexist underpinnings of the American prison system’—Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman, US.
Davis’ central point is worth studying and bringing to the foreground in the prison reform movement. She argues that prisons do not solve crime. Within the last two decades the prison boom simply has intensified the criminalization of certain types of behavior, rather than having brought official crime rates down.—http://www.politicalaffairs.net
Georgy Valentinovich Plekhanov, 1857–1918, a Russian revolutionary and founder of Marxism in Russia and known as the “Father of Russian Marxism.” His best works in the fields of history, philosophy, aesthetics, social and politics, especially the philosophy of historical materialism, were contributions that very valuable for the development of scientific thought and progressive culture.
Publisher: Aakar Books (1869)
As the trespassers walked towards the mosque, the muezzin […] jumped out of the darkness. Before the adversaries could discover his presence, he dashed straight towards Abhiram Das, the vairagi who was holding the idol in his hands and leading the group of intruders. […] The sadhu quickly freed himself and, together with his friends, retaliated fiercely. Heavy blows began raining from all directions. Soon, the muezzin realized that he was no match for the men and that he alone would not be able to stop them. 22 December 1949: A conspiracy that began with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi culminated in the execution of the Ayodhya strategy. Late that night, a little-known sadhu, Abhiram Das, and his followers entered the Babri Masjid and planted an idol of Rama inside it. While it is known that the Hindu Mahasabha had a role in placing the idol in the mosque, the larger plot and the chain of events that led to that act have never been subject to rigorous scrutiny. Through intrepid research and investigation, Krishna Jha and Dhirendra K. Jha bring together the disparate threads of the buried narrative for the first time. Through a series of first-hand interviews with eyewitnesses and the unearthing of archival material, the authors take us behind the scenes to examine the motivations and workings of the Mahasabha members who pulled the strings. They also examine the liaison between Mahasabhaites and Hindu traditionalists in the Congress – an association that Jawaharlal Nehru sought to break in his cautious battle with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the right-wing forces. Ayodhya: The Dark Night uncovers, in vivid detail, what really transpired on the fateful night that was to leave a permanent scar on the Indian polity.
2009–2012 War has spread from India’s borders to the forests in the very heart of the country. Here are four essays by Arundhati Roy including the heatedly debated ‘Walking with the Comrades’ that combines a clear-eyed, analytical overview with extraordinary reportage from the ground of the Maoist guerrilla zone and her most recent essay, ‘Capitalism: A Ghost Story’. Broken Republic examines the nature of progress and development in the emerging global superpower, and asks some fundamental questions about the real meaning of civilization itself.
Culture and Imperialism is a 1993 collection of essays by Edward Said, in which the author attempts to trace the connection between imperialism and culture in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. It followed his highly influential Orientalism, published in 1978.
Said conceived of Culture and Imperialism as an attempt to “expand the argument” of Orientalism “to describe a more general pattern of relationships between the modern metropolitan west and its overseas territories.
The poor in India are, too often, reduced to statistics. In the dry language of development reports and economic projections, the true misery of the 312 million who live below the poverty line, or the 26 million displaced by various projects, or the 13 million who suffer from tuberculosis gets overlooked. In this thoroughly researched study of the poorest of the poor, we get to see how they manage, what sustains them, and the efforts, often ludicrous, to do something for them. The people who figure in this book typify the lives and aspirations of a large section of Indian society, and their stories present us with the true face of development.
The human face of poverty. The poor in India are, too often, reduced to statistics. In the dry language of development reports and economic projections, the true misery of the 312 million who live below the poverty line, or the 26 million displaced by various projects, or the 13 million who suffer from tuberculosis gets overlooked. In this thoroughly researched study of the poorest of the poor, we get to see how they manage, what sustains them, and the efforts, often ludicrous, to do something for them. The people who figure in this book typify the lives and aspirations of a large section of Indian society, and their stories present us with the true face of development.
Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village is a 1966 book by William H. Hinton that describes the land-reform campaign during the Chinese Civil War conducted from 1945 to 1948 by the Chinese Communist Party in “Long Bow Village” (the name used in the book for the village of Zhangzhuangcun in Shanxi province). Hinton lived in the village in spring and summer of 1948 and witnessed scenes described in the book and recreates earlier events based on local records and interviews with participants. He explains party strategy to present the campaign’s successes in building a revolutionary consciousness and a power-base among the poor peasants, but also its errors and excesses, especially the violence toward rich peasants and landlords. Fanshen has been compared to Edgar Snow’s Red Star Over China and characterized as “perhaps the book that most changed American cold war perceptions of the Chinese Revolution.”
Originally published: 1966
Author: William H. Hinton
This new edition of Eduardo Galeano’s riveting commentary on the history and politics of soccer includes newly written material on the 2002 World Cup, which one quarter of humanity watched. Discussing everything from the leveling of the Twin Towers to the death of the sole survivor of that extraordinary match between British and German soldiers in 1915, one of South America’s greatest commentators issues forth on robotic soccer in Japan, the mass-production of the game as a sign of the decline of civilization, the amazing success of Senegal and Turkey, and how Nike beat Adidas.
This epic of a life larger than its legend is both intimate, based on family archives, and global in significance. “His Majesty s Opponent” establishes Bose among the giants of Indian and world history.
The profound insights offered in Jangalnama are the result of Satnam s close observation of the guerillas and adivasis of Bastar. Varavara Rao Maoist guerillas always on the move, always on guard living deep in the jungles of Bastar. Outlawed, demonized and hunted by the state, they are perceived with fear, incomprehension and terror by the outside world. Satnam spent two months in remarkable intimacy with the guerrillas: travelling with them, sharing their food and shelter, experiencing their lives first hand. Through his up-close and personal account of their daily lives, we register them as human, made of flesh and bone. We are persuaded to appreciate their commitment to root out oppression.
Jangalnama is not merely a travelogue recording Satnam s days in the jungle. It is a compelling argument to recognize the humanity of those in conflict with the mainstream of Indian society and to acknowledge their dream of a world free of exploitation.
Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy (2009) is a collection of essays written by Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy. Written between 2002 and 2008, the essays have been published in various left-leaning newspapers and magazines in India. The first edition of the book consists of eleven essays with an introduction by Roy was published by Hamish Hamilton in India.
One-sixth of all Indians today live in areas of armed conflict. Seeking solutions, this book is a holistic examination of present armed conflicts as well as the past ones in Punjab and Mizoram, illuminating their common roots, as well as the responses of the state and civil society. The authors show how insurgencies are propelled by a complex mix of issues: the denial of justice and rights, identity concerns, and the breakdown of the social and symbolic order, rather than merely poverty and lack of education. Draconian laws like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and measures like encounters, crackdowns and Salwa Judum aggravate the sense of collective victimhood and feelings of alienation from the national community.
The Ambedkar Cartoons, 1932–1956
Unnamati Syama Sundar with a Foreword by Suraj Yengde
This history like no other asks you to consider what you are laughing at.
In 2012, the inclusion of a 1949 cartoon by Shankar showing Jawaharlal Nehru whipping a snail-borne B.R. Ambedkar in a school textbook, evoked dalit protest, and a savarna counter on the grounds of artistic freedom. Scholar and cartoonist Unnamati Syama Sundar then undertook an archival survey of cartoons on Ambedkar in the English language press. The result, a collection of over a hundred cartoons from India’s leading publications, drawn by Shankar, Enver Ahmed and R.K. Laxman, among others, lays bare the perverse and thoughtless hostility Ambedkar often contended with. The incisional commentary woven around each cartoon offers a veritable biography of a man historically wronged.
Unnamati Syama Sundar grew up in Vijayawada on a diet of Calvin and Hobbes, Dennis the Menace, Chacha Chaudhary and Amar Chitra Katha. He is doing his doctoral research at Jawaharlal Nehru University on the art featured in Chandamama, the popular Telugu children’s magazine founded in 1947. Syama Sundar is well-known for his Ambedkarite cartoons in the non-savarna social media world. His work is featured regularly on the website roundtableindia.co.in.
In 1967, Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal, became the centre of a Mao inspired militant peasant uprising guided by firebrand intellectuals. Today, Naxalism is no longer the Che Guevara-style revolution that it was. Spread across 15 of India’s 28 states, it is one of the world’s biggest, most sophisticated extreme-Left movements, and feeds off the misery and anger of the dispossessed. Since the late 1990s, hardly a week has passed without people dying in strikes and counter-strikes by the Maoists – interchangeably known as the Naxalites – and police and paramilitary forces.
In this disturbing examination of the ‘Other India’, Sudeep Chakravarti combines political history extensive interviews and individual case histories as he travels to the heart of Maoist zones in the country: Chhattisgarh (home to the controversial state-sponsored Salwa Judum programme to contain Naxalism), Jharkhand, West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (where a serving chief minister was nearly killed in a landmine explosion triggered by the Naxalites). He meets Maoist leaders and sympathizers, policemen, bureaucrats, politicians, security analysts, development workers, farmers and tribals – people, big and small, who comprise the actors and the audience in this war being fought in jungles and impoverished villages across India. What emerges is a sobering picture of a deeply divided society, and the dangers that lie ahead for India.