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Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize: Shortlist of 6 Non-fiction Works on Modern India Announced

New India Foundation announced on Monday a shortlist of six non-fiction books on modern or contemporary India, that will compete for the third edition of the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize.


The six works shortlisted are: Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements by Amit Ahuja, Midnight’s Machines: A Political History of Technology in India by Arun Mohan Sukumar, The Unquiet River: A Biography of the Brahmaputra by Arupjyoti Saikia, A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of VK Krishna Menon by Jairam Ramesh, Bottle of Lies: Ranbaxy and the Dark Side of Indian Pharma by Katherine Eban, and Wild Himalaya: A Natural History of the Greatest Mountain Range on Earth by Stephen Alter.

The Book Prize includes a cash award of Rs 15 lakh and a citation. The winner will be announced in early December.

Covering a century of modern Indian history, the shortlisted works include genres such as biography and investigative reportage, environment histories, anthropology, and history. It also includes a variety of themes that blend the country’s complex past to aspirations for the future.

This year, the jury consists of political scientist and author Niraja Gopal Jayal (chair), historian and critically-acclaimed author Ramachandra Guha, entrepreneur and author Nandan Nilekani, historian and author Srinath Raghavan, historian and author Nayanjot Lahiri, and Manish Sabharwal, chairperson of Teamlease Services.

“According to the jury, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay prize short-list 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,” a statement by the New India Foundation said.


Established in 2018, the award focuses on the works of emerging writers of all nationalities, published in the previous calendar year.

The previous winners of the awards are Ornit Shani for her scholarly work in How India Became Democratic How India Became Democratic in 2019 and Milan Vaishnav for his debut work in When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics in 2018.

The Kamaladevi NIF Book Prize was named after Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, the great patriot, and institution-builder, who had contributed significantly to the freedom struggle, to women’s movement, to refugee rehabilitation and to the renewal of handicrafts.