This revised and updated edition of the best-selling book on the political journey of a hugely popular, colourful and sometimes controversial public figure of Pakistan brings his story up to the present day, when he has beaten all odds to become the Prime Minister of the country. The decisions he makes or defers, the things he does or doesn’t do could have lasting impact on the politics of Pakistan, even India and the rest of South Asia.
It has been, in many ways, an incredible story, and B.J. Sadiq tells it with rare insight, and in compelling style.
The topic of labour migration appears constantly in the media, but too often, the issues take precedence over the people involved—the migrant workers who leave Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to work long hours in precarious situations across the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Here, eleven journalists explore the lived realities of migrant workers from South Asia—their aspirations, fears and dreams; how global forces determine their freedom; how they navigate the policies that attempt to regulate their lives; and their hopes for a better future which carry them through years of unrelenting toil.
Uncertain Journeys asks fundamental questions about the nature and costs of labour migration. Essays about the plight of Indians stranded in Kuwait due to bankrupt employers query whether labour-sending countries can assume that their responsibilities to their citizens abroad end with enabling remittances. The horrifying stories of men and women suffering forced labour, abuse and de facto imprisonment demand whether the blurred borderlines between migration and human trafficking effectively enable modern-day slavery. Most crucially, the book questions whether human beings can be reduced to a mere commodity. Written with empathy, yet with a critical take on the stories being told, this book is an important contribution to the conversation about labour migration in South Asia.
The storm came on the night of 31 October. It was a full moon, and the tides were at their peak; the great rivers of eastern Bengal were flowing high and fast to the sea. In the early hours the inhabitants of the coast and islands were overtaken by an immense wave from the Bay of Bengal—a wall of water that reached a height of 40 feet in some places. The wave swept away everything in its path, drowning over 215,000 people. At least another 100,000 died in the cholera epidemic and famine that followed. It was the worst calamity of its kind in recorded history.
Such events are often described as ‘natural disasters’. In this brilliant study, Kingsbury turns that interpretation on its head, showing that the cyclone of 1876 was not simply a ‘natural’ event, but one shaped by all-too-human patterns of exploitation and inequality—by divisions within Bengali society, and the enormous disparities of political and economic power that characterised British rule on the subcontinent.
With South Asia, especially Bangladesh and India, facing rising sea levels and stronger, more frequent storms, there is every reason to revisit this terrible calamity. An Imperial Disaster is troubling but essential reading: immensely relevant history for an age of climate change.
This title will be available by 25 November 2018
Stillborn Season opens with the assassination of Indira Gandhi in October 1984. Brilliantly evoking the homicidal madness of the days which followed, the novel traces the fates of individual and intermeshed lives as mobs spill out onto the streets of Delhi, hunting, maiming and killing Sikh men and women in revenge.
Raiders come at midnight for Jaspreet Singh, an elderly gentleman from South Delhi, and he narrowly escapes with his life after his granddaughter Amrit thinks up an unusual disguise for him. Hari, part of a mob, invades an upscale restaurant in Connaught Place and helps burn the proprietor alive before demanding a bespoke meal from the chef. Balbir, hiding inside a cabinet in his store in Punjabi Bagh, bears witness to Hari being gunned down by his store-assistant. And Bhola, a young disabled beggar at the busy Bhikaji Cama intersection, keeps a Sikh father and son from being lynched.
Then, moving forward in time, the novel finds Amrit, now a young journalist, talking to people to understand the violence that scarred her childhood. She learns how the books of Nai Sarak were saved because Rikhi Chacha, a Sikh book-lover, gave up his life for them. At the house of Satwant, a Sikh taxi-driver, she pays the cost of dredging up memories in people who would rather forget them. And Balwant Mann, a retired constable of Delhi Police, divulges more about his role in the riots to her than he intends to.
Rarely has a work of fiction captured the violence of 1984 with as much empathy and on such an expansive canvas. Stillborn Season is a must read.
Urdu poetry rules the cultural and emotional landscape of India—especially northern India and much of the Deccan—and of Pakistan. And it was in the great, ancient city of Delhi that Urdu grew to become one of the world’s most beautiful languages. Through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, while the Mughal Empire was in decline, Delhi became the capital of a parallel kingdom—the kingdom of Urdu poetry—producing some of the greatest, most popular poets of all time. They wrote about the pleasure and pain of love, about the splendour of God and the villainy of preachers, about the seductions of wine, and about Delhi, their beloved home.
This treasure of a book documents the life and work of the finest classical Urdu poets: Sauda, Dard, Mir, Ghalib, Momin, Zafar, Zauq and Daagh. Through their biographies and poetry—including their best-known ghazals—it also paints a compelling portrait of Mughal Delhi. This is a book for anyone who has ever been touched by Urdu or Delhi, by poetry or romance.
Eknath Awad was a rare Dalit Mang activist from the Marathwada region of Maharastra, who fought for the rights of all underprivileged communities, irrespective of their caste or religion. In his compelling autobiography, Awad describes his rage against the humiliation of the Mangs by the upper castes; and his struggle to overcome caste prejudices as well as extreme poverty to get an education. He revisits his heady days of activism: rejecting caste-based labour and religious practices by cutting the Potraj’s dreadlocks; joining the Dalit Panthers; being at the forefront of the Land Rights Movement; battling to rename Marathwada University after Dr Ambedkar; and working with an NGO in Thane that helped free Adivasis from bonded labour. He writes about his decision to return to Marathwada, where he continued to fight against caste-based discrimination until his death. Awad doesn’t shy away from admitting his shortcomings, such as his tendency to resort to violence to settle disputes. He also recounts the casteism he faced from other Mangs, and his pain and disillusionment after some of them attempted to kill him.
Originally published in Marathi as Jag Badal Ghaluni Ghaav, Jerry Pinto’s remarkable translation makes this inspiring book available in English for the first time.
This urgent and compelling book comes at a time when toxic nationalism is causing the violent and systematic exclusion of political, religious, sexual and other minorities. Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee reminds us that the modern nation-state, built on fear and an obsession with territory, is often at odds with democracy, justice and fraternity.
Critically analyzing the ideas of thinkers who laid the political and ethical grounds of India’s modern identity—Nehru, Ambedkar, Gandhi, Tagore, and Aurobindo—Bhattacharjee shows how we have strayed from their inclusive, diverse visions. He effortlessly weaves personal and intellectual histories, navigating through vast swathes of scholarship, to sketch a radically ethical imagination against the sound and fury of nationalism. He dips into fascinating anecdotes, recalling Ashok Kumar’s friendship with Manto against the shadow of Partition, Ali Sardar Jafri’s Jnanpith Award acceptance speech, and his own encounter with the Sufi qawwal, Fareed Ayaz, among others. Concluding with an enlightening genealogy of modern politics in the light of its present crisis, he exhorts us towards a new politics of trust.
Brimming with thought-provoking analyses and commentary, Looking for the Nation is an extraordinary and illuminating account of India’s politics and culture.
‘The history of desire in India,’ writes Madhavi Menon in this splendid book, ‘reveals not purity but impurity as a way of life. Not one answer, but many. Not a single history, but multiple tales cutting across laws and boundaries.’ In Bhakti poetry, Radha and Krishna disregard marital fidelity, age, time and gender for erotic love. In Sufi dargahs, pirs (spiritual guides) who were married to women are buried alongside their male disciples, as lovers are. Vatsyayana, author of the world’s most famous manual of sex, insists that he did not compose it ‘for the sake of passion’, and remained celibate through the writing of it. Long hair is widely seen as a symbol of sexuality; and yet, shaved off in a temple, it is a sacred offering. Even as the country has a draconian law to punish homosexuality, heterosexual men share the same bed without comment. Hijras are increasingly marginalized; yet gender has historically been understood as fluid rather than fixed.
Menon navigates centuries, geographies, personal and public histories, schools of philosophy, literary and cinematic works, as she examines the many—and often surprising—faces of desire in the Indian subcontinent. Her study ranges from the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho to the shrine of the celibate god Ayyappan; from army barracks to public parks; from Empress Nur Jahan’s paan to home-made kohl; from cross-dressing mystics to androgynous gods. It shows us the connections between grammar and sex, between hair and war, between abstinence and pleasure, between love and death.
Gloriously subversive, full of extraordinary analyses and insights, this is a book you will read to be enlightened and entertained for years.
In this collection—ranging from stories of love found and lost to tales of the supernatural—Ghosh masterfully traces the inscrutable ways of the human heart. The reigning queen of Bombay cinema allows a younger leading man to fall in love with her to spite her husband. A schoolmaster’s ravishing wife joins him in the small town where he works, inspires him to build a garden for her, and sets about wrecking his life. An impoverished student sits across a purdah from a nawab’s begum; she dictates letters to her husband and, as the student takes down her words, he falls into forbidden love with the voice from across the screen. And an unbending priest from Noakhali finds all the principles of his life upended after Muslim rioters kidnap his daughter.
Marked by psychological insight, keen observation and vivid prose, That Bird Called Happiness brings to readers the work of one of the greats—not only of Bengali literature but of the Indian literary canon.
Among the most politically and socially engaged Marathi writers, Makarand Sathe is also a popular playwright. This volume brings together three of his best works in English translation.
They Went Ahead is set in a limbo-like space after death. The two characters can’t figure out how to leave it, despite seeing others moving on, all around them. Finally, they realize that if they rape a poor farmer’s wife, also stuck there, they will be able to leave…but how are they supposed to come to terms with their own consciences?
Various vivid characters are caught in a traffic jam in Crossroads. The impetuous Pratap, who has lost his job, wants a simple answer to help him understand the crisis he faces, but Achyut Athavale, a liberal thinker, can only offer him diverse and equally valid narratives. The other characters further enrich the narrative with their various preoccupations. But when the situation escalates into physical conflict, their many identities become two again—the violent and the non-violent.
The Man Who Saw the Sun explores questions of truth and justice using dialogues between famous figures from Ancient Greece, like Socrates—whose trial is at the core of the play—Xanthippe and Phaedo, which are observed by four present-day characters.
Thought-provoking yet always accessible, experimental yet lightened by a unique sense of humour, Makarand Sathe’s plays work beautifully across languages and media. This collection by one of India’s finest playwrights belongs on every theatre-lover’s shelf.