An estimated 800 million voters (including approximately 100 million new voters) are eligible to vote in the Indian General Elections for the 543 seats in India’s 16th Lok Sabha (The Lower House). They begin on 7 April 2014, in geographical segments, and will end on 12 May, with the (electronic) results from 930,000 polling booths to be announced on May 16.
The Indian media has been in full cry for many months, and the final weeks are bound to be hectic and even more raucous, but a cornucopia of recent books containing vital background information (especially for outsiders) is available for calmer perusal. Here are some of the principle publications.
Ramachandra Guha, India after Gandhi. The History of the World’s Largest Democracy.Picador India.
Edward Luce, In Spite of the Gods. The Strange Rise of Modern India. London, Abacus.(In the later US edition, ‘Strange’ is omitted.)
Christophe Jaffrelot, Religion, Caste and Politics in India, New Delhi. Primus Books. 2010. (See also this well-known French scholar’s India‘s Silent Revolution. The Rise of the Lower Castes in North India. Columbia University Press, New York 2003 – and other works.)
Ramachandra Guha, Patriots and Partisans. Penguin India.
Arvind Kejrival, Swaraj. [Self-Rule] HarperCollins. (This manifesto is also available in Hindi)
Aseem Shrivastava and Ashish Kothari, Churning the Earth. The Making of Global India, Delhi, Penguin India.
A critique of the serious environmental and human costs of India’s progress so far. (With a 100-page Part 2: ‘DAWN: There is an alternative’)
Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, Narendra Modi. The Man, The Times. Chennai. Tranquebar Press. (The more or less authorised biography, which apparently ended up with Mukhopadhyay denied further access to Mr. Modi.)
M.V. Kamath and Kalindi Randeri, The Man of the Moment. Narendra Modi. Wide Canvas. Noida. Vikas.
(Note: Only on the publication data page (and on p. xi of their Preface) do the co-authors state that this is an ‘Enriched and Enlarged’ version of their book, first published by Rupa in 2009 as Narendra Modi. The Architect of a Modern State.)
N.K.Singh and Nicholas Stern (eds.), The New Bihar. Rekindling Governance and Development. New Delhi, HarperCollins India.
Simon Denyer, Rogue Elephant. Harnessing the Power of India’s Unruly Democracy. London. Bloomsbury. 2014. ISBN 978 1 4088 5705 2 [440 pp. hardback. Rs 600 in India] (See my previous detailed blog on this important study.)
John Elliott, Implosion. India’s Tryst with Reality. Noida. HarperCollins India. 2014.
This is an important contribution by an “old India hand” (since 1983) with expertise in business and economic affairs. It is based on his 2007- blog, http://www.ridingtheelephant.wordpress.com
Elliott currently writes for Asia Sentinel and blogs on the UK Independent. (Contrasting his approach with Edward Luce’s much earlier work, he favours the idea of ‘Because of the Gods”, “in the broader sense of culture, customs, and habits” (p. viii), rather than Luce’s “In spite of the Gods” approach.
Andy Marino, Narendra Modi: A Political Biography. HarperCollins India.
Amit Sachdeva, The Rise of Arvind Kejrival. The Uprise of a Common Man against all the odds, Gurgaon, Liveweek Business.
Hasan Suroon, India’s Muslim Spring. Why is Nobody Talking about it? New Delhi, Rupa.
Suroon describes the current push by Muslim youth in India to establish a more secular and forward-looking Muslim identity. His aim is to fill the void of (non-academic) reporting on what he sees as a profound change in local Muslim thinking. He also warns that the Indian State must make a better attempt to recognise and encourage such change.
Sankarshan Thakur, Single Man. The Life and Times of Nitish Kumar of Bihar. New Delhi. HarperCollins.
Sudesh K. Verma, Narendra Modi: The Gamechanger. New Delhi. Vitasta.
On the sociological side, the following two works are of ancillary interest.
Wendy Doniger, On Hinduism, New Delhi, Aleph
Ira Trivedi, India in Love. Marriage and Sexuality in the 21st Century. New Delhi. Aleph. (This analysis is intended to track important changes in Indian society.)