Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2022 longlist announced

The New India Foundation has announced the longlist for the fifth edition of the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize, recognising and celebrating excellence in non-fiction writings on modern and contemporary India. Named after one of India’s foremost nation-builders, the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize celebrates the finest non-fiction literature on modern and contemporary India published in the previous calendar year by writers of all nationalities.

12 Oct 2022 | By Rahul Kumar

Instituted in 2018, the Book Prize carries an award of Rs 15 lakhs and a citation. 

This year’s longlist of ten books covers a variety of themes in combining keen research with scholarly writing. Each offers valuable insight into different aspects of the country’s history. Ranging from biography and art history to analysis of environmental, industrial, and governmental shifts, the books selected this year represent the ways in which India has come to be shaped in this seventy-fifth year of independence. In theorising the past and present, the longlisted titles offer a new way of interpreting paths towards an aspirational future.

This year’s eminent jury includes political scientist and author Niraja Gopal Jayal (Chair); entrepreneur Manish Sabharwal; historian and author Srinath Raghavan; historian and author Nayanjot Lahiri; former diplomat and author Navtej Sarna; and attorney and author Rahul Matthan.

The Jury panel said: “The longlist for the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay-NIF Book Prize 2022 is wonderfully diverse. The many themes in modern Indian history that it covers have great relevance today: if the histories of nationalism, business, the environment and state institutions offer a sobering historical lens on the present, the more contemporary works on feminism and data give reasons for optimism about the future. Deeply researched and engagingly written, these works of history reflect on the contemporary Indian condition.”

The Kamaladevi Chattopadhayay NIF Book Prize builds on the New India Foundation’s mission of rewarding exceptional scholarship on all aspects of independent India. 

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

Previous winners of the prize include Milan Vaishnav for his book, When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics (HarperCollins Publishers) in 2018 and Ornit Shani for her scholarly work How India Became Democratic (Penguin Random House) in 2019. 

The 2020 Prize was jointly awarded to Amit Ahuja for his debut Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties Without Ethnic Movements (Oxford University Press) and Jairam Ramesh for his compelling biography of VK Krishna Menon: A Chequered Brilliance (Penguin Random House). 

Dinyar Patel won the 2021 Book Prize for his scholarly biography on Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism (Harvard University Press).

The longlisted titles 

Accidental Feminism: Gender Parity and Selective Mobility Among India’s Professional Elite by Swethaa S Ballakrishnen (Princeton University Press)

The Truths and Lies of Nationalism as Narrated by Charvak by Partha Chatterjee (Permanent Black)

Syed Haider Raza: The Journey of an Iconic Artist by Yashodhara Dalmia (HarperCollins)

Governance by Stealth: The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Making of the Indian State by Subrata Mitra (Oxford University Press)

The Chipko Movement: A People’s History by Shekhar Pathak (Permanent Black)

Tata: The Global Corporation That Built Indian Capitalism by Mircea Raianu (Harvard University Press)

Whole Numbers and Half Truths: What Data Can and Cannot Tell Us About Modern India by Rukmini S (Context/Westland)

Congress Radio: Usha Mehta and the Underground Radio Station of 1942 by Usha Thakkar (Penguin)

Midnight’s Borders: A People’s History of Modern India by Suchitra Vijayan (Context/Westland)

Born a Muslim: Some Truths about Islam in India by Ghazala Wahab (Aleph)

The shortlist of the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize will be announced on 8 November.

The winner will be announced on 1 December.