Publish with us

Follow Penguin

Follow Penguinsters

Follow Penguin Swadesh

Are You Election-Ready? Check Out these 12 Essential Books Before You Vote!

With the 2024 elections in full swing, it’s time to prepare ourselves. We’ve put together a list of 12 essential books that you absolutely need to check out before you cast your vote. These books cover everything from politics to policies, helping you make a well-informed decision when it’s time to hit the polling booth. Let’s dive in and get election-ready together!

Caste as a Social Capital
Caste as Social Capital || R Vaidyanathan

Caste as Social Capital examines the workings of caste through the lens of business, economics and entrepreneurship. It interrogates the role caste plays in the economic sphere in terms of facilitating the nuts and bolts of business and entrepreneurship: finance, markets and workforce. Through this qualitative view of caste, an entirely new picture emerges, which forces one to view the age-old institution of caste in a new light.

 

Price of the Modi Years
Price of the Modi Years || Aakar Patel

Columnist, author and political commentator, Aakar Patel has long been a close observer of the political scenario. In Price of the Modi Years, he seeks to explain the data and facts on India’s performance under Narendra Modi.

Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh, had once said that Modi would be a disaster as prime minister. This book shows how. It concedes Modi’s popularity; this is an accounting of the damage he has wrought. It is the history of India since 2014, assessing the damage across the polity from the economy, national security, federalism, foreign relations, legislations and the judiciary to media and civil society.

 

The Essentials of Hinduism
The Essentials of Hinduism || Trilochan Sastry

Hinduism is an ancient religion, philosophy and way of life. Unlike other great religions that are based on a small set of books, there are hundreds of texts in Hinduism, most of which are very voluminous. They span not merely centuries, but millennia. And most importantly, these ancient scriptures are all in Sanskrit which many do not know. Therefore for a beginner with an interest in Hinduism it is a daunting task as you don’t know where to start such a study.
In The Essentials of Hinduism, Trilochan Sastry unpacks all the ancient texts from the Vedas to the epics covering the entire range of scriptures and everything you need to know about them in an easy-to-read and accessible way making it of special interest to Hindus and those from other religions and nations, and even those who are agnostic or atheistic.

 

Modi and India
Modi and India || Rahul Shivshankar, Siddhartha Talya

In 2014, the BJP, under the leadership of Modi, won a clear majority in the Lok Sabha elections. The National Democratic Alliance’s triumph ended a nearly two-and-a-half-decade run of mostly messy coalition governments. In 2019, the BJP further improved its tally, cementing its parliamentary majority and its ability to ring in transformational laws and policies. Most of the initiatives taken by the Modi-led NDA have been aimed at positioning Bharat as a ‘Vishwa Guru’—an exemplar of moral righteousness, a pluralistic democracy led by dharma and drawing sustenance from the wellspring of an eternal Hindu universalism.

Evocative, anecdotal, argumentative and deeply researched, Modi and India: 2024 and the Battle for Bharat chronicles the emergence of, and the battle for, a new republic in the making.

 

A New Idea of India
A New Idea of India || Harsh Madhusudan, Rajeev Mantri

 

A New Idea of India constructs and expounds on a new framework beyond the rough and tumble of partisan politics. Lucid in its laying out of ideas and policies while taking a novel position, this book is illuminated by years of research and the authors’ first-hand experiences, as citizens, entrepreneurs and investors, of the vagaries and challenges of India. This revised edition builds on some of the arguments of the earlier edition and brings things up-to-date.

 

Curfewed Night
Curfewed Night || Basharat Peer

Basharat Peer was a teenager when the separatist movement exploded in Kashmir in 1989. Over the following years countless young men, seduced by the romance of the militant, fuelled by feelings of injustice, crossed over the Line of Control to train in Pakistani army camps. Peer was sent off to boarding school in Aligarh to keep out of trouble. He finished college and became a journalist in Delhi. But Kashmir-angrier, more violent, more hopeless-was never far away.

 

Lyrical, spare, gutwrenching and intimate, Curfewed Night is a stunning book and an unforgettable portrait of Kashmir in war.

 

 

The Politician Redux
The Politician Redux || Devesh Verma

Ram Mohan, an ambitious man in newly independent India, refuses to let his humble origins define him. On a mission to build a political career, he realizes that the only way to live a respectable life is to hold some kind of power.

When the Congress high command vetoes Ram Mohan’s inclusion in the Uttar Pradesh cabinet, Saansad-ji, the state’s chief minister, appoints him as member, UP Public Service Commission, Allahabad. Though non-political, the position has a high social status, and Ram Mohan quickly takes a shine to it. Meanwhile, the JP movement continues to challenge the Congress regime, surging through large parts of India and setting the stage for Indira Gandhi’s downfall.

A sequel to the critically acclaimed The Politician, this new novel, set in the 1970s to 1980s north India, provides a captivating, vivid view of the political battles of that era, and captures the spirit, manners and social conditions of a transformational phase in Indian history.

 

After Messiah
After Messiah || Aakar Patel

‘Everyone bowed to the Big Man. He was glorified, deified even, with temples raised to him, as the embodiment of the nation.’

Now the Big Man is gone, with nobody named as his successor. Into this void is pushed Mira, who is reluctant at first but increasingly interested in the position she finds herself in. Will she use her authority to further her agenda, or will she hold on to her principles? Watched by her political rivals, Jayeshbhai and Swamiji, and guided by well-wishers Ayesha, Prabhu and Du Bois, she marches on and discovers something about power-and about herself.

The Quest for Modern Assam
The Quest for Modern Assam || Arupjyoti Saikia

Definitive, comprehensive and unputdownable, The Quest for Modern Assam explores the interconnected layers of political, environmental, economic and cultural processes that shaped the development of Assam since the 1940s. It offers an authoritative account that sets new standards in the writing of regional political history. Not to be missed by any one keen on Assam, India, Asia or world history in the twentieth century.

 

Another India
Another India || Pratinav Anil

Another India tells the story of the world’s biggest religious minority through vivid biographical portraits that weave together the stories of both elite and subaltern Muslims.

By challenging traditional histories and highlighting the neglect of minority rights since Independence, Pratinav Anil argues that Muslims, since 1947, have had to contend with discrimination, disadvantage, deindustrialization, dispossession and disenfranchisement, as well as an unresponsive leadership. He explores the rise and fall of the Indian Muslim elite and the birth of the nationalist Muslim, and emphasizes the importance of class in understanding the dynamics of Indian politics.

 

Post-Hindu India
Post-Hindu India || Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd pens a thought-provoking critique of Brahmanism and the caste system in India, while anticipating the death of Hinduism as a direct consequence of, what he says is, its anti-scientific and anti-nationalistic stand. This work challenges Hinduism`s interpretation of history, with a virulent attack on caste politics, and also takes a refreshing look at the necessity of encouraging indigenous scientific thought for the sake of national progress.

 

The Politician
The Politician || Devesh Verma

Ram Mohan is an intrepid and ambitious young man in newly independent India, who refuses to be held down by his humble origins. Spurred on by his diehard optimism, he aims for things usually inaccessible to people of his extraction. However, he soon realizes that without political or bureaucratic power, the idea of a respectable life in India is nothing but pretence, and when Gulab Singh rescues him from being insulted by a thug, Ram Mohan becomes persuaded of the efficacy of violence in certain situations . . .

Beginning at the peak of Nehruvian era and ending in the early seventies, The Politician is an enthralling, evocative view of provincial northern India-once the political heartland of the country-and the ebb and flow of the fortunes of its protagonists.

12 Must-Read Books for First-Time Voters in 2024!

Are you gearing up to cast your vote for the very first time? It’s an exciting milestone, marking your entry into civic duty and participation. But fear not! To assist you in this pivotal moment, we’ve curated a list of 12 must-read books spanning politics, history, and critical thinking, tailored to empower and inform you as you prepare for the 2024 election season.

 

We, The Citizens
We, The Citizens || Khyati Pathak, Anupam Manur, Pranay Kotasthane

We, The Citizens, by Khyati Pathak, Anupam Manur and Pranay Kotasthane, decodes public policy in the Indian context in a graphical narrative format relatable to readers of all ages. If you want to be an engaged citizen, aspire to be a positive change-maker, or wish to understand our sociopolitical environment, this book is for you.

The idea of India was an audacious dream. The fulfilment of this dream lies upon We, the citizens.

 

The Idea of Democracy
The Idea of Democracy || Sam Pitroda

While electoral democracy continues to be the most prevalent form of government, a series of indicators measuring political and civic freedom reveal that the institution of democracy is in deep distress. With the liberal foundations of democracy shakier than ever before, confidence in institutions has plummeted. The Idea of Democracy looks at this paradox of so-called democratic success coupled with its liberal decline. It provides a detailed analysis of the essence of democracy, its workings, the kind of values it needs to encapsulate, forces and safeguards which work in liberal democracy’s favour and how they can be preserved.

 

The Last Heroes
The Last Heroes || P Sainath

In The Last Heroes, these footsoldiers of Indian freedom tell us their stories. The men, women and children featured in this book are Adivasis, Dalits, OBCs, Brahmins, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus. They hail from different regions, speak different languages and include atheists and believers, Leftists, Gandhians and Ambedkarites.

The people featured pose the intriguing question: What is freedom? They saw that as going beyond Independence. And almost all of them continued their fight for freedoms long after 1947.

The post-1947 generations need their stories. 

 

Reignited
Reignited || A P J Kalam, Srijan Pal Singh

Join Dr A.P.J. Kalam on a fascinating quest to explore the realm of science and technology, its extraordinary achievements and its impact on our lives in the days to come.
Co-written with Srijan Pal Singh, this book features exciting and cutting-edge career paths in areas such as robotics, aeronautics, neurosciences, pathology, paleontology and material sciences . . . in other words, careers that are going to make a difference in the future. The result of extensive research, this book offers a plethora of ground-breaking ideas that will make youngsters think out of the box.
Filled with anecdotes, conversations, experiments and even inputs from leading scientists, Reignited is the perfect handbook that is bound to create a spark for science among students, youth and science enthusiasts.

 

 

Democracy on the Road
Democracy on the Road || Ruchir Sharma

On the eve of a landmark general election, Ruchir Sharma offers an unrivalled portrait of how India and its democracy work, drawn from his two decades on the road chasing election campaigns across every major state, travelling the equivalent of a lap around the earth. Democracy on the Road takes readers on a rollicking ride with Ruchir and his merry band of fellow writers as they talk to farmers, shopkeepers and CEOs from Rajasthan to Tamil Nadu, and interview leaders from Narendra Modi to Rahul Gandhi.

 

These Seats are Reserved
These Seats Are Reserved || Abhinav Chandrachud

Reservation or affirmative action is a hugely controversial policy in India. While constitutionally mandated and with historians, political scientists and social activists convinced of its need, many resist it and consider it as compromising ‘merit’ and against the principle of equality of opportunity.

In These Seats Are Reserved, Abhinav traces the history and making of the reservation policy.

How were groups eligible for reservations identified and defined? How were the terms ‘depressed classes’ and ‘backward classes’ used in British India and how have they evolved into the constitutional concepts of ‘Scheduled Castes’, ‘Scheduled Tribes’, and ‘Other Backward Classes’ in the present day?

Deeply researched and ably narrated, this volume is a compelling addition to every thinking individual’s library.

 

Fake news
Fake news || Gaurav Sood

The news is a public good and needs to be handled with care and integrity. Even though lies and misinformation campaigns have been around for years—maybe since the dawn of journalism—the rate at which fake news is being spread these days is both alarming and preposterous. Almost every institution—public or private—uses fake news to further its own agenda. Governments and corporate houses spread fake news either through their own agencies or by influencing the popular media. In the business sector, fake news manifests itself in the form of exaggerated company returns and false data.

 

Strange Burdens
Strange Burdens || Sugata Srinivasaraju

Strange Burdens is not a biography but a book of political commentary. It examines and analyses Rahul Gandhi’s ideas and leadership since he officially entered politics in March 2004. It journeys all the way to the conclusion of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Srinagar on 30 January 2023 and captures the dilemmas of his disqualification a couple of months later.

The narrative here crawls across two decades with the intention of understanding Rahul Gandhi’s politics and predicaments, confusions and contradictions, triteness and triumph, as well as his burdens and benignity. It is not the purpose of this book to understand his failures and successes in tabular columns but speculate in the best traditions of political commentary why he is where he is, both politically and as an individual.

 

Dreams of a Healthy India
Dreams of a Healthy India || Ritu Priya

Dreams of a Healthy India, the ninth volume in the Rethinking India series, is an attempt to demystify the issues of health care and health systems for the general reader, and to simultaneously provoke rethinking on several critical dimensions through writings by policymakers and academics. Its introductory essay and the thirteen subsequent essays lay out the scenario as well as the challenges in this regard, and provide actionable solutions. These are solutions for the present times that can simultaneously contribute to sustainable health care for the future. Complex ideas are not made simplistic but are presented in simple language, with some illustrative case studies, vignettes and data that speak for themselves.

 

Everybody Loves a Good Drought
Everybody Loves a Good Drought || P Sainath

Acclaimed across the world, prescribed in over 100 universities and colleges, and included in part in The Century’s Greatest Reportage (Ordfront, 2000), alongside the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Studs Terkel and John Reed, Everybody Loves a Good Drought is the established classic on rural poverty in India. Twenty years after publication, it remains unsurpassed in the scope and depth of reportage, providing an intimate view of the daily struggles of the poor and the efforts, often ludicrous, made to uplift them.

 

Breaking the Mould
Breaking the Mould || Raghuram Rajan, Rohit Lamba

India is at a crossroads today. Its growth rate, while respectable relative to other large countries, is too low for the jobs our youth need. Intense competition in low-skilled manufacturing, increasing protectionism globally and growing automation make the situation still more difficult. Divisive majoritarianism does not help. India
broke away from the standard development path—from agriculture to low-skilled manufacturing, then high-skilled manufacturing and, finally, services—a long time back by leapfrogging the intermediate steps. Rather than attempting to revert to development paths that may not be feasible any more, we must embark on a truly Indian path.

In Breaking the Mould, the authors explain how we can accelerate economic development by investing in our people’s human capital, expanding opportunities in high-skilled services and manufacturing centred on innovative new products, and making India a ferment of ideas and creativity. India’s democratic traditions will support this path, helped further by governance reforms, including strengthening our democratic institutions and greater decentralization.

 

Middle of Diamond India
Middle of Diamond India || Shashank Mani

Middle of Diamond India proposes a revolutionary idea – that India has long ignored its largest and most talented segment, citizens in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 districts, its Middle.

The book reveals the hidden stories of those in its Middle who have been ignored owing to their location and language. By examining India’s revolutionary past, its culture, its citizens, its innovators, and its spirit, the book illuminates this Diamond shaped India.

Replete with characters, anecdotes, insights, research and accounts of an annual pilgrimage on a special train-Jagriti Yatra, and an enterprise ecosystem established in Deoria district, the book outlines a new vision of India focussed on its rising Middle. It proposes a Banyan Revolution over the coming twenty-five years of Amrit Kaal, using the tool of enterprise or Udyamita that can ignite a national renaissance.

 

The Foresighted Ambedkar
The Foresighted Ambedkar || Anurag Bhaskar

In The Foresighted Ambedkar, Anurag Bhaskar argues that India’s Constitution was drafted not just between 1946 and 1950 but over the course of four decades. Dr Ambedkar was the only person to have been involved at all the stages related to the drafting of the Indian constitutional document since 1919. These stages bear the imprint of his contribution and role.

 

You Must Know Your Constitution
You Must Know Your Constitution || Fali S. Nariman

26 November 1949 marks the date when the longest constitution in the world was formally adopted to guide the largest democracy in the world. It effectively transformed the British Dominion of India into one nation—the independent Republic of India. The supreme law of the land set forth the workings of Indian democracy and polity, and its provisions aimed to secure justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity for the people of India. As drafted and as conceived, the constitution makes provision for a functioning democracy and not an electoral autocracy, and this is how it has to be worked. It is therefore imperative for all citizens to familiarise themselves with its provisions.

error: Content is protected !!