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HT Picks; New Reads

The Story of India’s Farm Crisis

₹399, 265pp; HarperCollins

One morning in 2014, Ramrao Panchleniwar, a cotton grower in Maharashtra’s infamous Vidarbha region, consumed two bottles of pesticide. Had he succeeded in his bid to commit suicide, he would have been reduced to a statistic. After all, a farmer ends his life every 30 minutes in India; in Maharashtra alone, close to 60,000 such suicides have taken place over the past two decades.

But Ramrao miraculously survived. In this book, rural journalist Jaideep Hardikar attempts to put a face to the country’s unending farm crisis with his story. He takes the reader on a journey of the everyday life of an Indian farmer, his struggles and many failings, the quagmire of issues he faces, and how he comes to a pass where he chose to put an end to it all.

The result of years of committed reportage, Ramrao turns an ordinary life into an essential biography for our times.*

Film and History in the Postcolony

307pp, ₹699; Columbia University Press
307pp, ₹699; Columbia University Press

This is a vivid account of India’s art cinema and film societies in the early decades of the nation’s independence. A rigorous interrogation into the category of radical art, Film and History in the Postcolony extends archivally rich readings of works by Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, and Ritwik Ghatak to ground a more powerful vision of films that put the terms of India’s democracy under scrutiny. The book uncovers new archives for postcolonial research, and creatively establishes a similarity between the art film maker’s capacity for historical reflection and the historian’s craft. It probes India in its painful passage beyond Partition, staggering into modernity, and shows that cinema has never been more critical than in Bengal from 1960 to 1974 as Ray, Sen and Ghatak – three Bengali directors who, Majumdar argues, anticipated critical historians – exposed the innards of an ailing culture. *

Modi’s Rollercoaster second term

399pp, Rs699; Bloomsbury
399pp, Rs699; Bloomsbury

In 2019, the BJP came to power once again on the back of one of the most significant electoral mandates in recent years.

Since then, the Narendra Modi-led government has seen a tumultuous few years as they have implemented far-reaching legislative changes including the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, the law against triple talaq, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as well as farming laws. These laws, when implemented, caused widespread protests and upheaval across the country.

While the country grappled with internal strife, it also faced challenges from its neighbours with 2020 seeing India in a tense military stand-off after an attack by China’s People’s Liberation Army at Galwan. While the Modi government took swift steps to limit the spread of the pandemic in 2020, the second wave of Covid-19 in early 2021 hit the country hard, claiming thousands of lives.

Bringing a well-researched and nuanced understanding to Modi’s second term, The Midway Battle sheds light on the sociopolitical issues facing India and puts into perspective what lies ahead for the world’s biggest democracy.*

*All copy from book flap.

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