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August reads for you!

From stories of hope to the charm of friendships – our bookshelf for this month is all about life, love, companionship, and individual potential. We are sure everyone will have something to take away for those growing TBR piles!

 

Some Sizes Fit All
Some Sizes Fit All || Akhil Gupta

An oft-repeated dictum every time a company fails to replicate its past successes when introducing a new product or entering a new market is that one size does not fit all. Business gurus advise that every new situation, market and environment calls for a fresh approach and requires ‘unlearning’ what one might have learnt elsewhere, even if that had met with great success.

This is a must-read for anyone trying to build a robust and financially sound business.

 

 

 

The Victory Project
The Victory Project || Saurabh Mukherjea, Anupam Gupta

India’s economy has tripled in size over the past twenty years. And yet, the generation that propelled this growth is facing rising levels of stress and depression. Furthermore, the new generation entering the workforce today dreams big but faces a highly competitive work environment. How can both these generations fire on all cylinders and lead fulfilling lives?

The Victory Project is the ultimate guide to surviving and thriving in the professional and social domains, which are increasingly becoming tough, competitive, often cutthroat and deeply political.

 

 

Between Life and Death
Between Life and Death || Dr. Kashyap Patel

Dr Kashyap Patel is a renowned oncologist in the US who works with terminally ill cancer patients. Through him, we meet Harry, who, after a life full of adventure, is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. As he stares death in the face, Harry leans on Dr Patel, an expert in understanding the process of death and dying.

His questions and fears are addressed through the stories of many other patients that Dr Patel has treated-from the young and vivacious to those who had already lived full lives, from patients who could barely afford their rent to those who had been wildly successful.

 

 

 

The Magic of Friendships
The Magic of Friendships || Shubha Vilas

Today, more than ever, friendship has become more important than any other relationship. The warmth and companionship that a good friend can provide is unmatched and each one of us craves for that special friend to whom we can unburden our heart or seek help from in troubled times.

Shubha Vilas discusses, in a simple and straight-forward manner, what is missing in our friendships today and the various scenarios that prevent people from making and maintaining good friends.

 

 

 

 

To You, With Love
To You, With Love || Shravya Bhinder

Right from their childhood, Sahil and Arya have been very different from each other. While Sahil is careless, carefree, ‘new money’ and ‘the brat’, Arya is too sensitive, reserved, shy and not easy to talk to. Slowly and very delicately their story progresses, and in comes love and things begin to take on a golden hue.

However, soon their life begins to unravel. Sahil learns why Arya is so private when the most damning truth about her life is revealed. And as soon as they cross that bridge and move on, another cruel blow threatens to tear them apart.

 

 

 

Running Toward Mystery
Running Toward Mystery || The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi

The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi’s profound account of his lifelong journey as a seeker. At its heart is a story of striving for enlightenment, the vital importance of mentors in that search, and of the many remarkable teachers he met along the way, among them the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Mother Teresa.

Running Toward Mystery is the beautiful story of a singular life compelled to contemplation, and a riveting narrative of just how exciting that journey can be.

 

 

 

 

You People
You People || Nikita Lalwani

The Pizzeria Vesuvio looks like any other Italian restaurant in London – with a few small differences. The chefs who make the pizza fiorentinas are Sri Lankan, and half the kitchen staff are illegal immigrants.

At the centre is Tuli, the restaurant’s charismatic proprietor and resident Robin Hood, who promises to help anyone in need.  But when Tuli’s guidance leads them all into dangerous territory, and the extent of his mysterious operation unravels, each is faced with an impossible moral choice.

 

 

The Three-Box Solution Playbook
The Three Box Solution Playbook || Vijay Govindrajan, Manish Tangri

Along with Manish Tangri, a corporate dealmaker at Intel, Govindarajan goes deeper into the most crucial box of all: creating the future. Together they provide a repeatable process for companies to create new breakthroughs–from ideation through incubation to scaling.

Full of worksheets, exercises, tools, and examples, The Three-Box Solution Playbook is the guide you and your team need to drive innovation and growth–and continually revitalize your company.

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus: Leadership and Recovery (Insight Series)
Coronavirus: Leadership+Recovery || Harvard Business Review

Lead through the crisis and prepare for recovery.

As the Covid-19 pandemic is exacting its toll on the global economy, forward-looking organizations are moving past crisis management and positioning themselves to leap ahead when the worst is over. What should you and your organization be doing now to address today’s unprecedented challenges while laying the foundation needed to emerge stronger?

 

 

 

 

Think Like a Rocket Scientist
Think Like A Rocket Scientist || Ozan Varol

In this accessible and practical book, Ozan Varol reveals nine simple strategies from rocket science that you can use to make your own giant leaps in work and life — whether it’s landing your dream job, accelerating your business, learning a new skill, or creating the next breakthrough product. Today, thinking like a rocket scientist is a necessity. We all encounter complex and unfamiliar problems in our lives. Those who can tackle these problems — without clear guidelines and with the clock ticking — enjoy an extraordinary advantage.

 

 

 

Leading Without Authority
Leading Without Authority || Keith Ferrazzi

The world of work is changing at an unprecedented rate leaving many organisations struggling to cope. At a time when constant innovation, agility, and speed often mean the difference between success and failure, we can no longer afford to waste time navigating the complex bureaucracy present in most companies.

Drawing on a decade of research and over thirty years helping CEOs and senior leaders drive innovation and build high-performing teams Ferrazzi reveals how we can all transform our business and our relationships with the people around us.

 

 

 

The Body
The Body || Bill Bryson

Full of extraordinary facts and astonishing stories The Body: A Guide for Occupants is a brilliant, often very funny attempt to understand the miracle of our physical and neurological make up.

A wonderful successor to A Short History of Nearly Everything, this new book is an instant classic. It will have you marvelling at the form you occupy, and celebrating the genius of your existence, time and time again.

 

 

 

Rodham
Rodham || Curtis Sittenfeld

‘Awfully opinionated for a girl’ is what they call Hillary as she grows up in her Chicago suburb. Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus. Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader- and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm No.

How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?

 

 

 

The Authenticity Project
The Authenticity Project || Clare Pooley

Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.

Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story.

 

 

 

 

Redhead by the Side of the Road
Redhead by The Side of The Road || Anne Tyler

Micah Mortimer isn’t the most polished person you’ll ever meet. He is content with the steady balance of his life.

But then the order of things starts to tilt. His woman friend Cassia (he refuses to call anyone in her late thirties a ‘girlfriend’) tells him she’s facing eviction because of a cat. And when a teenager shows up at Micah’s door claiming to be his son, Micah is confronted with another surprise he seems poorly equipped to handle.

 

 

 

Out-Innovate: How Global Entrepreneurs – from Delhi to Detroit – Are Rewriting the Rules of Silicon Valley
Out-Innovate || Alexandre Lazarow

Startups have changed the world. In the United States, many startups, such as Tesla, Apple, and Amazon, have become household names. The economic value of startups has doubled since 1992 and is projected to double again in the next fifteen years.

For decades, the hot center of this phenomenon has been Silicon Valley. This is changing fast. Thanks to technology, startups can now take root anywhere–and they are, from Delhi to Detroit to Nairobi to Sao Paulo.

With rich and wide-ranging stories of frontier innovators from around the world, Out-Innovate is the new playbook for innovation – wherever it has the potential to happen.

 

 

 

FAKE: Fake Money, Fake Teachers, Fake Assets: How Lies Are Making the Poor and Middle Class Poorer
Fake || Robert Kiyosaki

Robert kiyosaki ― author of the #1 personal finance book of all time ― has built a legacy around simplifying complex and often-confusing subjects like money and investing. He continues to challenge conventional wisdom and asks the questions that will help readers sift through today’s information overload to uncover ways to assess what’s real… and what isn’t. And use truth and facts as a foundation for taking control of their financial lives.

Twelve book recommendations to unshackle the mind | #ReadingSetsYouFree

Some read to escape the burden of their lives, while others read because it is the only way they can face their realities. Whatever be your reason, we can all agree that reading affords us the freedom to be our authentic selves. This August, come celebrate with us as we make our way through twelve books that will help liberate your spirit and mind.

 

India’s Struggle for Independence

India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee

This is the first major study to examine every one of the varied strands of the epic struggle for individually and collectively and present it in a new and coherent narrative and analytical framework. Basing themselves on oral and other primary sources and years of research, the authors take the reader through every step of the independence struggle from the abortive Revolt of 1857 to the final victory of 1947. More important while incorporating existing historiographical advances, the book evolves a new and lucid view of the history of the period which will endure.

 

 

My Seditious Heart || Arundhati Roy

My Seditious Heart: Collected Non-Fiction by Arundhati Roy

My Seditious Heart collects the work of a two-decade period when Arundhati Roy devoted herself to the political essay as a way of opening up space for justice, rights and freedoms in an increasingly hostile environment. Taken together, these essays trace her twenty year journey from the Booker Prize-winning The God of Small Things to the extraordinary The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Radical and readable, they speak always in defence of the collective, of the individual and of the land, in the face of the destructive logic of financial, social, religious, military and governmental elites.

 

 

 

Train to Pakistan || Khushwant Singh

Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh

Khushwant Singh, one of India’s most widely read and celebrated authors, makes his readers share the individual problems of loyalty and responsibility faced by the principal figures in a little village on the frontier between India and Pakistan where the action takes place. In the summer of 1947, a train full of dead Sikhs stirs up a battlefield in the peaceful atmosphere of love and loyalty between the Muslims and the Sikhs. It is then left to Juggat Singh-the village gangster who is in love with a Muslim girl- to redeem himself by saving many Muslim lives in a stirring climax.

 

 

 

 

Republic of Rhetoric || Abhinav Chandrachud

Republic of Rhetoric : Free Speech and the Constitution of India by Abhinav Chandrachud

Exploring socio-political as well as legal history of India, from the British period to the present, this book brings to light the idea of ‘free speech’ or what is popularly known as the freedom expression in the country. Analysing the present law relating to obscenity and free speech, this book will evaluate whether the enactment of the Constitution made a significant difference to the right to free speech in India.Deeply researched, authoritative and anecdotal, Republic of Rhetoric offers arguments that have not been substantially advanced before.

 

Sixteen Stormy Days || Tripudaman Singh

Sixteen Stormy Days by Tripurdaman Singh

Sixteen Stormy Days narrates the riveting story of the First Amendment to the Constitution of India-one of the pivotal events in Indian political and constitutional history, and its first great battle of ideas. Drawing on parliamentary debates, press reports, judicial pronouncements, official correspondence and existing scholarship, the bookchallenges conventional wisdom on iconic figures such as Jawaharlal Nehru, B.R. Ambedkar, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Patel and Shyama Prasad Mookerji, and lays bare the vast gulf between the liberal promise of India’s Constitution and the authoritarian impulses of her first government.

 

 

Ambedkar’s Preamble || Aakash Singh Rathore

Ambedkar’s Preamble by Aakash Singh Rathore

On 26 January 1950, the Constitution of India was adopted formally and came into effect. Its preamble set out in brief the enlightened values it enshrined and hoped to engender. In a radical shift from mainstream constitutional history, this book establishes Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s irrefutable authorship of the preamble by uncovering the intellectual origins of its six most central concepts-justice, liberty, equality, fraternity, dignity, and nation.

 

 

 

The Man Who Saved India || Hindol Sengupta

The Man Who Saved India by Hindol Sengupta

The Man Who Saved India is a sweeping, magisterial retelling of Sardar Patel’s story. With fiercely detailed and pugnacious anecdotes, Hindol Sengupta brings alive Patel’s determined life of struggle and his furious commitment to keep India safe. Through ravages of a failing body broken by decades of abuse in and outside prison, Patel stands out in this book as the man who, even on his deathbed, worked to save India.

 

 

 

 

 

India’s Most Fearless || Shiv Aroor, Rahul Singh

India’s Most Fearless by Shiv Aroor, Rahul Singh

The book covers fourteen true stories of extraordinary courage and fearlessness, providing a glimpse into the kind of heroism our soldiers display in unthinkably hostile conditions and under grave provocation. The Army major who led the legendary September 2016 surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC; a soldier who killed 11 terrorists in 10 days; a Navy officer who sailed into a treacherous port to rescue hundreds from an exploding war; a bleeding Air Force pilot who found himself flying a jet that had become a screaming fireball, the book narrates their own accounts or of those who were with them in their final moments.

 

 

 

We, The Children of India || Leila Seth

We, the Children of India by Leila Seth

Former Chief Justice Leila Seth makes the words of the Preamble to the Constitution understandable to even the youngest reader. What is a democratic republic, why are we secular, what is sovereignty? Believing that it is never too early for young people to learn about the Constitution, she tackles these concepts and explains them in a manner everyone can grasp and enjoy. Accompanied by numerous photographs, captivating and inspiring illustrations by acclaimed illustrator Bindia Thapar, and delightful bits of trivia, We, the Children of India is essential reading for every young citizen.

 

 

 

Fearless || Amneh Sheikh Farooqui, Aziza Ahmad

Fearless by Amneh Sheikh Farooqui, Aziza Ahmad

Through the ages, strong, inspirational women and girls have risen in response to uncertainty and injustice. A timeless call to arms that many like Fatima Jinnah, Asma Jehangir, Sheema Kirmani, Nighat Dad and Malala Yousafzai have always been answering.Demonstrating that one girl can change everything.

Fearless: Stories of Amazing Women from Pakistan chronicles the lives of fifty such incredible women-scientists, lawyers, politicians, activists and artists-who incite hope, inspire action and initiate dialogue. Fiercely bold, this beautifully illustrated book holds up a mirror to South Asians across the world and highlights that their voices are crucial.

 

 

Let’s Go Time Travelling || Subhadra Sen Gupta

Let’s Go Time Travelling by Subhadra Sen Gupta

Go time travelling through the alleys of history and take a tour through the various ages, from Harappa to the Maurayan, Mughal to the British. Through short snapshots and wacky trivia, this book gives you a glimpse into the vibrant culture of India, as you learn about the life and times of kings, queens, viceroys and even ordinary children!

 

 

 

 

 

The Handmaid’s Tale || Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception.

Soul-keepers

Since its inception in 1925, the RSS has perplexed observers with its organizational skills, military discipline and single-minded quest for influence in all walks of Indian life. Often seen as insidious and banned thrice, the pace of its growth and ideological dominance of the political landscape in the second decade of the millennium have been remarkable.

Delhi-based journalist Dinesh Narayanan is deeply interested in understanding the interplay of politics, society and business and the impact of these on our lives, both as individuals and collectively as a nation.

 

**

In June 2018, the Ministry of Defence and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) discussed a proposal to train a million young men and women annually to prepare them for the purpose of creating a disciplined nationalist force of youth. Titled the National Youth Empowerment Scheme (N-YES), the year-long training was proposed to be an essential qualification for enrolment in the army and paramilitary services. The scheme was aimed at instilling values of discipline, nationalism and self-esteem in young people, the Indian Express reported.  The government called the report sensationalizing but did not deny the meeting in the PMO. It said the meeting had discussed strengthening the National Cadet Corps (NCC) and the National Service Scheme (NSS).

Established in 1948, at the instance of then prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and home minister, Sardar Patel, in the wake of the invasion of Kashmir by Pakistan-supported tribesmen, the NCC’s stated aim is ‘developing character, comradeship, discipline, a secular outlook, the spirit of adventure and ideals of selfless service amongst young citizens . . . and creating a pool of organized, trained and motivated youth with leadership qualities in all walks of life, who will serve the nation regardless of which career they choose’. The NSS was established to provide ‘hands on experience to young students in delivering social service’. These organizations’ values aligned with those of the RSS although the latter’s definition of ‘secular outlook’ is  different. It contends that India is a Hindu nation, and a Hindu by nature and definition can be nothing but secular. Like the NCC, the RSS also considers itself as a reserve force.

The RSS || Dinesh Narayanan

The N-YES proposal sounded very close to the RSS’s idea of creating a militaristic society. Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat has claimed that although the RSS was not a military organization, its discipline was like that of the army. While the army may require six to seven months to ready a force, the RSS could raise a trained force of its volunteers in three days.

Organizers of Hindus often rue that they are pusillanimous compared to other communities. V.D. Savarkar, one of the early ideological mentors of the RSS, wrote: ‘At the time of the first inroads of the Muhammadans, the fierce unity of faith, that social cohesion and valorous fervour which made them as a body so irresistible, were qualities in which the Hindus proved woefully wanting.’

**

The RSS is a close and relevant insight into the current socio-political landscape of our country.

‘The me that’s…just me.’

Everyone has a dark, ugly side-some of us just choose to hide it better than others

She’s a young woman going through a mid-twenties crisis, trying to deal with the dark and intoxicating side of life with haunting memories of an abusive ex-boyfriend, remnants of a broken family and obvious mental health issues.

We all find something that is therapeutic, that is personal and special to us, that helps us cope. For her – it’s art.

Find an excerpt below that talks about how she found art and how it helps us be her in the present time.

**

Goner || Tazmeen Amna

I gave the test and begged my teacher to score me the minute I submitted that piece of paper. I was so sure I’d get a 10 out of 10. I just wanted the formality of knowing out of the way, because the sooner I knew my marks the sooner I could get those crayons. My hands were itching to pull those gorgeous crayons out of the box and actually feel them gliding over paper, filling up the bland blank sheet with their colours.

The teacher raised her eyebrows at my worksheet and handed it back to me. She also patted my shoulder slightly.

Dang.

My stomach fell.

8/10.

I cried the whole bus ride back home. Or stared pointedly out of the window without even blinking.

I went home and dejectedly walked up to my mom and handed her the worksheet. She saw the score and stooped down to me and said, ‘You know what? I think you did well and I’m going to buy you those crayons anyway.’ Then she handed me fifty bucks and I ran to the shop, wild with excitement. Not only would I be the proud owner of that set of crayons, I also realized at that moment how much of a rockstar my mom was.

It was on that day that I decided that I would never put down the paintbrush, for as long as I lived, because of the faith that my mom showed in me. Sometimes it really just takes one empathetic glance, one touch of tenderness, and a teeny, tiny, minute sliver of hope to, I don’t know, set things rolling.

And since then, it’s been a pretty stable relationship (between me and my art). The only stable relationship I’ve ever had in my entire life, fortunately and unfortunately. I went from pastels to watercolours, pencils to charcoals, acrylics to oil paints, paper to canvas, and many other mediums. It is the only thing that helps me connect with myself. Not the me that is sedated with antidepressants and high on mood-booster pills. Not the me that is a lifeless machine running on tablets and capsules and surviving (barely) on therapy. But the me that’s . . . just me.

**

A hard-hitting narrative of a young woman’s struggle with mental illness, Goner is a voice that needs to be heard today.

Can she defeat her infamous trait of self-sabotage and manoeuvre her way through some hard-hitting truths?

Commemorate the brave on Kargil Diwas with these eleven books

 

On 26 July every year India remembers its brave heroes of the Kargil war. Today we are bringing to you eleven books that speak of the sacrifices and valour of the Indian Armed Forces.

Vijyant at Kargil || Col. V.N Thapar, Neha Dwivedi

Vijyant at Kargil

Vijyant was twenty-two when he was martyred in the Kargil War, having fought bravely in the crucial battles of Tololing and Knoll. A fourth-generation army officer, he dreamt of serving his country even as a young boy. In this first-ever biography, we learn about his journey to join the Indian Military Academy and the experiences that shaped him into a fine officer. Told by his father and Neha Dwivedi, a martyr’s daughter herself, the anecdotes from his family and close friends come alive, and we have a chance to know the exceptional young man that Vijyant was. His inspiring story provides a rare glimpse into the heart of a brave soldier.

 

1965: Stories from the Second Indo-Pakistan War

On 1 September 1965, Pakistan invaded the Chamb district in Jammu and Kashmir, triggering a series of tank battles, operations and counter-operations. It was only the bravery and well-executed strategic decisions of the soldiers of the Indian Army that countered the very real threat of losing Kashmir to Pakistan. Recounting the battles fought by five different regiments, the narrative reconstructs the events of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, outlining details never revealed before, and remembers its unsung heroes.

Shoot, Dive, Fly: Stories of Grit and Adventure from the Indian Army

SHOOT, DIVE, FLY aims to introduce teenagers to the armed forces and tell them about the perils-the rigours and the challenges-and perks-the thrill and the adventure-of a career in uniform. Ballroom dancing, flying fighter planes, detonating bombs, skinning and eating snakes in times of dire need, and everything else in between-there’s nothing our officers can’t do. Read twenty-one nail-biting stories of daring.

 

The Brave: Param Vir Chakra Stories

Twenty-one riveting stories about how India’s highest military honour was won. Talking to parents, siblings, children and comrades-in-arms to paint the most vivid character-portraits of these men and their conduct in battle and getting unprecedented access to the Indian Army, Rachna Bisht Rawat takes us to the heart of war, chronicling the tales of twenty-one of India’s bravest soldiers.

 

Kargil: Untold Stories from the War

Rachna Bisht Rawat takes you into the treacherous mountains where some of Indian Army’s bloodiest battles were fought. Interviewing war survivors and martyrs’ families, Rachna Bisht Rawat tells stories of extraordinary human courage, of not just men in uniform but also those who loved them the most. With its gritty stories of incomparable bravery, Kargil is a tribute to the 527 young braves who gave up their lives for us and the many who were ready to do it too.

 

Despatches from Kargil

The Kargil war in the summer of 1999 was a tale of brutality and courage. Here was war in its essence: barren, icy peaks held by a strongly entrenched enemy, and the only way to dislodge the intruders was to climb up in the face of overwhelming fire. By the end of the war many more heroes were added to the list of the nation’s brave. Their exploits in this harrowing battle read like the stuff of legend. In Despatches from Kargil, Srinjoy Chowdhury, who covered the war for the Statesman, recounts what it was like for journalists to battle against deadlines, shellfire–and particularly vicious bedbugs–to transmit their reports.

 

India’s Most Fearless: True Stories of Modern Military Heroes

The book covers fourteen true stories of extraordinary courage and fearlessness, providing a glimpse into the kind of heroism our soldiers display in unthinkably hostile conditions and under grave provocation. The Army major who led the legendary September 2016 surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC; a soldier who killed 11 terrorists in 10 days; a Navy officer who sailed into a treacherous port to rescue hundreds from an exploding war; a bleeding Air Force pilot who found himself flying a jet that had become a screaming fireball, the book narrates their own accounts or of those who were with them in their final moments.

 

India’s Most Fearless 2: Untold Accounts of the Biggest Recent Anti-Terror Operations

First-hand reports of the most riveting anti-terror encounters in the wake of the 2016 surgical strikes, the men who hunted terrorists in a magical Kashmir forest where day turns to night, a pair of young Navy men who gave their all to save their entire submarine crew, the Air Force commando who wouldn’t sleep until he had avenged his buddies, the tax babu who found his soul in a terrifying Special Forces assault on Pakistani terrorists, the highly anticipated sequel to India’s Most Fearless brings you fourteen more stories of astonishing fearlessness,and gets you closer than ever before to the personal bravery that Indian military men display in the line of duty.

 

My Mother is in the Indian Air Force

Rohan thinks his mom is a bit like a a superhero-she flies in to save the day, she loops and swoops between the clouds, she even jumps off planes wearing parachutes! But her job demands that she keep moving from place to place, and Rohan doesn’t want to move again. Not this time. Can he find a way to stay? Read on to find out about the people in the uniform and their families whose big and small acts sacrifices make the Indian air force formidable!

 

My Father is in the Indian Army

Beena’s dad is in the Indian army, which means that when duty calls, he’s got to get going at once. Beena knows her dad’s job is important, but her birthday is coming up. She really, really wants her dad to be at home to celebrate with her. Will he be able to make it back in time?

 

My Sister is in the Indian Navy

Nikky’s sister is in the navy. When her ship is in port, she and Nikky get to do lots of fun things together. Nikky would like to spend more time with his sister, and he doesn’t want her to leave, but he knows that, eventually, her sailing orders will arrive. Read on to find out about the people and their families whose big and small acts of heroism make the Indian navy exemplary!

**

 

We salute our soldiers and their indomitable spirit to serve the nation!

The story of the Leogryphs of Kangla by Wangam Somorjit

The cover art of Binodini’s “The Princess and the Political Agent” by Shruti Mahajan of Penguin Random House India features, bloody and broken, the leogryphs called the Kangla Sha that stand today in Kangla Fort in Imphal. In the back, a little anachronistically, is painted the palace in Manipur, built for Binodini’s father Maharaja Churachand, himself a major presence in his daughter’s historical novel. It represents the new order in Manipur under the eponymous Political Agent after the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891. The beasts themselves represent the destruction of the sovereignty of Manipur in the fort where the Princess spent her childhood and youth – and the setting of Binodini’s tales of love, rivalries, and intrigues. Here is the little-known story of these chimerical beasts of Kangla Fort.

Somi Roy, translator.

Today, one hundred and seventy-six years ago, on the 24th of July, 1844, Maharaja Narasingh of Manipur inaugurated the two giant leogryphs that stood guard at Kangla Fort in the heart of Imphal. About fifty years later, they were destroyed by British cannon fire.

Known as the Kangla Sha, the pair of mythical lionesque beasts was made of brick and stood eighteen feet tall. They guarded the entrance to the fort’s inner citadel called the Uttra. The citadel was the innermost enclosure housing the royal residences in the heart of the Kangla, the double moated palace fort of the kings of Manipur. The Meiteis called these guardian beasts Nongsha, literally Heavenly Beasts, retronymically translated as lions which they resembled. They became known as Kangla Sha after the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891.

The first pair of these leogryphs was constructed by Maharaja Chourjit in 1804. They were Manipuri adaptations of the splendid Burmese mythical beasts called chinthe that guard the entrance of the pagodas of Burma. Ties between Manipur and the glorious and more powerful Burmese kingdoms of Ava, Shan and Mon Burmese – matrimonial alliances, wars, tributes and so on – were well established by the middle of the 18th century. As one of several Manipuri princes who stayed with the Burmese king in the 1760s, Chourjit would have seen the Burmese chinthe in front of their pagodas.

The powerful court of Ava had made remonstrance with the kings of Manipur for profusely gilding and decorating their palaces with royal Burmese emblems and multistage roof buildings. It was looked upon as evidence of the rise of the kings of Manipur. So in 1819 the Burmese invaded Manipur, destroyed the Kangla Fort, and occupied the kingdom for the next seven years.

Kangla Fort was not only the abode of the kings of Manipur but also the symbol of their ancestral roots back to Pakhangba, founder of the Ningthouja dynasty that still exists today. The citadel’s hall was also sometimes referred as the House of Pakhangba, as he was crowned here as the first Meitei king in 33 CE according to the Court Chronicles of Manipur.

For nearly 20 years after Manipur was regained from the Burmese, Kangla remained an abandoned old palace. The monarch after the Burmese expulsion, Maharaja Gambhir Singh, reigned from his capital at Langthabal, eight kilometres from Imphal down the Burma Road. At this time, Manipur was acknowledged as an independent power by the Burmese and the British in the Treaty of Yandabo of 1826.  In 1844, Gambhir Singh’s cousin and comrade-at-arms in repelling the Burmese, Regent Narasingh became the king of Manipur and moved the capital back to Kangla. He reconstructed the pair of leogryphs in front of the citadel in Kangla upon the ruins of the old foundation of the previous leogryphs of 1804. The court chronicle of Manipur records that the construction of the two new leogryphs began on June 2, 1844. The Maharaja inaugurated the statues, dedicating them to the royal deity Shri Shri Govindajee on July 24, 1844.

No pictorial representations of the first leogryphs of 1804 exist nor do we know what happened to them after the Burmese destroyed Kangla Fort in 1819. The leogryphs rebuilt in 1844 stood guard at the foot of the citadel, facing west towards the fort’s main entrance, the western gate of the Kangla Fort. They were made of brick, and painted white. They crouched upon their hind legs and stood upright on their forelegs. The tails curled back towards their spines. Their mouths opened wide. The two bifurcated horns, adorning their heads unlike the leogryphs of East and Southeast Asia, were derived from the sangai or the brow-antlered deer (Rucervus eldii eldii) of Manipur. The chimerical beasts bear similarity to the antlered dragon boats of Manipur and to the coat-of-arms of Gambhir Singh engraved above his footprints on the stone he erected at Kohima (now in Nagaland) in commemoration of his victory over the northern tribes in 1833. Therefore, we can surmise that the Manipuri adaptation of the Burmese chinthe was already an addition to the religious and state iconography even before the leogryphs raised by Narasingh.

Leogryph used in the 1833 as commemorative stone in Kohima

 

The leogryphs built in 1844 were destroyed in 1891 after the Anglo-Manipuri War that year. In the events leading up to the outbreak of the war in March, five British representatives had been taken prisoner by the king of Manipur, tried in military court, and executed for their crime for invading the palace of Manipur. The execution of the British men took place in front of these leogryphs and their blood was smeared over the mouths of the two statues. In this, Manipuris saw the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy in Manipur that white men’s heads would fall in front of the beasts. After British retaliation in battle, the Manipuris were defeated and the British occupied Kangla Fort in April 1891.

On June 20, 1891, the Kangla leogryphs were destroyed by cannon fire upon the order of General H. Collett, the commander of the British army, as retribution, symbolic political vengeance, and display of imperial power and dominance.

The British occupied Kangla Fort as a British reserve until their departure in 1947. When young prince Churachand was installed as the new king by the British in 1891, a new palace of Manipur, commonly known as Chonga Bon, was constructed in 1908 about two kilometres away. The fort remained closed to the Manipuri public. Newly independent India succeeded to the Kangla and the fort was occupied by the Indian paramilitary forces. Manipur acceded to the Indian Union in 1949 and in 2004 Kangla Fort was returned to the people of Manipur after a series of public agitations. In 2007 two replicas of Kangla Sha were reconstructed on the original site where they had stood before being destroyed by the British on July 20, 1891.

 

Wangam Somorjit is the author of The Chronology of Meitei Monarchs (2010), the first edited version of the Court Chronicle of Manipur with corresponding CE dates; and Manipur: The Forgotten Nation of South-East Asia (2016), an anthology of publications from different countries of the region.

 

The Princess and the Political Agent || Binodini Devi (Author), L. Somi Roy (Translator)

Inside the world of Sisters of the Golden Lotus

I think of the stories I heard growing up. Of women with shadowy faces and daggers glinting in their hands. Women who wear their saris like fisherfolk, who knock down doors and slash into enemies with knives and swords and spells. The Sisterhood of the Golden Lotus.

Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. In fact, it is this very mark that caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding in order to protect her own life.

But a group of rebel women called the ‘Sisters of the Golden Lotus’ rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic. Here are some quotes from Tanaz Bhathena’s book that tells us more about the Sisters of the Golden Lotus

Who are they?

“No one is quite sure if the Sisters are legends or common brigands, and no one ever quite remembers what they look like. Appearing and disappearing from villages and towns with a stealth that rivals King Lo- har’s Sky Warriors, the Sisters have no permanent home, successfully melding into their surroundings like color-changing lizards.”

*

Introducing themselves

“People who do not know us think we are ordinary Ambari women. Seamstresses. Midwives. Farmers. Mothers. Daughters. People like your zamindar will offer us food and shelter in exchange for a walk through the fields or a night in their beds.” Juhi’s eyes harden. “Of course, deceptive appearances are a must in our line of work.” She holds up a hand. There, right in the center of her palm, I see a golden tattoo shaped like a lotus.”

*

They have birthmarks.

“To my surprise, Kali lifts her sari petticoat up to the knee. Amira turns around, pushing down the shoulder of her blouse. The woman holds up the lantern to each exposed body part, one after the other.

Each girl has a birthmark. A brown one in the shape of a diamond right next to the dagger strapped to Kali’s calf; a black one in the shape of a falling star on Amira’s shoulder blade.”

*

But not all of them

“Do the Sisters . . . do you all have birthmarks?”

Juhi lowers her hand. “No. Only Amira and Kali. But I don’t limit the Sisterhood to marked girls. There are other women as well who need saving, who need to escape their pasts.”

*

Their current home

“The Sisters live on the street behind the temple—in a two-story building that once housed the village orphanage. Some of the novices mock the villagers for not guessing that it no longer functions as one, for never questioning why we don’t take in boys.”

*

Mealtimes with the Sisters

“I’m unable to keep the envy out of my voice. At mealtimes, some of the Sisters occasionally boast about their exploits. Magically tying up zamindars who deceive farmers into signing over their land—and not releasing the former until the land is restored. Rescuing girls who get harassed by men in marketplaces. Standing up to women who beat their daughters-in-law.”

*

Why are they called Sisters of the Golden Lotus?

“Yes. Amira told me that she and Kali would feel like thorns in my side. Kali countered that they were like the gold lotuses of Javeribad, the kind that bloomed in the mud. That’s how we came up with the name.”

*

Hunted by the Sky || Tanaz Bhathena

Inspired by medieval India, Hunted by the Sky is the first in a stunning fantasy duology by Tanaz Bhathena, exploring identity, class struggles and high-stakes romance against a breathtaking magical backdrop.

What to read as an introduction to Perumal Murugan’s work

Perumal Murugan’s body of work boasts of several novels, short story collections and poetry anthologies. An author and scholar, Murugan writes in Tamil. His works have not only garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success but also have been translated in many languages.

Here are 6 books by him, that are the perfect introduction to his work.

 

Rising Heat

 

Rising Heat || Perumal Murugan

Murugan’s first novel, which launched a splendid literary career, is a tour de force. Now translated for the first time, it poses powerful questions about the human cost of relentless urbanization in the name of progress.

Young Selvan’s family’s ancestral land has been sold in order to make way for the construction of a housing colony. In the ensuing years, as the pressures of their situation simmer to a boil, Selvan observes his family undergo dramatic shifts in their fortunes as greed and jealousy threaten to overshadow their lives.

*

One Part Woman

 

One Part Woman || Perumal Murugan

Kali and Ponna’s efforts to conceive a child have been in vain. Hounded by the taunts and insinuations of others, all their hopes come to converge on the chariot festival in the temple of Ardhanareeswara, the half-female god. Everything hinges on the one night when rules are relaxed and consensual union between any man and woman is sanctioned. This night could end the couple’s suffering and humiliation. But it will also put their marriage to the ultimate test.

*

Songs of a Coward: Poems of Exile

 

Songs of a Coward || Perumal Murugan

By turns passionate, elegiac, angry, tender, nightmarish and courageous, the poems in Songs of a Coward weave an exquisite tapestry of rich images and turbulent emotions. Written during a period of immense personal turmoil, these verses are an enduring testament to the resilience of an imagination under siege and the liberating power of words in one’s darkest moments.

*

Trial by Silence

 

Trial by Silence || Perumal Murugan

In Trial by Silence-one of two inventive sequels that picks up the story right where One Part Womanends-Kali is determined to punish Ponna for what he believes is an absolute betrayal. But Ponna is equally upset at being forced to atone for something that was not her fault. In the wake of the temple festival, both must now confront harsh new uncertainties in their once idyllic life together.

Trial by Silence was shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Fiction 2019

*

A Lonely Harvest

 

A Lonely Heart || Perumal Murugan

In A Lonely Harvest– one of two inventive sequels that pick up the story right where One Part Woman ends -Ponna returns from the temple festival to find that Kali has killed himself in despair. Devastated that he would punish her so cruelly, but constantly haunted by memories of the happiness she once shared with Kali, Ponna must now learn to face the world alone.

A Lonely Harvest was longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019 and shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Fiction 2019

*

Current Show

 

Current Show || Perumal Murugan

Slick, visceral and startlingly inventive, Current Show unfolds in a manner that simulates rapid cinematic cuts. Murugan’s keen eye and crackling prose plumb the dark underbelly of small-town life, bringing Sathi’s world and entanglements thrillingly to life.

*

Interesting snippets from Manohar Parrikar’s extraordinary life

An Extraordinary Life  showcases Manohar Parrikar’s rise in politics from the son of a grocery store owner in a nondescript town, a sanghachalak in Mapusa town, an Opposition MLA and leader, to a chief minister (on multiple occasions) and, finally, to a defence minister.

Over the last two decades, the exploits of one man, an IIT-Bombay alumnus, changed the way mainstream India looked at Goa and the political goings-on in the country’s smallest state.

In An Extraordinary Life, Sadguru Patil and Mayabhushan Nagvenkar explore daily battles of a gifted individual are brought to the fore as he encounters love and vices.

Alongside his public feats and persona, Parrikar was also an intriguing man with some personality quirks that contributed to his political career. We take a look at some of these below:

 

Finding a way out

 

‘Falling into trouble isn’t rare when one is young. But even at the age of eight, Manohar had the temperament to find a way out of it.

Avdhoot was nine, a year older than Manohar, when the latter fell into a deep, dry rainwater ditch near their ancestral house in Parra village. The gutter was deep enough to make Manohar’s efforts to climb out of it futile. Like in many rural homes at the time, the Parrikar household also reared a few head of cattle.

‘Manohar told me to fetch at least five bundles of straw. They weren’t too heavy, so I brought them one by one and, on his direction, threw them into the gutter. He piled them one on top of the other and managed to climb out,’ Avdhoot recalled.’

 

IIT-Bombay

 

‘A year after the release of the Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha–starrer Bombay to Goa, seventeen-year-old Parrikar left Goa to go to Bombay in 1973. And just like Bachchan was a superstarwaiting-in-the-wings in the S. Ramanathan film, IIT-Bombay gaveParrikar the fertile breeding ground for his personality to blossom and allowed him to come into his own.

As far as Parrikar was concerned, he was to give IIT-Bombay the privilege of having on its rolls the first IITian chief minister in India, and his hostel-mates the pleasure of better meals at the mess at that time.’

 

Resourcefulness and Keen Eye

 

‘Even his mother was often stumped by Manohar’s resourcefulness. Radhabai once had enough of her son’s brattish behaviour. So she locked him up in a room one day.

According to Walavalkar, Manohar escaped by breaking the glass windowpanes. Another time Radhabai decided to teach her younger son a lesson once again. She decided to play dead to get Manohar worked up. Avdhoot, who was nearby, saw her lying still and not responding to his call. He called out to Manohar for help. ‘I thought Aai was dead and started crying. But Manohar was obviously smarter than me. He told me not to cry because he could see Aai’s stomach moving with her breath. Her plan to rattle him was foiled,’ Avdhoot said.’

 

Calligraphic Skills

 

‘Apart from his special talent at maths, he was regularly complimented by his teachers for his immaculate handwriting, something the media also noticed decades later when his handwritten noting related to the Rafale deal as the defence minister merited a news feature story in February 2019.

‘Cursive font. Sentences so perfectly stacked you wonder if a ruler was involved. No strikethroughs. No smudged ink. A written reply by Manohar Parrikar to India’s defence secretary in 2015, accessed by ANI, would put any schoolteacher’s pet to shame,’ stated an India Today online story headlined ‘Rafale Row Rages.’

 

Appetite for Reading

 

‘When he was in school, he loved reading storybooks, instead of ‘boring’ school texts.

‘Often he would pretend that he was reading a textbook when our parents were around, but cached inside was a storybook. Once, a relative got suspicious because Manohar had been going hard at this coursebook for hours and yanked it from his hands. The hidden storybook fell out too,’ said Avdhoot.

Manohar also developed another habit early on. A habit that would hold him in good stead in his later years. Reading newspapers. So obsessed was he with reading newspapers that his parents started worrying about it.’

***

An Extraordinary Life || Sadguru Patil, Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

 

An Extraordinary Life  showcases Manohar Parrikar’s rise in politics from the son of a grocery store owner in a nondescript town, a sanghachalak in Mapusa town, an Opposition MLA and leader, to a chief minister (on multiple occasions) and, finally, to a defence minister.

Will They, Won’t They?

It is 1995. Tara Taneja lives in the small town of Siyaka, running Ultimate Mathematics Tuition Centre and working for Lalaji, her grandfather, at Lallan Sweets, his famous sweet shop. The laddoos sold at the shop are made using a secret family recipe that contains a magic ingredient known only to Lalaji.

When Lalaji chooses to retire, he decides that Lallan Sweets will not be inherited but earned. He devises a quest for his three grandchildren-Tara, Rohit and Mohit-to discover the magic ingredient.

Tara’s long-time crush and neighbour, fun-loving and good-natured Nikku Sabharwal, returns to Siyaka after years. Within the ensuing competition, we see Tara going through some regular challenges of womanhood – broken hearts and budding romance being at the forefront!

Find a glimpse of this in the excerpt below:

**

‘Can you imagine how things would have turned out if I had stayed here in Siyaka? I would have remained stupid, not knowing anything of the world outside.’

Affronted, I raised my eyebrows. It was classic Nikku to say something like that. ‘What do you mean? You think just because I never went away from Siyaka I am stupid?’

‘No, that’s not what I meant at all. I meant, for me, I needed to go out, I couldn’t have stayed here, I knew that I had to go out and see the world.’

I nodded at him and looked away, trying to fight off the wave of indignation that came over me. He always spoke about going out there as if the rest of us were lazy idiots tonot want to do the same as him, as if our minds were smaller.

‘You turned out completely fine, Taru Taneja,’ he said,almost as if reading my thoughts. ‘It’s a battle I had, or stillhave, with myself. I’m so proud of what you have done,building a name for yourself, Ultimate Mathematics Tuition Centre. But my mother always wanted me to go, she told meto go and make a bigman out of myself, in Delhi or Bombay.’

I still didn’t look at him, continuing to stare at the lakeinstead. It was that time in the afternoon when everything fell quiet. He looked towards me once more.

‘I’m sorry I didn’t keep in touch,’ he spoke abruptly.

I swallowed my tears. ‘You said you would call every week, but you even stopped writing nice letters after a point.’

Out of the corner of my eyes I saw him hang his head.

‘I’m really sorry.’

Of course I wasn’t going to forgive him. Years and yearsof broken promises. I simply got up and ignored whatever he said, putting on a bright smile and walking towards the Kinetic. ‘Come on now, we are yet to have the orange ice cream.’

He looked like he was going to say something, but then thought the better of it and sat behind me.

**

 

Lallan Sweets || Srishti Chaudhary

What will this journey bring forth for Tara and Lalaji’s grandchildren? And what exactly is the magic ingredient? Join Tara in her quest to find out!