A new anthology of Indian authors writing in, and translating into, English, Future Library: Contemporary Indian Writing creates a new sense of contemporariness on the Indian literary scene. This arrangement distinguishes the book from other anthologies of Indian literature which are for the most part organized around a linguistic binary: they are collections either of Indian writing in English or of Indian writing in regional languages English translation, while the project of anthologizing as a whole also seems to be restricted to English for it is difficult to recall any anthologies putting together regional literatures in a single volume.  

The history of Indian queens—or ranis—has so far been left largely unexplored because mainstream history deals primarily with the annals of the kings. Queeny Pradhan’s Ranis & the Raj presents a perceptible shift in focus as it views the British Raj in 19th-century India from the perspective of six Indian queens—Rani Chennamma of Kittur, Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, Maharani Jindan of Punjab, Begum Zeenat Mahal, Guleri Rani of Sirmur and Queen Menchi of Sikkim—from geographically and culturally varied regions which offer a pan-Indian dimension to the history of the ranis. 

Scholar and professor Joseph Sassoon was never interested in his family’s history until he received a letter ten years ago from another Joseph Sassoon. The name is not common and, sure enough, this other Joseph was a very distant relative who had come across an article by Professor Sassoon about authoritarian regimes. The two spoke on the phone, which sparked interest in the family and led to Professor Sassoon’s new book, The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire, a story of a refugee family that reinvented itself in India, China, and ultimately the United Kingdom, and one that sometimes takes on biblical dimensions.

In his new book, Uther Charlton-Stevens provides a rich history of the Anglo-Indian community, people of both Indian and British heritage, and explains why this small but important community deserves a greater focus. In this book he outlines the curious identity and relationship of Anglo-Indians with both the UK and India, and explains how they were “never simply the colonisers nor the colonised, but something in between”. Through this prism, he argues, we can re-analyse Indian history through a new vantage point and see how Anglo-Indians played a part in major events in Indian history. In his own words the book is “neither colonial apologia nor nationalist polemic”, rather an exploration of an often overlooked, but vitally important, community. 

Subcontinent Adrift: Strategic Futures of South Asia, Feroz Hassan Khan (Cambria, August 2022)
Subcontinent Adrift: Strategic Futures of South Asia, Feroz Hassan Khan (Cambria, August 2022)

This study identifies the latent and emergent drivers behind the mounting acrimony in South Asia—notably, India’s ambitions as a “rising power” coupled with the resurgence of China and Pakistan’s strategic anxiety as the United States unmoors itself from Afghanistan and embraces India. India is similarly concerned as China advances its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) across the region, developing a network of economic and strategic hubs and bringing India’s neighbors into China’s embrace through its strategy of peripheral diplomacy.

Long related orally, the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata is believed to have been composed in written form  between 300 BCE and 300 CE, the epic narrates the tale of greed and compassion between two clans, the Kauravas and the Pandavas, and has life lessons that transcend any particular civilization. The family feud over a kingdom speaks of sacrifice, love, lust, and enmity.

The pursuit of meritocracy has proven a sort of holy grail for many policymakers and social-planners, perhaps nowhere more so than in Asia, where it can be explicitly invoked as the way to catch up with and even leapfrog the West. The cleverly-entitled Making Meritocracy is a collection of scholarly essays investigating the past and present of meritocracy in, primarily, China and India.