A biography of Dadabhai Naoroji, one of the founders of the Indian National Congress, by Dinyar Patel was on Wednesday, December 1 named winner of the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2021. Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism was selected from the six shortlisted books that covered a variety of themes and subjects and showcased some of the finest non-fiction writing about India, organisers the New India Foundation said.
The winner was selected by a jury chaired by political scientist Niraja Gopal Jayal and also comprising entrepreneurs Nandan Nilekani and Manish Sabharwal and historians Srinath Raghavan and Nayanjot Lahiri. Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism, published by Harvard University Press, is an "exemplary biography about one of India's first nationalists, written with great lucidity and detail by a promising scholar", the jury's citation said. "In his keenly-researched work, Dinyar Patel illuminates the life and legacy of Dadabhai Naoroji as a key figure in the history of India's movement towards Independence," it added.
The other shortlisted books were: The Death Script: Dreams and Delusions in Naxal Country by Ashutosh Bhardwaj, India's First Dictatorship: The Emergency, 1975-77 by Christophe Jaffrelot and Pratinav Anil, Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of Disobedience by Sumathi Ramaswamy, The Coolie's Great War: Indian Labour in a Global Conflict 1914-1921 by Radhika Singha and Vinay Sitapati's Jugalbandi: The BJP Before Modi.
This is the fourth edition of the prize, which was instituted in 2018. The prize celebrates â€śhigh-quality non-fiction literature on modern and contemporary Indiaâ€ť from writers of all nationalities published in the previous calendar year and carries a cash award of Rs 15 lakh and a citation. The prize will be presented to Patel, a professor of history, at an event in Bengaluru on December 4.
In the book, Patel examines the life of the foundational figure in the country's modern political history, a staunch critic of British colonialism who served in Parliament as the first-ever Indian MP, forged ties with anti-imperialists around the world, and established self-rule or swaraj as India's objective.
The prize is named after institution-builder Chattopadhyay 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 are Milan Vaishnav (2018), Ornit Shani (2019), and Amit Ahuja and Jairam Ramesh (jointly, 2020).