The topic of labour migration appears constantly in the media, but too often, the issues take precedence over the people involved—the migrant workers who leave Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to work long hours in precarious situations across the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Here, eleven journalists explore the lived realities of migrant workers from South Asia—their aspirations, fears and dreams; how global forces determine their freedom; how they navigate the policies that attempt to regulate their lives; and their hopes for a better future which carry them through years of unrelenting toil.
Uncertain Journeys asks fundamental questions about the nature and costs of labour migration. Essays about the plight of Indians stranded in Kuwait due to bankrupt employers query whether labour-sending countries can assume that their responsibilities to their citizens abroad end with enabling remittances. The horrifying stories of men and women suffering forced labour, abuse and de facto imprisonment demand whether the blurred borderlines between migration and human trafficking effectively enable modern-day slavery. Most crucially, the book questions whether human beings can be reduced to a mere commodity. Written with empathy, yet with a critical take on the stories being told, this book is an important contribution to the conversation about labour migration in South Asia.
Young and idealistic, Janaki is eager to serve the cause of justice as a lawyer. Her only confidant is Ajoba, an elderly friend of her grandfather’s, who supported her throughout her childhood. They are unrelated by blood or marriage ties, but they have both lost their own families. So together, they struggle to create a family, patched together perhaps, but stronger for it.
As this gripping novel unfolds, the two characters in turn tell the traumatic story of how they came together: how Janaki being the eyewitness to a gruesome crime led to years of court cases and police investigations; the toll it took on the members of her immediate family; the ways in which Ajoba and Janaki each overcome their immediate prejudices to connect with each other; and the impact of the judicial system’s vagaries on each of their worldviews. Written in spare, unadorned and confident prose, A Patchwork Family is a debut novel of unusual wisdom and maturity.
The storm came on the night of 31 October. It was a full moon, and the tides were at their peak; the great rivers of eastern Bengal were flowing high and fast to the sea. In the early hours the inhabitants of the coast and islands were overtaken by an immense wave from the Bay of Bengal—a wall of water that reached a height of 40 feet in some places. The wave swept away everything in its path, drowning over 215,000 people. At least another 100,000 died in the cholera epidemic and famine that followed. It was the worst calamity of its kind in recorded history.
Such events are often described as ‘natural disasters’. In this brilliant study, Kingsbury turns that interpretation on its head, showing that the cyclone of 1876 was not simply a ‘natural’ event, but one shaped by all-too-human patterns of exploitation and inequality—by divisions within Bengali society, and the enormous disparities of political and economic power that characterised British rule on the subcontinent.
With South Asia, especially Bangladesh and India, facing rising sea levels and stronger, more frequent storms, there is every reason to revisit this terrible calamity. An Imperial Disaster is troubling but essential reading: immensely relevant history for an age of climate change.
In The Heart Breaks Free, set in pre-Independence UP, Bua, a free-spirited woman in a conservative Muslim household, is goaded into submission by the women in the family. But even as Bua surrenders to the forces of circumstance, Qudsia Apa, an uncomplaining abandoned wife, stuns everyone by transforming into a rebel. She rejects the life of celibacy and denial forced upon her and picks her own life partner, showing future generations the value and pleasure of subversion.
The Wild One is the love story of a servant girl, Asha, and her ‘master’, Puran, in a feudal household where such a relationship can only be a horror and a tragedy unless it is conducted in secret and quickly forgotten. Yet, when Puran can’t muster the strength to defy his class, it is gutsy Asha who manages to beat the odds and win him for herself.
Provocative, witty and intensely human as always, Chughtai delivers in these novellas scathing critiques of the cant and hypocrisy of Indian society.
Art and its ideas have a special role to play in shaping our consciousness. Urban spaces, particularly those in rapidly expanding cities in new developing economies are in direct conflict with nature, as rivers, wetlands, green areas, are being changed to suit urbanization’s short-term goals. To help re-think urban space as democratic and in coexistence with nature, Embrace our Rivers was proposed as a public art project in the coastal megacity of Chennai, India. It was to be held on the estuary of the very polluted river Cooum. Thirteen artists—Indian and international—were invited to respond to the city’s rivers and canal systems.
They produced a myriad of new ideas. The project however could not be installed at site, as it was denied site clearance even after two years of it being proposed. The artist’s voice though found expression in an exhibition—DAMnedArt which was held at the local Lalit Kala Akademi, in February 2018. This book, a first on public art and ecology in India, is an outcome of this effort. It also locates the project in a wider context of public art practices in India and elsewhere, through invited essays, and calls for broader collaborations for urban sustainability.
• Why have we Indians become so suddenly, and so quickly, obese?
• Why are our children overweight? Will they be diabetic and hypertensive before they are thirty?
• What is making us overweight? Is it our ‘homefood’ or ‘outsidefood’?
• What happens to food once we eat it, and how is it linked to obesity?
• And if we are obese, what can we do about it?
In Fat, doctors Ishrat Syed and Kalpana Swaminathan meld the newest research with their own clinical experience to answer these questions and uncover the links between food and our bodies. We discover the magical relationship between the brain and the fat cell; how it enhances our enjoyment of a delicious meal, how it tricks us into choosing the right foods in the right amounts, and how this perfect balance can go haywire. We learn of the ways in which the stresses of our modern lifestyles—especially in urban India—are pushing us into becoming overweight, and what we can do about it. We learn, also, the essential principles of the perfectly balanced meal and how simple it is to implement them in our kitchens.
Specially focused on India, this accessible and timely volume tells us everything we need to know about our body, the food we eat to fuel it, and what we must guard against—and do—so that we keep ourselves, and our children, healthy and energized.
• Can our diet have an impact on the prevention of cancer?
• What kind of foods should we eat if we are undergoing surgery, chemotherapy or radiation?
• What kind of foods should we cut out to avoid and recover from cancer?
In Cancer, Your Body and Your Diet, Dr Arati Bhatia breaks down the latest research, and uses her own clinical and personal experiences to answer these, and other, pressing questions about cancer. She explains the hows and whys of the cancer cell cycle, what to do after being diagnosed with cancer, and the crucial role that food plays in the prevention and treatment of all types of cancers.
The author, a medical doctor, is herself a cancer survivor and later, was her husband’s primary caregiver in his own fight against cancer. Drawing on these experiences, she takes readers through every stage, from diagnosis to therapy (chemo, surgery or radiation) to palliative care, with a focus on the quality of a cancer patient’s life. She applies her considerable medical training and experience to advise cancer patients, their relatives and caregivers, as well as the general health-conscious public who want to avoid cancer.
Practical, informative and complete with diet advice and eating schedules, this is an accessible and immensely useful handbook for fighting against cancer and leading a healthier, fuller life.
This title will be available by 25 November 2018
Stillborn Season opens with the assassination of Indira Gandhi in October 1984. Brilliantly evoking the homicidal madness of the days which followed, the novel traces the fates of individual and intermeshed lives as mobs spill out onto the streets of Delhi, hunting, maiming and killing Sikh men and women in revenge.
Raiders come at midnight for Jaspreet Singh, an elderly gentleman from South Delhi, and he narrowly escapes with his life after his granddaughter Amrit thinks up an unusual disguise for him. Hari, part of a mob, invades an upscale restaurant in Connaught Place and helps burn the proprietor alive before demanding a bespoke meal from the chef. Balbir, hiding inside a cabinet in his store in Punjabi Bagh, bears witness to Hari being gunned down by his store-assistant. And Bhola, a young disabled beggar at the busy Bhikaji Cama intersection, keeps a Sikh father and son from being lynched.
Then, moving forward in time, the novel finds Amrit, now a young journalist, talking to people to understand the violence that scarred her childhood. She learns how the books of Nai Sarak were saved because Rikhi Chacha, a Sikh book-lover, gave up his life for them. At the house of Satwant, a Sikh taxi-driver, she pays the cost of dredging up memories in people who would rather forget them. And Balwant Mann, a retired constable of Delhi Police, divulges more about his role in the riots to her than he intends to.
Rarely has a work of fiction captured the violence of 1984 with as much empathy and on such an expansive canvas. Stillborn Season is a must read.
This volume presents an accessible introduction to the lives and works of the most influential economists of modern times. Free from confusing jargon and equations, it describes and discusses key economic concepts—among others, cognitive biases, saving, entrepreneurship, game theory, liberalism, laissez-faire and welfare economics—showing how they have come to shape how we see ourselves and our society today.
All of the economists featured—Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Alfred Marshall, Joseph Schumpeter, John Maynard Keynes, and Nobel Prize-winners Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, John Forbes Nash Jr, Daniel Kahneman, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz—have had a profound influence on our attitudes towards market intervention and regulation, taxation, trade and monetary policy. Each chapter combines a biographical outline of a single thinker with critical analysis of their contribution to economic thought.
If you’ve ever wanted to find out more about the foundational concepts of modern economics—the invisible hand, Marxism, Keynesianism, creative destruction and behavioral economics, and many others—this book is perfect for you.
The 1400-year-old schism between Sunnis and Shi‘is has rarely been as toxic as it is today, feeding wars and communal strife in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and many other countries, with tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalating. India, too, has not emerged unscathed from this schism, and has witnessed periodic violence between the two sects throughout history.
In this richly layered and engrossing account, John McHugo reveals how this great divide occurred. Charting the story of Islam from the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad to the present day, he describes the conflicts that raged over the succession to the Prophet, how Sunnism and Shi‘ism evolved as different sects during the Abbasid caliphate, and how the rivalry between the empires of the Sunni Ottomans and Shi‘i Safavids contrived to ensure that the split would continue into modern times. Now its full, destructive force has been brought out by the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for the soul of the Muslim world.
Definitive, insightful and accessible, A Concise History of Sunnis and Shi‘is shows that there was nothing inevitable about the sectarian conflicts that now disfigure Islam. It is an essential guide to understanding the genesis, development and manipulation of the great schism that for far too many people has come to define Islam and the Muslim world.