The New India Foundation (NIF) Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Book Prize was on Saturday awarded to political and modern Indian history scholar Ornit Shani for her book How India Became Democratic: Citizenship and the Making of the Universal Franchise, published by Penguin Random House India.
In How India Became Democratic, Dr Shani — who received her PhD from the University of Cambridge — details how the electoral roll was prepared, on the basis of universal adult franchise, in the world's largest democracy, also showing how democracy captured the popular political imagination of a diverse people.
Dr Shani says about the award: "I am thrilled to be the recipient of the New India Foundation Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Prize this year, especially in the face of the distinguished company I was with on the shortlist. It also reminds me of how inspiring it was to research this book in the archives. Liberal democratic institutions are being challenged and even attacked in many countries around the world, including in India. How India Became Democratic represents what India set itself to be at its founding: a democratic inclusive state for a deeply plural society. Preparing the electoral rolls on the basis of universal adult franchise, turning all adult Indians irrespective of their caste, class, gender, or religion into equal individuals for the purpose of authorising their government ahead of the constitution, was a concrete way of doing so."
The shortlist for the prize also included Manoranjan Byapari's Interrogating My Chandal Life, Rohit De's A People's Constitution: The Everyday Life of Law in the Indian Republic, Snigdha Poonam's Dreamers: How Young Indians Are Changing Their World, Alpa Shah's Nightmarch: A Journey into India's Naxal Heartlands, and Piers Vitebsky's Living Without the Dead: Loss and Redemption in a Jungle Cosmos.
The prize carries a sum of Rs 15 lakhs and this second annual prize was presented during the Bangalore Literature Festival. Members of the jury included Nandan Nilekani, Ramachandra Guha, Manish Sabharwal and Srinath Raghavan.
The Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize book prize was set-up in 2018, with the aim of recognising outstanding non-fiction about contemporary India, and is open to all authors irrespective of their nationality.
The 2018 prize was awarded to Dr Milan Vaishnav for his book When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics.
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Updated Date: Nov 11, 2019 17:24:05 IST