March 2013 Posts

Indus: A Journal of Art, Culture & Design  #1  — Call for Papers

Indus: A Journal of Art, Culture & Design #1 — Call for Papers

Indus: A Journal of Art, Culture & Design #1

Call for Papers

INAUGURAL ISSUE: CALL FOR PAPERS

The Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture is pleased to announce the launch of its new academic journal, Indus, and to invite submissions for our inaugural issue.

Indus is seeking essays, research papers, reviews, criticism, and interviews from scholars and practitioners that address historical and contemporary visual, artifactual, and artisanal culture produced in Pakistan or in the diaspora (architecture, art, craft, design, film, performance, video). ‘Historical’, for our purposes, reflects creative work produced pre-partition, but within the boundaries that describe the nation today. Significant exceptions include essays that examine wider regional, continental, or global influences on historical or contemporary work.

We encourage submissions that address visual art and culture from an interdisciplinary perspective, that reveal epistemological gaps and omissions in our collective understanding of the new, and that articulate new approaches to thinking about our aesthetic heritage.

“CITIES”

Each issue of Indus will include a broadly defined thematic section that asks scholars and practitioners to address a specific subject from multiple points-of-view. The theme for our first issue is ‘Cities’: how we look at, create, imagine, destroy, and represent them. Early in his essay “Semiology and the Urban”, Roland Barthes writes,

The city is a discourse and this discourse is truly a language: the city speaks to its inhabitants, we speak to our city, the city where we are, simply by living in it, by wandering through it, by looking at it. Still the problem is to bring an expression like ‘the language of the city’ out of the purely metaphorical stage….

Yet throughout his essay, he likens cities to other things—a poem, a writing, a map, an image, a historical symbol.

We invite essays that read the city through its visual and material forms, that investigate our built environments as simultaneously fixed and ephemeral, that give critical and imaginative shape to these local habitations.

Please e-mail 500-word abstracts by Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 to journal@indusvalley.edu.pk. Completed essays should be e-mailed by Monday, July 1st, 2013

Guidelines:

Critical essays/Research papers 5000-10000 words
Interviews 3000-5000 words
Reviews 1500-3000 words
One Work 2000-2500 words

We welcome reviews of exhibitions, performances, films, television programmes, books, architecture, and archaeological discoveries. Reviews should include relevant publication, production, and/or curatorial information (dates, venues, artists), and must be submitted no later than one month following publication or the conclusion of the event.

“One Work” invites a sustained reflection on a single visual work—film, building, painting, sculpture, photograph, monument, video, or design. While the journal usually commissions these essays, we do accept unsolicited submissions, and will make every effort to consider these for publication.

Editing/Formatting:

All manuscripts must be double-spaced (including documentation), and should not exceed the word counts specified above (including notes). All citations should be submitted as endnotes, and must be included with the original submission (please do not use the automatic footnote or endnote facility in your word processing program), and must follow the Modern Language Association Style Manual, 3rd Edition (2008).

To facilitate blind peer reviewing, please make certain your name does not appear in the body of your article. If you need to cite your own previous scholarship, please refer to yourself in the third person.

Once edited and peer-reviewed, essays will be returned for revision before final acceptance for publication. The editors reserve the right to edit your submission, with your approval, before final publication, and/or to withdraw publication during this process.

Indus uses British English spelling and punctuation. For editorial ease, please refer to Oxford Dictionaries useful online guide < http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/british-and-american-spelling>.

All submissions should be sent electronically to journal@indusvalley.edu.pk.

Copyright

All material published in this journal is protected by copyright. All rights of reproduction or storage in any form (electronic, magnetic, or optical) of essays, reviews, illustrations, or photographs published in this journal are reserved. Permission to photocopy items for research, pedagogical, or scholarly use must be requested in writing.

All queries should be addressed to Indus Journal, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, ST-33, Block 2, Scheme 5, Clifton, Karachi-75600, Pakistan.

For additional information regarding submissions or our editorial policies, please contact us at journal@indusvalley.edu.pk.

Dr. Framji Minwalla
Editor/ Managing Editor

Gemma Sharpe
Associate Editor

Deadly Royal Recipe, Ranjit Lal ( Duckbill and Westland)

Deadly Royal Recipe, Ranjit Lal ( Duckbill and Westland)

When you put together an editor-cum-author (Anushka Ravishankar) and an author (Ranjit Lal) team together–who between them have nearly 50 books published–you get a crackling good story for YA. Read Deadly Royal Recipe. A modern day princess story, full of spunk, adventure and laughter. Warning: Keep a bowl of munchies near you, or by the time you finish reading this book, you will be ravenous!

Read more about the book and an interview with Ranjit Lal at the Duckbill website: http://theduckbillblog.wordpress.com/category/ranjit-lal/

On content in publishing, March 2013

On content in publishing, March 2013

Last week my BusinessWorld column focussed on the importance of content. (http://www.jayabhattacharjirose.com/jaya/2013/03/26/the-economics-of-electronic-content-if-the-e-content-falters-or-is-under-par-it-will-not-translate-into-a-sustainable-business-model/) It discussed how education publishers are growing. Trade publishers too want a slice of this pie and are busy reinventing themselves and introducing new verticals that focus on education publishing.

Since then there are three interesting pieces of news that I have come across:

16 March 2013 “..the global book conglomerate Random House is now hiring mostly statisticians and mathematicians in the United States, because CEO Markus Dohle has dubbed Random House a “data driven company”. ( “An Amazon problem: the book is dead, long live the book. ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/Business/amazon-problem-book-dead-long-live-book/story?id=18737681#.UVMv2Bxgcsw )

26 March 2013 The Bookseller ( http://www.thebookseller.com/news/bertelsmann-develop-education-business.html) announced that Bertelsmann is to develop education business with the long-term potential to generate €1bn in sales, it was revealed at the company’s annual results conference in Berlin this morning (26th March).

Meanwhile Random House chairman and chief executive officer Markus Dohle spoke of “possible further portfolios” in Latin America following its outright acquisition of Spanish-language publisher Random House Mondadori.
Last year Bertelsmann invested in the University Ventures Fund, which partners with entrepreneurs and institutions to establish “transformative” companies in post-secondary education. Today the German media group said it was pursuing a “comparable model” in education.

Thomas Hesse, executive board member for corporate development and new businesses, said the education sector offered considerable growth potential in China, India and Brazil, and a new business division would be created for Bertelsmann’s education activities. The education division would grow through “incubation, start-ups and gradual development over the years”, he said.

The news came as Bertelsmann reiterated a company strategy oriented towards growth, and digital and international initiatives, with chairman and c.e.o. Thomas Rabe saying it was Bertelsmann’s objective to increase sales share in the US, China, India and Brazil.

At the conference, Dohle indicated that further publishing acquisitions could be on the cards as the company looked to growth in emerging markets. The acquisition of the remaining 50% of Random House Mondadori last November “makes it possible to generate more growth in Latin America, organically and with possible further portfolios”, he said.

AND

27 March 2013 HMH Appoints First-Ever Chief Content Officer (DBW) http://click.digitalbookworld-hub.com/?qs=eb4fce5f18a52c20103018f3ccfe67589e9bff1bcbf4bf04a4debf9366e867ce
Mary Cullinane is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s first-ever chief content officer. She was formerly the head of innovation for Microsoft Education. She will lead the company’s content production and innovation efforts. Previously, she had been executive vice president of corporate affairs at the company.

On plagiarism and Ankit Fadia

On plagiarism and Ankit Fadia

In February 2013, Charles Assisi, Executive Editor, Forbes India published an article about Ankit Fadia. Please read. http://http://forbesindia.com/article/beyond-business/ankit-fadia-revealed/34793/0

An extract.
“For a very long time, I’ve despised you as a charlatan. There used to be a time when I thought you a script kiddie, or a skiddie if you will. You know what comprises those types—plagiarists who pass off software programs developed by others as their own. That is why on every forum that matters, I’ve rubbished your credentials as a hacker of any merit. I’ve openly accused you of shameless self promotion. And each time you appeared on television shows or in print as one of the most prominent experts on computing and security in the world, I’ve laughed my backside off. I told everybody who cared to listen you’re nothing but a bag of gas, whose reputation was built by shoddy journalists that eagerly lapped up the tall stories you doled out.

Like I told you the other day, I thought it impossible how the books you’ve authored until now could possibly have managed to sell 25 million copies. I thought it completely ridiculous on your part to claim you were contacted by American “intelligence agencies” for help to decipher an encrypted email sent by Al Qaida operatives post 9/11.

But after an email interview and five hours of talking the other day, all I have to say is mea culpa. You are perhaps one of the smartest 27-year-olds I’ve met in all my years in journalism. And I’m willing to bet every rupee I have you’ll go a very long way because you’re twice as smart as CEOs I know who are twice your age—and that you are exponentially smarter than I am.”

I posted the link on my Facebook wall. And here follows the conversation between Ankit Fadia’s first publisher, Joseph Mathai and Charles Assisi of Forbes. Pranesh Prakash, Centre for Internet and Society also responds on plagiarism. This is a conversation that took place on my Facebook wall on 28 Feb 2013. I am copy-pasting the conversation thread on to my blog as well with the permission of Charles Assisi, Joseph Mathai and Pranesh Prakash.

Joseph Mathai: I published Ankit’s first book when I was in Macmillan India. Yes it was written when he was 13, he turned 14 by the time we got around to publishing it, after getting it thoroughly reviewed. That was the “Unofficial Guide to Ethical Hacking.” In 2001 I sold the international publishing rights of the book to a company later taken over by Thomson Learning (now Cengage Learning), one of the few technical books sold abroad by an Indian publishing entity. It has been selling for about fifteen years now.
28 February at 12:34

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose: Joseph Mathai So the 25 million figure as the sales figure for his books holds true?
28 February at 12:48

Joseph Mathai: I don’t think so, but if you think of the number of titles and the number of years the actual figures would be impressive. In fact when people have asked me for sales figures I have told them in the absence of any independently verifiable figure it would be against my own interest to be honest. That was not the purpose of my comment, I wanted to share some facts which I think are in themselves impressive.
28 February at 12:58

Charles Assisi: The problem with that book though Joseph was that it was heavily plagiarized. All the pointers to that have been out in the open for a very long time now. For instance, http://attrition.org/errata/charlatan/ankit_fadia/unofficial.html
a summary of ankit fadia events demonstrating charlatan status
28 February at 13:04

Joseph Mathai: Yeah, those were the days when we did not have the Internet tools to pick up plagiarism at this level. But 32% plagiarism, that too from a variety of sources, in what was, even in its first edition, a fat book; is that such a big crime to place on the shoulders of a 13-year old. I have witnessed worse from adults, and people who continue to hold teaching jobs in government funded colleges and universities.
28 February at 13:24

Charles Assisi: Yes, it is. A crime is a crime and it cannot be condoned by people. If a child were to copy from another students paper in something as routine as a school exam, they are made examples of and penalized heavily. That is because you want them to grow up into individuals who place a premium on integrity. Condoning a crime simply convinces the perpetrators to believe they can get away with it. In the long run, it’s a lose lose for everybody. The perpetrator included.
28 February at 13:37

Joseph Mathai: “ ‘I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury,’ said cunning old Fury: ‘I’ll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.’ ” When we refuse to take a more discerning view of the nature and scope of a “crime”, we do a great disservice. I merely wanted to add colour, shade and texture to a story that came across a little too monochromatic.
28 February at 14:23

Charles Assisi: Oh no Joseph. Not at all. Declining to take a discerning view would have meant not giving him a chance to defend the charges. But after corresponding over email, recorded conversations that lasted hours, and all facts double checked, then a story deserves to go into print. Monochromatic? If that’s what it comes across as to you, I’ll have to accept your verdict and respect it.
28 February at 14:42

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose: Joseph Mathai I have to agree with Charles Assisi. Plagiarism is a crime. It is the stealing of original content/ IPR created by an author without due acknowledgement. It does not matter whether the plagiarist is a 13 year old or an adult. It remains a crime. Using the lack of internet tools at the time of publication to gauge the extent of plagiariam done by Ankit or to say he notched up impressive sales of his book as some sort of justification, does not take away from the crime that it is. In any case in the days before (and now) Internet tools the onus lies upon the editor, publishing house and the expert readers to whom the manuscript is sent to spot the extent of plagiarism. Ask the copyright experts — Raghavender Gudibande R, Shamnad Basheer and Pranesh Prakash.
28 February at 15:24

Joseph Mathai: I am not denying that plagiarism is a crime. Even after assuming that the analysis is true I say that 32% in a 608 page is not a big crime. Collating information from different sources and bringing them together in one flow that appeals to readers is an achievement. If in around a third of the material this has been done wrongly then that is the measure of the crime. A crime is not a crime — it has its specificities, it has its context. The piece emerges as monochromatic because it does not explain the continuing success of Ankit Fadia. Or are you of the opinion that most of the people can be fooled all of the time.
28 February at 16:15

Charles Assisi: Surely, you’re kidding me Joseph! But I guess to each his own. Good luck!
28 February at 16:22

Charles Assisi: And please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to change your opinion on what I wrote. That’s a view and I have to accept it. Just responding to the plagiarism bit because I’ve not hesitated in the past to sack people who’ve even attempted it. But like I said earlier, to each his own.
28 February at 16:25

Joseph Mathai: As a publisher of books we deal with authors to whom writing is at best a part-time pre-occupation. Plagiarism is a vexing problem that is faced in the textbook publishing industry, as textbooks are a synthesis of views already expressed in published books. For me the ideal textbook is Sumit Sarkar’s Modern India (published by Macmillan India when Tejeswar Singh was there). It sketched out the state-of-the-art on the subject, and the meticulously kept extensive bibliography worked liked innumerable labelled doors that allowed readers to explore particular aspects in greater depth if they wanted. The tragedy is that many textbook writers do not go to research based publications, but just synthesize three or four other textbooks to prepare a new one. This started happening in the days when IT could not be used to detect such practices easily. It had its advantages because the authors would compile the textbook in line with syllabi considerations and in tune with the way in which questions were asked in the university. Plagiarism was caught out only when authors recognized their content in books not written by them. Once publishers became familiar with plagiarism detection tools available on the Internet, we could see significant instances of 70-100% plagiarism. Which is why I consider 32% plagiarism a “minor crime”. Even in these situations we needed to deal with the situation. In some cases we could not afford to “sack” authors whose content showed plagiarism. This context calls for a more discerning view of plagiarism. I recognize that in a newspaper/magazine situation where a higher degree of professionalism is called for from your writers who you pay on a time-rate basis, you might need to have a binary approach to plagiarism.
28 February at 17:44

Pranesh Prakash: Joseph: The problem is not about having 32% of “non-original” stuff in a 608 page book. It’s about hiding the fact that it is non-original. And Jaya, I’d rather keep copyright infringement issues separate from those of plagiarism. Copyright infringement can exist even if you acknowledge your sources; plagiarism is about not acknowledging your sources. And while saying that, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite essays: “The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism” by Jonathan Lethem: http://goo.gl/2X0Vl
28 February at 18:53

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose: Thank you Pranesh Prakash especially for differentiating between plagiarism and copyright infringement. It is a fine distinction but an important one.
28 February at 18:59

Charles Assisi: Succintly put Pranesh. Have to share the piece. Thanks for the pointer
28 February at 20:46

Joseph Mathai: Pranesh I was talking about it from a plagiarism perspective itself, and the act of hiding the original source. In a situation where rampant plagiarism is seen I feel there is a need to look at percentages.

I liked the article, my own views reflect those of the postman in “Il Postino” when he is accused by Neruda of using Neruda’s poetry to court the love of his life. The postman dismisses the charge as being irrelevant saying: “Poetry belongs to those who need it.”
1 March at 07:35

Charles Assisi: Disagree with you Joseph on percentages. But love Neruda
1 March at 07:41

On 27 March 2013, Penguin Books invited Ankit Fadia to participate in Spring Fever 2013, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

On historical fiction ( My article published in HT’s Brunch, 9 March 2013)

On historical fiction ( My article published in HT’s Brunch, 9 March 2013)

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Brunch/Brunch-Stories/Once-Upon-A-Time-In-India/Article1-1023602.aspx

Once upon a time in India
Jaya Bhattacharji Rose, Hindustan Times
March 09, 2013
First Published: 12:11 IST(9/3/2013)
Last Updated: 19:27 IST(9/3/2013)

1860s London was agog with the Codrington case. It was a juicy story involving vice-admiral Codrington and his wife Helen, accused by her husband of having had an affair with Colonel Anderson, that was unfurling in the divorce courts. During the proceedings, front-page news at the time, the skewed slant of the legal system towards women became apparent. One of the key witnesses was Helen’s friend, Emily Faithfull or ‘Fido’, a leading member of the first wave of the British women’s emancipation movement and owner of The Victoria Press. Emma Donoghue’s The Sealed Letter recreates the events in her novel. She relies on contemporary accounts of the period, but for the sake of story, compresses the events spread over some years to a few months of 1864. She uses artistic licence to reveal the contents of the sealed letter that were used in the courtroom but never made public.

Madhulika Liddle
The author of The Englishman’s Cameo, set her detective, Muzaffar Jang, in 17th- century Delhi. “Commercial fiction dependent upon mythology is mistakenly clubbed with historical fiction,” she says. These are the joys of reading well-told historical fiction – a rollicking good story, but pinned in facts (hugely dependent on meticulous research) combined with attention to detail.

What is historical fiction?
A historical fiction society website says, “To be deemed historical, a novel must have been written at least 50 years after the events described, or have been written by someone who was not alive at the time of those events (who therefore approaches them only by research).” Writer Sheba Karim (whose forthcoming novel revolves around Razia Sultan) describes them as “novels set in a past time period, which feels different from our own in terms of aspects like technological advancement, scientific understanding, political systems and modes of transport so that the author must include rich, descriptive detail to give the reader a strong sense of time and place.”

The scene in India
In Britain, it is a hugely successful genre, spawning an association, awards and wide acclaim. Jenny Barden, author and organiser of the Historical Novel Society (HNS) conference held in London in September 2012, comments that of the 13 titles longlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2011, more than half were in some sense ‘historical’. Of the six titles recently shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2012, four were historical. Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall won the Man Booker Prize in 2009 and last year, the sequel, Bring Up The Bodies, won the prize again. Now, the historical fiction genre is doing well here too.


Diana Preston One half of the husband-wife team behind the Empire of the Moghul series says the conflicts of the Mughals’ lives caught their imagination. “And historical fiction offered the best scope for conveying that excitement.”

The Grand Mughals
Alex Rutherford’s Empire of the Moghul series has also been a big success in India. ‘Alex Rutherford’ is the pseudonym of husband-and-wife team, Diana and Michael Preston. “We chose to fictionalise the story of the Mughal emperors after reading the source material beginning with The Baburnama – the first biography in Islamic literature – through to the court chronicles of the later emperors,” wrote Diana in an email. “The conflicts of their lives caught our imagination and historical fiction seemed to offer the best scope for conveying the excitement of what happened, since the it offers greater freedom to create dialogue, explain motivation, interpret silences in the sources than non-fiction.” According to the Rutherfords, one of the great pleasures of historical fiction is delineating the characters. “What caught our attention particularly was how the Mughal dynasty, outwardly so opulent and successful, carried the seeds of its own destruction within it. Their tradition – brought with them from West Asia – was for familial rivalries expressed in their saying ‘taktya, takhta’, ‘throne or coffin’. The Mughals’ greatest enemies were not their external foes but each other. Exploring their jealousies and feuds was absorbing.”

Who was Mira Bai’s husband?

Kiran Nagarkar Nagarkar’s Cuckold is one of the best known in the genre. “The book has a narrative epic. At the same time it tends to be philosophical,” says the author.
Kiran Nagarkar’s brilliant Cuckold (a tale told from Mira Bai’s husband’s perspective) leads among local historical-fiction novels by being continuously in print since it was first published in 1997. “I do not see Cuckold as historical fiction but as a very modern book,’ Nagarkar says. “I wasn’t trying to write anything factual, but luckily it fell into place. The book has a narrative epic. At the same time it does something very underhand, it tends to be philosophical – personal ruminations, state craft, and the science of retreating.”

More tales from the past
Indu Sundaresan, author of the popular Taj Mahal trilogy (The Twentieth Wife, The Feast of Roses, The Shadow Princess) about Mehrunnisa aka Empress Nur Jahan, the most powerful woman in the Mughal empire, says she always daydreamed a lot. “My love for history, and storytelling, came from my father,” she explains. “Dad was a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force, and at every place he was posted, he’d take us to visit the forts and palaces and fill our heads with tales of the kings and queens who inhabited them. That’s why, I think, I write historical fiction.”
In her book The Englishman’s Cameo and The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries, Madhulika Liddle sets her detective hero loose in 17th-century Delhi. One reason it’s so popular is that it lets you time travel in the city you thought you knew.

The young-adult niche
Subhadra Sen Gupta, known for her historical fiction set in ancient and medieval India, says that recreating the time and life of people is the real challenge when it comes to hooking younger readers. “I also travel to historical places in search of locations because the descriptions of places are crucial.”

Subhadra Sen Gupta The author of Let’s Go Time Travelling likes to visit historical places. “Recreating a time and the life of people is the real challenge,” she says

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the author of Neela: Victory Song, a young-adult novel set during the freedom movement, says there isn’t that much available for younger readers. “It is very important for young readers to understand history and their heritage,” she says. “It helps them make sense of the contemporary world. It teaches them about the link between cause and effect. Historical fiction, often full of action and excitement and suspense, draws young readers into that time and teaches them history in a fun way.” She rubbishes the theory that historical fiction is easier to write. “Much more research has to be done about the period. For Neela: Victory Song, I interviewed my mother, who was a young girl during that time.” The common factor binding these writers is not necessarily the genre, but their attention to detail and rigorous research. They are meticulous in getting their facts right about their protagonists and reading around the period including contemporary accounts but presenting it differently in a non-textbook fashion.

History or Mythology?
Unfortunately in India, mythology-driven fiction is often mistakenly clubbed with historical fiction. Some instances of this confusion are David Hair’s young-adult trilogy Return of Ravana (Pyre of Queens, The Ghost Bride and more); Ashok Banker’s The Forest of Stories, Krishna Udayasankar’s Govinda, and Ashwin Sanghi’s The Krishna Key.

But historical fiction is everywhere. Publishers are nurturing this genre and it has steady sales. Maybe the current outburst of publications on the Indian literary landscape such as Cyrus Mistry’s Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer; Irfan Master’s A Beautiful Lie; Biman Nath’s The Tattooed Fakir; Manreet Sodhi Someshwar’s The Taj Conspiracy and Amandeep Sandhu’s Roll of Honour bode well for those who like a good historically accurate yarn.

Prizes and readers
The market for the historical fiction genre is growing. Previously the Historical Writers’ Association (HWA) together with Goldsboro Books set up the £2,000 HWA-Goldsboro Crown for Debut Historical Fiction written by a previously unpublished-in-fiction author; now the HNS has founded the £5,000 Historical Novel Society International Award for an unpublished work of historical fiction written by any author (whether previously unpublished or not). Add these to the prizes already well-established for historical fiction, and there are now a good range of awards for any writer in the genre to aim for.

Alexandra Pringle, editor-in-chief at Bloomsbury, has a suprising slant on the genre, which may well account for its popularity: “Historical fiction probably has a more balanced audience in terms of gender than much other fiction: men as well as women enjoy historical fiction.”

The writer is an international publishing consultant and columnist

Reading up the past
Here is a list of historical fiction novels that you could go for

Elizabeth Goudge’s Green Dolphin Street
Robert Grave’s I, Claudius
Leon Uris’s Exodus
Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace
Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn
Michael Ondaatje’s English Patient
Kiran Nagarkar’s Cuckold
Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows
Emma Donoghue’s The Sealed Letter
Indu Sundaresan’s The Shadow Princess, The Twentieth Wife and The Feast of Roses.
Alex Rutherford’s The Empire of the Mughal series
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five
Barabara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible
Subhadra Sengupta’s Kartik’s War; Kartik & the Lost Gold; Waiting for Tansen (adults); Sword of Dara Shikoh; History, Mystery, Dal, Biryani; A Clown for Tenali Rama; Give us Freedom; Bishnu the Dhobi Singer; Once Upon a Time in India plus many biographies – Akbar, Ashoka, Gandhi and fictionalised bios of Jahanara & Jodh Bai.
Madhulika Liddle’s The Englishman’s Cameo and The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries
Mukul Kesavan’s Looking Through Glass
Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy
Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children
Chitra Bannerjee Divakurni’s Victory Song
Arupa Kalita Patangia’s Dawn
Shauna Singh Baldwin’s The Tiger Claw and What the Body Remembers
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies
Andrew Miller’s Pure
Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues
Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray
Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies

From HT Brunch, March 10

Year in Books 2013 (Article published in Asian Age, 6 Jan 2013)

Year in Books 2013 (Article published in Asian Age, 6 Jan 2013)

( http://archive.asianage.com/books/2013-year-books-575 )

2012 was the year of memoirs, poetry, short story collections, books on cinema, long narratives (inevitably from the personal point of view) on India and the launch of a clutch of home-grown sleuths (many of whom will resurface this year in sequels). The focus in 2013 will be on politics, and rightly so since 2014 is the year of general elections, the city, sports literature and, of course, fiction.
Publishing houses promise a rich crop of fiction in 2013. Some of the heavyweights who will be returning with new novels include Manil Suri. City of Devi, a dystopian novel set in Mumbai, desolate after threats of nuclear annihilation, is Manil’s boldest and most ambitious novel yet — a satirical and provocative tale that upsets assumptions of politics, religion and sex. Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed is a multi-generational family story revolving around brothers and sisters, and the ways in which they love, wound, betray, honour and sacrifice for each other. This half-a-century of history promises to be a rich and unforgettable story about a land and a people told through different characters.
Jaspreet Singh’s Helium is a story centred on the 1984 Sikh riots; Nadeem Aslam’s Blind Man’s Garden is a novel set in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the months following 9/11 — it’s a story of war and one family’s loss. Then there is Coetzee’s Life of Jesus, Vikas Swarup’s Accidental Apprentice (of Slumdog Millionaire fame), and Mohsin Hamid’s novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, which follows the life of a man from boyhood to old age, from poverty to wealth, all the while playing with the form of the how-to-get-rich self-help manual. There’s also Anosh Irani’s The Cripple and His Talisman and Manjushree Thapa’s new novel, Everyone in Their Own Lives. Anurag Mathur, of The Inscrutable Americans fame, will be releasing two books — Country Going to the Dogs and A Modern Life.
The debut highlights of 2013 include In the Light of What We Know, by Bangladeshi writer Zia Raman Haider, which chronicles the devastating effects of dispossession and unmooring of the self, and Omar Hamid’s novel, The Prisoner, about a former Pakistani police official who unravels the murky underworld of Karachi. Shamsur Rahman Faruqi’s Mirror of Beauty is an “epic novel” about an extraordinary beauty in late Mughal Delhi. Faruqi, one of the most acclaimed scholars of Urdu studies, vividly captures the literature, dress, food and culture of high Islamic culture in 19th-century India.
Film, television and stage actor-director Jayant Kripalani’s New Market Tales is a brilliant short story collection set in the iconic New Market area of Kolkata and Bhaichand Patel’s debut novel, Radha’s Song, is a thriller set in the world of Bollywood’s glitz and glamour.
Translations continue to be published, though in insufficient numbers. But this year Full Circle will release In the City of Gold and Silver: A Historical Novel by Kenizé Mourad, a writer of Turkish and Indian descent. Mourad recounts the fascinating story of Begum Hazrat Mahal, the fourth wife of King Wajid Ali Shah. Also, Seagull Books will publish Abbas Khider’s The Village Indian, and Zubaan will publish Indira Goswami’s last novel, The Bronze Sword of Thengphakari Tehsildar, translated by Aruni Kashyap. Set in late 19th-century Assam, it is the heroic tale of a Bodo freedom fighter who was, arguably, the first woman revenue collector in British India. Vintage Chughtai: A Selection of Her Best Stories translated by Tahira Naqvi will be published by Women Unlimited. For Supernova, Arunava Sinha will translate Dada Saheb Phalke 2012 awardee Soumitro Chattterjee’s memoir With Manikda.
Politics and politicians have always made interesting subjects for literature. In 2012, Shobhaa De released the fabulous Sethji with its delightful and sinister insights into Indian politics. 2013 promises a mix of politics and history, and accounts of regions that are considered precursors of what happens on the national stage. The list includes Punjab by Rajmohun Gandhi; The New Bihar: An Unusual Story of Governance and Development by N.K. Singh; Che in Paona Bazaar: Tales of Exile and Belonging from India’s North-East by Kishalay Bhattacharjee; Waters Close Over Us: A Journey Through Narmada Valley by Hartosh Singh Bal; and One Blood Has Clots by Rahul Pandita.
Eagerly awaited are biographies and tales of dynasties — The Dynasty: The Nehrus and the Gandhis by Pranay Gupta; Indira Gandhi: A Personal and Political Biography by Inder Malhotra; The Vision and Roadmap For The Country By Her Young Parliamentarians (ed. Shashi Tharoor) and Narendra Modi: The Man, the Times by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay and Narendra Modi: A Biography by Kingshuk Nag. Basharat Peer is also scheduled to publish a book on the Muslims of India.
Media reporting on wars, insurgencies, riots and natural calamities routinely overlooks women. In an attempt to address this lacuna, Across the Crossfire: Women and Conflict in India (Ed. by Pamela Philipose and Aditi Bishnoi) presents a series of news-features commissioned by the Women’s Feature Service. Written between 2009 and 2011, these features illustrate a gamut of women’s experiences of conflict in India, their courageous resistance, their creative pragmatism and their inspiring resilience as, time and again, they reach out across divisive lines and rebuild their communities and lives. Within this context it is interesting to hear what Barkha Dutt will highlight in her eagerly awaited This Unquiet Land: Despatches from India’s Faultlines. She will record her experiences from the front lines of every major news event in India over the past decade-and-a-half. Veteran journalist and commentator Khushwant Singh’s The Good, the Bad, the Ridiculous will be about the most unforgettable characters he has met.
The “city” as a subject has slowly been gaining significance (most notably with Mayank Austen Soofi’s — Delhiwalla — recently launched Nobody Can Love You More: Life in Delhi’s Red Light District). Aleph’s book list includes some of the country’s best writers describe India’s iconic cities, evoking their essence through essays that are a combination of history, personal memoir and travelogue. Contributors include Amitava Kumar (Patna), Malvika Singh (Delhi), Nirmala Lakshman (Chennai/Madras), Indrajit Hazra (Kolkata) and Naresh Fernandes (Bombay). Some of the other city books being published include Isha Manchanda’s Carnal City; Amit Chaudhuri’s Calcutta: 24 Years in the City; Gyan Prakash’s Bombay Velvet and Tulsi Badrinath’s Madras to Chennai Express. Yatra/Westland books will launch Yaad Sheher with Neelesh Misra, a series of books based on a popular radio show. Neelesh Misra narrates stories of his childhood, growing up in a small town, leaving home, making it big in the city, the pain and isolation of migration, through a story set in a city of his memories.
Writing on sports has mostly been confined to newspapers but in 2013 a couple of interesting titles include The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India and The Best of Indian Sports Writing. There will also be a biography on Pataudi: Nawab of Cricket.
A couple of books on art that sound promising are Daniells’ India: Views from the Eighteenth Century. Thomas Daniell was 36 years old when he and his nephew William, barely 16, sailed out from Gravesend in April 1785, headed for the East. They arrived in Calcutta via China the next year. The Daniells travelled across India, painting oriental scenery wherever they went. The other book is The History of Indian Art: Sculpture and Mural Paintings by eminent art historian and photographer Benoy K. Behl. Beautifully illustrated, it is a journey through the realms of Indian art from the 4th millennium BC through medieval times.
Business books are constant sellers. Business Titans by Charles Assisi and Indrajit Gupta; Rise and Fall of Rajat Gupta by Sandipan Deb and Business Sutra: Leadership Secrets from Hindu Gods and Goddesses by Devdutt Pattanaik are worth highlighting.
2013 promises to be a satisfying year for books!
Jaya Bhattacharji-Rose is a publishing consultant and critic

The Economics Of Electronic Content: If the e-content falters or is under-par, it will not translate into a sustainable business model

The Economics Of Electronic Content: If the e-content falters or is under-par, it will not translate into a sustainable business model


( “PubSpeak” My column on publishing in BusinessWorld online. 22 March 2013)

few weeks ago educational researcher and professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, UK, Dr Sugata Mitra won the $1 million TED grant for his ‘Hole-In-The-Wall’ project. It basically promotes the concept of school in the cloud (web) relying on the premise that in the absence of supervision or formal teaching students will discover good content, share, discuss and teach others too. It is based on his experiments conducted in 1999 at Kalkaji, an urban slum in New Delhi. Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering the slum, installed an internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other. Such is the nature of technology that children relatively unexposed to the internet and computers were able to operate and learn to work with the technology.

The outcome of the experiment points towards one direction – the need for availability of reliable and relevant content. The importance and demand of good and reliable content in education is evident in the alacrity with which SmartClasses were adopted in India. The vendors, who were keen to sell computer hardware and claim they have “content for KG till 12 Std”, had a strong USP -– make the information electronically available would help their students in learning. According to a proposal letter from a Delhi-based vendor says they offer to set up SmartClasses and a Knowledge Centre and they have done so in over 10,000 schools across India. Recently there has been some information circulating that this large firm responsible for introducing smart classes is floundering since the veracity and quality of the content it offers is questionable. Schools are getting out of these alliances after 2-3 years of getting into the partnerships.

The ‘E’ Landscape
Sure, the market for e-content is growing. However, to get a definite figure for the size of the edu-content market is difficult. Perhaps these numbers and facts will help us imagine the landscape and possibilities in the ‘E’ economics. The literacy rate for the Indian population is 74.02 per cent (2011), up by 9 per cent from the previous decade. Of this 40 per cent of the population is below the age of 30, where 200 million children are under the age of 18 and 69 million of them reside in urban areas. The book market is estimated to be between Rs 10,000-12,000 crore in value with over 18,000 publishers doing business in the country. and you will perhaps even plan on setting up shop for e-content. Moreover, the publishing industry is growing at a rate of 30 per cent as per recent Ficci estimates.

Now, let’s go over the statistics on the electronic part of the content. The O’Reilly Global eBook Market’s (Feb 2013) says the ebook market in India is expected to be less than 1 per cent of the total book market, though this too is expected to grow by 20-25 per cent in the next 2-3 years.

Almost all of the online educational content and digital books are currently in English. According to PrintWeek India “In the last five years, digital printing industry has grown by approximately 21.6 per cent and over the next five years it is expected to expand by 23.6 per cent. There is a growth of 73 per cent in textbook printing in the last five years in India.”

The government of India is leading several initiatives to promote digital literacy and provide access to digital content at school and college levels. National-level missions such as the Rs 4612 crore ($859 million) National Mission on Education through ICT (NME-ICT) have been introduced. The NME-ICT is working in collaboration with other related missions and schemes—National Knowledge Network, Scheme of ICT in Schools, National Translation Mission, and the Vocational Education Mission. The idea behind the initiative, according to a report published in The Hindu (7 January 2009,http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200901021501.htm), is to work towards creating personalised and interactive knowledge module for students.

India’s education sector, moreover, is set to increase to Rs 602,410 crore ($109.84 billion) by FY15 due to the expected strong demand for quality education going by a recent report issued by India Ratings, a Fitch Group Company. Indian education sector’s market size in FY12 is estimated to be Rs 341,180 crore and the market for content forms a key chunk of this pie. The sector grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 16.5 per cent during FY05-FY12. The higher education (HE) segment was at 34.04 per cent ($17.02billion) of the total size in FY10 and grew by a CAGR of 18.13 per cent during FY04-FY10.

The Fitch report also said that it has a stable outlook on the Indian education sector which includes both school and higher education. Hence it is not surprising that content service providers and publishers future strategies are based on how to capitalise this sector. For instance, in Jan 2013 it was announced that HarperCollins India would be launching a new educational division in India. Collins India in a press note said the English-language schools textbook market in India currently stood at more that £150m, more than the market size in the UK, and is expected to grow further. Similarly Wiley India launched its Authorship Development Roadshow to get quality content in Bangalore and Chennai.

Now link all this to the demand from thousands of schools for e-content in India, and perhaps you will immediately think of registering a company and learning the ropes of the business to supply content. And competition already exists in the form of the education sector (K-12, higher education and academic) who were the early adopters of e-learning and e-content have company — the trade publishers too have joined the ‘E’ game.

But it’s not just competition that could prove a bugbear to your prospective firm. The vendor should find out if the content he is providing to schools is legitimate and importantly if it is suitable to the recipients.

With the tablet and smartphones boom in India, convergence is inevitable. However offering good content then becomes a prerequisite. As Thomas Abraham, managing director with Gurgaon-based Hachette India says, “Where trade (non academic books, literary fiction, self help, mind, body and spirit lists) books are concerned, 90 per cent of revenues come from the straight text flows of narrative fiction or non-fiction — the printed page moving on to the screen.”

Content Is Still King
One of the five publishing predictions for 2013 made at international publishing conferences at the start of the year is reiteration of the fact that content will be king. This is the future of publishing. If content falters or is under-par, it will not translate into a sustainable business model. It does not matter if the service provider is a trade publisher for fiction and non-fiction books or an education publisher for creating textbooks, everyone has to focus on creating good, reliable and authentic content.

Today there are slight shifts noticed in the nomenclature being used to offer content. Well-established publishing firms whose focus is education prefer to no longer be identified as publishers instead as educational service providers. Others will prefer to use terms like “content management” and “curriculum development”. Trade publishers, whose prime focus in their children’s list is to create fiction and non-fiction, recognising the need for offering reliable and branded content in educational institutions are now expanding their lists to include grammar books, elocution speeches and quiz books written by “branded” names or those who are willing to lend names. Everyone recognises the market and its potential, so it does make strategic sense to tweak existing lists and offer it in any format: print, digital or audio. Or as was said at the ‘If Book Then’ conference, Milan (19 March 2013) “data is the new oil of xxi century”.

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose is an international publishing consultant and columnist

Kancha Ilaiah on “Why I am not a Hindu”  (From Stree Samya blog)

Kancha Ilaiah on “Why I am not a Hindu” (From Stree Samya blog)

This is a blog post that I have taken as is from the Stree Samya Books blog. The link is: http://stree-samyabooks.blogspot.in/2013/03/why-i-am-not-hindu.html

Why I Am Not a Hindu: A Sudra Critique of Hindutva Philosophy, Culture and Political Economy
Kancha Ilaiah
demy octavo pb 3rd rpt 2009 163pp ISBN 81-85604-82-7
rev. ed. with Afterword Rs 300

‘In Kancha Ilaiah’s conceptual universe, you feel the pain of life. In his ideas, you sense the vulnerability of battling unpredicatable waters. But in his intellectual adventurousness, you also sense the gaiety of robust combat and the fun in the fight.’~~Sagarika Ghose, Outlook

Kancha Ilaiah writes with passionate anger, laced with sarcasm on the caste system and Indian society. He looks at the socio-economic and cultural differences between the Dalitbahujans and Hindus in the contexts of childhood, family life, market relations, power relations, Gods and Goddesses, death and, not least, Hindutva. Synthesizing many of the ideas of Bahujans, he presents their vision of a more just society.
In this second edition, he presents an Afterword that discusses the history of this book, often seen as the manifesto of the downtrodden Dalitbahujans. He talks of its reviews as well of the abuse he has received from its detractors. He reminds us of the need of an ongoing dialogue. As he says, he wrote the book ‘for all who have open minds. My request to Brahmins, Baniya and Neo-Kshatriyas [upper class Sudras] is this; you learnt only what to teach others: the Dalitbahujans. Now in your own interest and in the interest of this great country you must learn to listen and to read what we have to say.’

‘The most gratifying thing for me was that it [this book] was listed as a millennium book [by The Pioneer] along with Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Annihilaion of Caste. Moreover, it has been translated into several Indian languages. In a way it has become a weapon in the hands of Dalitbahujan activists.’ [Afterword]

Kancha Ilaiah is professor and director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad and an activist in the Dalitbahujan and civil liberties movement.

He is the author of Untouchable God published by Samya in 2012,God as a Political Philosopher:Buddha’s Challenge to Brahminism, and Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism.
Published By:Samya
Enquiries: 16 Southern Ave, Calcutta 700026 tel:033 2466 0812/ 033 6519 5737
email streesamya.manager@gmail.com website: www.stree-samyabooks.com

Wendy Doniger “On Hinduism” ( 15 March 2013)

Wendy Doniger “On Hinduism” ( 15 March 2013)

Wendy Doniger is an American indologist who has been writing for over forty-four years. In her introduction to On Hindusim she says that she always wrote easily and joyously. But her prime audience was an American audience, primarily for her students so she was “totally blinded by the passionate Hindu response to my book The Hindu: An Alternative History“. It simply had not occurred to her that Hindus would read it. “I had figured, the Hindus already knew all about their own religion, or at least knew as much as they wanted to know, or in any any case didn’t want to learn anything more from an American woman ( I was right about that last point, but in some ways I had not foreseen).” But with this book published by Aleph, she has “designed a book specifically for an Indian audience.”

The 63 essays collected in this book have been arranged not chronologically but logically. There are seven sections that deal with the nature of Hinduism, explore the concepts of divinity, consider Hindu attitudes to gender, beginning with Manu’s attitude to women in general, desire and the control of desire in Hinduism, the question of reality and illusion, the impermanent and the eternal in the two great Sanskrit epics and finally four short pieces of autobiography, including an essay on her clash with her Hindu critics (“You Can’t Make an Omelette”). She has revised and reworked some of the essays to make them far more accessible and easy to read.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the essays in the section on “Women and Other Genders”. Wendy Doniger’s lucid style makes complicated stories so easy to understand, her academic analysis is sharp and a pleasure but she wears it so lightly that it is not a chore to read these essays. Her autobiographical essays too are just a right mix of the personal and a perspective on her deep engagement with Hinduism and how it has had an impact on her life — personal and professional.

This is a good volume to have, but at a bulky 700 pages of text and a hardback, it is not a book that can be easily picked up. You need to find the time to read it properly, by sitting at a desk. It works as a reference volume but its content is also available to the lay reader. Maybe Aleph could have considered publishing it in two volumes, preferably the notes, the extensive bibliography as the second volume, and presenting the set in a slip case. It would have been easier to read all though a little expensive to produce. ( I would not be surprised to hear if readers do with this volume what they did with Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy when it was first published. It was considered to be too bulky so ripping it apart in to three volumes was not unheard of!)

Wendy Doniger On Hinduism (Aleph Book Company, New Delhi, 2013. Hb. pp 680. Rs. 995)

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma

The Reading Promise: 3218 Nights of Reading with My Father is a gently told memoir by 21-year-old Alice Ozma. Her father was a librarian in a kindergarten school. A giant of man standing at over six feet tall is a gentle person who enjoyed his job — passionately. He passed on his love for storytelling to his two daughters, but it was the younger one, Alice who preferred to hear her father read out to her. Her father began to read to Alice when she was nine and continued til her last day at home, before she left for college at the age of eighteen. They read to each other even if they were separated for the night, for instance if Alice was at a friend’s for a sleepover. She made it a point to call her dad before going to bed so that he could read to her for at least ten minutes. It all began as a promise to read to her for a 100 nights, but once that goal was achieved, it became 1000 nights and then it just continued for nine years till it was time for Alice to leave home.

Jim Brozina was a single parent who adored his daughters. His love for reading was a gift from his mother who used to take him and his siblings to the neighbourhood library. She would make them issue two books, one for them to read by themselves and the second one she would read out aloud. Jim too wanted to start a reading streak in his family. He managed it well with Alice. In his preface to the book he says, “the greatest gift you can bestow on your children is your time and undivided attention.” (He is so right!) Once his daughters flew the coop, he continued his passion for storytelling post-retirement by reading out picture books aloud at an old people’s home. “He wasn’t trying to insult them–quite the opposite actually. He was expressing kindness in the form he knew best, and he hoped that they would try to enjoy themselves.”

This book is about the reading streak, the ups and downs, how literature is used to share, communicate and explain. The special relationship that the father and daughter duo shared. In fact Alice went on to create a website dedicated to the reading promise . It is a lovely peep into what reading and sharing books can do for a relationship. There is a small list of books at the end of the book that father and daughter tried to cobble together from what they recalled reading, but it is not the complete list. I enjoyed reading the book.

Alice Ozma The Reading Promise: 3,218 nights of reading with my father Hodder & Stoughton (Hachette), Two Roads, UK, 2011. Pb. pp.280 Rs 399