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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Dinyar Patel’s biography of Dadabhai Naoroji wins Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2021

The prize is named after institution-builder Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay who had contributed significantly to the freedom struggle of India

Written by Aditya Vaddepalli | Bengaluru |
December 1, 2021 1:05:22 pm
Dadabhai-Naoroji-Book-cover (1)Cover of the book "Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism (Harvard University Press)"

Writer Dinyar Patel won the prestigious Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2021 for his book Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism (Harvard University Press), a biography of one of the most significant figures in modern Indian history, Dadabhai Naoroji. The New India Foundation announced the winner on Wednesday from a shortlist of six books, which covered a variety of themes and subjects.

The prize carries a cash award of Rs 15 lakh and a citation. Instituted in 2018, the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize celebrates high-quality non-fiction literature on modern and contemporary India from writers of all nationalities, published in the previous calendar year.

Dinyar Patel Author Dinyar Patel. (File photo)

Patel was selected by a jury panel that included political scientist and author Niraja Gopal Jayal (Jury Chair), entrepreneur and author Nandan Nilekani; historian and author Srinath Raghavan; historian and author Nayanjot Lahiri; and entrepreneur Manish Sabharwal. The winner is an assistant professor of History at the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research in Mumbai. He previously taught in the Department of History at the University of South Carolina. He has written for BBC News and the New York Times, among other publications.

The book is a biography of Naoroji, the nineteenth-century activist who founded the Indian National Congress. He was the first British MP of Indian origin and an inpiration for Mahatma Gandhi and Jawarharlal Nehru. Gandhi called Naoroji the ‘Father of the Nation’, a title that today is reserved for Gandhi himself.

Patel has examined the extraordinary life of this foundational figure in India’s modern political history. A critic of British colonialism who served in the British Parliament and forged ties with anti-imperialists around the world, he established self-rule or swaraj as India’s objective.

The jury citation for the winner of the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2021 reads, “Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism by Dinyar Patel (Harvard University Press) is an exemplary biography about one of India’s first nationalists, written with great lucidity and detail by a promising scholar. 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.”

The prize will be presented to Patel in a ceremony at the Bangalore International Centre on Saturday. The presentation will be followed by an interaction with the winner that will be streamed live on NIF and BIC social media handles at 6.30 pm IST.

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).

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