1. Red Sun
(2007) by Sudeep Chakravarti
It’s an easy-to-read, unbiased and gentle view of the rise of the Naxals/Maoists in the country. The pertinent question that’s answered by Chakravarti is: What makes a desperately poor Indian villager raise a rusty gun at the state?
2. An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire
(2004) by Arundhati Roy
I like Roy’s book — about American imperialism and the global corporate media — for the research that has gone into it, her analysis, conviction and
anger. It also helps that she writes stupendously well.
3. The Argumentative Indian
(2006) by Amartya Sen
Sen bases his book on the premise that we come from divergent customs and different viewpoints and that facilitates the tradition of, as he puts it, “sceptical argument in terms of general cultural strides”. It’s intriguing the way he puts these ideas together—they are relevant to today’s India.
4. The Retreat of Democracy and Other Itinerant Essays
(2007) by Kaushik Basu
Basu discusses the various effects of globalization — the good and the bad — and its impact on India. His writing is not academic or philosophical, and his ideas are relevant to 21st century India.
5. Identity and Violence
(2007) by Amartya Sen
The simple idea that Sen communicates in this book is: Just because you think you know who I am, you decide whether your attitude to me should be friendly or violent. If I am a Muslim, then you associate me with radical terrorism. He takes up both points of view — the political and cultural baggage carried by the identified and that carried by the identifier.