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New Delhi: Dinyar Patel‘s biography of Dadabhai Naoroji has won the fourth edition of the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize, for 2021.
The book prize, instituted by the New India Foundation is named after the patriot and institution-builder who had contributed significantly to the freedom struggle, the women’s movement, refugee rehabilitation and the renewal of handicrafts.
The prize considers non-fiction literature on modern and contemporary India from writers of all nationalities published in the previous calendar year. It carries a cash award of Rs 15 lakhs and a citation.
Patel’s book Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism is published by the Harvard University Press and illuminates the life and legacy of one of India’s first nationalists. The 19-century political figure who founded the Indian National Congress was the first British MP of Indian origin, and inspired Gandhi and Nehru.
“Mahatma Gandhi called Dadabhai Naoroji the “father of the nation,” a title that today is reserved for Gandhi himself. Dinyar Patel examines the extraordinary life of this foundational figure in India’s modern political history, a devastating critic of British colonialism who served in Parliament as the first-ever Indian MP, forged ties with anti-imperialists around the world, and established self-rule or swaraj as India’s objective,” NIF’s release reads.
Naoroji is the first comprehensive study of the most significant Indian nationalist leader before Gandhi, it claims. An excerpt from the book can be found here.
Patel is assistant professor of history at the S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research in Mumbai. He has written for several publications.
He was selected by a jury which included political scientist and author Niraja Gopal Jayal, entrepreneur and author Nandan Nilekani, historian and author Srinath Raghavan, historian and author Nayanjot Lahiri, and entrepreneur Manish Sabharwal.
Previous winners of the prize include Milan Vaishnav for When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics and Ornit Shani for How India Became Democratic in 2019, Amit Ahuja for Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties Without Ethnic Movements and Jairam Ramesh for his biography of V.K. Krishna Menon, A Chequered Brilliance in 2020.