The first Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize was awarded to Milan Vaishnav for his book When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics at the Bangalore Literature Festival on Saturday.
The prize for works of non-fiction was established this year by the New India Foundation, which awards fellowships to scholars and writers researching the history of independent India, and fetches the winner a purse of Rs 15 lakh.
When Crime Pays is an in-depth study of “the co-existence of crime and democratic processes in Indian politics”. While accepting the prize, Vaishnav, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, explained that six jailed law-makers being released to cast their vote in the no-confidence motion the UPA government faced in 2008 spurred him to explore the subject of the book, The Hindu reported.
The jury for the prize is made up of the trustees of the New India Foundation – Infosys co-founder and former UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani, historian Ramachandra Guha, Chairman and co-founder of Teamlease Services Manish Sabharwal, and Srinath Raghavan, historian and Senior Fellow at Centre for Policy Research.
The six books on the inaugural shortlist of the prize were:
- The Republic of Rhetoric: Free Speech and the Constitution of India, Abhinav Chandrachud (Penguin Random House)
- Remnants of a Separation: A History of Partition Through Material Memory, Aanchal Malhotra (HarperCollins)
- The Broken Ladder: The Paradox and Potential of India’s One Billion, Anirudh Krishna (Penguin Random House)
- Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India, Sujatha Gidla, (HaperCollins)
- When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics, Milan Vaishnav (Yale University Press)
- Social Justice Through Inclusion: The Consequences of Electoral Quotas in India, Francesca R Jensenius (Oxford University Press, New York)