Get a head start for Day 1 of The Hindu Lit Fest 2024: A reading list

To give you a head start, here’s a curated reading list of great books — both by the authors and on subjects in attendance on the first day of The Hindu Lit Fest 2024

Updated - January 18, 2024 12:28 pm IST

Published - January 18, 2024 12:02 pm IST

The soul of any literary festival lies in its beginning — the first kernels of ideas and conversations that spark off hundreds and thousands more. The surprises and challenges to existing, pre-conceived notions and assumptions that push you to explore more, think more, and of course, read more.

This year, once again, The Hindu Lit Fest brings you those beginnings, gathering some of the best experts and thought-leaders under the same roof, and letting them lead us into new shores of thought and, hopefully, action.

To give you a head start, we thought we would whet your appetite with a curated reading list of great books —both by the authors and on subjects in attendance on the first day of The Hindu Lit Fest 2024.

Session: Rich India: Will India become a wealthy nation by 2047? [9:50 a.m. to 11:05 a.m.]

Speakers: Jayati Ghosh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, N. Ravi, Sanjay Kaul and T.N. Ninan in conversation with Raghuvir Srinivasan


Backstage: The Story Behind India’s High Growth Years’by Montek Singh Ahluwalia

This is an insider’s account of India’s economic journey and transformation, and the author’s own influence on it over three decades. You get a ringside view to the political and economic changes faced by the country, and a deep dive into personalities, and significant events that shaped them.


An Alternative Development Agenda for India by Sanjay Kaul

Taking a people-first approach, Kaul’s book offers a “revamped, transformative, and fiscally sustainable developmental agenda” for India, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. Focusing on areas like health, education, food security and jobs, Kaul offers practical, realistic solutions in the face of some of our biggest and most urgent problems.

 Session: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi I Am An Ordinary Man: India’s struggle for freedom (1914-1948) [11.10 a.m. to 11.50 a.m.]

Speaker: Gopalkrishna Gandhi


RESTLESS AS MERCURY: My Life As a Young Man Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi; edited by Gopalkrishna Gandhi

While M.K. Gandhi’s recollections in his autobiography, My Experiments with Truth, stop in 1920, he continued to write — from opinions and experiences to ideas and letters. In this book, former administrator and diplomat, author and Gandhiji’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi, pieces together Gandhiji’s life, through his own words — from his childhood to his life in South Africa, and ultimately, his return to India in 1914. A wonderful and evocative insight into the early life and experiences of a man who made and influenced our history like few others.


I Am an Ordinary Man: India’s Struggle for Freedom (1914–1948) by Gopalkrishna Gandhi

In this book, we return to the story that began in Restless as Mercury. Once again, in M.K. Gandhi’s own words, we follow his journey, from his return to India, all the way to the last days of his life. Together, Restless as Mercury and I Am an Ordinary Man open a window into the mind of one of our greatest leaders.

Session: Bahubali: Insights into Jainism [4.10 p.m. to 4.50 p.m.]

Speaker: Devdutt Pattanaik


Bahubali: 63 Insights Into Jainism by Devdutt Pattanaik

In 63 essays, Devdutt Pattanaik lays out an easy and accessible road into the philosophy and history of one of India’s oldest faiths – Jainism. He explores its stories and myths, culture and beliefs, and the relevance of its tenets today. As always, the text is accompanied by engaging illustrations that have become something of a trademark in Pattanaik’s books.


Culture: 50 Insights from Mythology by Devdutt Pattanaik

Another book by Devdutt Pattanaik that is a must read for anyone looking to understand how mythology, and the myth and legends we grow up with, influence our world, thoughts and society today. In the 50 essays within this book, Pattanaik visits key subjects and ideas with the lens of mythology and its stories, and explores the ways in which they change and shape both our culture and perception.

Session: Wizard of Words [5.45 p.m. to 6.45 p.m.]

Speakers: Shashi Tharoor in conversation with David Davidar


Tharoorosaurus by Shashi Tharoor

While there’s a wealth of books from Shashi Tharoor’s oeuvre, this one certainly is his lightest and most playful – fifty-three words from his vocabulary, that come with meanings and usage, and an accompanying anecdote to go along with the word. A keepsake that also makes for an excellent gift for any linguaphile in your circle!


A Clutch Of Indian Masterpieces: Extraordinary Short Stories from the 19th Century to the Present; edited by David Davidar

In this volume, Davidar brings together a wealth of short stories – from horror to romance, crime, drama and tragedy, with folklore and fantasy. These are some of the greatest stories from Indian literature, curated over two centuries, starting from the 19th century to the 21st. A masterful showcase that will give you precious insight into the range and depth of storytelling from India.

Session: Recalling Habib Tanvir: Excerpts from the film and a talk [3.15 p.m. to 4.00 p.m.]

Speaker: Sudhanva Deshpande


Memoirs: Habib Tanvir, translated from the Urdu (with an introduction by Mahmood Farooqui)

An invaluable memoir from one of Asia’s most gifted thespians, translated from the Urdu original by Mahmood Farooqui, this is the story of Habib Tanvir’s life alongside the story of a changing India. The reader is taken on a journey to Tanvir’s childhood in Raipur, his experience with the Indian People’s Theatre Association, and of his own experiments with film and poetry before finding his vocation in the world of theatre.

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