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Milan Vaishnav wins first Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize

The Prize was presented to Mr. Vaishnav for his novel When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics

October 28, 2018 01:23 am | Updated 10:02 am IST - Bengaluru

Milan Vaishnav

Milan Vaishnav

The first Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize was presented to Milan Vaishnav for his novel When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics here on Saturday. The award carries a purse of ₹15 lakh.

The Bengaluru-based New India Foundation, patronised by Nandan Nilekani and Ramachandra Guha, which gives fellowships to people writing on post-independent India, instituted the award this year.

After receiving the award, Mr. Vaishnav said that six jailed law-makers being released to cast their vote in the no-confidence motion the UPA government faced in 2008 spurred him on to explore why crime pays in Indian politics.

Lost in satire

The creator of nationalist comic superhero RashtraMan, George Mathen aka Appupen is concerned. His satire is being taken literally, probably a comment on the times we live in.

“A couple of years ago, I made a cartoon of Narendra Modi as a robot, all guns blazing saying, ‘I know you who did not stand up for the national anthem’, on the lines of a famous scene from the Rajinikanth film Robot. But something strange happened. The cartoon, a satire on ‘nationalism’ was widely shared by right wing social media accounts. That was their idea of a leader. I fear my work becoming the angry Hanuman sticker and ending up on the back of every car,” he said.

A question of identity

New York-based poet Vijay Seshadri, one of the award-winning speakers at BLF-2018, in an interactive session with Ranjit Hoskote spoke about how poetry has pushed the limits of the English language. He sought to see something resounding and extraordinary come out of the depths of Indian-English poetry, something likely to happen owing to the ‘melange of languages’ at play in India. However, he did note that this process would be difficult as Indian poets may find it a struggle to develop an identity of their own, one that may take them away from their mother tongue.

Against greed and exploitation

Richa Lakhera, Senior Deputy Editor, NDTV, is no stranger to fiction writing. She discussed her second crime novel, Hungry Gods, which is set in a dystopian town where exploitation, greed and power rule. It reflects the abysmal situation of the police force in India, where personnel are overworked and ill-equipped. She drew upon how her experiences as a journalist have influenced her writing.

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