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Calling All Wannabe Writers

The New India Foundation invites applications for the fifth round of the New India Fellowships. Open only to Indian nationals, these Fellowships will be awarded for a period of one year, and will carry a stipend of Rs 70,000 a month

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Calling All Wannabe Writers

In the sixty years since Independence, there has been a large body of work produced by Indian historians and social scientists. Taken singly, many of these studies are very impressive; viewed cumulatively, they add up to much less than what one might expect. The chief reason for this is the determining influence on scholarly practice of that single date: 15th August, 1947. Historians don’t look beyond the attainment of Independence, whereas other social scientists don’t look back at all. We have solid studies of the Congress under British rule, with books written about its operations in different parts of India, yet there are no systematic studies of this most influential of political parties in the post-independence period. Again, there are numerous ethnographic accounts of the caste system. Yet, we have no analytical overview of caste since Independence. 

We have had political scientists conducting field studies of every single election since 1952. But we have no comprehensive analyses of changes over time in voter behaviour, election propaganda, or election finance. 

These examples could be multiplied manifold. The Republic of India is a Union of twenty-eight states, some larger than France and Germany. Yet not even the biggest or most important of these states have had their histories written. Again, there are no serious biographies of some of the key figures in our modern history: such as Sheikh Abdullah or C. N. Annadurai or A. Z. Phizo or (to take figures from very different fields) Pandit Ravi Shankar or Dhirubhai Ambani. 

It is this lack that the New India Foundation seeks to address, by sponsoring work of quality on modern India. 

The New India Foundation invites applications for the fifth round of the New India Fellowships. Open only to Indian nationals, these Fellowships will be awarded for a period of one year, and will carry a stipend of Rs 70,000 a month. Fellowship holders shall be expected to write original books. Proposals should be oriented towards final publication, and outline a road map towards that destination. The Foundation is ecumenical as regards genre, theme, and ideology: the only requirement is that the proposed work contribute to the fuller understanding of independent India. Thus Fellowship holders may choose to write a memoir, or a work of reportage, or a thickly footnoted academic study. Their books could be oriented towards economics, or politics, or culture. They could be highly specific—an account of a single decade or a single region—or wide-ranging, such as a countrywide overview. 

Since 2004, a total of twenty New India Foundation Fellowships have been awarded, for books to be written on such topics as the social history of Telugu films, the reform of personal laws, refugee politics in north-eastern India, the history of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, debates on the death penalty in India, and the science and politics of biodiversity conservation. 

The first books to emanate from the New India Fellowships are Harish Damodaran’s India’s New Capitalists (Palgrave Macmillan), Vasanthi Srinivasan’s Gandhi’s Conscience-Keeper (Permanent Black), and Dinesh Sharma’s India’s Long Revolution (HarperCollins India). 

Applicants for the New India Fellowships for 2009 are invited to submit their c.v., book proposal, and a writing sample of at least 5000 words (published or unpublished) to the 

Managing Trustee, 
The New India Foundation, 
22 A Brunton Road, 
Bangalore 560025, 

These may be sent by post or courier before 31 July 2009.  Email applications will not be entertained. However, specific queries may be addressed to ramguha@gmail.com 

The fellowships will be decided by a jury whose members are André Béteille, Ramachandra Guha, Niraja Gopal Jayal, Nandan Nilekani, and N. Ravi. 

Further details about the Foundation may be found at newindiafoundation.org

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