Senior journalist Akshaya Mukul has been awarded the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize for his book “Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India“. Judges and authors Samanth Subramanian, Mahesh Rao and Janice Pariat said they chose Mukul’s book for its “eye-opening and captivating exploration into a parallel literary culture that can often feel at a great remove from English-speaking metropolitan India”.
- “Mukul’s book was a highly original and commendable work. His painstaking research tells the story of a publishing house in the Hindi heartland, which, through its output of religious texts and magazines, achieved enormous influence to become the vehicle of an intensely focused political project.
- The judges also observed that the book is “relevant to cultural homogenisation across the ages, since at its heart it reveals what it takes to be a cultural mythmaker, and how a specific nexus of religious, caste and linguistic considerations have reaped extraordinary rewards”.
- Other authors on the shortlist were Manu S. Pillai for “The Ivory Throne”, Madhu Gurung for “The Keeper of Memories”, Sophia Khan for “Yasmeen”, Nisid Hajari for “Midnight’s Furies” and Kanishk Tharoor for “Swimmer Among the Stars”.
- Mukul also won the best non-fiction book prize for Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India at the Ramnath Goenka awards, where he boycotted the event because the awards were distributed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.