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The Flavours of Nationalism

Nominated | Book Awards 2019 | English Non-Fiction

The Flavours of Nationalism

Full Title: Recipes for Love, Hate and Friendship

Author: Nandita Haksar
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Publishing

Award Category: English Non-Fiction

About the Book: 

In this memoir by an unashamed Indian, Haksar writes about how food shaped her awareness of politics, patriarchy, nationalism and socialism, from her childhood during the Nehruvian era onwards. She takes us on a thoughtful journey through India, from her Kashmiri Pandit family settled in Old Delhi and Lucknow, to human-rights activism on behalf of Nagas in Manipur; from grappling with feminist ideals, to considering the impact of a globalized food industry in Goa.

On a wider scale, she explains how our tastes and attitudes to food are shaped by caste, race, gender and class, exposing latent prejudices and bigotry. Haksar explores questions posed by food anthropologists and ecologists, and revisits debates between Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi on inter-dining. She also addresses the present controversies over beef-eating, vegetarianism and ideas of Hindu vs. Muslim food, in a milieu where debate is silenced.

With wry accounts of sharing meals with Burmese and Iraqi refugees, and arguing about bourgeois vs. proletarian tea in the Naxalite movement, the book also contains memorable recipes from the many people she has eaten with. At heart is her question that if Indians cannot imagine sitting with each other and sharing food with a sense of equality and respect, how then can a national unity be built?

About the Author: 

Nandita Haksar is a human rights lawyer, teacher, campaigner and writer. Her engagement with the people of Northeast India began while studying in Jawaharlal Nehru University in the 1970s. She has represented the victims of army atrocities in the Supreme Court and the High Court and campaigned nationally and internationally against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958. In her capacity as a human rights lawyer, Haksar has helped to organize migrant workers to fight for their rights and voice their grievances. She has written innumerable articles in national dailies and journals and is the author of several books, including Nagaland File: A Question of Human Rights (co-edited with Luingam Luithui) (1984); Who Are the Nagas (2011); ABC of Naga Culture and Civilization: A Resource Book (2011); The Judgement That Never Came: Army Rule in Northeast India (co-authored with Sebastian Hongray) (2011); Across the Chicken Neck: Travels in Northeast India (2013) and The Many Faces of Kashmiri Nationalism: From the Cold War to the Present Day (2015). Haksar lives in Goa, Delhi and sometimes Ukhrul, with her husband, Sebastian Hongray.

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