Nominated | Book Awards 2021 | Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)
‘When you cannot fight the system, you must endure.’
On a chilly November morning in Geneva, Deepika Thakur prepares to address the United Nations Human Rights Council. Despite her personal experience of oppression as a Dalit woman, she must claim that the Indian government remains firmly committed to eradicating caste-based discrimination in the country.
As echoes of humiliation and atrocities flood her memory, Deepika is transported back in time, to almost six years ago, when she became the first member of her family to be selected for the Indian Civil Services. She had moved from Bhopal, her home town, to the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie, to prepare for a career as a civil servant. It was here that she met Aman, an upper-caste Brahmin, and Vijay, a fellow Dalit. Both relationships defined by caste and class politics, Deepika had found herself in the crosshairs of an ancient history built on inequality and prejudice. Yet, as a diplomat from India's Foreign Service, she must deny caste, and the fact that India's fractured society, despite its apparent modernization and progress, remains stuck in the middle ages. Her father's words come back to haunt her: ‘When you cannot fight the system, you must endure.’
Will Deepika fight? Will she endure? What will she say to the Human Rights Council? How will she represent India to the rest of the world?
Raghav Chandra, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service, was Secretary to the Government of India. Author of Scent of a Game, a novel about wildlife hunting and conservation, he has also held significant positions across ministries in the Government of India and Madhya Pradesh and served as Managing Director of many companies. He has a special interest in the development of Indian tribes. Raghav holds master's degrees from Harvard University, where he was an Edward S. Mason Fellow, and St Stephen's College, University of Delhi. He writes and lectures about inclusive growth, management and sustainability, and has been widely published. He is the Director of the Bhopal Literature and Art Festival and is also a keen golfer. He lives in New Delhi.
‘Engagingly written … Kali’s Daughter is a novel about caste and courage’ – Esther David, author of The Book of Esther and The Book of Rachel
‘A compelling and important novel for our times' – Malashri Lal, author and Professor, Department of English, University of Delhi
‘Sketches a powerful picture of society and a leadership class in transition in modern India’ – Amitabh Pandey, author of Love in Lutyens’ Delhi and When It Clicks
‘A brave take on the ancient evil that is the caste system’ – Anuja Chandramouli, author of Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior Prince
‘A masterfully crafted, thought-provoking book, much needed to amend the archaic mindset’ – Anita Krishan, author of Despite Stolen Dreams
‘A powerful story, superbly told’ – Anthony de Sa, writer, poet and former Chief Secretary Madhya Pradesh
‘Kali's Daughter exposes the curse of India – the caste system … The novel is a masterpiece, a must-read’ – Ajit Kumar, Ambassador and Former Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations in Geneva
‘A compelling insider’s view of life within the country’s elite Indian Civil Services’ – Vinita Nangia, author and columnist