Journalism is said to be the first draft of history, and a great many writers made their first strides in writing through journalism. Ernest Hemingway, for example, was a journalist before he became a writer. Journalism is also said to hold a mirror to the establishment; as Katherine Graham said, ‘News is what someone wants suppressed. Everything else is advertising.’

Dissent is the first step to becoming a journalist, and on National Press Day, we celebrate dissent by giving you 5 books that go against the government’s narrative:


Emergency Retold
Kuldip Nayar

A brazen, no-holds-barred account of the Emergency by one of India’s most respected journalists, Emergency Retold banishes all myths of why the Emergency was good for India to the corner. Kuldip Nayar was an eyewitness to the excesses of this draconian measure by Indira Gandhi, and he was even jailed for writing against the regime.

Shadow Armies_150_RGB

Shadow Armies: Fringe Organizations and Foot Soldiers of Hindutva
Dhirendra K. Jha

For every Digital India initiative, there is a Pehlu Khan. The BJP’s ascendancy to power has also emboldened the various fringe saffron organizations that believe it is within their rights to terrorise minorities. Journalist Dhirendra Jha’s book is an important reminder of who these organizations are, and how they function.

I AM A TROLL_150_RGBI am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Army
Swati Chaturvedi

Social media is a multi-faced weapon: while it empowers people with its democratization of information and gives them a voice, it has also resulted in a mass proliferation of online trolls, abusers who will stop at nothing to defame or degrade their detractors. Swati Chaturvedi’s book is a brave investigation into the BJP’s social media army, detailing how a concerted effort is made on an organizational level to silence the party’s critics. An important book for our times.

Second-Hand Time
Svetlana Alexievich

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2015, Belarussian investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich has often found herself at opposing ends of Moscow’s establishment. In Second-Hand Time, she speaks to a wide range of people from the ex-Soviet Union, who bemoan its fall, and some who are pleased at the rise of Russia under Vladimir Putin.


The Caravan Digital Books Collection

The Caravan is known for its detailed investigations into affairs all Indian governments prefer remain unseen. From profiling Swami Aseemanand, a RSS leader who was recently controversially acquitted in the Samjhauta Blasts case, to detailing the workings of the RSS and the BJP’s top three leaders, the entire Caravan collection is a testament to the power of the press, of dissent, and of holding a collective mirror to the establishment.


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