Daughters of the Sun: Empresses, Queens and Begums of the Mughal Empire by Ira Mukhoty
In 1526, when the nomadic Timurid warrior-scholar Babur rode into Hindustan, his wives, sisters, daughters, aunts and distant female relatives travelled with him. These women would help establish a dynasty and empire that would rule India for the next 200 years and become a byword for opulence and grandeur. By the second half of the seventeenth century, the Mughal empire was one of the largest and richest in the world.
The Mughal women—unmarried daughters, eccentric sisters, fiery milk mothers and powerful wives—often worked behind the scenes and from within the zenana, but there were some notable exceptions among them who rode into battle with their men, built stunning monuments, engaged in diplomacy, traded with foreigners and minted coins in their own names. Others wrote biographies and patronised the arts.
In Daughters of the Sun, we meet remarkable characters like Khanzada Begum who, at sixty-five, rode on horseback through 750 kilometres of icy passes and unforgiving terrain to parley on behalf of her nephew, Humayun; Gulbadan Begum, who gave us the only document written by a woman of the Mughal royal court, a rare glimpse into the harem, as well as a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of three emperors—Babur, Humayun and Akbar—her father, brother and nephew; Akbar’s milk mothers or foster-mothers, Jiji Anaga and Maham Anaga, who shielded and guided the thirteen-year-old emperor until he came of age; Noor Jahan, ‘Light of the World’, a widow and mother who would become Jahangir’s last and favourite wife, acquiring an imperial legacy of her own; and the fabulously wealthy Begum Sahib (Princess of Princesses) Jahanara,
Shah Jahan’s favourite child, owner of the most lucrative port in medieval India and patron of one of its finest cities, Shahjahanabad.
The very first attempt to chronicle the women who played a vital role in building the Mughal empire, Daughters of the Sun is an illuminating and gripping history of a little known aspect of the most magnificent dynasty the world has ever known.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
IRA MUKHOTY is the author of Heroines: Powerful Indian Women of Myth and History. She was educated in Delhi and Cambridge, where she studied Natural Sciences. After a peripatetic youth, she returned to Delhi to raise her two daughters. Living in one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, she developed an interest in the evolution of mythology and history and its relevance to the status of women in India.
The Sensational Life And Death Of Qandeel Baloch by Sanam Maher
Bold’, ‘Shameless’, ‘Siren’ were just some of the (kinder) words used to describe Qandeel Baloch. She embraced these labels and played the coquette, yet dished out biting critiques of some of Pakistan’s most holy cows. Pakistanis snickered at her fake American accent, but marvelled at her gumption. She was the stuff of a hundred memes and Pakistan’s first celebrity-by-social media.
Qandeel first captured the nation’s attention on Pakistan Idol with a failed audition and tearful outburst. But it was in February 2016, when she uploaded a Facebook video mocking a presidential ‘warning’ not to celebrate Valentine’s Day, that she went ‘viral’. In the video, which racked up nearly a million views, she lies in bed, in a low-cut red dress, and says in broken English, ‘They can stop to people go out…but they can’t stop to people love.’ The video shows us everything that Pakistanis loved—and loved to hate—about Qandeel, ‘Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian’. Five months later, she would be dead. In July 2016, Qandeel’s brother would strangle her in their family home, in what was described as an ‘honour killing’—a punishment for the ‘shame’ her online behaviour had brought to the family.
Scores of young women and men are killed in the name of honour every year in Pakistan. Many cases are never reported, and of the ones that are, murderers are often ‘forgiven’ by the surviving family members and do not face charges. However, just six days after Qandeel’s death, the Anti-Honour Killings Laws Bill was fast-tracked in parliament, and in October 2016, the loophole allowing families to pardon perpetrators of ‘honour killings’ was closed. What spurred the change? Was it the murder of Qandeel Baloch? And how did she come to represent the clash between rigid conservatism and a secular, liberal vision for Pakistan? Through dozens of interviews—with aspiring models, managers, university students, activists, lawyers, police officers and journalists, among them—Sanam Maher gives us a portrait of a woman and a nation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SANAM MAHER is a journalist based in Karachi. Her work has appeared in Al Jazeera, BuzzFeed, The Caravan, the British Film Institute’s Sight and Sound, Roads & Kingdoms and the New York Times’ Women in the World.
This is her first book.
Twilight Falls On Liberalism by Rudrangshu Mukherjee
Recent political developments across large parts of the globe have made it clear that liberalism is in crisis. Several political regimes and political leaders have little time and respect for liberal values but it is important to understand that in many cases they have been empowered by popular social attitudes that have turned against liberalism.
In order to understand this phenomenon, Rudrangshu Mukherjee goes back to the origins of liberalism to understand its substantive ideas and lineage. He shows how liberalism, a Western doctrine, flourished when Western empires dominated much of the world. Ironically, while values like freedom, democracy and citizenship were nurtured in the West, they were denied to the people of the countries that had been colonized by Western nations. Liberalism in the West thrived by being illiberal elsewhere.
The contradictions within made liberalism vulnerable to attack. Totalitarian regimes swept it aside, and other doctrines replaced it with increasing frequency.
In the twenty-first century, in both the East as well as the West, liberalism appears to be fast disappearing. This important book tells us why.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RUDRANGSHU MUKHERJEE is Chancellor and Professor of History at Ashoka University of which he was the founding Vice Chancellor. He was educated at Calcutta Boys’ School, Presidency College, Calcutta, JNU and St Edmund Hall, Oxford. He was awarded a DPhil in Modern History by the University of Oxford. He taught in the department of history, Calcutta University, and held visiting appointments at Princeton University, Manchester University and the University of California, Santa Cruz. From 1993 to 2014 he was the Editor, Editorial Pages, The Telegraph. He is the author of many books—these include Nehru & Bose: Parallel Lives; Awadh in Revolt 1857–58: A Study of Popular Resistance; Spectre of Violence: The Massacres in Kanpur in 1857; The Year of Blood: Essays on 1857, Dateline 1857: Revolt against the Raj. He is the editor of Great Speeches of Modern India and The Penguin Gandhi Reader and the co-author of New Delhi: The Making of a Capital and India: Then and Now.