What Did NLSIU Read in 2021? | Part III
January 25, 2022
Curious about what was on NLSIU faculty members’ reading list during 2021? We sure are! As we begin a new year, we asked our faculty members to reflect on the year that passed by and share with us some of the books they found most meaningful in 2021 and why.
We continue this series with three more NLS faculty members for this week. Find out what impressed them most about these books, and why it made it to the top of their lists.
Title: Animal Intimacies: Beastly Love in the Himalayas
Author: Radhika Govindrajan
Why it was my best read in 2021: A cultural anthropologist by training, Govindrajan is interested in studying the multiform relationships forged between humans and non-humans — a phenomena she describes as “relatedness” in her book, Animal Intimacies. What I found riveting in Govindrajan’s book was her capability to delve into the minutiae of the rich, multispecies ethnography as a way to illustrate how everyday acts of kindness, empathy, cruelty, or even indifference routinely give shape to broader issues around religious nationalism, environmental justice, state violence, and patriarchal oppression. Animal Intimacies is a rigorously researched book that shows us that love, kinship, sacrifice, and ethical considerations do not always subscribe to or even coincide with our conventional understanding of civility, community, or morality. Govindrajan weaves an exquisite narrative that maps different forms of human/non-human world making (“relatedness”) in the Himalayas. A delicious read!
Title: Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital
Author: Jason Moore
Why it was my best read in 2021: I had heard that Jason Moore had revisited major assumptions of Marxists ecology of an older generation, and so I decided to pick it up. Jason Moore’s book Capitalism in the Web of Life has changed the fundamental terms of the debates in ecology, natural resource management, and equitable access to resources. Moore argues, in the book, for a double internality in which capital is folded in nature, and nature is folded in capital. He takes the reader through a number of arguments around the principle inextricability of nature in the building of human worlds. He makes an argument about the availability of Cheap Natures that makes capitalism possible. If you are interested in current arguments about natures and their relation to capital, I would say you cannot avoid reading this book!
Title: Bottle of Lies: Ranbaxy and the Dark Side of Indian Pharma
Author: Katherine Eban
Why it was my best read in 2021: I read many books this year that historically contextualise some dimension of public health regulation in India. Some of the books in my reading list were: Pharma by Gerald Posner, Opium Inc by Thomas Manuel, Mythbreaker: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and the Story of Indian Biotech by Seema Singh and Bottle of Lies: Ranbaxy and the Dark Side of Indian Pharma by Katherine Eban. They are all incomparable given the diversity of their subject matters, but if I were to pick one as a must read for everyone, it would be Katherine Eban’s Bottle of Lies for the sheer amount of honesty in weaving this story of manipulations, fabrications and threats by some of our Indian pharmaceutical giants.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put our drug regulations and clinical trial process on the radar. But before the pandemic began, there were many warning signs that showed the abysmal state of our drug safety norms. This book documents many of the corrupt practices adopted by the Indian Pharmaceutical companies and presents compelling evidence to question the safety and quality of their medicines. It’s the duty of the drug regulators to ensure that medicines that reach people are safe and efficacious; but budgeting and manpower constraints, location of manufacturing facilities outside of the country has made even some of the strictest regulators in the world bite their teeth. Amidst corporate greed, the poor regulatory environment, contempt for transparency and blatant disregard for human life are a recipe for disaster. Before the tsunami of disaster unfolds, few courageous people like the whistleblower in the Ranbaxy case, have blown off the lid at great personal and professional cost from the various fraudulent and malpractices adopted by the pharma companies to game the system. But did that make any impact on the drug regulations or is it business as usual? What has been the approach of the Court in entertaining such petitions? By presenting credible evidence, this book makes a convincing case for overhauling the drug approval process in India.