Two new books by Chennai-based data journalist Rukmini S, “Whole Numbers and Half-Truths: What Data Tells Us About Modern India” and “India in 100 Charts”, to be published by Westland, are set to release in quick succession
The first is a sleek, ambitious book that sets out to answer 10 big questions about how India operates. Currently, most of the narrative is based on manifestly bad data, and it is to counter this that Rukmini takes a deep dive into the subject by drawing on extensive data sources and her own experiences from reporting across the length and breadth of the country.
Her second book captures fundamental changes in the country through surprising data points and engaging visuals to show us what we are really all about. A fascinating read and an essential addition to the bookshelf of every student, reporter, academician, policy-maker, and just about any curious mind, this will be a collaboration with the artist and illustrator Satwik Gade.
Commenting on the acquisition, Rukmini S said: “I am thrilled at the opportunity to share what I’ve learnt from years of grappling not only with numbers, but with how they relate to lived reality. These are simply the stories of how India lives life, but with a wealth of data behind the insights. I look forward to surprising readers and for us to challenge our own dearly-held assumptions about the country.”
Anish Chandy of Labyrinth Literary Agency said, “Rukmini’s books were acquired by Westland in a keenly contested auction. Her unique approach where hard-to-source data meets accessible narrative will deeply enrich our understanding of India. Context has built a formidable portfolio in this genre.”
Karthika V.K., Publisher, Westland Publications, said the two books are bound to change the way Indians – and the world – think about India. “Rukmini’s writing is revelatory. It draws on painstakingly unearthed and carefully plotted data to provide a precise and often startling understanding of trends as well as truths that we would all be better off knowing,” she added.
Rukmini S is the first Data Editor of an Indian newsroom. She is the recipient of several journalism awards, the most recent of which was the Emergent Ventures Covid-19 India Prize for her pandemic podcast, “The Moving Curve”. Her work focuses on data-driven storytelling around gender, politics, crime, consumption, inequality and caste.