Archive for the ‘Economy – India’ Category

India 2050
Ramgopala Agarwala | Sage | Rs 995

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.27.03 PMAccording to economist Ramgopala Agarwala, India needs to adopt ‘neo-Swadeshi’ model of development to emerge as world leader by 2050. At the moment, he warns, by blindly aping the West we are in danger of walking into a ‘middle-income trap’ that America is facing. This trap comes with attendant ills – inequality, corruption, corporate power and the like. Agarwala proposes an economic solution where Gandhi’s principles of moral and frugal living are married to ‘Adam Smithian mechanism’. This, he says, is the best roadmap for India. We reckon, the PM, may want to read this.


The Dead Men Stood Together
Chris Priestley | Bloomsbury | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.27.43 PMChris Priestly is an English cartoonist and writer. Ghost stories fascinate him. In this book he retells the story of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” with a contemporary twist. It’s a short story that has been converted into a novella. A young boy goes to sea with his mysterious mariner uncle, believing he is sailing in his late father’s memory. But the voyage is damned by curse when the ship enters treacherous landscape of ice. Priestly has been described as a master “of contemporary macabre”. The book is aimed at young adults.


She & Me
Bhawarlal H.Jain | Rupa | Rs 195

Originally published in Marathi as “Ti an Mi”, Bhawarlal. H Jain’s memoir is a story about a successful marriage and entrepreneurship of a small time kersone oil trader who rose to become a successful businessman. “It is also a story about then and now, when large joint families were the norm and when family values, traditional and cultural principles were still respected and followed,” the book’s blurb informs us. Jain is the founder of Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd that supplies micro-irrigation solutions to farmers. This book, we are informed, is also available in Hindi.

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 11 January 2015.)

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Arvind Krishna Mehrotra: Collected Poems
Introduction by Amit Chaudhuri | Penguin | Rs 350

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.29.21 PMIt’s a delight to see Penguin bring out a collection of poems by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra covering the period from 1960s to the present. It includes not only his own poems but also his translation of Prakrit love poetry, Kabir’s ‘dohas’ and string of Hindi, Bengali and Gujarati contemporary poets such as Nirala, Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh, Adil Mansuri and Shakti Chattopadhyay. Wish there was more – as Mehrotra invokes Kabir, “There is enough ink/To fill the seven seas,/Enough paper/To cover the hills,/It won’t even do/For the first verse, says Kabir.”


When Google Met Wikileaks
Julian Assange | Navanya | Rs 295

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.28.49 PM“Nobody wants to acknowledge that Google has grown big and bad. But it has. The firm’s geopolitical aspirations are firmly enmeshed within the foreign policy agenda of the world’s largest superpower,” warns a blurb on the back flap. Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, knows a thing or two about this having met Google’s chairman, Eric Schmidt while living under house arrest in London. He says people, “Don’t appreciate how much large technology firms can threaten the liberty of individuals” and they don’t really understand what Google can do, if it turns rogue. Frightening.


Young Turks
Shareen Bhan & Syna Dehnugara | Random House | Rs 599

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.29.08 PMAnchor and series editor of ‘Young Turks’ on CNBC-TV18, Shareen Bhan, says that in the last 15 years she has met people who have the ‘courage and tenacity to think differently, think big, and challenge the status quo’. In this book she selects 13 such entrepreneurs. The list includes a mobile data base company, bus ticketing firm, online retailers, internet marriage bureau and digital asset managers. There is not a single woman entrepreneur among them. The tech industry in India, it seems , is driven by the same fund traditional businesses are. Men invest in men.

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 14 December 2014.)

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The Best Thing About You is You!
Anupam Kher | Hey House| Rs 399

“I have found, that unhappiness is a great leveler,” says Kher in this pocketbook of schmaltzy advice on happiness, unfulfilled relationships and regret. Remember Rudyard Kipling? Arthur Miller? Francois de la Rochefoucauld? Never mind if you don’t. Kher brings them – and many others – on board, through a sprinkling of quotes here and there, while flitting between dispensing self-absorbed truisms and reflecting sporadically on his life as theatre and film actor. This is Brand Anupam – a modern day celeb guru of hope and love – beaming at you beatifically and saying, “In time of change, we all seek the same old wisdom but from new-age gurus. That is why we need life-coaching books in stores.”


Wild Child
Paro Anand| Puffin Books| Rs 150

In this collection of 10 tender stories, the author gets under the skin of teenagers to talk about contemporary life and events in modern day India. Things we often skim over, hoping the horror, hurt and humiliation would fade, disappear. A 10-year-old boy gets his nose rubbed in the dust by his classmates for being Muslim in post 26/11 Mumbai. He returns home to ask his parents, “Why didn’t you tell me about religion before, were you ashamed?” A girl breaks down in a class when a teacher decides to discuss the issue of domestic violence. How can she tell that her father beats her mother? In Paro Anand our children are not mute spectators. They have a voice.


Gaurav Rastogi & Basab Pradhan| Penguin| Rs 499

Offshore business model, argue the authors, is not going anywhere it is the future of work. But, unlike automotive industry that judges its profits and solidity by numbers of car units sold, or telephone companies that count monies by number of minutes clocked, offshore companies work in ‘abstract’ terms. Terms that cannot be counted except maybe for two things, increase in employee headcount and two, increase in billings. If our business outsourcing companies are to grow, new revenue models need to be invented. It cannot suck the benign tax regime in India forever. In fact, the tax holiday is expiring, say the authors. Looks like its time for our BPO and IT industry to roll up its sleeves.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 22 January 2012)

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The Coalition of Competitors
Kiran Karnik| Collins Business| Rs 399

If it hadn’t been for Nehru and Vikram Sarabhai, India may not have been the IT major it is today, says Karnik, in this highly readable take on the IT industry. Of course others also contributed, like Sam Pitroda, who is supposed to have told General Electric that if they wanted to sell aircraft engines to us, they would have to throw in USD 10 million IT software work into India. GE did. Karnik assembles this and other nuggets to describe the birth of IT industry and Nasscom. The book flap tells us Nasscom is upheld as a model. That’s a bit over the top praise for an association floated by private software firms.


The Child Inside
Suzanne Bugler| Pan| Rs 325

The Child Inside tells the well-worn story of marital betrayal and its aftermath. A married woman delivers a stillborn child, turns away from her husband to rekindle an affair with an old flame. Only, it does not work. “Do you know how lonely I have been,” wife tells husband when confronted, “I feel like I am trapped in emotional graveyard.” But we are ‘a family’, responds the husband. Not exactly a cheerful plot, you have to admit. It does not help that the prose is gloomier than the tale and narration is as lifeless as the depressed heroine of the novel. The novel is billed as a ‘psychological drama’ by the publisher.


The Flying Man
Roopa Farooki| Hachette India| Rs 499

This novel tells the story of a shady entrepreneur, gambler, businessman, political activist, journalist, fornicator, thief, dilettante, doodler and sometime playwright. He is born in Pakistan. But he could well have been from India or any other neighbouring Asian country. The novel penned by Farooki, her fifth, invents a memorable come-of-age immigrant. A man whose life moves as fluidly between London, Egypt, Madrid and Hong Kong as it does through his three marriages, shady businesses, invented personas and several incarcerations in jail. Sometimes, Farooki seems to say, to go “anywhere “ can lead one nowhere.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 18 March 2012)

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The World In Our Time: A Memoir
Tapan Raychaudhuri| Harper Collins| Rs 399

One could view Prof Raychaudhuri’s memoir – parts of which have been serialised as ‘Bengal-nama’ in the literary journal, Desh – as a retelling of the modern Indian history. He offers enough anecdotes to relive it, yet what sets this memoir apart is the writer’s commitment to historical accuracy. The horrific mass killings on August 16, 1946 in Calcutta – that led to death of some 50,000 people – says the historian, could well have been orchestrated by the British administration in cohort with provincial government. For the first three days of rioting the police and army stayed away. Sounds chillingly familiar in the context of 1984 and 2002. If only the government would throw open the archives. But would it?


Pilgrim’s India
Ed by Arundhati Subramaniam| Penguin Ananda|Rs 399

About a decade ago, says the writer of this charming anthology, she felt a need to travel to sacred destinations around the country. The journey, she says, was a shape-shifting experience till she found her guru. But the experience led her to seek answers in the scholarly and the mystical narratives of other travellers – a glimpse of which she offers us in this collection of poems and writings by ancient, medieval and modern wanderers and witnesses. To sum up, the hazards of a voyage are acceptable to some of us more than collective notions of fixity and life insurance. The enduring answers, after all, are perhaps found in the jugular?


India After The Global Crisis
Shankar Acharya| Orient Black Swan| Rs 399

Written between January 2009 and September 2011, this collection of essays culled from articles written for Business Standard by Acharya, elucidates the Indian government’s stand on the economic crisis facing the country. The writer, former Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India (1993-2001) was ‘deeply involved’ by his own admission, in the economic reforms of the 1990s. His diagnosis? The world crisis did not destroy us because our banks and PSUs were not unfettered like in the West. But we are making a mistake in rolling out social entitlements and bowing down to environmental lobby. All this is detrimental to investment and growth.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 19 February 2012)

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As China Goes So Goes The World
Karl Gerth| Hill and Wang| 258 pp, $ 16

This offering from Oxford University historian is a masterful study of the economic evolution of contemporary China. He asks the question, we sometimes stumble upon in our moments of lucidity – ‘what are the ‘collective’ implications of ‘individual’ consumer choices for China’ and ‘how does it affect the rest of the world’? They are already shaping the future, we will all share, says Gerth. Chinese government and business leaders, for instance, view domestic ownership of global brands and intellectual property as symbolic of national wealth and power, the economic equivalent of hosting the Olympics, but much more permanent. Think of the consequences? Think about what India is doing.


 The Global Economic Crisis Through an Indian Looking Glass
Adarsh Kishore, Michael Debabrata Patra & Partha Ray| Sage| 318 pp, Rs 795

When a book opens with a foreword that states that ‘the recent global crisis was truly global’ and that the authors wrote it while serving the IMF one doesn’t exactly shiver in anticipation. One doesn’t expect any meaningful insights either. But one does look for an analysis irrespective of whether the writers toe the government line or not. And one assumes that the book is not a just an ego massager. But assumptions are often proven wrong. This lofty presentation is just a sequencing of crisis and policy responses thereof. Its analysis of impact of global crisis on India is to view RBI’s policies through rose tainted glasses. All is well, no mess. Just rising inflation.


Conn Iggulden| HarperCollins| 546 pp, Rs 299

The intriguing thing about writers of pulp, whether its about modern events or history fiction is their ability to build stories into roller coaster ‘epics’. Iggulden, as the book jacket informs us, is one of the best selling authors in this genre. His first was on Julius Caesar followed by Mongol Khans of Central Asia. The latter comprises four books. The first three look at the exploits of Genghis Khan and the fourth Conqueror at the world of scholar king-turned empire builder, Kublai Khan. It will not be long before writers such as Iggulden will start tearing into our history as well. Think ‘Babur, the Mighty Tiger’ or ‘Akbar The Great’.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 4 December 2011)

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