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Start-Up City
Moloy K Bannerjee, Siddharth Bannerjee & P. Ranganath Sastry | Collins Business | Rs 450

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.49.35 AMIndia’s software technology sector came into existence sometime in mid-1980s. It picked up pace in 1990s and today, it is the most talked about aspect of foreign investment in the country. ‘Start-up City’ tries to capture how 10 Bangalore-based companies became part of this story. The writers provide some interesting insights – Indian entrepreneurs they aver know how to ‘adapt and adjust’. Many built their companies by selling computing and analytics software like, Tally or by providing technology solutions to government agencies or projects. They are mostly risk averse, preferring to ‘play safe’. Instructive.

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Inside Chhattisgarh: A Political Memoir
Ilina Sen | Penguin | Rs 399

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.50.04 AMIn 1980s Dr Ilina Sen and her husband, Dr Binayak Sen joined the fiery political philosopher and trade union leader Shankar Guha Niyogi in coal mining district Dalli-Rajhara, Madhya Pradesh, as political activists. After spending seven years working here the couple shifted to Raipur in 1988. In Raipur, they moved away from political activism. They bought an acre of land, built a mud house, started the Rupantar Trust and got involved in health worker training in Bagrumnala village nearby. Then came Binayak’s arrest, the fight to free him and the couple’s exit from Chhattisgarh.

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Kerrigan in Copenhagen
Thomas E. Kennedy | Bloomsbury | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.49.50 AMIf you’ve been to Denmark it’s likely you stopped by Copenhagen. Next time, take Kerrigan with you and read him in the city to top up on alcohol, history, literature, art and jazz. You guessed it right. This is a guidebook to city’s drinking joints. Kennedy has written three other novels on Copenhagen. This is his fourth. In this one the author tells the story of “the city of ever changing lights” by discussing with the reader beer, wine, Hans Christian Andersen and Goethe, sculptures of dead men in parks and women in bars. Hic!

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today dated 18 January 2015)

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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.

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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.

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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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