Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Black Tiger by Srijan Pal Singh

Title: The Black Tiger                                
Author: Srijan Pal Singh
Category: Non-fiction (Economics)
Publisher: Fingerprint Publishers
Price: Rs. 163/Free on Kindle Unlimted
Pages: 198

Corruption is easily one of the biggest challenges that our nation faces; it is a drain on resources, capability, as well as morale. It is a cancer that eats into individual and collective values, ethos as well as ability and skills, as people abandon the process and the basic values & ethics, and choose to  go into a direction where they see greater personal benefit. Corruption corrodes the national capability, and creates a cancer, a festering cancer teeming in our midst, living among us as one of us. That is why, given the nature of the challenge, it is always welcome if any person contributes to the literature on this vital subject of national interest.

If this literature is written {Srijan Pal Singh} by someone who has been in close proximity to one of the finest leaders we have ever had – a role model, a person of the caliber of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam; then it creates a hunger and desire to read and understand – along with the expectation of a strong, data & fact oriented fair and balanced presentation. It was with this deep desire and passion that I chose this book; and can honestly state that it has made a tremendous value addition, as well as made me think. It took me a week to find the words to review this – and I have so far reviewed 180+ books, all of them almost on the day I finish reading.

The book blurb on the back cover calls it fascinating, absorbing, and informative – you can justifiably add disturbing and stunning to that. This isn’t hyperbole; for what is very likely the first time, someone has systematically dissected corruption and placed it in front of the public in a tour-de-force presentation of mind-blowing bluntness and numbing relentlessness in its indictment of everyone who is  a party to this cancer, this serious issue in our midst.

This book is a comprehensive description of corruption, its genesis, and its many parameters, contributory sources, as well as its many offshoots. It will have you transfixed in stunned shocked attention as the author systematically bluntly lays bare the source and the edifice or body of corruption. Let me quote a small sample of the book in one short sentence to underscore my point : The unfortunate reality of today is, inferior men have now filled up a sizeable space in today’s corporate world – men who know how to make a sale, but not how to follow values”.

The book is divided into a few chapters, which define the scope of the problem : it starts with a searing and true indictment of Modern Society, in a chapter titled Fading Conscience, Unrestrained Greed. The research on The Psychology of Corruption leaves you numbed with shock & disbelief at the capability inhumanity and depravity of the Modern Human. It is a chapter that is burned into my memory, one of the most brutal indictments I have ever read. Read the book to find out what is was!

The next chapter is on Governance; this chapter is a mix of Socio-Psychological realities admixed with Administrative realities, looking at how corruption starts in an officer, how it grows and is supported by internal factors – all in the backdrop of a solid sociological study that enables a deep understanding of the problem. These first two chapters are the finest in the book, as they enable a deep understanding of corruption and its genesis in our hierarchical society, and in the backdrop of an all-round drop in the value belief matrix of our society. This is an important point – keep it in mind.

The next three chapters are on The Political and Legal system of our country, an in-depth internal look at the hard truths of our nation’s key institutions of Governance. Here you will be on familiar territory, but the content will still draw your breath away. It looks at the need for and the role of Black Money; and includes a plaintive lament asked by a legislator– how can I work with integrity and succeed in such a situation? Nepotism, lack of inner party democracy, etc other factors have been well supported with facts and solid analysis to buttress them. On the Legal System – I much prefer the reader reads for himself; I am silent on that. Suffice it to state that this chapter is very thought-provoking with real workable solutions and deep insights; not meant for a review article.

The next two chapters are, alongwith the first two, defining chapters of this landmark tome :Corporate Corruption, and Ethics and The Media. For the first time in my memory has someone in the mainstream taken on Corporate India and The Media in so blunt a fashion; enclosed here is a no holds barred, ruthless and brutal stripping of these two much vaunted segments of our society. The systematic takedown spans theCorporate-Political / Corporate-Corporate / Corporate-Government / Corporate-Employees / Paid News / Fake News / Cartels or Conflicts of Interest / Greed aspects of the transactions and relationships in these two sectors.

The book ends with a chapter on Black Money Stashed Abroad followed by two heart and soul searching chapters on Righteousness and What Each Of Us Can Do, wherein an attempt has been made to find a solution of sorts, alongwith the many many suggestions in the previous chapters. But the question that comes to mind is that we have already seen how Corporates, Media, Politics, Society is corrupt; we have seen the acceptance of corruption in society; we have seen how it is hard for people to uphold values both in our real lives, as well as in the at time terrifying examples given in the book. In the light of that, will these solutions suffice?

These points covered pretty much cover all aspects of life; this paints a picture of corruption as a deep seated endemic issue –reaching into our homes, places of work, governance – all of it. This we have already seen, as I talked of in my recent article on Fake News as well. The book suggests a series of eminently feasible, doable solutions  - such as the Costa Rica Example on the Judiciary; or the example on Corporate Governance. But will these suffice, in the light of the nature of the problem that is confronting us as a people? Will this bring about a change in the basic nature of the people? In order to answer that, we have to understand the nature of the beast: corruption.

Given its endemic nature and sidespread support as well as systemic tentacles, we need deep seated reform – true. But not one of the reform steps can check the problems emanating from peer pressure, task hindrance, ability to deliver, intra-dependency with – the corrupt people, who are people like you and me, just like you and me. How do we ensure that we, as a society, can ensure the righteous get their just rewards in an environment where someone who is incorruptible is not considered foolish. Where the price of righteousness is a lesser pay, higher risk and ridicule? And in all points of interaction that an individual has in his daily routine – keep in mind Governance, Politics, Legal, Corporate and Media is a comprehensive look at society, leaving nothing? These are the questions we as a nation have to answer and it is a high time now.

In summary, the book admittedly is a start in the right direction; all of the problems it identifies are almost spot-on accurate. Some of the suggested solutions are actually excellent, and workable – provided we find the will for the same. The straightforward data-based analysis leaves no scope for much debate insofar as the problem description & diagnosis is concerned. The solutions aspect, though, is another matter. Take the examples of Property, or Manifestos, or party whips; are the changes implementable? I fear not. The only place where the book falls marginally short is in corporate governance and corporate corruption. The problems are systemic, deep-rooted and endemic, and will need deep change at entire organizational systems and processes level. The problem identification is incomplete, as it looks at only one small aspect of Corporate Corruption – the reality is far scarier, and virtually endemic… all the rest is spot-on, and the author deserves a standing ovation for putting together this masterpiece…

The Readers Cosmos Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author:
Srijan Pal Singh is a gold medallist MBA holder from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and has worked with the Boston Consulting Group. He is a social entrepreneur who has been involved in studying and evolving sustainable development systems with a thrust on rural areas. From 2009 to 2015, he also worked as an advisor and an officer on special duty to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam on promoting the concept of energy independence and Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA), and co-authored with him three books, Target 3 Billion (2011), Reignited (2015), and Advantage India (2015). He has been named as one of the Global Leaders of Tomorrow by the St. Gallen Leadership Symposium in Switzerland in 2014. He has also co-authored Smart and Human (2015) with GRK Reddy.


Book Reviewed by Vishal Kale and edited by Nimi Vashi

Vishal Kale has an MBA in Marketing with 16 years of experience in Sales, Marketing & Operations across various industries, with end-to-end specialisation in telecom sales and marketing. 

He is an Indian Top Blogger {on ITB Website} for the past 2 years and counting; Nominated in top 5 Political Bloggers by Blogadda in Win-15 & Among the top 200 bloggers worldwide on Invesp. He specialises in deep politico-economic analysis; Books off the beaten track, and a value & fundamentals-based approach towards the Indian Economy, Corporate India - And Especially Indian Colonial History"



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