Review by Sanjeev Kotnala at

Why would I have picked this book? I don’t remember but must have been B1G1F promotion at T3 Delhi while catching a red eye flight. I have not read any book by him and the cover was drab- like not the kind that catches my attention. Oh yes, may be the differential style of signing of the cover or my handover from reading books that try demystifying- let me correct speak simple straight. More than the title, the subscript ‘DECODING INDIA’S COPRORATE, SOCIAL AND LEGAL FINEPRINT’. Seemed more interesting. Yes that did it.
So what, BULLSHIT is served and accepted as a part of life. Maybe Ranjeev in his book served the biggest of them. Cribs, finger pointing, helplessness, arguments, sub-arguments and paraphrasing of individual thoughts supported by fray instances is not something one wants to spend time with.
So what’s new. Maybe all the arguments in the book has been realised and used and abused by everyone of us, while drinking, sipping tea at a stall or just passing time. Yet he does make a forceful point and crisply lays them bare. Chapter after chapter you seem to be cornered into his side of the ring. There is no response or argument against what he writes. And he time to time throws witty straight arguments in way of paraphrasing his thoughts.

“Absurdly, in our cultural fabric, spotting the little lie is a skill called wisdom; spotting the big one is a sin called cynicism”.It’s his job to convince you and your job to decide if you agree. He has an upper hand during this task. As the topic is chosen by him and he is a lawyer!
Simplified concept- here ‘What, after all , is culture but an attempt by two or more people to interpret the world and make it intelligible to themselves’
And profound ones that have always hurt us ‘When it comes to individual Indians, the standard of measure is not one nation; it is one tribe. Put another way, the [psychological boundaries of our nation in our minds is somewhat smaller than what the constitution of India would have us believe!’
And a truth of life. Talking about the Independent directors and the small shareholders. ‘When it comes to prostitution, the transacting parties consist of the customer, the pimp and the hooker. At the best of the times, the hooker gets screwed. When it goes bad, the customer gets screwed. Either way, the pimp is the only one who never gets screwed!’
And some question that we all have jokes about. Example. ‘That said, we so need to ask ourselves why some of us are so embarrassed to speak in our own tongues. I would especially ask why we think it’s okay ti use foul language in English but not in Punjabi’
And some thing that simply makes sense. Talking about Bania’s with an inherent life long objective of earning and hording- and not spending. ‘I see Banias as I see martial artists. At some level it’s not about the fight at all; it is about skill, self control, discipline and a lifetime of training. It is the body and mind perfectly in sync; the fight being only the proof of the pudding, so as to speak. In a way, there is nobility in this, yet at the same time there is brutish violence to it. If the aim is to get as much as you can, you do not care whom you have to slaughter to get it’
I will not get into the chapters or the arguments in the book. Yet must say the iterative argumentative almost in a debate monologue the book at some stage does becomes tiring. So, you keep it down- take a stroll-mull over the past pages and get ready for the duel of logic and evidence!
He seems to find Corporate India and the legal system including Politicians (they are after all the law makers) his favorite punching bag. Be it economic growth, role of auditors or the independent directors- or the way we are culturally wired to be submissive or satisfied.
Inspite of all the negativism and fault finding- he ends in a sarcastic positive hope. ‘I can see change everywhere and I ask myself this; now that Gurgaon’s summer is here, can Jhumari Talaiya’s spring be far behind’