Friday, 27 December 2013
Book Review : If God Was A Banker
Sundeep Srivastava : Anything Goes
Swaminathan : Mr Ethical - Smart, Intelligent, Sharp and Straight
Kalpana : Mrs Swami, and his biggest support
Natasha : Mrs Sundeep, mature and balanced
Aditya : The Real Kingmaker
Naresh : The string puller, unscrupulous and unstrustworthy
If God Was A Banker is a story of 2 methods - ethical results vs results by any means, and acts as a salutary warning to all corporate honchos as to what can happen if things go awry. This is a tale of Corporate India, where one needs a Guide or Mentor who watches over you, and gives you the opportunity and chances to grow. It is a tale of your choices, and how you use the chances your mentor provides you to make your own life and career. It is a tale of character and internal priorities, weaknesses and value systems - and how you adjust these value systems to the external realities.
It is a tale of 2 friends and their spouses, and the story of their rise through the corporate ladder. Sundeep is rough, and ready to exploit any opportunity that comes his way - even if the idea originated somewhere else. He is all about self, and cares little about anyone else in the system - even the person who helped him grow, his mentor. Although highly qualified, skilled, intelligent - he nevertheless takes recourse to every means to achieve his objective. This book is a story of the rise, rise and rise of Sundeep Srivastava
It is also a story of the steady but somewhat bumpy (by comparison) rise of Swaminathan, a simple man who rises not by virtue of skulduggery, but by good old-fashioned ethical results, wherein the means and process by which results come are equally important, if not more, than the result itself. It is a heart-warming tale of how a man of sheer brilliance, intelligence and humility contains himself, plays by the book and yet succeeds. While in Sundeep you get to see the real world, in Swaminathan you get to observe the ideal, or should I say the optimal; a character that provides hope in you - that it is possible to succeed by being good as well
This book is also a heart warming love story; 2, in fact. The awesome, and simple but purely Indian love story of Kalpana and Swami, wherein Kalpana herself keeps her career on hold after marriage so as to take care of her husband and make a good home; of how she subsequently returns to the corporate fold, and manages both roles with elan. This book is, at the same time, a touching love story - a one-sided love story of Natasha, who marries the undeserving Sundeep, and gives him her all, just for the sake of love.
This story is, all in all, a complete story of life in corporate India - of how work pressures create family stress, of how a man can go wrong, of cheating, crime and bribery, of avarice and self-centred strategies, of office politics that can break a career, of treachery and opportunism, of breaking rules and laws, of sheer greed and amorality, of a total failure of internal systems and processes to check wrong-doing. And yet, at the same time, this is a book of hope and order, of how a steady but smart approach creates results, of how sticking to basics is the right thing, of how just being decent and human can create opportunities, of how you should use opportunities that come your way, of how not giving up is in itself a strategy, of how focus on excellence can give top results in your paycheck and your career - and of how the right attitude in bad times can get great future results. You can see all this, and more, in the lives of the 4 principal characters... a must read for all in Corporate India. In many ways, this is a slightly exaggerated mirror of life in the corporate world, and a deep and disquieting question on what we have become
The book is easily one of Mr Subramanian's best works, given that it successfully intertwines the professional and personal lives so beautifully well into one indivisible whole. The personal and professional stories buttress each other, and carry the story forward with effortless ease. Characterisation is excellent, with the focus being on creating a mental image of the attributes of the person, and helping the reader relate to the thoughts and emotions of each character. You can actually see into the mind of each person, and that is a significant achievement of the author. The language is, as usual, simple and effective. Most of all, the book is an effective, realistic if somewhat (only slightly) exaggerated look at the corporate world and its ugly underside, a book that forces us to think in depth of what we have become. A book that says "Wake Up, India" from every page... well written, Mr Ravi Subramanian. A truly great piece of fiction...