New Delhi: The month of November will reignite memories of long queues at ATMs following the recall of 86 per cent of circulated currency during the demonetisation in 2016 as at least three books — both fiction and non-fiction — will attempt to unravel the controversial decision. The month will also witness a leading litfest in Mumbai, along with a specially curated festival celebrating the beauty of classics, and the long list announcement of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.
Among the most anticipated novels from the coming month is “Don’t Tell The Governor” by Ravi Subramanian, whose stories are set against the backdrop of the financial services industry. Published by HarperCollins India, his 10th novel weaves a fictional narrative around demonetisation.
“When the Prime Minister declares demonetisation at 8 p.m. on 8 November, 2016, it leaves the nation stunned. But the governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), who should have ideally been party to the decision, is at a crossroads. He has just carried out the most brazen act of his life — yet, it looks like it might also have been his most foolish.
“Will he be able to pull himself out of the mess he has got into or will he be condemned for life? Will he manage to retain his autonomy or meekly surrender to the forces behind the massive scam? Or is he going to be the victim of a very sinister plot? Running desperately out of time, the governor has one week to set things right,” the publisher informed IANS about the narrative in the upcoming book.
The next book, non-fiction, is by Meera Sanyal, who stepped down from her role as CEO and Chairperson of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) India in December 2013, and is titled “The Big Reverse: How Demonetization Knocked India Out” (HarperCollins India).
Describing demonetisation as a black swan event in Indian history, the book, according to the publisher, will provide “the most comprehensive analysis of the policy, its execution and pitfalls”. It will present unprecedented insights backed by data, history and research, and as a result, answer the questions that still continue to haunt Indians, on the what, why and how of demonetisation.
“While the Modi government claimed that it was the silver bullet that India needed to eliminate many of its longstanding problems such as black money, corruption, tax evasion and terror funding, the months that followed proved it otherwise. The return of 99.7 per cent of the banned 500- and 1,000-rupee notes showed that the RBI’s idea of a Demonetisation Dividend was nothing but a mirage. In the process, livelihoods of millions in the informal sector were destroyed, causing enormous distress to farmers and traders and forcing many micro, small and medium businesses into bankruptcy,” Sanyal notes in the book.
And then there is “Of Counsel: The Challenges of the Modi-Jaitley Economy” (Penguin Random House India) by former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, whose trusteeship saw the country through one of the most hotly contested and turbulent periods of economic governance and policymaking in recent decades — from the demonetisation to the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax, or GST.
Subramanian, according to the publisher, provides an inside account of his rollercoaster journey as the CEA. With an illustrious cast of characters, Subramanian’s part-memoir, part-analytical book candidly reveals the numerous triumphs and challenges of policymaking at the zenith, while appraising India’s economic potential through comprehensive research and original hypotheses.
Bibliophiles will also be introduced to “A Stranger Truth: Lessons in Love, Leadership and Courage from India’s Sex Workers” by Ashok Alexander (Juggernaut).
When Alexander left a high-profile corporate job to head Avahan, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s programme to stem the growth of the HIV epidemic in India, he was plunged into a world far removed from the comfort zones he had lived and worked in all his life. It was a grinding place where women sold themselves for Rs 50 and 14-year-olds injected drugs. It was the shadow world of transgenders and of young gay men in a country that still criminalised same-sex love.
During the 10 years Alexander built Avahan, it grew to become one of the largest and most successful HIV prevention programmes in the world, credited with averting over 6.5 lakh new infections. Based on his experiences, “A Stranger Truth” compellingly brings alive the world of people most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, and some of the unlikely heroes among them.
And last but not the least, there is “Heads You Win” by Jeffrey Archer, published by PanMacmillan. It is billed as an “incredible and thrilling novel” by the master storyteller, whose final twist will shock even his most ardent fans. The publisher said that this is the international number one bestselling author’s “most ambitious and creative work” since “Kane and Abel”.
(Saket Suman can be contacted at [email protected])