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If you will, you can

Monday, May 12, 2014

Two books make it to the reviews page. They dwell on burning issues, figuratively and otherwise. The election process concludes today, and fittingly, Unreal Elections by C.S. Krishna & Karthik Laxman makes for compulsive reading. Those of us who imagine them as being downtrodden and incapable of improving their lot, must definitely read Dalit Millionaires: 15 Inspiring Stories by Milind Khandekar, Reenu Talwar, Vandana Singh to get their perspective right. The information comes as a heartening surprise. 

A satirical take on 2014 elections
WHY can't Kejriwal get rid of his shawl in the Delhi' summer? Does Sonia G reshuffle her Cabinet with a little help from Britney Spears? Is Modi's favourite movie 'The Lion King'? And what enrages Manmohan Singh?

Queries such as these are not ones that are sought to be answered on prime time debates in the run-up to the elections but 'unreal' questions about the ongoing General Elections, emerging from actual reports of scams and rhetorical faux pas, documented in a new book.

'Unreal Elections' published by Penguin is a brainchild of a pair of engineers-cum-MBAs-turned-political spoofers -- C S Krishna and Karthik Laxman, who run the satirical portal The UnRealTimes.Com.

After three years of writing spoofs on Indian politics, the duo decided to pen down a hilarious account of 'unreal' yet 'somewhat real' facts and anecdotes about the ongoing biggest political saga in the country.

"Writing Unreal Times gave us not only a better understanding of the politics of our country but also skilled us in the art of writing spoofs without getting into legal hassles," Krishna told PTI.

I observed there are so many real facts about the elections which are ignored in public domain and so many unreal facts which are viral out there. Hence for the public, the line between 'real' and 'unreal' is little blurred amidst an overdose of information from all mediums, he said.

Even if politics isn't your favourite topic, you will still be able to get the gist of the book's plot as it takes you through the political developments of the last few years and has hilarious 'unreal' conversations between the 'real' political characters.

The events mentioned in the book are twisted to dwell on the backroom machinations and intrigue within various political parties, media houses and government bodies.

Some of the incidents discussed in the book include Arvind Kejriwal's scam-exposes, the DLF-Robert Vadra controversy, the ensuing damage control measures, the Coalgate scandal that rocked the Congress, Narendra Modi's rise to power, the Snoopgate controversy where Modi was accused of spying on a woman, and the Modi-Rahul Gandhi war of words, among others.

"We wanted to maintain the flavour of 'Unreal Times' writing style in the book but we got the book legally vetted too in order to ensure it hits the right target audience and makes a comic read and not an exposing read," Laxman said.

Since the social media has been adding an interesting dimension to the current polls, the book also has spoofs of political candidates' Facebook wall pages.

The book isn't just a comic saga about the politicos but also has spoofs on media persons including Rahul Kanval, Arnab Goswami, Sagarika Ghosh and Barkha Dutt among others, who are active in reporting and debating the turn of political events in the country throughout the year.

Unreal Elections
by C.S. Krishna & Karthik Laxman
Penguin Books India

Inspiring stories of Dalit millionaires
Multimillionaire Ashok Khade did not have even four annas to replace the broken nib of his pen when he was about to sit for his Std XI board exams; Kalpana Saroj worked at a hosiery factory for a measly Rs.2 a day before owning a business empire of Rs.1,000 crore.

These inspiring stories are among a collection of profiles of 15 Dalit entrepreneurs who have braved both societal and business pressures to carve out profitable niches for themselves.

The book 'Dalit Millionaires: 15 Inspiring Stories' by authors Milind Khandekar, Reenu Talwar, Vandana Singh is a vivid chronicle of how the battle has moved from the village well to the marketplace.

These individuals faced several obstacles only to set up multi-crore business empires in the past few years.

These entrepreneurs are from every sector of the economy. Saroj turned around Mumbai's Kamani Tubes Limited which had shut down, and transformed it into a profit-making company.

Khade's company DAS Offshore Engineering Private Limited manufactures platforms used at Bombay High refinery for oil extraction.

Hari Kishan Pippal of Agra runs People's Heritage Hospital, and Devkinandan Son runs the Taj Plaza hotel, located close to the Taj Mahal. Savitaben Kolsawallah of Ahmedabad makes tiles, while Devjibhai Makwana of Bhavnagar manufactures filament yarn. Sanjay Kshirsagar moved on from a 120-foot tenement and now seems well on his way to become the emperor of a Rs.500 crore firm.

"The success of Dalit businessmen in the 20 years following liberalisation of the economy has come as a ray of hope. Many Dalits have finally been able to achieve economic equality, owing to their own hard work, rather than help from the government," the book, published by Penguin Books India, says.

Khade's father mended shoes near Chitra Talkies at Dadar while his mother worked in the fields for 12 annas a day. In 1973, when he had to appear for his Std XI board exams, he didn't have even four annas to replace the nib of his pen. His teacher had to give him the money to have the nib changed so that he could take the exam.

With sheer determination, Khade moved on and is now the managing director of the company that has a turnover of Rs 140 crore.

Saroj, a child bride, was tortured by her husband's family and she tried to commit suicide but survived. She moved to Mumbai where she got a job for Rs 60 a month, which was later increased to Rs 225. She then worked her way and now runs a business empire of Rs 1,000 crore.

Pippal, who worked as a labourer in three different companies in Faridabad, and also plied a cycle rickshaw, heads a group of companies that own a hospital, a shoe export factory, a Honda dealership and a publication house.

According to the authors, Dalit businessmen are no longer begging for jobs, they're actually creating jobs.

"The Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an organisation that brings all Dalit entrepreneurs under one umbrella, reveals that Dalit businessmen pay as much as Rs.1,700 crore as tax to the government. Their total turnover is Rs.20,000 crore and they provide employment to 5 lakh people," the book says.

Dalit Millionaires: 15 Inspiring Stories
by Milind Khandekar
Penguin Books India

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