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‘The Challenge Is In The Faithful Articulation Of An Idea’

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Why this book? And why should a reader pick up this book?
The world is largely divided between those who make the rules and those who endure them. Because I run a law firm, I have the privilege of knowing a few who do run the national ship in one sense or another. This has allowed me to see not just what these few do but also the spin that gets put on it.
 
As the years have gone by, I have to come to realise that the world as understood by the overwhelming majority of people is an illusion — a propaganda construct. The real world is something else again. I wrote this book because I want us all to be able to get past the bullshit and see the world without the spin.
 
People who want to know how our society is structured, or curious about what goes on in the back rooms of power, or those who want to understand the machinations of our political system or how the corporate world works should be reading this book. People who want to understand the impact of the laws we have created, and where the legal world is heading, ought to read this book. And most of all, people with an appetite for counter institutive thinking, and a politically incorrect viewpoint, really ought to be checking this book out.
 
Could you tell us something about the title Bullshit Quotient?
Years ago, when too much plain speaking led to some dramatic conflicts in which I took centre stage, the well-known corporate lawyer P.S. Dasgupta called me in and good naturedly advised me to never call a spade a spade because “the appetite to swallow bullshit is built into our genetic blueprint”. He remains one of the smartest lawyers I have ever known and his words continue to ring in my head when I see how so many are so easily talked into believing so much complete rubbish.
 
Bullshit Quotient: Decoding India's Corporate, Social and Legal Fine-Print
By Ranjeev C. Dubey 
Hachette 
Pages: 256
Price: Rs. 350
How difficult was it to put the book together?
Very, especially cherry picking the victims of my devastating diatribes! When the whole world runs on bullshit, it’s completely unfair to pick up the corporate world, or the legal world, or the political world and talk about just this or that aspect of it. But I had to talk about something to make my point. It could just as easily have been a whole other set of subjects. For all I know, there may well be other subjects one day in the forthcoming Bullshit Quotient 2, 3 and (if you like the Rocky movies) Bullshit Quotient 6!
 
When and where do you write?
I assign a part of my day at work to writing, frequently the hours immediately after lunch if there are no meetings. As a managing partner of a law firm, it is my privilege to seek self-actualisation over core competence! The format of the book has lent itself easily to writing in spurts. Each chapter is under 3,000 words in length, and while the book has a central theme, each chapter is really a snapshot of what goes on in this or that context.
 
Where all did this book take you?
It took me to a more complete understanding of my ‘position’ on the subjects I cover. It is one thing to have a counter intuitive viewpoint on a great variety of things but when you sit together to write it all down, the thread weaving culminates in the final cloth. It is then you know for sure what you really think. Writing the book helped me grow as a person. You can say I already have my payoff!
 
Can you suggest another title to this book? Also give us a new blurb!
One possible alternate title would be 'India Disrobed' with the subtext 'Greed, sleaze, sex, lies and the existential void in India’s tryst with business, legal, social and political destiny'.
 
The blurb at the back would probably say “Sixty years after we set out on our journey at Independence, what shape have we given to our society? How does our corporate world go about its business? How are our laws created and what impact have they had? What forces shape our political machine? How is modern India a victim of our culture and heritage? To being to understand some of these issues, come and be part of ‘India Disrobed’.”
 
What’s your energy drink?
Silence and solitude I think. When you dispense with the social persona you are projecting and the endless dialogue you use to reiterate what you have already believe, your life experience comes into perspective and then you can see yourself and all that you do with dispassion. Thus is the book written. What happens in the office is just so much five finger exercise.
 
What makes a book a really good read or a bestseller?
It depends on your motivations. I read to understand. I want to be engaged and to be provoked. I don’t want to be agreed with or lulled into validating myself. A good read is another mind engaging me and taking me to places I could not otherwise go. Bestseller, I know nothing about, nor do I particularly care. The tyranny of numbers and profit is too tedious to be meaningful for a man of middle age as I am.
 
What's the hardest thing about being a writer?
In the context of a book such as this, I would say finding the words to represent the thought. The challenge is in the faithful articulation of an idea. There is too the challenge of tying up the threads of implications in a neat, coherent framewithout trains of thought that cancel each other out.
 
What are you reading now?
I am reading a great deal of non-fiction: history, biographies, social commentaries and so forth, both Indian and global. Within the last several months, the Indian piece has included Katherine Boo’s astonishing Behind The Beautiful Forever, Sonia Falerio’s incredible Beautiful Thing, S. Hussain Zaidi’s outstanding Dongri To Dubai, Ruchir Sharma’s Breakout Nations and Charles Allen’s Ashoka. The financial history piece has included two books by Michael Lewis Liar’s Poker and The Big Short and two by Niall Fergussion, The Ascent Of Money and Empire. I have also been deeply enriched by Ryzzard Kapuscinski’s The Shadow of the Sun. This would be my best of 2012 so far and I would recommend all of them to your readers.
 
So, what’s next?
I need to rewrite and update my first book, which was a business book about managing business conflicts. Look out for Winning Legal Wars Redux!
 
(Compiled by Sanjitha Rao Chaini)


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