Millennium Post

An unputdownable attempt for ordinary readers

Tamal Bandyopadhyay has mastered the art of demystifying the complicated world of finance for ordinary readers with his book 'From Lehman to Demonetization', writes Sugato Hazra

'From Lehman to Demonetization'

Price: Rs 599

Publisher: India Portfolio

The collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. has been a momentous event in the global financial system. It exposed the underbelly of the US dollar 300 trillion worth global financial market. Collapse of the US market spread to Europe which eventually saw disintegration of European Union, an experiment which failed and creating several collateral damages in economies not so large as the European Union or the United States of America. Indian market which initially, in the wake of the crisis, patted itself being immune to the problems of the US financial market and lived merrily on denial mode has since been facing, according to Tamal Bandyopadhyay, "a decade of disruptions, reforms and misadventures." In the book 'From Lehman to demonetization' by Tamal one can have glimpses of major events of the period.

Tamal is a good story teller. He captured the plight of a young finance professional whose world collapsed along with Lehman and the curious case of people approaching bank branches with car loads of cash through the experience of fifty days in the life of a bank's branch manager. Most of the articles in the book were published in the financial newspaper the Mint where Tamal works. These were written in a context as most newspaper columns are. Together the articles have captured the age when in fact, people across the world lost faith in the global financial system. It is argued that the crypto currency Bitcoin finally saw the light of the day due to this loss of confidence in the institutions governing the financial market. But since the canvas of the book was not wide enough to include the nitty gritty of the global issues it did not touch upon the speculator looking for ungoverned and free currency as a new store of value. Maybe the author would think of working on issues beyond the geographic and intellectual boundary of India.
Tamal has been frank enough to begin with an admission that he is not a student of finance. However, this is not a weakness of the book. On the contrary it helps a reader who wants to know but gets distracted by use of jargons of finance professionals to understand several issues which the Indian financial system went through during the momentous period. If the reader has been looking for serious research on Indian market this book can at best act as a guideline, flagging issues where in-depth study will help. Serious readers, too, will find the book useful.
While the part one of the book fits the reader's need well, (only the chapter on micro-finance, an insignificant sector in the world of big finance, sitting rather incongruously there) the part two on seminal leaders is out of place. Both the choice of the leaders and the notes on them does not add value to a serious reader. Such profiles would perhaps have suited a coffee table book more than the serious one that Penguin has brought out. More so since many of those who have been featured in part two also had offered their praises for the book. This gives an impression of marking the book to a certain market and not for a curious reader. The fault lies with the publisher who was expected to do justice to the well-articulated part one of the book.
The book has attractive titles for topics discussed in brief. Not only these read well but also have captured the essence of the issue discussed. What is best in the book is the writing style. It draws in the reader, making it a page-turner much like a thriller. Tamal has mastered the art of demystifying the complicated world of finance. He could do it since he is not a student of finance. Had he been, it would have ended up as another book for reference, not the 'unputdownable' one for ordinary readers as 'From Lehman to Demonetization' is.

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