Thursday, October 30, 2008

The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga won the Man Booker-2008. A debut novelist winning an award which every author on this planet aspire to win some day but after substantial exposure to his genre. But here we have an Indian (read NRI) author delivering a piece that bangs it on the first roll. He is witty, humorous (darkly and deeply) and above all not preaching but telling.

I have hated Anita Desai for her hungry-poor-superstitious-India portrayal. Because from the first page of her writing, i felt she is depicting all this to win accolades of the English. And for the same reason i feel good that she never won Booker!! Her writings always appeared to me as if looking for the shit even on sea shore-so that she could write about it. Ohh! I saw so much shit all around the sea shore instead of how beautiful the sunup and sundown!!

But Mr Adiga is certainly different. As i mentioned, his way of style is not at all preaching but narrating the bitter life of poor. So, beatifully he places all the sweets and bitter snacks in the same platter and only after devouring, one can find whether it was a sweet or something else. You need to be a connoisseur of both taste and styling.

And the sole reason behind winning Booker-The work is damn ORIGINAL. Never ever i have read such literature in my life. A style distinct enough to set the rules of writing on fire. And this innovativeness, this novelty made him win the most coveted of all the awards.

Really looking forward to his next book (Between the Assassinations) due to realease in November in India.
And by the way i read this book in one day-so gripping :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lehmann down, y?

I solely feel the reason behind the sad demise of Lehman Brothers is over-smartness of the policy makers, not only in Lehman but also other such banks.

Let me first of all brief you about the kind of work investment banks do. They basically invest the money deposited by the customers-big (companies) or small (individuals). In return they pay them some interest to them. This is a sound business. Since, you get a lot of money to play with. And with highly intellectual strategists (no sarcasm!!), they devise newer plans everyday.

And everything worked out well for them (read Lehman and alike companies). But we all know something hit them real hard. And this something was- Sub prime crisis. Now, what is sub-prime crisis?

Every bank has a set of customers to whom it is going to give loan or provide a particular set of services. Technically, these customers are called Prime customers. So, the banks were giving away loans to them and everything was going their way. But these banks had a lot of money and fewer and fewer prime customers. So, they started looking for Sub-Prime customers. These were the customers to whom the bank was unwilling to pay loans earlier. But now, they were also considered 4 loans.

Even now the ball was rolling well. These customers were paying their installments and the cycle was good. But now comes the twist. The customers (majorly sub-prime) loaned money for buying properties and making profit. The property rates as a consequence were reaching sky. And people found it an easy way to make money. Let's take a scenario to understand the whole stuff.

A customer (name him Sam) took a loan of 10,000 USD to buy a property (with sole purpose of making profit by later on selling it at higher rates.)
He was paying the installments faithfully and things were good. But, the real estate prices have a limit. The real estate prices started plummeting due to certain factors pertaining to global reasons.

So, what happened to customers like Sam? They did not know what to do because their real estate costed less than the amount they had invested. Suppose, Sam's property now costs 6000USD, so what would smart Sam do? He would leave the papers with the bank and would stop paying INSTALLMENTS. Smart Sam as i said!!

Now, bank finds out that Sam is unwilling to pay his installments-So, the bank goes into the market to sell the property and guess what, it finds out that the property against which it had availed a loan of 10,000USD now costs 4500USD. Leave the interest, its principal amount can't be recovered even. So, the bank gets screwed up. And there was not one Sam. There were Sam’s all around. Becoming defaulters and making banks poorer and poorer.

So, why on the first hand banks did this? They could have kept the extra money with themselves instead of risking it with the Sub-primers. But banks never do so. They are always willing to loan it for INTEREST. And if one bank does that, others unwillingly also have to follow the trend in order to stay in the market. And hence, the complete cycle of the downfall of not only Lehman but all the other biggies.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Kalam effect: My years with the President

This coloumn has nothing to do with my respect for Kalam. We all know how generous, intelligent, honest and futuristic person he is.
But this book is not at all upto the mark. You expect a lot more from P M Nair, a man of immense intelligence (obviously being an IAS, he ought to be the best amongst all the learned people in India).
This book contains a very few detailed anecdotes pertaining to the grand tenure of the President. Picked the book with an assumption that i would get to know a lot of new facets of Kalam, but with disappointment. A few excerpts were good but they were mere facts, no credits to the author.
Lastly, i would say this would have been a good Sunday newspaper coloumn or an article in India Today, but certainly not a book.