Chikungunya, Dengue – Have we learned any lessons from 2016 for 2017?

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Delhi has witnessed its first outbreak of chikungunya after 2006. Malaria, which was supposed to have almost disappeared from Delhi is back with a vengeance. Chikungunya is an emerging, mosquito-borne disease caused by an alphavirus, Chikungunya virus. The disease is transmitted predominantly by Aedes aegypti and Ae. Albopictus mosquitoes, the same species involved in the transmission of dengue.

We have learned that Chikungunya results in high fever accompanied with severe debilitating pain, especially in joints.  Rashes can also be seen in severe cases. Weakness, dizziness, continuous vomiting leading to dehydration, very poor oral intake and bleeding are dangerous signs. We have been told that we must not let water collect anywhere and many people have been challaned because of their errant ways in managing water!

Politicians have blamed bureaucrats who have blamed MCD who has blamed politicians. Ministers have stated that Chikungunya does not lead to death while patients have cried about the passing of their loved ones. TV anchors have screamed at the top of their voices about accountability and newspapers have given these stories headlines, gradually relegating them to inside pages.

The monsoons have retreated, water logging has reduced and dried up, hospitals are now reporting lesser patients, the subject of ill patients has disappeared from the news channels and hopefully, mosquito borne diseases will disappear for this year. Everyone seems to have heaved a sigh of relief and as always happens in our country after every epidemic or emergency, the problem of this year has been “managed” and given the short public memory, this year’s challenges will soon be forgotten.

Knee jerk reactions to a health scare seems to be the norm rather than the exception with us. We know that this problem recurs every year and will continue to recur in the years ahead till we are able to eradicate the disease. So why is it that we are not able to plan earlier and reduce the severity of the impact of these mosquito borne disease? Why don’t our Governments have a task force that will focus on planning for the coming year?

  1. Identify and map the areas – Hopefully, after this years’ experience, the authorities would have mapped all the areas in our cities which they have identified as prone to collection of water. With proper planning, we can ensure that steps are taken to rectify all such areas well before the onset of the monsoons.
  2. Epidemiological evidence – Based on the records for the current year our health researchers would be aware of the strain of the virus and medication needed to handle this.
  3. Quick reporting of the outbreak is essential – this would mean setting up situation rooms / monitoring and evaluation centres in areas where we have seen the problem. These need to be manned and monitored with clear accountability and responsibility documents and communicated.
  4. Laboratories – These became a huge bottleneck in 2016. We should ensure that laboratories are identified and communication sent to the citizens. And of course, we need the tariffs for tests agreed and announced in advance.
  5. Feedback from laboratories needs to be collected on an hourly basis and analysed for course correction. Delays can prove to be fatal for some patients.
  6. Funding for the epidemic needs to set aside for all the actions that need to be taken now as planning commences for the next year.
  7. Hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and doctors should be identified and numbers and prices need to be widely advertised well before the outbreak.
  8. Education of the citizens is an ongoing matter and should become a part of the curriculum of schools rather than delay action till the problem strikes. Education should be in the areas of what to watch out for and where to report the disease. In addition, people need to be educated on making homes mosquito free; spraying all rooms with safe aerosols; using mosquito nets; covering water containers; drying water tanks, pets’ bowls and potted plant plates; not letting water stagnate and other such preventive steps

Once a clearly documented plan is agreed and in place, getting it activated will be quick.

Finally, no mass health programme can work unless there is clear accountability established. No politician, bureaucrat or health worker can be permitted throw up their hands and shrug their shoulders. The blame game needs to stop immediately.

If Sri Lanka, one of the worst victims of malaria, can become malaria free, as certified by the World Health Organisation in September 2016, is it too difficult to hope that India too can reach levels of cleanliness where malaria and other mosquito borne diseases will no longer plague our citizens?

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The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of the best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye and The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur. 

  • Twitter: @gargashutosh
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  • Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com

Selecting a Private Equity Investor

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A lot of businessmen would have raised money or are planning to raise money from a private equity investor to expand their business. Based on personal experience and after discussions with many other entrepreneurs, I am giving below a list of points to watch out for as you go through the process of selecting a Private Equity (PE) investor from a list of potential investors:

Remember that a Private Equity investor is the business of making money from money and therefore his interest will be primarily in getting a substantial return in as short a period of time as possible. You need his money and he needs your company to get a return on his money. Always remember that he is as interested in doing a deal as you are.

Build a relationship with a strong Investment Banking firm

Find a good investment banker who will hold your hands through the PE selection and investment process. Investment Bankers specialise in some industries and you can find them through your network of friends. Talk to at least three short listed Investment bankers before you take a decision. Once you have decided, let them go through your business plan with a tooth comb and ask them to critique it. The Investment banker will then guide you on who to go to and what your valuation should be pitched at.

Find out what the PE players brings to the table other than money

It is very important for you to select a PE player who brings more than simply money to the table. PE players, like investment bankers, specialise in industries and you should expect them to get you introductions to other players in your business as well as in the circles that may influence your industry. Watch out for “glib talkers” who may promise the moon.

Do your own due diligence

Just like a PE player will conduct a due diligence on you and your business before he makes the investment. Make sure that you also do your own diligence on the background of the PE player as well as the investments he has made. If you can talk to one of their investee companies, you must do so to understand from a counterpart their experience with the PE player you are contemplating to give a piece of your business.

Study the term sheet very carefully

You will be in a hurry to get the investment. Most promoters do not read the fine print of the term sheet. It is only later when the conditions of the term sheet start to be implemented does the promoter realise what he has signed up to. By then it is too late. At the cost of delaying your investment, make sure you spend the time required to read through your agreements very carefully. Once the agreement has been signed you cannot say that you did not realise what had been written!

Use a lawyer you trust to get your agreements done

The detailed agreements are critical. The PE player will generally work with the big law firms. You don’t have to – first the big firms will be expensive and second, they may have a conflict of interest with you. Use a lawyer you trust who can guide you through the maze of the legalese in all the agreements. Understand how multiple agreements are linked together as well as all the terms you are signing up to including guaranteed IRR’s, tag along, drag along, QIPO, Liquidity Preference and similar such conditions.

Don’t get pushed into growing your business at a rate that your PE investor wants

Finally, make sure that you grow your business at a rate that you can manage without putting stress on the business or your management team. If your PE player pushes you to grow faster than you believe you can, it is better to push him back earlier than to get caught in a difficult business situation. Watch out for “spreadsheet” specialists who will pound away on their computers to deliver mythical valuations for themselves and you!

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The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of the best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye and The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur. 

  •  Twitter: @gargashutosh
  • Instagram: ashutoshgarg56
  • Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com

Why Startup Operating Systems Crumble Under Pressure

2158f-tbshfrontcoverWhen rapid growth takes place in a young startup, pressure is on getting business and ramping up. During this critical stage, the weakest link is generally the systems that have been put in place to manage the growth.

Most promoters and managers under pressure for growth tend to cut corners and take short cuts assuming that once the business starts to roll in, systems will take care of themselves. Weak systems always have long term implications on the organization but in the short term, the concerned manager is able to “show” that he has met his short term and immediate targets.

In the early years after I founded Guardian, I was faced with many such issues as we grew quickly. Some of these were:

  • Operations: With so much pressure to open stores and lack of trained staff, our operations leadership was constrained to move store staff from one store to another. This led to a significant increase in pilferage of stocks since store staff realized very quickly that no one was watching. Stocks would disappear and neither store management nor operations leadership would be willing to take responsibility.
  • Projects: Though the company had a standard store opening checklist which outlined every single step that had to be completed before a store was opened, in the hurry to open the store, the check lists were ignored. Non completion of the store opening checklist as a result of sub optimal opening was another casualty.
  • Contractors: Since the contractors who were building the stores were under pressure, they started using substandard material and this resulted in entire shelves coming off the walls where they were grouted after the store had opened, resulting in a loss of stocks. If standard operating procedures that were well documented were followed the contractors would have been managed better.
  • People: Our need for people was large since we were opening more than five stores a month. We had walk in interviews going on in our head office and our process of putting every new entrant through one week of training was a failure. Instead of training people, we started hiring and asking them to report at a store the following morning. Our customer service suffered and we started to get negative customer feedback.
  • Technology: While we had a robust system to manage our stores, we realized that some of our hardware had started giving trouble and therefore computer bills could not be issued. Some stores started to use manual bill books and these manual bills were not regularized on a daily basis. This resulted in lost sales and lost cash because if a manual bill book disappears, there is no way to track what has happened to the stock till it physically counted.
  • Cash: Reconciliation of cash collections on a daily basis which is sacrosanct for any retail company was stopped because it was seen as too cumbersome. When this was brought to light by the auditors, the finance department of the company had to go through very intensive work for over one month to get this reconciliation done prior to our audit.
  • Stocks: While my colleagues in the loss prevention department were mandated to conduct stock checks every quarter in every store, this schedule fell by the way side and physical stock checks were not carried out as per the agreed procedure. When we did conduct the stock taking exercise, we found large quantities of stocks were missing. The staff who should have been held responsible for these stocks at the stores had resigned and gone. The company, once again, had to absorb a loss that it should not have borne had systems been implemented correctly.

It is quite clear that unless systems are followed by a startup from the very beginning, losses will mount from all sides before the promoter of the company can get his act together.

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The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of the best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye and The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur. 

  • Twitter: @gargashutosh
  • Instagram: ashutoshgarg56
  • Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com

Continue reading “Why Startup Operating Systems Crumble Under Pressure”

Uri Attack – Repercussions and Beyond

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It has been 5 days since the URI attack shook the nation.

Millions of pages have been written about this and thousands of hours of air time have kept a nation glued to their TV sets taking in and interpreting the hundreds of expert opinions in the print, electronic and visual media. It was wonderful to see a unanimous condemnation of the dastardly attack in the first few days and then, as expected, the questions and the sarcasm started to surface from a selected and predictable group of people.

Videos of Prime Minister Modi’s interview, while he was CM Gujarat, started being circulated where he had stated his position on Pakistan that they have to be responded to in their own terms and not with “love letters” or “biryani”. Comments about “achhe din” and how their lack thereof were heard. “Where is the 56 inch seena” asked someone. A tweet sent by Mr Modi before the elections addressing PM Manmohan Singh suddenly started getting retweeted. These were statements / tweets of Mr Modi when he was CM Gujarat and when he was running BJP’s election campaign.

The scenario has changed dramatically once he was elected the Prime Minister. Mr Modi cannot afford to implement what he said earlier though I am sure he remembers all his comments. Taking action on his then comments would be akin to committing hara-kiri. Now strong decisions need to be taken and these have to be weighed against all the possible bilateral and international repercussions.

The hawks on TV want an immediate military response. Inexperienced politicians are speaking about retaliating with “an entire jaw for a tooth”. A purported article by an online site talking about Indian Special Forces crossing the Line of Control and killing 20 terrorists went viral, was received by me from a patriotic Indian in USA – this was later denied. A heartwarming video recording of a group of soldiers stating “Kashmir to hoga lekin Pakistan nahin hoga” has gone viral over social media (I tweeted it as well) and has been seen literally by hundreds of thousands of people.

Everyone in the country wants a visible response. So do I.

But as always happens after a national tragedy which results in an uproar, temperatures have started to come down and passion is giving way to reason in most cases and cynicism and criticism in some.

With India’s significantly superior defence capabilities, I am certain India can do serious damage to Pakistan’s military. Though Pakistan loves to talk about its nuclear deterrent, they cannot possibly use this, no matter what the provocation maybe because they recognize that India too is equally if not better equipped. Killing of tens, maybe hundreds of terrorists will not solve the problem but will exacerbate it further. Over the past few decades, the minds of thousands of young people in Pakistan have been moulded to believe in their version of jihad. They have been brainwashed into believing that they are doing God’s work when they attack India and the infidels.

So is an all-out attack on Pakistan really a solution? Can the potential killing of hundreds of Pakistanis be a revenge for the loss of our 18 soldiers? There will be a retaliation from the other side and more Indian soldiers will also die. In addition, who knows how many civilian deaths will be on the Indian side. No one likes body bags and if this were to happen, the tide would very quickly turn against the very same Government which is currently being goaded into taking decisive and quick action.

We have seen that the killing of Osama bin Laden did not destroy Al Qaeda. The Taliban, without Mullah Omar continue to do damage in Afghanistan. The emergence and strengthening of ISIS over the past few years despite innumerable surgical strikes only goes to prove that the World cannot wipe out terrorism using force – as someone said, you kill one person, ten more stand up to replace him.

The Pakistan Army, the fidayeens and the Pakistani religious leaders would want India to attack them militarily. This will give their ridiculous adventures like Uri, sanctity and also give them the excuse to go with their begging bowl to their wealthy friends for more money.

India as a nation has moved far ahead of Pakistan. Economically, we are at least 10 times the size of our depleted neighbor. In terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), India is ranked no 3 while Pakistan is at 43. The World sees us as a powerful partner while most nations are cringing away from Pakistan. We have built our stature in the World after decades of diplomacy and successful business partnerships.

We must also accept that Uri happened because of a failure of our intelligence. As we do our own introspection, we have to ensure that such lapses do not happen again. We need to get our own house in order as well. Our defence services have been short changed for a long time and it is only in the last few years that favourable decisions have started to be taken. We need the best surveillance systems and drone technology to protect our borders. No cost is high enough to put the lives of our soldiers in the balance.

War will have serious consequences on our country. The stock markets will fall. During the Kargil War, the stock market dropped by over 10%. Can we afford to have a similar drop and see a huge valuation wiped off? Investment inflows which have started seeing record levels will slow down dramatically and will take a while to re-start. We also do not want war to create even more pockets of resistance in Kashmir, which the separatists in Kashmir will push for.

Significant steps have been taken to diplomatically isolate Pakistan and get the World to see it as the primary sanctuary for terrorists, which it is. Pakistan is already standing alone in the comity of nations and this loneliness will only intensify as the cold winter months approach.

The comment by the young Indian Foreign Service officer at the United Nations calling the ancient centre of learning Taksh-shila, the new “Ivy League of Terror” will haunt and hurt Pakistanis for many years.

The Pakistan Prime Minister will remember his rebuff at the United Nations, from the US Government and even from China, who has stated that they would prefer to take a neutral position. Amongst the few sane voices in Pakistan, the Pakistani press exhibits its nervousness in all their television discussions while the few retired generals keep rattling their now blunted and rusted sabres and drop the “N” word in every discussion.

India needs to hurt Pakistan economically and politically while retaining our right to strike where we want to at our will. There will be short term collateral damage for the common citizens of both countries but this would be a very small price to pay.

  1. Revoke the Most Favoured Nation status given to Pakistan
  2. Stop exports to Pakistan, currently in the region of US$ 1.5 billion per annum
  3. Reduce exports from Pakistan by increasing tariffs currently in the region of about US$ 2.0 billion per annum
  4. Make securing Indian visas much more difficult for Pakistanis
  5. Stop flight of Pakistan International Airlines over India territory
  6. Open discussions of the Indus Water sharing accord.

The wise Chanakya had stated in his famous work ArthShastra “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. This is the time for us understand implement this teaching in the context of Pakistan. Look at Pakistan’s neighbours.

  1. The Balochistan strategy has struck all the right chords in with the rebels in Balochistan and Pakistan is struggling to accept the weakness in their soft underbelly. One comment from the PM has set the proverbial fire in Pakistan’s backyard. We have so many of our disbelievers telling us that Balochistan is not Bangladesh – we love to draw parallels and later play the “I told you so game”. The early moves in Balochistan is only the beginning of the challenges Pakistan will see in its own backyard.
  2. Gilgit-Baltistan could be next. We must create so much dissonance within Pakistan that they have time for little else.
  3. Afghanistan is clearly on India’s side. Sustained political pressure from their Western neighbor will continue to hurt Pakistan.
  4. China, who Pakistan claims as an “all weather friend” is led by a group of pragmatic politicians who are struggling to handle their own economic slowdown. Politically, China needs Pakistan for what it wrongly believes as a counter to India. However, China, with its slowing economy recognizes the huge market India has to offer to its companies.
  5. Islamic Nations, while paying lip service to Pakistan, do not see any economic possibilities with Pakistan. This is clear from the incredible reception PM Modi received during his visit to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
  6. The SAARC nations particularly the larger nations like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will not see any reason to stand with Pakistan.
  7. The United States, Russia and other major nations are already on India’s side and the United Nations has refused to include Nawaz Sharif’s plea to intervene in the discussions between India and Pakistan.

The PM has already stated categorically that the perpetrators will pay. He is a strong leader who has the best interests of the country. He must be hurting as much as if not more than all his fellow citizens over the Uri attack.

Much as I to would like to see a “strong and credible” response for the lives of our soldiers, Mr Modi must not give in to all our jingoistic demands. He needs to calibrate the response and take steps that he knows are in the best interest of the country.

There is really no single answer or solution to the mess Pakistan is in. The Aam Aadmi in Pakistan is definitely tired of all this and wants to lead a peaceful life if only their leaders would let them.

PM Sharif and General Sharif need to sit down with their political and military advisors, religious leaders and terrorist organisations and take stock of where they are as a nation and whether they need to continue their “adventurism” or start to correct the problems of their own making. From the time, if they do decide to change course, it will take at least one whole generation to change their thinking and to assimilate once again into the World.

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The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of the best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye and The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur. 

  • Twitter: @gargashutosh
  • Instagram: ashutoshgarg56
  • Blog: ashutoshgargin.wordpress.com

 

Why Trump should be elected President

The subject of Trump vs Clinton never seems to have any ambivalence or any mild reactions, anywhere in the World. Almost no one I know supports Trump though no one has ever given me a cogent explanation on why they maintain such anti-Trump views other than the standard abusive adjectives they seem to have picked up from the media.

Before I start to put down my thoughts, I must make it clear that I am a strong believer that Trump will win and will be a good President for America. I must also clarify that I am a citizen of India and therefore have no vested interest in the US elections. Main stream media all over generally loves the existing establishment and believes in status quo. It is no different in America though I do wonder what drives such extreme reactions from iconic news anchors against a man who could be the next President.

Over the last century, America has taken the place of London as the country with its “streets paved with gold” and attracted the best immigrants from around the world. America was also asked to take the centre chair at the head table of the World which it has done with aplomb since the end of the War. Over the years, most nations have looked towards America to resolve their issues, their challenges and even their internal disputes and the American leaders have played their part most admirably.

But America as a nation has been “underperforming” over the past few decades.

  1. Its infrastructure is collapsing and needs serious investments. It is believed that an investment in excess of US$ 13 trillion is need to be invested in America.
  2.  The middle class “white” majority is beginning to feel disenfranchised and the large black community is feeling alienated because nothing has been done for them over the past two centuries. Other minorities too seem to feel they are not getting their due – so is anyone really satisfied?
  3. The power of America is waning. American politicians have become used to solving the problems of the World and pontificating on every challenge the World faces. Most nations have become far more self-supporting and powerful and are now beginning to exercise their own power within their region.
  4. The United Nations, which was seen as the all-powerful body in the world with America virtually controlling it has started to lose its relevance in World affairs as well.

The World is undergoing a change – a change that started post 9/11.

Citizens of most “white” dominated nations who have traditionally been seen as very receptive to immigrants have started to demand their nations back. Brexit, no matter what some of the anti-exit supporters believe, was a vote to reclaim their country, their jobs and their nation. We will see many more nations in Europe demand their countries back and over the next few years we will see this happen.

Therefore, coming to Trump who has a simple slogan about making America Great Again, as an observer from the outside, I do believe he should for the reasons outlined below.

  1. He is appealing to the average middle class conservative voter who identifies with him and sees him as one of their own. The fact that he has a lot of wealth endears him further. These voters hear them speaking for them. Such voters believe that they have been alienated in their own land. Americans need jobs and he is promising creation of jobs including bringing manufacturing back to America shores – what this will do the American companies who have got used to outsourcing and large profits is currently not on his agenda. It is interesting to note that when I spoke to three senior naturalized Mexican Americans in Texas in June this year, all of them said that they would vote for Trump because what he was stating about Mexicans was hard to accept but the truth! Undoubtedly, America has been built by immigrants but as is always the case, the first set of immigrants become “more equal” than the last set of immigrants.
  2. The average human in most countries has little interest beyond their city, state and country. What role their nation is playing or not playing on the World stage has no relevance to most of us. Americans are no different. Trump is therefore appealing to the base instinct of every human American which is personal prosperity and personal security.
  3. He will bring a new perspective into the White House and to the World – a perspective that from a successful global businessman (yes I am aware of some of his failures and bankruptcies) and different from the establishment perspectives that have been espoused over the past few decades. A weak second term of Obama has further exacerbated the frustrations of the electorate. On a global scale, a change of leadership and a change of perspective has been seen in the last few years in several countries including Indonesia, Philippines, Venezuela and India and more changes will be seen.
  4. As a businessman, he will demand high accountability from bureaucrats and ask for results. The “you scratch my back and I scratch yours” culture will end and this has a large section of the establishment very worried. He is thick skinned and abuses hurled at him from all over don’t seem to bother him much, or at least he never seems to show it.
  5. The country is steeped in debt and successive leaders have increased this debt leaving the problems for the next leader. Trump understand the problems of debt and should take decisive steps to halt and hopefully reverse this trend. Trump is not beholden to any business group or political party, he is a rebel and an outsider within his own Republican party. This will keep him honest and permit him to take the hard decisions America needs. The fact that he is not a career politician is a huge advantage for him.
  6. From a security perspective, Trump will be hard and decisive against ISIS. He has clearly stated his support for a strong military and I do believe he will increase defence spending.
  7. He has been blamed for his politically incorrect statements, which his constituency seems to love, since they see him telling the truth in a manner they have always thought of but never heard so clearly verbalized and articulated.

It has been my view, since the election process started in June 2015, that in the very long election process of America over 16 months, Trump has needed to keep making statements, right or wrong, to retain his salience in the minds of the American voter. He has managed to get an incredibly large share of the press coverage without having to pay for it. No one can deny that he has achieved this very successfully and that without spending too much money. And as the elections are drawing near, his tone has started to change and become more moderate and “presidential”!

Whether the wall comes up or not and whether illegal immigrants are deported remains to be seen. However he is a pragmatic and successful individual, there is no reason to doubt that the leadership of the world’s most powerful nation will be in safe and sane hands. He is succeeding not because of his personality or his wealth but because people are identifying with his popular positions. Once he is thrown into the deep end, he, given his vast experience, will learn to swim fast and win.

All said and done, a change needs to happen in the world’s most powerful country with fresh thinking. The American constitution and its institutions are strong enough to control any President who decides to run amuck.

Trump’s voters will turn out in large numbers to vote for their candidate – it will be a strong positive vote while I don’t see the same enthusiasm in the reluctant Clinton supporters.

Hopefully we will see President Elect Trump in November!

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The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of the best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye and The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur. 

  • Twitter: @gargashutosh
  • Instagram: ashutoshgarg56

An Eye for an Eye, Ashutosh Garg

An Eye for an Eye; Ashutosh Garg

A compelling saga of friendship, revenge, avarice, politics and religion spanning 7 decades, the book traces the trials and tribulations of the progeny of two close friends—Chand Ram and Shujaat Khan. One is the scion of a wealthy and influential nawabi family; the other is the son of an impoverished farmer, whose wizardry with the hockey stick takes him away from his humble background and on to the road to fame and fortune.

But the strong ties between the fathers have no meaning for their sons. Chand’s son, Ram, runs away from his remote Himalayan village when he’s just 11 years and comes to Delhi to seek his fame, fortune and destiny. At about the same time, Shujaat’s son leaves their palace in Faridgarh after a major earthquake and relocates to Delhi.

The story draws inspiration from the quote of Confucius “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves”

An unfortunate incident brings Ram into contact with the young nawab, Shaukat. This chance encounter sows the seeds of an animosity between the two that only intensifies as they grow older. As the years pass by, Ram’s burning ambition and determination to succeed drive him to establish a formidable business empire.  Ram’s growing prosperity fills Shaukat, now a prominent politician and member of the Congress Party, with a rage that goes beyond reason.

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And when Ram meets, woos and marries Rani, a beautiful and compassionate former princess, Shaukat takes a vow to annihilate this arrogant upstart who has dared to bulldoze his way into the upper echelons of society.

The plot thickens, as each tries to out manoeuvre the other through devious and often unscrupulous and corrupt means, and in the process reveal the havoc that greed and passion, spite and vengeance that can be wrought upon the lives of those closest to them. As the story spirals towards its inevitable shattering climax, it seems as if the two protagonists are caught in a tangled web of their own creation from which they cannot escape.

Extending across a period of more than seventy years and traversing through some of the most significant and turbulent events of India’s historical past including the impact the independence movement and the emergency have on the life of the protagonists, this is a story of relationships – between fathers and sons, husbands and wives – that are torn apart by pride and long-standing resentments and supposed injustices.

Above all, it is a story of friendships and bonds that stand the test of time and circumstance, crossing all social, cultural and religious barriers to prove that there’s more to life than hate and enmity, power and money, business and politics, fear and violence.

The author is the Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of the bestselling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century (Collins); The Corner Office (Rupa) and The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur (Penguin and Rupa).

Twitter: @gargashutosh

Preorder now on www.amazon.in

http://www.amazon.in/Eye-Ashutosh-Garg/dp/9384315222/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454048236&sr=8-2&keywords=ashutosh+garg