Book Review: My Selfie with Integrity and the Gujarat NRE Story by Arun Kumar Jagatramka

Book Name: My Selfie with Integrity and the Gujarat NRE Story

Author: Arun Kumar Jagatramka

Publisher: Rupa

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Blurb: My Selfie with Integrity chronicles the life of a middle-class Calcutta boy, who suddenly finds himself at the helm of a public listed company by a twist in the tale. When predictably he is slammed by the underbelly of corruption, unlike everyone around, he does not adjust. In the face of corruption—of family members, of the Indian business world and its contrast to his experiences as an Australian mining magnate, he pursues his true quest for integrity in a corrupt world.

The book also tells the journey of Gujarat NRE, suffering from cash crunch, fighting multiple legal battles, NPA in 1997 and how Arun successfully transforms it to a AA-rated, Supermodel Company of the year and the first Indian Company to own and operate premium hard coking coal mines in Australia. Caught in the whirlpool of business cycles, Arun dares to take help of the newly introduced IB Code, but finds himself caught in the chakravyuh of changing government policies and all-pervasive corruption. Yet, his tenacity and confidence in reviving Gujarat NRE remain steadfast, because after all he’s done it before.

For every Indian citizen, the evil of corruption is a daily struggle, suffered in silence. In a simple yet engaging and often funny language, My Selfie with Integrity voices these daily frustrations and irritants, and also shows a path towards a corruption-free India.

It is the balance-sheet of an honest Indian businessman.

Review: My Selfie with Integrity is a personalized account of how the author manages to find himself running his family business. Trained as a CA, he initially did not want to enter the business domain but finds himself at the center of a falling conglomerate.

The book is written in an easy, conversational tone and captures the red tapism and corruption prevailing in the babudom in India. Stark contrast is provided by sharing the administration workings in other countries.

“I started to regale people with a self-learned truth—India has law, China
has order, and Australia has both—Law and Order. The difference, and the
impact of Rule of Law as opposed to Rule of Men came as a real eye-opener
to me while in Australia.”

Indian income tax laws are complex as anybody who has tried filing an IT return by himself will testify. The regulations are more complex for business enterprises and the many clearances mean more harassment from officials.

“Despite all the cleansing efforts, we are still waiting for Achhe Din.”

This book is an insider account of one man’s struggle to carry on business in India without much support from the government. For any country, there should be a close relationship between the government and industry that can ensure economic progress. In India, however, the progress in companies is often without (and not with) the government’s support.

The book is loaded with supporting newspaper clippings and also provides an industrialist’s account as to what ails the government system.

Thankfully, the author has omitted complex financial statements and enterprise jargon making it an easy read for all. Even those without any background in running a business will relate to it as the complexities of the IT department mirrors other government departments in India.

Recently, a lot of companies that had amassed massive debts through years of debt restructuring had entered the bankruptcy process. The revamped NCLT which was supposed to serve as a quick resolution mechanism has not been able to function with speed. Its judgments are appealed and the resolution process is still taking more than an year for many companies. This goes to show how even well drafted laws often fail to resolve issues in India.

“Reform the duties of the tax officers to become tax-processors,
instead of the present “tax-collectors”.”

It is a well written book for the layman.

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