Category : Book Reviews

Book Review: The Lost Decade by Puja Mehra

The Lost Decade 2008 - 2018 Puja Mehra

I enjoy reading books that describe the arc of events and developments over a time frame. It may span centuries, like Peter Frankopan’s “The Silk Roads” (see my review here). Or shorter periods that are more intense and eventful… like Puja Mehra’s “The Lost Decade 2008-2018How India’s Growth Story Devolved Into Growth Without A Story“.

In a politically charged climate, and especially around election time, books like ‘The Lost Decade‘ run the risk of being called biased or partisan – and then dismissed for that reason alone.

But doing that would be a shame. This is a brilliant, balanced account of the pros and cons of fiscal policy decisions made by successive Indian governments over the last ten years which have brought us to where we are today.

Since I’m no ardent fan of either political dispensation referenced in the book, I could read it from the perspective of a student of recent events – and find it instructive, insightful and informative.

The story of any temporal situation is often rooted in events leading up to it. So to understand the foundation of today’s economic scenario in India, it’s necessary to go back some years and review a series of decisions and their consequences that led up to it.

In fact, I think this would make a brilliant sequel to Gurcharan Das’ popular “India Unbound“, which was about how far-sighted economic reforms from some 20 years earlier took the brakes off the Indian economy, thrusting the country into the throes of a modern, liberal, market-driven ecosystem.

Anyone who has lived through those halcyon days is surely struggling to understand how we could lose such momentum, and crash to being among the ‘Fragile Five’ global economies in the metaphorical blink of an eye.

‘The Lost Decade’ explains the reasons for this decline very nicely, beginning with a scathing indictment of Pranab Mukherjee’s decisions as Finance Minister between 2009 and 2012 that were the result of his being rooted in a Nehruvian socialist model… that went out of vogue in the 1980s.

The inevitable outcome of those choices was to bring an unfettered growth spurt to a screeching halt – a scenario compounded by a further series of unforced errors by the Ministers and governments succeeding him.

I found ‘The Lost Decade’ helpful in connecting dots that were contemporaneous news stories I had followed from day to day, but hadn’t fit into an overarching pattern that narrates a continuous story of how our nation’s economy evolved and grew, stumbled and then stalled.

If you have more than a passing interest in understanding the trajectory of India’s economy over the past 10 years, pick up Puja Mehra’s book for a detailed and readable account of the policies & performance behind an aborted growth story.

But if your eyes glaze over at acronyms like WPI, CPI and GDP, or you can’t stand the sight of figures and FY data more than thrice in a paragraph, you might give the book a miss, and read this article which introduced me to it instead.

Either option is a good one. And both will give you a bird’s eye overview of India’s economic landscape from 2008 to 2018… with some basis to appreciate what lies in store for the years ahead.

Long story short: Without reforms and rigorous discipline, it ain’t gonna be pretty!

Read ‘The Lost Decade 2008-2018‘ by Puja Mehra – click now.


Books That Make You Think

Books That Make You Think

Over the years, I’ve read thousands of books.

Some shaped my thoughts and views, opinions and feelings – including novels like Margaret Mitchell‘s ‘Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind

And Mario Puzo‘s ‘The Godfather‘ which made a huge impact.

For decades, I could quote even lengthy passages verbatim from the book.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo


“Every man has but one destiny.”


Book Review: Ponniyin Selvan

Ponniyin Selvan

Slowly – very slowly – I’m coming out from under the ether.

After 10 magical days.

Where was I?

Transported into the past, a thousand years back. To the glamorous, glorious Chola period of Thamizhagam, in a narrative about the prince popularly known as ‘Ponniyin Selvan’.

  • And so, I missed writing deadlines.
  • Set my book launch on autopilot.
  • Left even important work pending.
  • Put off tasks for later – and then hurriedly finished them.

Just so that I could go back to reading this lovely book.


Book Review – The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

The Silk Roads - A New History of the World

I’ve enjoyed books like Martin Gilbert’s “History of the Twentieth Century” and J.M.Robert’s “History of Europe“, that portray a conventional account of how Europe evolved over centuries.

In all of these narratives, the Byzantine empire and Constantinople seemed to me, somehow, to be kept peripheral. At the edge of the canvas. Being important, yet not taking center-stage.

But in Peter Frankopan‘s book “The Silk Roads“, all of this changes.


Book Review – The 1,000 Year Old Boy by Ross Welford

1000 year old boy

The fountain of youth. The Holy Grail. Xanadu. Eternal youth.


It’s a day-dream that has fuelled many an idle holiday hour or long ride over the years. I’m sure you, too, have wistfully thought of a future that stretches out forever, with time passing you by.

But if you did extend that fantasy out, not to eternity, perhaps, but just, say, a thousand years

What would you see?

That’s the intriguing premise behind the book I’ve just finished reading. It’s called “The 1,000 Year Old Boy” by Ross Welford.

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