You Turn India: D. K. Hari, D. K. Hema Hari; Sri Sri Publications Trust, Art of Living International Centre, Kanakapura Road, Udayapura, Bangalore-560082. Rs. 300.

India is facing a crisis of character, what with rampant corruption, reports of tonnes of black money stashed away in foreign banks, and the countless scams and scandals that have come to light in recent times — and their numbers keep rising by the day. Another worrying aspect of the phenomenon is that no segment of the national polity and society seems to be free from it and that the wrongdoers are found everywhere. The offenders are omnipresent — in every department, every political party, every commercial activity, and even in some religious organisations.

Given this context, the book could not have been better timed. Starting with the “plunder” of India's resources by the invaders and colonisers — the Moghuls and the British, to be specific — it goes on to discuss the “loot” by some sections from within the community; these are described as the three “waves” of plunder. “For a long time”, the authors say, “we have all been vaguely aware of the rumours of financial irregularities at various levels, in various quarters and the siphoning off of the legal wealth of India to various safer places for hoarding as black money for illegal [and] individual gains…” The book seeks to analyse the “secret of India's prosperity for many thousands of years” and the “repeated political and economic onslaughts” that drained the country of a substantial portion of its wealth in the last millennium.

Painstaking study

It bears enough evidence of painstaking research by the authors who emerge as whistleblowers of sorts on the money laundering network operating in the country. They mention how some countries track down the black money put away in tax havens and want India to draw lessons from them.

The authors also refer to the nationwide resurgence against corruption and black money set off by the intense debate on the Lokpal Bill, thanks to forceful intervention by social activists such as Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, and Arvind Kejariwal representing civil society.

The concern of the authors, however, is not restricted to bribery, corruption and black money. It extends to the “loot” and “plunder” of natural resources. So it is that they talk about tackling the nagging problems of drought and floods, creating a well-conceived water grid, empowering the citizens at the grass roots, decentralising governance, and the media playing the role of Good Samaritan and so on. Well laid out and amply illustrated, the book will be of interest to any avid and passionate reader who is concerned about the huge ethical deficit seen in the conduct of those in public life.

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