15 March, 2016

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Tip of the Iceberg by Hariharan Iyer

*** Special Feature - March 2016 ***

The tip of the iceberg

Mindboggling number indeed! What is this?
This is the amount the NGOs across the country spend every year.
How many NGOs are there in the country?
33 lakhs.
Wait. Wait. This is the total number of registered societies, but the details of spend are available only for 4.65 lakh NGOs.
So, this is the proverbial tip of the iceberg?
Yes. If 4.65 lakhs organisations spend a mindboggling Rs. 42 thousand crores, how much the 33 lakh units will be spending? Government has no clue.
Hey Hariharan. Wait. What has this to do with your novel Surpanakha or you as the author?   
Have some patience. Out of these 33 lakhs, only 43,527 NGOs (just over 1%) are registered with Home Ministry as receiving funds from abroad. And out of these only 22,702 associations submit their financials. One more statistics. 9,509 of these did not receive any foreign funds. The rest received Rs. 11,500 crores during 2011-12.
Hariharan, don’t bore me with these statistics. What do you want to say?
Just a couple of more sentences and we are on to the novel. You know what? Tamil Nadu is the 2nd biggest recipient of foreign contributions. Poor states like Bihar and Jharkhand figure at the bottom of the list. If the funds are for developing India, why don’t they flow to poorer states?
Hariharan, please…
Ok, no more statistics. But an important question: After all, what do NGOs fight for? Transparency in the functioning of the government? If so, why are they not transparent? Why don’t they submit their accounts to the government? Why don’t they furnish their sources of money?
This is like a lecture on…
Hear this out. Ministry of Home Affairs says that NGOs are vulnerable to the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing.
Now I understand what you are getting at.
Recently a celebrity convenor of a controversial NGO was accused of using the foreign contributions for her personal expenses. She allegedly bought branded clothes, shoes, music systems, jewellery, etc., apart from using some of the funds for running a political magazine.
Political magazine?
Yes. If foreign funds are allowed indirectly into media, they can be used to skew the opinion of the masses.
I can see the foundation for a thriller.
Another international NGO used the foreign funds for political purposes…to influence elections. And the moment the government tried question them, everyone—journalists, celebrity lawyers—cried foul. So strong is the incest…
Imagine what a foreign power has to do if it has to destabilise India. Just identify some disgruntled citizens and flood them with money. And if the disgruntled citizens are celebrities, the job is all the more easier.
So, your novel has a celebrity who …
This is not fair. I spend six months writing a novel, three months in getting it edited and another three months in trying to publish it and you try to guess the story after a half-an-hour discussion.
So, Surpanakha in the novel is a…
No more discussion.
But then, I just wanted to… 
About the Author:
Hariharan is a finance professional by default and a writer by choice. Not content with just a rewarding corporate job, he took to writing a couple of years ago. He blogged on media and current affairs for a year at valadyviews.blogspot.com before hitting on the idea for this novel. 
Strangely, he got the idea for his first novel while reading the balance sheets of a few NGOs and corporates! An idea so powerful that it convinced the accountant in him that he could put together not just a balance sheet but an intriguing political thriller as well. Indian cinema over the last many decades has created many stereotypes— ‘Media crusades against anything bad’, ‘netas are, without a doubt, evil’ and ‘human rights activists are God’s gift to earth’ to name a few. What if any of these stereotypes is wrong— What if a human rights activist, consumed by personal frustration, tries to bring down an elected government? What if media plays the role of pliable ally? What if a politician is a victim of circumstances? 
Answers to these what ifs, his wife’s challenge to write a novel out of them and about nine months’ of labour produced Surpanakha.
Hariharan lives with his wife in Dar es Salaam while his two sons are pursuing their ambitions in India. 
Contact Hariharan:
Facebook |Twitter | Blog 

About the Book
Educated, young, no-nonsense bearing, able administrator—these are the qualities that won Sesha the loyalties of the people after three years of rule as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. An allegation that he was the mastermind behind the murder of 73 Kannadigas threatens to bring him down but he is miraculously saved in the 11th hour.

Even before he can relish his victory, Sesha is slapped with the charge of sexually offending a young nurse. This time round, the case is strong and his supporters are uncertain. Worse, his teenage daughter calls him 'vile' and walks out of the house. While Mythili, his wife promises her full support, her secretive activities—undertaken with the help of a retired cop—is a cause of concern for Sesha.

Will Zarina, the human-rights activist, succeed in bringing him down? What about the insinuations of a celebrity lawyer that he is casteist and anti-minorities? When the young nurse is found dead, the case becomes even more complex. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? And who is the mastermind?   

Buy Links:
Links for downloading e-books: Amazon India | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Links for ordering paperbacks: Amazon India | Flipkart

Expected Date of Release:

March 15, 2016

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