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Ravi Subramanian’s Latest Is A Financial Thriller, Set In The Backdrop Of Demonetisation

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Jan–March 2015

NEW YORK CITY

Aditya Kesavan had been asleep for hardly three hours when the blare of his cell-phone alarm woke him up. Rubbing his eyes, he pushed off the quilt and climbed out of bed, walking to the bathroom. He had slept late the previous night after spending the entire evening stocking up on food and groceries. NYC was on high alert following a blizzard warning.

He came out of the bathroom and switched on the coffee maker. His was a small but sufficient two-bedroom apartment, located close to the university campus. Aditya also owned a huge five-bedroom mansion a few miles to the north, where his wife and daughter stayed. Not too long ago, all three of them had lived there together, but one day his wife had caught him frolicking with his PHD student in the kitchen and thrown him out. Thankfully, she hadn’t made the matter public or his reputation as a tenured professor at NYU would have been in tatters. There were three cardinal sins in the academia in the US; sleeping with a student was one of them, and possibly the 8 most frowned upon. The other two were plagiarism and stealing from federal grants.

His wife had ultimately let him off the hook, but only after she got her pound of flesh. She had also made two more demands – that he walk out of the house then and there, and that their daughter continue to stay with her. Not in a position to negotiate, Aditya had agreed to both.

That morning, he was concerned about his students. Many of them would struggle to make it to class in this weather. Back in India, people would use bad weather as an excuse to take a day off. But it was different here. He glanced at the stack of papers on the table next to his bed. It was the final version of the manuscript that his publisher had sent him. He had to go over the entire pile and send his confirmation by the weekend. Sixty days to the release of his book, and he still wasn’t mentally ready. The publishers wanted to cash in on the success of his earlier book – a controversial one that explained how the Chinese economy was really a bubble, one that would burst in a year. That book had been a big hit and broken all records. Not only had Aditya become the darling of the publishing house that had published the book, his success had also won him various consulting assignments with the Federal Reserve System – the central banking system of the US. And to top it all, television channels and online media began projecting him as an expert on China’s economic policies.

His first book had changed his life. He didn’t make enough money as an academician, but his book had more than made up for that. Translated into seventeen languages globally, it had sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Looking back, Aditya just wished that he had negotiated a higher advance. But then, at that time, China was on a roll and no one was willing to publish a book which talked about the imminent failure of that country’s economy. So when a publisher finally accepted the manuscript, Aditya was relieved that at least he had found a good brand to publish his book.

Anyway, more than money, what the book had given him was recognition, and that was something you couldn’t put a price on.

Pulling off his clothes to get into the shower, Aditya stopped in front of the mirror. Despite his advancing age, he still looked great. A sculpted body, with not an inch of fat, abs that would give any Hollywood star a run for his money and on top of that, a face like a Greek god – well, he was certainly gifted, wasn’t he, he thought to himself.

Within the next fifteen minutes, he had showered and dressed. Once he was ready, he picked up his iPad, poured himself a large mug of coffee and and gulped it down. Breakfast could wait till he reached the Starbucks on campus.

On the way out, he opened the bedroom door and looked inside. The girl curled up on the bed was still asleep. He had met her last night for the first time. Someone he knew had introduced him to her at the bar. Hurriedly, he closed the door and walked out of his apartment. Once she woke up, the girl could let herself out. He didn’t worry about leaving her alone in his home. He didn’t have anything worth stealing.

As he walked down the snow-lined path to the subway station a few blocks away, he thought about his daughter. Would he ever see her again? Possibly not. His wife would never allow it. He remembered her anger; thought about that fateful evening when she’d walked in on him and his student.

Well, it had to happen, he rationalized, shaking his head. Intellect and indiscretion were the two conflicting sides to his personality. And both had to coexist without impacting each other.

Aditya Kesavan returned home to four messages on his answering machine that night.

The first one was from his publisher: Over half a million copies sold, sixteen languages around seventy-three countries in the world. And yet you’re not interested in striking when the iron is hot. Please send manuscript back. We need to go to press soon. We have announced the book to the media. Everyone is waiting. Hello. You there?

Second was from his dad: Adi, Amma is not well, da. Admitted her to the hospital today. Call when you get this message.

Since he’d just spoken to his father on his way back home, he didn’t panic when he heard the second message. His mother was stricken with early onset dementia. She had reached a stage where she didn’t remember who her husband was. ‘Amma might not even remember you,’ his father had told him on the phone.

‘Do you want me to come?’ Aditya had asked him.

‘Not now, Adi. Come when she is back home. But don’t delay it or you might lose her forever.’ Aditya could hear the tears and pain in his father’s voice.

The third message on the machine was what sounded like a crank call: This is the Officer on Special Duty from the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi. Please call back when you get this message. My number is…

Aditya didn’t even wait for the message to end. He pressed the button and skipped to the fourth message.These spam calls had become very common. Wonder where they got his number from?

Editor’s note:

Don’t Tell The Governor By Ravi Subramanian is a financial thriller set against the backdrop of demonetisation in India.

Ravi Subramanian is the award-winning author of nine novels. His stories are set against the backdrop of the financial services industry. He has won the Economist Crossword Book Award for three years in a row as well as the Golden Quill Readers’ Choice Award.

 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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