Book Review: The Billionaire Raj

The Book ‘The Billionaire Raj’ is written by James Crabtree, who spent five years in India as Mumbai Bureau Chief for The Financial Times.

People getting posted to India often write a Book on it in an attempt to cash in on their experiences.

This Book falls into that unfortunate genre.

Its a way of looking at India with foreign eyes and trying to explain it to a foreign audience.There is nothing here for the Indian reader.

The initial chapters of the Book cover India’s tycoons Mukesh Ambani,Vijay Mallya, Gautam Adani etc but the coverage is v superficial…there is nothing new that an Indian reader/investor would not know.

Then the Book goes on to describe the House of Debt that Indian tycoons immediately piled up post 2008…concepts like gold plating , political nexus, corruption etc is explained.

Then the author covers India’s Cricket,Media and Politics…surprised he didn’t cover India’s other cliched love – Bollywood.

The Book appears dated as the author left India in 2016 and didn’t cover the tumultuous happenings after that.

I got a feeling that the author started the Book with the premise that India’s industrialists were like Russian oligarchs.But subsequent developments like NCLT, IBC,Fugitive Act etc threw that premise out of the window.

The author seems to have a pet peeve…Mukesh Ambani’s residence Antilla. There are multiple references to it in the Book. He probably considers it a symbol of India’s gilded age, its inequality, it’s tycoons etc.

He has a pet love too…former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.The author probably has a photo of him in his wallet !

Do buy this Book only if you are a foreign expat getting posted to India.

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