Two young management graduates who become friends join New York International Bank on the same day and the journey to their success are poles apart. Despite being very good friends they both have different approach to life and work. However, both rise up to higher ranks and get into higher roles in the company. Sundeep, who believes in getting to the top with the fastest speed unlike Swami who has high regard for honesty and good old ethics go through their own journeys to success. Competitive banking, clash of values, lucrative deals and greed are all seen deeply within the personal and professional lives in the book If God was a Banker by Ravi Subramanian.
Review: Ravi Subramanian’s debut book, If God was a Banker, is a good insight into the foreign banking system. Two guys, Sundeep and Swami along with Aditya join a multi-national bank, after passing out from a Management B-School and soon become friends. Though they are friends, they all have their own characteristics and way of working. They all deal with the corporate world based on their principles and lead the way to success. The reader is taken into the lives—both personal and professional– of these characters. How they deal with their success is told as the story unfolds.
The book deals with many themes such as office politics, foreign banking world and its way of working, personal lives linked with corporate life and about friendship. The different themes grip the reader’s attention as per ones taste. Ravi Subramanian, himself is a pass-out from IIM Bangalore, which is why he intricately weaves the story with tiny details about the banking world. He surely possesses the characteristics of being a young writer in today’s world where there are a wide range of readers. His structured writing and articulations makes the reader feel alive. And that is why I chose to read this book.
It is about two management graduates – Sundeep and Swami. Both are at opposite extremes. Both are friends yet they are widely separated by their thoughts, ethics and way of working. They both want to be successful but in their own ways. While Sundeep is money-minded and believes in shortcuts to success, Swami is the total opposite of him. He swears by working with honesty and achieving goals with values and integrity towards his bank and customers. Yes, both are adversaries! As the story unfolds, the reader is taken into the personal lives of these two where their wives and another character – Aditya Rao comes into the picture. He is the one who gives them a push and helps them fulfill their dream of reaching greater heights. The story leads the reader into office politics, greedy bosses, secretaries ready to shed off anything for a higher position or to just keep their job and vendors/middlemen ready to make irresistible deals to get their job done. Despite all of these flaws, New York International Bank reached the top. In this race, Sundeep ridiculed Swami but he being an idealistic man accepts whatever comes his way and still swims up to success. While Sundeep, with his money-minded approach, gets into the dirty politics and yet reaches the top.
Twist in the tale
The book starts with a fast pace as Subramaniam introduces his characters, their ethics, banking world but there is a twist in the latter part which finally ends in disappointment. Though the story is spun well, only two characters—Sundeep and Swami’s have been defined adequately. The rest of the characters – Aditya Rao, Kalpana (Swami’s wife), Natasha (Sandeep’s wife) just feature in parts. The story, as the reader knows, talks about Sundeep’s lure for new women introduced by Naresh (a vendor). He gets deeper and deeper into it and gets addicted to it. But the reader doesn’t know that Natasha, his wife, finds out about his adultery. Then the reader is puzzled about Natasha and Sundeep’s exploits in the toilet being known to Suneel Dutt, the new CEO. Many questions are unanswered in the story. Aditya Rao coming to Sundeep’s rescue and giving him a job seems unrealistic.
But yes, Ravi succeeded in putting through his point – working with ethics is always rewarding. Since Ravi Subramaniam wanted to say that working with ethics is good and the one who believes in success through shortcuts loses out on everything, he made the characters unbelievable. The good guy was too good who never lost anything in work and personal life. Even when he was put down and challenged he rose up and reached the top. On the other hand, Sundeep being a sharp mind lost everything due to his unethical approach to work and life. Irrespective of the plot, the characters were strong and students of management school would relate to the book and the characters of Swami, Sundeep and Kalpana. Why I say that the book is unbelievable is due to the fact that the author could have been realistic by not giving Sundeep any chance because of his misdeeds. His ex-boss Aditya Rao giving him a chance, knowing what he had done was kind of hard to believe. Ravi could have been daring by changing the end as he had done throughout the book.
- If God was a Banker is inspired by the Citibank scam in 1990s.
- The Book also received the prestigious Golden Quill Award for Reader’s Choice for the year 2008.