Teen MBA, anyone?
Reviewed by Pooja Dadwal

By Subroto Bagchi. Penguin Young Adult. Pages 157. Rs 199

MBA AT 16Many a teenage dream of starting one’s own business has had to taste dust at the altar of confusion. Faced with a deluge of available data, the best of us have found ourselves at our wit's end when it comes to assessing this increasingly widening web of information (that gets more complicated by the second). Today, the average teenager would rather respond to the latest app (which ironically is all about business) than show even a flicker of interest in understanding the inspiring world of commerce. And taking stock of the situation and acting as its spokesperson is Subroto Bagchi, with his aptly titled teen guide called MBA AT 16.

With his new novel, Bagchi has simplified the entire approach to this trend. Instead of waiting for a generation to grow up and stumble across 'business', he has taken the knowledge, shaped in the form of a lucidly written book, to present teenagers and future businessmen. A smart book written smartly to encourage smart ideas, MBA AT 16 is a teaser, designed to kindle interest in the minds of today's school-going children.

Told through the voices of various 16-year-old school kids, the novel has its basis in an actual business session titled "Business with Bagchi" that the author had over a course of four weekends with 31 students of National Public School, Bangalore. The narrative loosely follows the prerequisites of a conventional storyline and has chapters that take the reader from one issue to the other culminating into a quasi-dramatic scuffle leading to an intelligent debate between the students.

Right from Gates to VG Siddhartha, Bagchi takes his readers through this interesting landscape of the achievers of the world; all of this while keeping the information in a gripping storytelling format that is sure to find huge popularity with the readers, especially the young ones.

Subroto Bagchi
Subroto Bagchi

By the author's own admission, the book is not "an exalted piece of academic work," and this is where its biggest strength lies. The book captures the mind of a 16-year-old urban teenager and catapults it into the quagmire of business and commerce with the greatest simplicity. The moves have been masterfully executed, hence the novel doesn't become taxing for the average teenage mind; rather it helps to whet that appetite with its liberal yet inspired thought process.

The best thing about the novel is that it is unpretentious. Bagchi doesn't sacrifice on doling out important nuggets of information for turning the book into a superfluous candy read. When it comes to the Supply and Chain, Funding, Marketing, Branding, Advertising, he lets the businessman in him take over and expounds in really simple terms the basics of the industry.

To say that the book is for young adults only would be a gross misrepresentation of facts. For the truth is that MBA AT 16 is as much for the teens as for the thinking adult. The book will appeal to all those who need an introduction to business and entrepreneurship in the simplest of terms. The fact that it comes wrapped in uncomplicated language with an engaging storyline is just the cherry on the cake. Last word? The novel should come with the label —This could probably benefit your child!