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THOU STICKEST A DAGGER IN ME is a politico-economic satire set in the storyline of The Merchant of Venice. Unimaginably unshakespearean in prose, it is shamelessly pop-artsy, chick-litty and a bit teachy. Cutting through the jargon, peppered with cheesy American news howlers and improvised Bollywoodsian wisecracks, and most of all, inundated with striking sarcastic wit, it ruthlessly runs into an overt showboating narrative on bureaucratic self-indulgence and an equally reckless rant on the pretending bank men’s patronizing money manoeuvres. Wannacry? Wannatry?

Give it a shot! The jaw will drop. The belly would jiggle. The foot will tap.

The book moves in two parallel themes, the personal and professional lives of the protagonist. In the former, the play (The Merchant of Venice) comes alive with all dramatis personae rallying around Portia and her suitor, Bassanio. At work, Portia attempts to temper the hijinks in the sarkari hierarchy by side-slamming irrationality and ignorance.

The sensational drama in Thou Stickest A Dagger In Me takes the reader inside the eye of the financial storms, and provides a caricatural perspective on the intent, content and foment of the various executive prescriptions in the recent times. Opening with a swordfight on inflation versus growth, the Preserve Bank and the Prashashan keep their sexual tension hot and bothered as they roller coast through the swarm of upheavals manufactured by a winking bureaucracy at the grudging instance of an overzealous polity. The pretense of financially including the unbanked, the horseplay over regulating the bopping markets, the pipedream of reforming the banking pranking, the grand designs in suppressing the unstartling outbreak of NPA appear as rip-roaring rodeo sports, providing shock and awe, pleasure and pain. The politics of black economy causes a Demon ride, hard staring businessman and Pokemon alike as it hurtles on. The only way out, it seems to be, is to play Pokeball and go digital.

Alongside, the book entwines the story of two retrying but riddling lovers, Portia and Bassanio. Flourishing in the kinematics of the 16th century drama, Portia hopes to escape her Stockholm syndrome marriage to the Prince of Morocco by presupposing that Bassanio’s deep love for her will find the way. Fate chooses a wily moneylender, Shylock, to provide that golden chance. But the casket game is not set in favour of bronze. Will Portia be ready to ‘give and hazard all she hath’?



Ateesh Singh has worked as Director in the Ministry of Finance, and is currently posted with the Ministry of Railways. His first book, My Derailments With Truth was also a spoof on bureaucracy.


THOU STICKEST A DAGGER IN ME is a striking spoof on the Indian administrative hierarchy, seminally uncovering the present-day bureaucratic-political master cross-fertilizing games within. It’s a shocking tale of the overselling political indulgence in policy formulation as much being a perspicacious pasquinade on its fascinating underselling bureaucratic execution. Set in the storyline of The Merchant of Venice, it provides a side-splitting caricature of the reprocessed financial disruptive wangles of a newly elected government, wreaking havoc and holler on the unsuspecting benefactors.

The personal and professional life of the protagonist, Portia, alternate in the chapters as she squares the work-life balance with ‘unbated fire’.

In her bureaucratic avatar, as a red-hot truth-chasing civil servant, smack dab in the heart of the Finance Ministry, she attempts to right-side the forced-in financial reinnovations. The noob sarkar, keen to revamp the policy architectonics, gets into a serious overhaul. Ill-advised and lickety-split, they hope to coerce and command the steel frame into a twisted yogasan. This gross underestimation costs them thickly as the bureaucracy hits back and unleashes its schadenfreude arsenal to supply the wide-eyed and naïve newbies with a canasta of refried and rehashed indigestible administrative nashta set in a decked-up booby trap basket. And as the tamasha unfolds, the administration wizards and financial whizzes get into a massive argument over growth versus inflation, fiscal deficit versus liquidity gap, regulation versus supervision. Word Wars spill out in the open spreading like wildfire across the entire financial spectrum of the economy, engulfing banks, financial institutions, government departments, corporates and investors into its blaze. The lifelong fights between the Banks’ Department and the DEA heats up the race for a trumped-up financial inclusion where discounted due diligence has thrown open the regulatory doors to unhinged fraud and delighted default. The Central Bank slugs out with the Department as they deal with an abruptly but gloriously announced demonetization programme. The Public Sector Banks battle it out with the private banks to gain market space and go on the rampage lending shamelessly by throwing caution to the winds flouting asset classification norms without a care in the world. And when the scams come rolling out one after the other, the realization dawns, and a serious rehaul rebegins. What goes around, comes around.

In her personal life, she plays out the ‘lottery of her destiny’ by complicating her love life by moving back and forth several times over. Living in an emotional meltdown and donning her ‘boldest suit of mirth’ she hopes Bassanio will find the solutions to her conundrums and win the game of caskets.

Written in dejargonised and comprehensible Economics, THOU STICKEST A DAGGER IN ME is not just satire, it also presents a deep insight into the banking and financial systems of the country. Providing a critical analysis of the banking process, it captures the dynamics, the mindsets and the inconveniences in credit activity. And of course, it tells us the reality of demonetization right from its conception to consummation.




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