Book Review: Ek Prayaas

  Nandita Banerji |     April 22, 2024

Shaurya Kabra’s Ek Prayaas takes on a bold journey—giving young individuals financial knowledge through the fairy tales of yore. The book by the 16-year-old presents a short story collection inspired by tales like Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk, but with an Indian context. Named after an initiative by Kabra, the book simplifies concepts like, budgeting, saving, interest, and how money works by creatively using six children’s stories. While the book is a brave attempt at clarifying the complex world of finance, the stories seem a little lacking and could have been better fleshed out.

The first tale, Harish and Geeta learn How to Budget, tells how two children survive on a hundred laddoos each while finding their way back home. Kabra uses the metaphor of sweets to explain how planning and budgeting of money proves helpful during bad days.

Magic of Compounding beautifully explains compound interest through the example of a tree. The author compares reinvestment of earnings to giving fertiliser to a tree and the fruits multiplying, as a result, with the interest that the protagonist Jay reaps and sells.

A vegetable-seller Bholu learns about savings and current accounts in Bank Services. Principal amount, deposit, installment, and the differences between investment and reinvestment, are also unravelled in an easy-to-understand manner.

King Vikram Singh and his Worthless Currency provides an alternate view of the classic King Midas and his golden touch. While the original was about a foolish and greedy king, here the King Vikram is extremely philanthropic. So much so that he destroys the value of gold by making it too common. Hence, the rare silk and satin becomes more valuable to the people of his kingdom than gold. This take on supply and demand, interestingly, links price with the availability of an object.

The plot of Gori’s Lesson on Debt is a driven retelling of Cinderella, with a hint of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and maybe even Beauty and the Beast. Mistreated by her stepfamily for being too pretty, an old woman is Gori’s only friend, much like a realistic Fairy Godmother. She lends her money for a glamorous gown to attend a fancy event hosted at the king’s castle. The maiden enthralls the king and the couple gets married. But Gori refuses to pay back the old woman, who curses Gori and punishes her to return to poverty again. This story is a great lesson on how defaulting on loans can pile up a crushing debt. It is also oddly chilling, like the original versions of the Brothers Grimm, which were much grittier than the current counterparts.

The last story, Mohan’s Important Discovery, highlights the risk of minimising risks too much. The young Mohan follows the idiom of not putting all eggs in one basket very seriously and saves all his cookies smartly. Though, one wonders about the army of ants marching in his house.

If storytelling can compound your interest at handling finances, then Ek Prayaas can be your next investment.

About the Author

Senior Sub-Editor, Down To Earth (Web), Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi

Content tags