There are two kinds of writers. One writes about ordinary people dealing with extraordinary events or leading ordinary lives. The other kind creates imaginary universes filled with extraordinary beings and events. Balagopal is certain that he belong to the previous category.
The perfect book is based on real characters and the literary genius of the writer masks the identity of the people concerned and gives readers a window to the brains of the characters.
In the new book The View from Kollam: A Day in the Life of a Sub-collector, the author serves a slice of India that lives in sleepy villages and small towns, far away from pompous centres of power. Laced with humour and keen observations about people and problems that vex the administration, the book (published by HarperCollins) is a compilation of his experiences during his stint in Kollam. His many years as an officer of the Indian Administrative Service has convinced him that things work in India because the district administration continues to function, in spite of being "misused and abused".
Eighteen real-life anecdotes give readers a peek into the nitty-gritty of governance because the author believes that our favourite reads have powerful characters based on real people and plots grounded in reality. The book is also about efficient government officers who cut through red tape and legalese to help people and also how it is people and not the system that can bring about positive changes.
Despite the fact that this was three decades ago, North East, particularly Manipur left a deep impact on the young impressionable IAS officer. The stories had been mulling around and developed over conversations till finally they had to be written down! Balagopal's fictionalised style enables him to put in conversations which involve the readers in the narrative. The entertaining chapters in the book make Balagopal a wonderful story teller. Witty and humorous, it talks about a little known but troubled part of India through the eyes of a young man on a quest to do something for his country. Written in an anecdotal style, On A Clear Day You Can See India also explores the question of identity and nationhood. While he stays true to each incident he describes and has chosen them for their "entertainment value", the political and social issues, conflict and strife and the colonial character of the administration are never far away. The book aims to look at the bigger picture by stressing the particular, inner process of a typical small government office, and especially the people involved in the stories.
About the book Balagopal says "I had decided that I will actually just narrate incidents which happened and not my conclusions, so this is, to my mind, a truthful retelling of these anecdotes which relate to incidents that actually happened in the 1970s
On A Clear Day You Can See India is a Harper Collins publication and is priced at Rs. 299
C Balagopal enrolled for a PhD program at the Kerala University and worked on that program there and at the Center for Development Studies Trivandrum. Later Balagopal was selected to the IAS and joined the Manipur cadre and was appointed as a district official. in 1983 he decided to quit the service and his resignation was accepted by the Government later that year. He put together a joint-venture to commercialise knowhow developed in a national research lab, and sold the idea to the KSIDC and NRDC.
Good leadership, team work, and support from different agencies of the government helped the company to grow fast and in the process, the company developed valuable competencies, especially in the "know why" of medical device manufacture, that was to become its strongest asset in the years to come.
With the opening up of the Indian economic policy, and the entry of foreign products into the Indian market, business in India started to change in many ways.
Bala wanted the company to scale new heights and reach new horizons, an MOU was signed with Terumo Corp. Japan in June 1999 as an investor and global business partner and Penpal became Terumo Penpal (TPL). Blood bags and equipment were exported to more than 50 countries across the globe.
In 2012, Balagopal sold his shareholding to Terumo Corp, and decided to step down as managing director in March 2013. He continued for a year as Advisor to help with the transition to a new management team, and in March 2014, ended that association too.
Balagopal wears multiple hats, he is currently the Director of Enter Technologies Pvt Ltd and the Chairman of Mobilexion, a medical technology company.
He is a Charter Member and first President of TiE Kerala. He is also a member of the Ethics Committee of Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology, Investment Promotion Board, Kerala and Technology Development Committee, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology. (This is under the Dept of Science &Technology, Govt of. India)
Balagopal now divides his time between mentoring and investing in startup ventures, especially those engaged in healthcare, community development activities, and writing. He has written a book, On A Clear Day You Can See India, published by Harper Collins in October 2013, and has just completed his second book. He is a sought after speaker on subjects ranging from business, healthcare and public health, entrepreneurship, and contemporary affairs.