Multifaceted Author: You Just Got Cheated..Understanding White-Collar Crime – Dr. Sibichen K Mathew, PGPPM 2006
Multi-talented or exceptionally gifted are words that don’t quite do justice when we use them to describe Dr. Sibichen K Mathew. He did Post Graduation in Public Policy and Management during 2004-06 at IIMB. He belongs to the 1992 batch of Indian Revenue Service and currently working as a Commissioner. His other educational qualifications include BSc in Chemistry, MA Sociology (University gold medalist), MPhil (JNU), Ph.D. (BU), LLB (KSLU), and CFE. Dr. Sibichen is a TEDx speaker and a best-selling author too. He was a visiting associate at Center for Public Policy at IIMB.
Once you catch a breath and ask Dr Mathew, how does he do it all, he smilingly responds – The only limiting factor in life is your imagination. Talking about his new book – You Just Got Cheated: Understanding White Collar Crimes and more – Dr. Sibichen K Mathew.
Please tell us something briefly about yourself?
This is a tough question. You have given me a license to brag which I might relish but readers may not. Though I earn my bread by being in a place which Max Weber gave a nomenclature “Iron Cage”, I carefully use any opportunity to sing loudly to the world, sometimes out of joy, sometimes to express my agony and many times to express my learned helplessness. Yes, I use the concept “learned helplessness” beyond what was described by psychologists Seligman and Maier. Not only me, many of you might experience a sense of helplessness after the initial catharsis and the pride stemming from acquiring a series of academic achievements. Knowledge would invariably make us sick as we keep judging, criticizing, correcting, and advising from the perspective of the so called truth and the scientific spirit of inquiry we learnt. I adorn a few formal academic credentials in chemistry, sociology, social systems, law, management, public policy, taxation, fraud examination, and film making. But, honestly, none of these had added any substantive value to me. I still believe ignorance is bliss and experience is the best teacher.
When and how did you get interested in writing books?
Observing people and their behaviour and understanding the patterns that shape their decisions were of immense interest to me since early in my life. I started ‘publishing’ handwritten magazines and newspapers during my school days. As tape recorders became common in the circle of relatives and friends, I started creating audio magazines for private circulation during the college days. Many relatives stopped discussing any gossips in front of me fearing that I would publish that in the magazine. Though I got admission to a prestigious journalism course, I did not join as I was told by the ‘elders’ that there are better careers for a secure living. That passion in me still propels to google for online journalism courses!! I started writing stories and essays in college magazines. Later I stated my blog “Sibi-Cyberdiary” which is my public space to share the way I think, feel and respond and it is in its eleventh year. My books are culmination of years of research and analysis. Unlike blog posts which are self-published, the support and guidance by professional book publishers have enriched the quality of the content.
Please tell us about your latest book – You just got cheated: Understanding white-collar crime.
The book “You Just Got Cheated: Understanding White Collar Crimes” examines various types of white-collar crimes from the perspective of victimology. Most of us have been victims of frauds and related crimes at some point or the other in our lives. We may not have answers to pertinent questions such as: Who is responsible for the fraud committed? Why do people commit white-collar crimes? What makes us vulnerable to such crimes? Who could have prevented the crime? What could individuals and entities do to prevent the crime in the future and what action should we take to recover the losses? This book examines the above questions by analyzing various types of white-collar crimes, drawing examples of such crimes that have happened across the world. History reveals that crimes travel across the globe in time as criminals learn from each other for their criminal indulgences. We hear about a crime elsewhere – in a different city or a country – and within no time you find the same thing happening with necessary improvisation in our own neighborhood. When the corporate criminals, opportunists and greedy public servants join hands, to indulge in various types of crimes, the regulatory enforcement becomes lax, farce and ineffective. In the end, the victims – the public who were adversely impacted, the shareholders who lost their investments, the consumers who got a raw deal, the employees who lost their jobs and the financiers who lost what they lent – suffer without any recourse. The book culminates with two chapters exclusively on answering questions such as – Why do people commit white-collar crimes? Why do people fall victim to white-collar crime and how to curb this menace?
How do you decide on the topics of your books? What is the kind of creative process involved in writing?
My books are not only products of thoughts and experiences, but also creative expression to certain realistic aspirations. Isaac Asimov said, “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” That way, writing was always therapeutic for me as that was a vent when other windows were sealed by powers that matter.
After working in the area of tax administration, I was puzzled why a country with considerable tax elasticity and tax potentiality found it difficult to attract more people to its tax rolls. So I started my search for the answers and I realized the need for a systematic micro analysis of the issues which should be beyond the conventional ‘rational’ economists’ perspective. I was in fact plunging myself to what many call ‘research’ on the subject to ask some pertinent questions: Is tax aversion unique to some countries?; Why people in some countries comply better than others?; and Why tax evasion is not frowned upon in some countries and disgraceful in some other countries? A unique attempt was also made to understand tax evasion and tax enforcement through a study of tax evaders (or who were branded so) themselves. Interviews with those who have been subjected to searches have, without exception, cumulatively and intellectually enriched me as they helped me to understand the behavioural pattern, attitudes, perceptions and expectations of taxpayers in general. The book “Making People Pay: The Economic Sociology of Taxation” was the culmination of this research.
The book “When the Boss is Wrong: Making and Unmaking of the Leader within You” is a handbook for happiness at work. The book is still a hit among many employees and managers, both in the private and public sectors. In the book, ‘When the Boss is Wrong’, I have presented different dimensions of bad leadership and their ramifications for the people and the organization. There is also an attempt to suggest certain precautions and prescriptions for persons (both in their roles as a team member and as a boss) and some precepts for the organizations concerned. Several corporate leaders shared their appreciation on how the book helped to nurture exemplary leadership in their organizations.
What aspect of your life – Personal or Professional inspired you most as an author.
You can find the answer to the above in the following quote:
“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.” – Ernest Hemingway
Where are your books available currently? Where can we grab a copy?
All books are available in Amazon and leading book stores. The Amazon links are below:
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Since I consider all time available to me as equally valuable, I prefer not to label any time as ‘spare time”. Many times, activities that I do beyond or outside the ‘routine work’ are more productive and satisfying. Some such activities are creative writing, long walks, social media postings, recreation with family, planning and dreaming (while awake!), watching award winning films, toastmasters sessions, and spending time at native home with my mother.
A life lesson from your IIMB days that has always stayed with you.
This is the key life lesson I learnt from the lectures and discussions at IIMB: Every issue has multiple dimensions. True knowledge or awareness about an issue or subject precedes an analytical understanding of all perspectives based on an objective analysis. A corollary to this is the awareness that conclusions are subjected to changes based on finding of new facts. One has to be flexible enough to unlearn and re-learn.
Some pointers for aspiring writers and authors.
Keep reading. Keep thinking. Visualize your unique ideas. Look at people, ideas and things and discover something different. And then keep writing! As Buffy Andrews said, “Writers see the world differently. Every voice we hear, every face we see, every hand we touch could become story fabric.”
You can grab your copy of You Just Got Cheated – Understanding White-Collar Crime and other books by Dr Mathew from Amazon. Please follow the link here.