Publishing, Print on Demand, Self-publishing in India from Team

July 19, 2019
by Neelima

Interview: Dr. Dhuni Soren

We spoke to Dr. Dhuni Soren, author of History of Santals.

Dr. Dhuni Soren represents the interests of all adibasis of Jharkhand and neighboring states of India, particularly Santals in the World Adibasi Council at the United Nations working group on indigenous populations. He speaks for their rights on International Forums.

Tell us about what drove you to write a book about Santals? What was lacking in the existing literature about Santals?

All books written about Santals are by non-Santals mainly  Europeans and some non-Santal Indians. Authenticity and a true reflection of the real life of Santals as even modern Santal writers have not been born and brought up amongst them.

Tell us a bit about your experience living in a Santal village as a young person- something about oral traditions, food, and culture. 

Even after all these years, I can still remember playing with other children on dusty paths and in muddy fields catching fish. I can smell and hear the sounds of running water of the nearby rivers and brooks and smell the wildflowers of the nearby forests when we went hunting there.  I learned music and traditional dance with traditional musical instruments and attended local fairs and festivals with the villagers and learned our history by way of the oral traditions of the elders of the village and many others I still remember fondly.

Oral tradition was the only source of learning. I learned our customs, traditions, and culture, including our history, civilization and religion and migration stories, from the elders of the village. Schools and colleges were virtually nonexistent in our area. Food was simple and sourced from the local produce, mainly rice and maize with very occasional meat from homegrown poultry, pigs and goats. Everything about our culture is unique, including our language, dress, and homemade alcohol made from rice. The naming of the newborn and the customs of weddings and funerals are unique and different from what is seen in mainstream society.

Also, tell us about your experience in the UK. 

My experience in the UK has been extraordinary as I was perhaps the first Santal and certainly the first doctor to come to the UK and I made the most of it. First and foremost, I was impressed by the honesty of the people. Once I lost my wedding ring on a tube train in London and found it the next day when I went back to look for it. It had been left with the station master. But things are changing for the worse here as well as it is everywhere in the world, yet it is still better than other places. Healthcare is free for all from birth to death.

But I still have great love and affection for India and its people.

Image result for History of Santals pothiGive us a brief account of the history of Santals as mentioned in your book.

The history of Santals is still a great mystery and needs further research to identify and locate the places of their past glory like Chaichampa Garh. In my book, I have tried to put our history into perspective from my life experience and from my readings of different books in the hope that you learn the real history of Santals.


How do you go about researching and writing a book?  Any advice for writers of historical books?

I mainly write about Santals and Adivasi people and their progress and development and places of interest I have visited like  Egypt, Australia, New Zealand and other places. I do a lot of reading to collect information for the book and I have a lot of them already written down for publication. Once I have gathered the information, it does not take me long to write since I have plenty of time owing to my retirement. Writing historical books about something rare or unusual is difficult due to the lack of reference books. So choose the topics carefully. Good luck!

Writers who have inspired you?

I have not particularly been influenced by any except for maybe Dr. W.G Atcher I C S of British Raj days who has written many books about Santals like Tribal Law and Justice and Hills of Flutes.

Tell us about any new project you plan to work on.

I have a couple of documents ready for publication.

It was so nice talking to you Dr. Soren, thank you for the opportunity!

July 17, 2019
by Neelima

That’s the Word for It: Eructation

This fancy version of the burp came into use in the fifteenth century. Eructation is a medical problem for some and mostly it’s an expression of a satisfied stomach.

The word has been used in books in interesting ways:

“Slang, too, is the wholesome fermentation or eructation of those processes eternally active in language, by which froth and specks are thrown up, mostly to pass away; though occasionally to settle and permanently crystallize.”
― Walt Whitman

“Here at any rate is Ignatius Reilly, without progenitor in any literature I know of—slob extraordinary, a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote, a perverse Thomas Aquinas rolled into one—who is in violent revolt against the entire modern age, lying in his flannel nightshirt, in a back bedroom on Constantinople Street in New Orleans, who between gigantic seizures of flatulence and eructations is filling dozens of Big Chief tablets with invective.”
― John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces


July 12, 2019
by Neelima

Visual Friday: Writers of India – Girish Karnad

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July 10, 2019
by Neelima

That’s the Word For it: Spelunker

A spelunker is a Latin sounding term for caver. According to Merriam Webster, the word came into adventure sport lingo because of the author and outdoorsman Clair Willard Perry.

The word seems to be used a great deal in literature:

“I have no special desire to go crawl around in caves, but I really like the word [spelunking] and want to use it in conversation. I do a lot of things just to use words I like.”
― Evan Mandery, First Contact-Or, It’s Later Than You Think

“I love vocab. It’s like spelunking in a cave you’ve been in your whole life and discovering a thousand new tunnels.”
― A.S. King, Please Ignore Vera Dietz

July 3, 2019
by Neelima

That’s the Word for It: Matutolypea

Matutolypea is the scientific equivalent of getting up from the wrong side of bed. It’s the grumpy cat syndrome that happens when you wake up. The word hasn’t yet entered mainstream dictionaries but it’s one of those obscure words that has gained some popularity on the internet.

This word doesn’t seem to be very popular on any writer’s list. Managed to locate just one usage:

“Well,” Opal said. “I put the pamphlet up because it felt better than doing nothing. We’ll see.”

I nodded, but perhaps not brightly enough.

“Oh my,” she said. “I thought I cheered you up, but I still see a glum expression. Is this a case of matutolypea?”


Now, now–the English teacher! Surely you know what that means? Or are you having a case of the mubble-fubbles?”

Gillian Roberts, All’s Well That Ends

June 28, 2019
by Neelima

Interview: Douglas Misquita

We spoke to the author Douglas Misquita. He has a lot of tips for aspiring writers of thrillers and series.

Author photo by Shonna Misquita

Douglas Misquita is an action-adventure thriller writer from Mumbai, India. His books are noted for their fast pace, great visuals and edge-of-the-seat action. The Immortality Trigger won the Silver Award at the Literary Titan. Douglas has written six thrillers, and with three more in the works, buckle up for more literary entertainment.

Find out more at

Read the reviews at

Follow Douglas on,,,

How do you research your books?

My research never stops. I’m always looking for ideas that might form the central theme of a story. At some point, I believe I have enough to begin writing. But if I encounter something exciting during the writing process, I’ll do my best to fit it in and add another dimension to the story.

A couple of examples:

If my characters need to go someplace exotic or serene or scenic, I’ll research a town or village. Other times, I research to hoist me out of a plot-blocker. In The Apocalypse Trigger, my characters required to break into an isolated research facility. I made the facility so impregnable, I couldn’t get them in! That’s when I excitedly discovered that ‘invisibility cloaks’ are no longer in the realm of fantasy. Problem solved! It also made for a super element.

Another aspect of my preparation is the action sequences. I imagine an action sequence and figure out how it would fit into a story, and what that story could be.

I read somewhere that your favorite writer is Michael Crichton. What kind of influences of Crichton can we watch out for in your work?

Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park inspired me to write. My first book was handwritten (with only two errors) on a 100-page single-ruled school exercise book at age 13. I borrowed heavily from Jurassic Park, but that’s when it started.

Crichton is the master of techno-thrillers and he always educated his readers. That’s what I try to do.

My stories are action-adventure thrillers but they must educate too. Secret of the Scribe predicts brain-computer interfaces and how nefarious organizations might use them. The technology is now at our doorstep with researchers able to transmit brain waves across countries!

The Apocalypse Trigger debunks preconceptions about Wiccans (witches), brings to light arrogant wagers played by elitists on natural calamities and explores the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia.

Diablo deals with radio-controlled gene expression and takes readers on a tour of Baikonur Cosmodrome. Importantly, it traces the plight of migrants coming out of North Africa and making for Malta.

The Immortality Trigger confronts the reality of the anti-aging (read beauty-cosmetic) industry, Nazi hunters, and blood-mining in Africa.

Lion makes people think twice before classifying a country or a person as good or bad. Oh, and you could learn how to start a Mil24D gunship if you read Lion (I’m almost kidding).

Tell us about your latest book.

Lion is my sixth thriller. I decided to take a risk with the lead character: an unconventional hero, from an unlikely country, Syria. My hero would be a stereotypical ‘bad’ guy and readers would root for him! I wanted to bring the war alive, from a non-NATO perspective. The book is a fictionalized account of a Syrian political fugitive and the people closest to him, and how their lives are disrupted because they want to do the right thing amid all the chaos.

Another topic I tackle is mercenaries. Movies give us the impression that mercenaries are rogue soldiers. Really, they aren’t. Simply put, they are regular salary-earning employees who use weapons and combat skills to do a job, which could be providing security to NGOs in conflict zones or raising armies. Sure, they operate outside the ambit of the conventional war, but they sign a raw deal. No country will fight for them or honor them if they’re captured or killed doing things the regular army cannot.

Finally, I put in a spectacular prison break because it’s something I love. Who doesn’t love a prison break?

Which book did you enjoy writing the most and why?

Every book is rewarding during the writing process. Otherwise, I scrap it and take it in another direction. Sorry, that’s a curt answer, but it’s the truth.

Tell us about your experience with self-publishing.

To me, self-publishing is liberating and rewarding. Traditional publishing is great, but the big houses are companies that need to make a profit. They have a strategy which outlines the genres they will publish. And I give them that.

But why should anybody wait for somebody else to decide what’s good or bad? What if I have a story that I truly believe in and/or desire reader critique? Let the reader decide! That’s the ultimate proof of a good book, correct?

Earlier this was impossible, and a great writer could go undiscovered, his/her dreams unrealized. With self-publishing, barriers are reduced. I think the big houses are aware of this. That’s why you have them scouring the Internet for the next big thing.

So yes: liberating, rewarding, and self-adjusting.

At this point I should say, I use to print paperback and hardcover versions of my books. The team has been supportive and responsive. I use for eBook distribution.

What do you do when you don’t write? 

I work as a software delivery manager.

Some advice for aspiring writers of thrillers.

Write the thriller you would enjoy reading. I write action and adventure with doses of history and science/ tech because that’s the stuff I understand and do best. I’d do horribly with romance or fantasy or hard-core medicine or politics.


Some advice for authors of a book series.

Don’t conclude everything in a single book. This gives you an opportunity to explore a plotline in successive books. Each book must enhance the characters (as they are the only constant in the series). Select your characters well so that you can re-use them to address a wide range of topics.

What advice do you have to give to authors who are struggling with promoting their books?

There are numerous review sites and promotion packages on the Internet. You must identify the good ones, the ones you’re ready to spend on. Try to diversify the reviewers, take a risk with the ‘scary’ ones. With so many self-publishing and promotion sites, every author is clamoring to be heard, and you may or may not stand out immediately. But don’t be too bothered with it. After all, write because you want to write. So: do your marketing bit and get cracking on the next book. When you get more books out there, people will start to notice. And yes, they look great stacking up. Stay away from Facebook ads; Goodreads giveaways are nice. Check out sites like,, to get you started.

Do movies inspire you?

Absolutely. I write books from the viewpoint of a camera. That gives my readers the experience of a large-scale action movie… unfolding across the pages of a book

Tell us about your next project.

Next up, in 2020 is the third book in the Kirk Ingram trilogy. It is mind-blowing. I know because I was jumping up and down (figuratively) when I had the theme of the story in an epiphany. Let’s say, its super-charged, bends reality, and ties up aspects of the character that debuted in 2011 and returned in 2015.

Was great talking with you, Douglas! Wish you all the best for future projects.


June 14, 2019
by Neelima

Interview: Dr. Harbhajan Singh Pabla

We spoke to Dr. Harbhajan Singh Pabla about the little known world of Wildlife conservation in India.

Dr. H. S. Pabla grew up in a Punjabi village, in India and joined the Indian Forest Service in 1977, retiring as the Chief Wildlife Warden of the state of Madhya Pradesh in February 2012. Apart from doing the usual things that an Indian forester does, he nurtured his love for the wilds while managing national parks like Kanha, Panna and Bandhavgarh. Along the way, he developed a penchant for questioning the status quo and challenged the stereotypes that have ruled the conservation mindset in the country. He introduced the concept of “conservation by incentive” in the form of a cash reward to farmers for hosting an endangered bird, the lesser florican, in their croplands. He was responsible for changing the face of wildlife tourism in Madhya Pradesh, despite opposition from NTCA, and made tourism revenue a significant resource in tiger reserves of the state. When Panna lost all its tigers, he developed and implemented the tiger reintroduction plan that has given the world the confidence that wild tigers will always be around. He was the principal force behind the reintroduction of gaur in Bandhavgarh and blackbuck in Kanha, after both the species had become locally extinct in the nineties. His unfinished agenda for the state included the reintroduction of barasingha in the Forsyth country, i.e. the Satpura Tiger Reserve, and the white tiger in its native Sanjay Tiger Reserve. Barasingha has already reached Bori in Satpura, and he hopes to see white tigers in the wild before saying adieu to this world. He unsuccessfully tried to introduce community-based sport-hunting for the conservation of crop raiding species. His wish-list for conservation also includes seeing Indian foresters riding horses for patrolling and enjoying the wilderness. Apart from a stint on the faculty of the Wildlife Institute of India, he has been an international consultant in wildlife management. He is an ardent tennis player and lives in Bhopal, India.

He is the author of Road to Nowhere and Wardens in Shackles.

The titles of both your books have a hint of foreboding. What exactly is wrong with the Indian approach to conservation?

There are several problems with the way we do conservation of wild animals in India. For example, we do not know why we are preserving dangerous animals who are a serious threat to human life and property, especially of our poorest citizens. Secondly, we have not developed the institutional and professional capacity to manage wildlife because we have adopted a passive management approach enshrined in the dictum “Leave nature alone, it will take care of itself”. As a result, some areas are overpopulated with animals while others are empty. Thirdly, although the states are constitutionally responsible for what happens to wildlife on the ground and what wildlife does to the people around, all the powers to control conservation policy are with the Centre. Fourthly, poor people living in the forests are the victims of conservation while the urban elite enjoys romanticizing about it and makes decisions about conservation policies of the country. Fourthly, conservation of wild animals is a huge drain on our poor country but we have never considered making it an economic development tool as in many countries. Wild animals can create millions of jobs in remote areas through tourism but we treat wildlife tourism as an encumbrance on conservation. We do conservation of harmful animals only for intangible benefits (like moderating climate change) ignoring the losses they cause and generating no immediate benefits. This is not sustainable in the long run. We need a conservation policy which focuses as much on immediate benefits from wild animals as on long term ecological benefits. There is so much more which needs to change if conservation is to be a success in India.

Please give a brief overview of the wildlife conservation effort in India so that your readers get some context to your work.

Systematic wildlife conservation started in India in the seventies of the last century when the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 created a unified national framework for conservation in the country and Project Tiger was launched. Although all our forests are wildlife habitat and wild animals are protected everywhere (you cannot kill an animal even if it destroys your home or cropland or kills your cows), we have also created national parks and wildlife sanctuaries where special measures are taken to increase wild animals. There is a complete ban on the consumption or trade of wild animals and their products and derivatives. Despite these big initiatives, the populations of most animals have not increased much since then, due to some inherent problems. India is the most populous large country in the world. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for the country to spare enough space for supporting viable populations of large animals. We are losing our wildlife habitats to the expansion of human habitation and infrastructure and lots of animals are illegally killed by people for food, smuggling and for protecting their crops and properties. Despite the ban on consumption and trade in wildlife and wildlife articles, illegal trade and consumption are rampant. Tigers, rhinos, pangolins, etc. are dying to feed the Chinese markets with wildlife-based medicines and wines and millions of turtles and birds are smuggled to Southeast Asia as pets. All wild animals are food to forest dwellers, but they cannot hunt them legally. We have to find a way around all these issues if we want to preserve our natural heritage. Wild animals can be an economic asset if managed well and can be a huge liability if unmanaged. India has not decided to use its wildlife to generate economic benefits for its people so far. That is why we are struggling to conserve it.

Tell us briefly about your experience in the Indian Forest Service. You’ve touched upon misconceptions about foresters. What does a forester’s typical day look like?

The Indian Forest Service (IFS) is one of the best professional services in the country. It allows one a good mix of outdoors and urban lifestyles. A forester also has a tough job of meeting the needs of the present generation, for forest products, while saving the forests for future generations. Demands on forests are huge. Every section of our society wants to take away something or the other, even the very lands, from our forests in one way or the other. Our poverty and our growing prosperity are threats to our forests in equal measure and a forester has to ensure that the forests survive both. As a forester often has to fight tooth and nail to save every inch of forests, they are generally seen as insensitive beings although no section of our bureaucracy does as much for the poorest sections of the society, especially tribals, as the foresters.

Forestry is a complex profession and one’s routine depends on what level you are in the hierarchy and what your assigned job is. In general, senior officers spend more time in offices, going out only on planning and inspection tours. The subordinates spend more time in the field dealing with operational issues. The main job of a forester is to enforce the forest laws, which empower him/her to prevent theft and poaching, produce forest goods such as timber, bamboo, wildlife, etc. and deal with demands on forests from various quarters. A field forester (a forest guard or forester) often patrols his forest alone or along with an assistant laborer and has to walk several miles every day. If any theft of forest produce is noticed, he/she registers the offence and sets about tracing the offender. Wild animals are often shy and usually, they are not a threat if at all seen on a patrol. When a tiger or leopard becomes a man-eater or an elephant turns rogue, it is a tough time for a forester as his options are often limited but expectations from the society are high. The forest service is now going through a tough time as forests need continuous looking after but new generations do not want to live away from urban life for various reasons.

What can India learn from ecotourism-dependent nations like Botswana and Australia?

Saving wild animals is much easier if ecotourism is the objective of having them around. This is because the economic benefits of tourism neutralize the losses inflicted by animals. Wherever wild animals are producing jobs through tourism, visual or hunting tourism, people want more animals around them. Where animals only destroy life and property, without benefitting people in any way, as in India, conservation is tough. The lessons for India are obvious.

How can the young generation get into the field of forestry? What do you think the Indian education system needs to emphasize on to kindle the interests of children in this field?

There are many avenues for entering forestry as a profession. Depending upon your educational qualifications and competitive strength, one can aspire to be an IFS officer, scientist, range officer, forest guard, etc. through competitive exams. To be a happy forester, one must have love for the outdoors and all that goes with it. Our education system must inculcate the love for outdoors among our children irrespective of the fact whether they want to be foresters or not. One is much happier and healthier in the company of trees, birds and butterflies than while cramming bookish knowledge. The kids who have got some exposure to nature during their formative days stay connected with it throughout life and they contribute to the conservation of the environment wherever they are.

In all your years in this field, which animal are you fond of?

I loved my job and all that came with it. Although all animals are exciting in their own way, predators often excite people much more. As I happened to be working to save wild tigers most of my life, nothing was more exciting than seeing a wild tiger without an appointment. The tiger has such an aura around it–it just mesmerizes you, and you simply cannot move away from it as long as it is within view.

Describe your process in compiling these books.

My books took a long time coming. As my views about wildlife conservation were quite different from my peers, I started toying with the idea of writing a book nearly 20 years ago. However, the pressures of service did not allow that. In the meantime, I kept collecting more experiences and insights about my profession and the pressure to put them down on paper kept mounting. As soon as I retired from service in 2012, I started writing freely without any plan or organization. When I thought I had put down everything I wanted to say and share, I started organizing it into sections and chapters. Then I realized that putting everything in one book would make it too big and daunting to readers. Therefore, I decided to break the whole matter into three volumes to be released one by one. Two volumes of this prospective trilogy have thus been released while the third is in the works. More matter is getting added to the original text as my thoughts continue to churn and new events unfold every day. Thus, the third volume is likely to be quite different from the one I had originally envisaged.

When my text was ready, I started looking for a publisher. I knew that first-time authors have a tough time finding publishers. While looking for publishers online, I came across the concept of self-publishing and print on demand (POD). The idea appealed to me and I compared the packages and services offered by various publishing houses. I first self-published my book, both as an e-book and paperback, but I needed an Indian platform. was selected as it did not ask for any fee for uploading the book and I put my book for online sale through Amazon, Flipkart, etc. for a small fee.

As my books are self-published, I had to have them edited and designed myself. I found online freelance editors, book designers and book cover designers to do the job (e.g. The availability of online freelance support services has made the job of writing books quite easy. And you do not need to go looking for retailers as the online retailers have global reach and the books start selling the day they are out.

Who is your favorite wildlife conservation writer?

In fact, nobody in India writes on the issues which agitate me. Most of the books on conservation are either on biology and ecology of animals or descriptions of what someone saw in the field. Wildlife in India can only survive only if the losses it causes are less than the benefits it generates for people. No one has written on these issues so far. However, two recent books, one by Jairam Ramesh (Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature) and another by M.K. Ranjitsinh (A Life with Wildlife) give an excellent historical perspective on modern wildlife conservation. Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson were the writers who gave me my first insights into Indian natural history.

What is your next project?

My next project is the third volume in the trilogy on Wildlife Conservation in India. I still do not have a title in mind. It will generally cover the need to have a new integrated law for forest conservation, problems of building a conservation paradigm for India based on extensive forest corridors and the potential of the Forest Rights Act 2006 to destroy India’s forests and wildlife, among other subjects.

It was great talking to you Dr. H. S. Pabla! Wish you luck in spreading the word about the wildlife conservation effort in India.

May 27, 2019
by Neelima

Interview (Part 2) : Prof. Syamales Datta

We spoke to Prof. Syamales Datta about all things real estate valuation and self-publishing. Check out Part 1 of the interview if you haven’t already.

Since real estate is an illiquid asset what would you advice is the right way to valuing real estate?

Truly, real estate has poorer liquidity than the various alternative investment assets that are available in the general investment market. In valuing real estate therefore, the valuer is to choose a higher rate of capitalization of net income or potential net income from real estate. In deciding on the final rate of capitalization directly, the valuer should also carry out analysis of similar transactions of real estate in the same location or in similar locations.

Liquidity is just one aspect for which a higher rate of capitalization of net income is appropriate. The other aspects that render investment in real estate disadvantageous are the risks and the operating expenses of real estate. A summation of all such factors for each of which a further addition is given is to be applied to the yields of gilt-edged securities. Against this some deductions are to be applied for the prospect of capital and rental appreciation of real estate. The final adjusted cap rate thus derived from yield of gilt-edged securities is the one to be adopted as the final rate of capitalization.

Right now the real estate market is going through a bearish cycle. How do you think distressed assets should be valued?

A distressed asset is such an asset where the owner of the asset is forced to sell well below the market value. In valuing distressed assets, the property is likely to be sold at a considerable discount from market value even when the market is bullish. In a bearish market as prevailing at present, there is no indication that investors in shares or gold are planning to switch to real estate. Neither is there any impressive real rate of growth of income, nor is there any improvement of the unemployment situation. The method of valuation does not vary whether the market is bearish, bullish or in-between.

Rental yielding assets are becoming a popular investment avenue. What is the right way to evaluate them?

It is true that rental yielding assets are becoming a popular investment avenue. The income approach to valuation is the right way to value rental yielding assets. The two principal methods under the income approach are (1) the income capitalization method and (2) the discounted cash flow method and both are used to value rental yielding assets.

What is your next book project about?

Rather than publishing another paperback soon, I am currently studying. I am at present engaged in reading up aspects of real estate valuation not known to me including emerging standards, case laws and research publications. I do present my papers at symposia and review a few peer works when I don’t have a lot to cook.

What is your experience with self-publishing?

Till 2012 I had no experience in self-publishing. Two editions of my earlier valuation bestseller were published in 1993 and 2004 by a traditional publisher, the contract was coercive and royalties were small leading me to finally self-publish. I discovered that operating from home requires the self-publisher to understand the soft copy creation process thoroughly and design beautifully adhering to a desktop publishing standard or hire professional services.  But rather than not print ever it is easier to produce books with imperfect cover design or interior layout and pagination since you can update these things. My source files are managed using version control software.

My Publishing Proxy and son Ansuman Datta ( and I would like to thank Linux,  LibreOffice, GIMP, Mudranik Technologies and antivirus software makers for making publishing easier.

My earnings from the sales of Mastering Real Estate Valuation from its release during the beginning of the golden jubilee  celebrations of the Institution of Valuers (IOV) at Hyderabad on 29 Dec 2018 to 31 Mar 2019 propelled my net profit for the financial year to 1159% of that of the previous fiscal, i.e., I had a growth of 1059% and this last net profit surpassed my lifetime royalties from traditional publishing. I’m now selling online exclusively vide

I have had the good fortune to have drafted syllabi of several real property valuation examinations. The problem with many institutes and universities including some open universities is that they are unsuccessfully trying to follow the paradigm of creating their own course mat by a specific deadline. And prior to that deadline by a few days they are getting it authored by those who do not respect the student’s needs. In doing so they have gone the way of uncertified computer training institutes. The way to break this habit of producing substandard course mat in a sellers’ market is to quality test using standards as good as the world’s top 100 course mat producing universities and institutes and if they fail the tests you allow reference books to take their place and not endanger life and property with substandard course mat. Print-on-demand (POD) is the way to be accurate.

Thank you so much for sharing your views and educating the investor on how to approach valuation! Wish you all the best for your future endeavors.

May 24, 2019
by Neelima

Interview (Part 1): Prof. Syamales Datta

We had the opportunity of interacting with Prof. Syamales Datta, author of Mastering Real Estate Valuation and Advanced Valuation for Secured Lending by Banks and Financial Institutions.

Syamales Datta received his Physics (Hon) from Calcutta University and joined Howrah Improvement Trust. He qualified with RICS in 1971 and retired from service in the spring of 2004 after serving as chief valuer. A fellow of the IOV and the IOS, Datta has also been a research guide for Annamalai’s masters programme. He has taught valuation at IIEST, IUM, IEM, ILGUS, WBVB, HUDCO, JU, TIU, IOV, IOS, and recently at RVOS.  Datta coordinates symposia. Earlier titles include Valuation of Real Property: Principles & Practice and Advanced Valuation for Secured Lending by Banks and Financial Institutions; the former bestseller is replaced with this paperback by time. The Valuer’s Day Award in 2007 and the Valuer Excellence Award in 2016 are some of Datta’s recent honors.

The author valued for Andal Aerotropolis, mall development rights in Curzon Park, Kolkata and he was consulted by Indo Nabin and the LIC(I). He did a feasibility analysis project for Kolkata Metro’s wing, east of the Ganga. Government projects included the semi-weekly market in Howrah and Nagaland’s cement factory. Works and writings made headlines and case laws and some are sub judice. The author’s profits from self-publishing have surpassed his total royalty earned over two decades from traditional publishers.

Check out his web profiles here:


Describe your writing process.

Before writing a book on real property valuation, I first plan how much coverage is to be given to theories that will be included in the book and how to deal with concepts and events to be covered. Then, I plan the fashion of inclusion of topics like market valuations, statutory valuations, investments, taxation, etc. in the book. In covering them, I carefully follow the guidelines laid down by standards bodies like The International Valuation Standards (IVS) Council, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) etc. I follow this process when I write on real estate valuation.

When I write on other subjects, I concentrate on the purpose of writing, and try to compile information and explanations needed. I select a suitable bibliography and study the thoughts and views on and trends in the subject matter. Finally, I select a framework based on my research and converge on my writing. I generally sit at my desk when I write for extended periods but I sometimes pace my bedroom floor in meditation before arriving at conclusions. During breaks, I relax with a cuppa and digestive cookies.

Explain to potential non-fiction writers the kind of homework they need to do before writing a comprehensive book of non-fiction.

Non-fiction authors should give every effort to themselves study the ideas, concepts and principles pertaining to the subjects of their books. In this process, the writer should examine global and local practices. Use search engines and online encyclopedia,  multimedia presentations, learning platforms and professional groups as far as possible. For example, we have a Facebook group.

Authors should expose themselves to and benefit from the exchange of views with other writers and professionals. One’s own experience in writing contributes richly to new ventures. Research papers and authentic reading materials in the subject also help build up concepts. Even non-fiction writers have a great need to enjoy fiction in order to grow a good sense of style. Style guides are more necessary to writers of non-fiction than fiction, to make intelligible information out of technical data.

How long did it take for you to write this book?

It took me about four years to write Mastering Real Estate Valuation.

Before this, I had written Valuation of Real Property (1st Ed. 1993 & 2nd Ed. 2004, Eastern Law House, Kolkata). Those bestsellers were replaced by Mastering Real Estate Valuation, 1st Ed. which was published Sat 29 Dec 2018 in Hyderabad vide my FaceBook timeline for multimedia from the 49th Indian Valuers Congress 2018.  New legislation, new editions from the IVSC and the RICS and the need to give precedence to truth over the printer’s devil à la offset forced me to expensively self-publish this title from the Portable Document Format. I had previously self-published Advanced Valuation for Secured Lending by Banks and Financial Institutions (2nd Ed. ISBN 978-93-5156-947-3) 242 pages long vide

Please provide us a brief overview of the book.

The reasons that propelled me to write this volume are the dual context of liberalization and globalization, my desire to fully apprise readers of the historical development of the concept of property rights, a non-uniform dearth of reading material on leasehold valuation of real property in the developing nations of the world, updates to the International Valuation Standards and its free availability to members of member organizations like The Institution of Valuers as I am.

The book starts with the basic concepts and characteristics of real estate market. I talk about the challenges that India faces in its real estate market scenario and the evolution of modern real property rights to their complex present day form.

Various valuation approaches and methods have been explained at length. A separate chapter has been added on The Principles of ‘Yield’ which is the most crucial tool in the valuation of income-producing real estate. There are about 60 solved examples on leasehold valuation throughout various chapters of this book that constitute a significant body of problems on income-producing real estate.

Case studies have been provided to illustrate how to go about the valuation of development property and trade-related property as well as valuation and rent-control legislation, inter alia. A variety of cases under the housing sector and commercial real estate have been demonstrated.

There are a total number of 120 odd solved examples that will greatly interest professionals. The use of spreadsheets and pie diagrams is made wherever appropriate like the illustrations involving Hotel Hightopp and Pasteur Nursing Home.

All chapter sections have been provided with dot-separated Latin section numbers and each chapter starts with a part called ‘At a Glance’, for the convenience of varsities and other institutions and the IBBI Valuation Examination’s Asset Class–Land & Building which I have taught twice at the latter program. These are also useful for various training programs of IOV and IOS. The book has a minisite on the Internet at and Chapter 01: Real Estate—Concepts and Context is available free from

Prof. Syamales Datta imparts some more knowledge about real estate valuation and talks about his self-publishing experience in Part 2 of this interview.


May 17, 2019
by Neelima

That’s the Word for It: Amanuensis

The most famous amanuensis in Indian mythology is Lord Ganesh, the scribe who wrote the Ramayana to Vyasa’s dictation.  The word originally comes from the Latin word for slave or within arm’s reach. Tertius was the scribe who composed the Book of Romans to Apostle Paul’s directive. This concept of a scribe who took down important notes developed into what we now call a secretary. The academic connotations of amanuensis refer to the scribe who helps the disabled person or invalid during an examination.

Some examples of this word in literature:

“Every writer is the amanuensis to their characters”
— Lucy Coats

“I first noticed this as a child: too much happiness bored me. If I went for a walk on a sunny morning and began to experience an increasing sense of sheer joy, there came a point at which I grew tired of it and deliberately brought my mind back down to earth. Thinking about this later I always found it difficult to understand why I wanted that happiness to come to an end. Now the solution is obvious. When we experience a sudden insight we want to grasp it, to turn it into words. But the left brain is like an amanuensis who has to take everything down in longhand. If the intuitions come too fast he wants to shout, ‘Slow down, slow down!’ And if the speaker refuses to slow down he throws down his pen in disgust.”
— Colin Wilson (Beyond the Occult: Twenty Years’ Research into the Paranormal)