Just Read – Games Indians Play

Finished reading 3 books actually.  2 of them are pretty small and I could finish them in2 days each.

1. Games Indians Play – Why We are The Way We Are

If you are someone who easily gets offended by criticism, this book is surely not for you.  If you are someone who believes in chest thumping patriotism, the kinds we find in Sunny Deol – Anil Sharma movies or the kind of person who likes to forward chain mails which proclaim that 35% of employees working in NASA, Microsoft etc are Indians, then this book is not for you either.

Games Indians Play is a hard hitting look at the way we Indians manipulate our way around the system, looks at reasons why our cities are dirty, creaking, why our roads are full of potholes, why our system, law and order machinery is corrupt, why we keep raking up examples of our thousand year old culture and morals, but are the worst behaved, immoral and culture-less people around.

The author, V Raghunathan uses game theory to explain the ills of India, as to why we are free loaders, corrupt and do not stand up to our rights etc.

Though the author goes great lengths to analyse the problems facing India, he doesnt suggest ideas or solutions to mitigate the problem.  That i believe is the only negative point about the book.

A few comments on the book that i found at Amazon website reinforce the author’s point of view

“It’s a very interesting book and does a great job of explaining some of the bizzare things that go on in India and why people say “it’s like that only”. As an Indian living in US for two decades, I can relate to author’s observations about Indian and western societies. I have been puzzled by some of those things over the years but couldn’t figure out why it was so.

And to Mr. Raghunathan: Lots of Indians/asians in US don’t behave much differently. Just go to any temple and you can see a pile of shoes/chappals on the floor right next to empty shoe shelves & just below the sign “please don’t leave your shoes on the floor”. Or visit any south asian grocery store and you can tell instantly if they sell “paans” by looking at stains all over the parking lot.”

“As an expat currently living in India, this book affirmed what I’ve found difficult and perplexing about living in New Delhi. The constant helplessness, petty jealousies and a sense that some of the observed poverty is just another one of India’s treasured rackets (an alternative route for their bizarre and seemingly increasing corruption) is overwhelming and frustrating to watch on a day-to-day basis. I enjoyed this book immensely as it helped me to understand the behavior I see around me, why it continues without change (or question) and in the end, why and how others perceive their continued benefit from this seemingly irrational paradigm (from a Western view point).

Listening to Indians and the media in India, there is a view that Westerners are selfish, lack connected communities and have no “family values” or “morals” (whatever this means by whomever defines it). It’s almost as if Indians have it reversed from Westerners. In particular, Americans who value personal independence coupled with a sense of civic duty and responsibility to others whereas Indians emphasize family and communal relationships to guide their behavior and actions but do not necessarily extend their concerns outside their immediate circle.”

“The author postulates that it is ‘Supreme Selfishness’ which drives every Indian. The author then creates models of everyday situations using principles of Game Theory to explore how Indians react to such situations given that they are driven by ‘Supreme Selfishness’. For example, the author uses Prisoner’s Dilemma to model the common situation every Indian faces while emptying his trash can every morning – should I empty the bin on the road or should I have to walk two hundred feet to the nearest municipal waste bin?”

Games Indians Play
Author – V Raghunathan
Pages – 170
Publisher – Penguin Books

2. Germany – Cultures of the World

I have a good collection of the Lonely Planet series.  But they are books for the hardcore traveler.  Though i love to travel; finances, time and other considerations deny me that pleasure.  I love reading up on the countries, their cultures, people, society, food etc, but i find the Lonely Planet series of books too bulky to read and i find its a book good for people who like to micro-manage their travels.  As for me, i like to take the leisure way out and i just like to do a broad research of the place before i travel.

Europe is a dream destination for me.  Germany is one of my most admired countries and i happened to chance at this book in the library.  Its small, concise and covers all aspects of the country just the way i love it.  The book covers the geography, government, culture, food, people, cities, environment, politics, history etc in a precise manner.

3. Hiroshima – Story of the First Atom Bomb

Its a pretty small book, mostly for kids which traces the dropping of the first atom bomb on Hiroshima.  Capturing mostly pictures of both before and after of the destruction and a few explanations about the bomb, the politics behind it.  The book is mostly about Manhattan project, nuclear theory, progress of World War II, Truman’s decision to use the bomb, the mission of Enola Gay, results of the Hiroshima explosion and the subsequent use of the bomb on Nagasaki.

Above picture source: Amazon & Nowpublic

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