Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Making of India : Gamechanging Transitions by Akhilesh Tilotia

"The old ways have got to be made irrelevant in such a comprehensive manner that they cease to remain relevant."

A brilliant book comes to an end and leaves so much to remember and ponder.
The Making of India, Kotak Securities 

I came across the book, in a talk which Arun Shourie delivered for its launch. Various sets of people, whether in policy making, students and general readers will find it of great help. The book is written in form of themes(not crude chapters) and is packed with a lot of data, its analysis, explanations on myth busting(eg. the issue of land) and most importantly a slew of macroeconomic concepts to make things very understandable. There were numerous occasions where privatization as an idea seem to be inevitably brought to the notice(in form of case studies) like private firms entering hybrid-seeds production, private firms entering distribution of water utilities(in Nagpur) etc but there was nothing as an ideological baggage and everything got substantiated with convincing arguments and data. I really liked the way the book is written, not much heavy baggage of ideology or cynicism of Indian economy. Straight, to the point prescriptions and a clear reading of changes that are sweeping our society. The book focuses mainly on the areas of 'economics' and 'governance' (not to be read as government) so it does miss covering a few extra areas like Health, Education, Energy etc. But whatever it brings out is A-grade content. The Chapter on Urbanization, E-Governance and Agriculture added a lot of analytical weight to this book.

The Book was born out of an in-house research headed by the author at Kotak Securities primarily as an aid to the understandings of investors(abroad and national).

Rating: 7/10  

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Country of First Boys by Amartya Sen

I think, as an Indian it is very important to read Sen. I find him more of an Indian diplomat who, through facts and staunch arguments puts before the world the contributions and richness of our nation and at the same time deliberates and appeals to fellow countrymen to make sense of the chaotic and parochial mentality which still grips us(for which he is flagged). He remains a work in progress to whom the ideal India is still in the making, alongside him. 

Sen's latest book, The Country of First Boys , consists of 13 essays on varied and surprisingly fresh topics out of which only 4 are written afresh for this book, with the rest coming up as compilations from various talks and lectures. One particular thing, for which this book has to be specially mentioned is Sen's coming forward on some on the confrontational issues of recent times, like his removal from Nalanda university and his apparent image of being pro-UPA/Congress. He has come clean on issues of Subsidy vs Redistribution, his desire of favoring a right wing government(surprised?, he brings the experiences of erstwhile Swatantra Party) etc. 
The chapter on Calender and how intermingling of ideas and religions have produced similarities in our dates was an interesting read. The subsequent chapters, particularly the detailed account of Nalanda University, Importance of Tagore(and humanities) and the title chapter 'The Country of First Boys' makes the book stand apart from his rest of the works. Though I must say,  there were some re-iterations of Sen's favourite concerns like Development and Freedom, the recent threats of Hinduvta coupled with a critique of the perceived hindu history of India. Globalization and its relation to Justice also finds a detailed mention in one of the chapters.
The Country of First Boys
by Amartya Sen, 2015

The Book is a 'general read', with no diverging themes. In words of Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who wrote its foreword, it should be read without an appetite for knowledge, a thirst for data or hunger for measurable quantities. It should be read for the pleasure which comes with insights.   

Rating: 7/10 

A Book of Simple Living by Ruskin Bond

In this new collection of thoughts and renderings Bond come to terms with some philosophical queries. His eccentric style of fitting in bits of nature in the most queer and mundane events makes this piece an interesting read*. However, I must say that this collection should hardly be called a Book. Its written in form of Almanac with pages of various almanacs of his past, intertwined. Its more like an advanced Bond reading, if I may say.
Bond goes on!

The Book is surprisingly revelatory for Bond's readers(especially) on page no. 60 and again on 83 and in general too gives a good amount of info about how one of the finest author of our country thinks and lives, in the form of bits of autobiographical crumbs. Off course I am not here to play the spoil sports so perhaps one might read it for themselves. :) 

*Like thinking about a sparrow and its activities when he was in Police station, waiting to be bailed out.