I was travelling in a bus when i first got the mail from Yatin, asking me if i was interested in reviewing the book. Although my hands were quite full at that instant, i said yes, mainly because the title appealed to me. We live in an era of smart phones; gadgets have taken over our lives, and we are solely dependent on these machines to perform even the simplest of tasks (like calculating individual share while splitting a bill at the restaurant; earlier i would rely on my mental maths skills for the same). It is indeed not surprising that smartphones, or gadgets in general, have kick-started a degenerative evolution in humans, a scientific study regarding the same would be a delightful read. With the same expectation i said yes to Yatin. Although i had to wait a month to lay my hands on the book, the experience was quite disheartening, to say the least.
While the title of the book prompted me into thinking that the book is about how technology has taken over our lives and turned us into “dumb” people, only the initial few chapters cited a few examples in this regard. The author has mostly explained throughout the book, how technology can be put to use for the good of humankind, and the vast areas of technological advancements that still lie uncovered. The book is a short “Dummy Guide” for budding social entrepreneurs; it boosts your zeal towards working for the society and bringing the change you wish to see.
For a reader like me, who is not even remotely inclined to become an entrepreneur, it was a painstakingly sluggish read. While i appreciate the author’s innovative ideas and fresh approach towards technology, as a reader i felt i was reading a text meant for business schools. More like a collection of blog posts, the book does not offer any insight to this “dumb” reader, how “smart” phones can actually make a difference.
My friends in start-ups or B-schools can give this book a shot.
My Rating – 2/5 stars
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Indian mythology is a subject that has always appealed to me. Introduced to the fantasy tales from Ramayan, Mahabharata, Jataka, Puranas or Vedas, translated to Bengali by Leela Majumder or Upendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury, at an early age, and then moving on to reading them in Sanskrit or English, the mythical world of Devas, Asuras, Apsaras, Rishi and munis never failed to amaze me. What was lost in these narratives was the inherent message in the tales. While most authors dwell on the surface, rarely has anyone taken a plunge into the depth of the words, trying to enlighten Indians with the rich heritage of wisdom carried by the mythical tales. Devdutt Pattanaik falls in the latter category, and enjoys a high position in the list of my favourite writers.
The fixation of Indians with management is a topic for extensive research. Every year the number of aspirants for top management institutes in India just goes up manifold. And the lucky ones who emerge from these business schools join elite companies and join the mad world of rat race and corporate survival. Despite rich heritage and cultural past, India currently relies heavily on Western concepts to run not only the state but businesses at grassroots level as well. But if we delve a little into the sea of treasure of our folk-lore or mythology, we would be able to create a build a business model that will not only be successful but will be consistently growing. Integration of Indian theology and management – this forms the crux of Devdutt Pattanaik’s latest offering to book lovers.
“Mythology is the map of the mind. Management is the expression of the mind.”
says the author at one point in the book. Elucidating his point with simple examples borrowed from the tales of Mahabharat, Ramayan, Puran or Buddhist as well as Jain mythology, Pattanaik makes his subject not only interesting, but appealing as well. With pictorial depictions of concepts and corollaries drawn in the modern corporate environments, the author easily makes the reader see how relevant our “archaic texts” still are.
I am reminded of a post by me on Facebook a few days ago – “Who said bonded labour has been abolished? Corporate sector is nothing but slavery….” Reading Devdutt’s book reinforced my notion. Businesses, in an urge to multiply profits, overlook and often neglect employee satisfaction – leading to high attrition. Ultimately business suffers. Throughout the book, Pattanaik beautifully explains the follies in the current system, without being overbearing or painstakingly monotonous (which most business school textbooks are). Breaking up the whole text into Three Parts and several sub-sections, not Pattanaik lucidly puts his point across, without using jargons and tongue-twister terms.
Business Sutra – A Very Indian Approach to Management is definitely a book i would want to keep in the “elite” row of my book shelf. It would be interesting to know what Pattanaik plans as the next treat for his readers.
My Rating – 4/5 stars
P.S. I wish to apologise to Blogadda for the delay in publishing of the post. Due to ill-health and career health, the book had completely slipped off my mind. I will ensure this experience is never repeated.
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Seldom do you come across a book that becomes so much a part of your existence, that the lines of reality and fiction blur, leading to a surreal experience. One such encounter happened with me while reading “A Thousand Splendid Suns” a few years back. Khaled Hosseini works his magic yet again, more refined and mature in his writing style this time. “And The Mountains Echoed” is not just a tale of love shared by a brother and sister, separated in childhood, it is a magnum opus criss-crossing across continents, narrating the various of facets of human existence, laying thread-bare the raw emotions harboured in the human mind, and delving into the depths of the complexities of relationships.
I could not think or react for quite sometime after completing the book. I wept for full five minutes as i finished reading the last line. Khaled Hosseini has scripted a tale of love, in its various forms – pure, undying love that drives our lives. Spanning a period of 50 years, zooming across continents, Hosseini so effortlessly pens down human emotions. Hosseini is gifted with an eye for detail. The way he describes a scene, you can almost see it float in front of your eyes. A wizard of words, Hosseini’s writing reminds me of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. I cannot think of another writer who has managed to make me feel so strongly associated with the characters, in their distress.
Khaled Hosseini loves his country, Afghanistan, and that reflects in his work immensely. The country almost emerges as a character in this tale of love. The upheavals and challenges, the political uncertainty, wars and the rebuilding of the great nation, are well chronicled through the eyes of the narrators in every chapter. Afghanistan’s fall almost reverberates in the lives of the lead characters, taking them through the highs and lows of life.
I will forever cherish this book. It has the capacity to rattle your soul.
My Rating: 5/5 stars
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Elections come and go, political parties fight it out with blood and sweat and finally the voice of the people reigns supreme. West Bengal, which had been under the rule of the Communists for over three decades, had a bloody tradition of elections, where candidates against the ruling party were threatened, intimated, their family members kidnapped, which in most cases led to the huge victory margins of the Left Front in elections. Things changed a lot post 2006, with S.Y. Qureshi as the Chief Election Commissioner, who revolutionised the process of polling, leading to a true reflection of people’s mandate.
In 2011, riding high on the anti-Left mood in the state, and the credibility established as a resolute fighter who cares for people, Mamata Banerjee unseated the Left from power and became the Chief Minister of West Bengal. Some bad decisions and actions and manufactured outrage in TV studios outside Bengal almost led people to believe that people of Bengal want this government out at the earliest instant. It would be naive to say that the current regime of Bengal has performed outstandingly. It would also be foolish to assume that this government would convert Bengal into an “oasis of peace” (remember Bantala rape?) within 2 years of being in power. But has the eletorate in Bengal given up hope on the current regime? If a series of elections in the past 2 years have to be believed, it definitely has not; the latest bypoll for Howrah Lok Sabha seat is a good example in this regard.
The first election in Bengal ever since Trinamool broke away from the UPA, the Howrah bypoll was touted as the “litmus test” for Mamata Banerjee. In the past two elections in Howrah, Congress and TMC fought together, leading to a huge loss in votes for the CPM, so much so that in 2011 Bidhan Sabha polls, Left did not have a single MLA from this Lok Sabha seat.
In 2011, while the % of votes polled by the alliance was 54%, Left managed a meager 37%. Even BJP, which has a hold in pockets of Howrah, managed to garner 5% of total votes polled. This time, TMC and Congress fought separately and received 44% and 10% votes respectively while CPM increased its tally to 41%. The BJP did not take part in the contest. If one goes through the history of polling in Howrah, one would see undivided Congress or Congress without TMC had an average vote share of 15% in Howrah. So, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Congress lost 4% of its share. However, the total vote share of TMC+Cong remains static at 54%. So how did CPM raise its vote%? Clearly the vote-bank of BJP (5%) must have gone that way.
Let us move back in time a little. Last year, after Trinamool pulled out of UPA, Jangipur constituency went to polls. Pranab Mukherjee’s son contested in the election. In 2009, when the current President of India was a joint candidate of TMC-Congress, he won against Left by a margin of 1,28,149 votes. However, in the bypoll TMC did not field a candidate as a mark of respect for Pranab Da. It was a two-way fight and his son managed to scrape through by a margin of 2,500 votes. Compare this to the vote margin in Howrah in 2009 and 2013. Despite an alliance in 2009, late Ambica Banerjee won by a margin of 37,000 votes, while Prasun Banerjee managed to defeat his rival by 27,000 votes; this despite a three-way contest and break-up of TMC and Congress. Does this not prove that TMC’s strength in Bengal is on a surge while Congress is facing a rout?
For the cynics, i would provide another example. Last year 6 municipalities had gone to polls. Trinamool, Congress and Left fought separately and won 4, 1 and 1 municipality respectively. In 2007, the result was TMC 1, Congress 2, Left 3. Clearly, another indication that people’s mandate was in favour of the current government of West Bengal. Panchayat polls later this year and municipal elections in 2015 would give a better picture of the voice of the people. As of now, i am contended to assume (not without logic) that the hope that people had placed on Poriborton, has not thinned yet.
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I would not pretend to be a fair critic of music here or try to dissect the intricacies or technicalities gone into creating one of the most memorable albums of 2013 so far. It is not unknown to anyone that i am a blind fan of A R Rahman sir (my phone’s bluetooth is named Rahmaniac) but i hope and believe that everyone else will concur with me on my view of Raanjhanaa’s music.
After a disastrous album Jab Tak Hain Jaan (for which I blame Yash Chopra more than Rahman sir), Raanjhanaa comes as a breath of fresh air. Although we did get some mesemrising compositions in Kadhal or Maryaan, none can match the standards of Raanjhanaa in any way. Reminiscent of the ARR of the late 90′s and early 2000′s, every song in the album has an element of Rahman ingrained in them. Like the good old days, Rahman sir experiments with Indian instruments and sound, leaving me – a great admirer of Indian classical music (instrumental) – jumping with joy. The ensemble of artists that Rahman sir has put together in the album, would make any Rahman fan nostalgic – from teaming up again with Sukhwinder to a duet of Shreya Ghoshal and prodigy Anwesha Dattagupta, Rahman sir proves yet again he is a musical genius.
Raanjhanaa Title Track - Sung by Jaswinder Singh and Shiraz Uppal, the song has some brilliant interludes. At a point of time, the Sitar almost reminded me of Pt Ravi Shankar’s compositions for Pather Panchali. However, the song was ruined by a shoddy editing.
Banarasiya - As soon as I heard this song, i pinged Bham on Hangout to tell him about it. Reminiscent of Zubeidaa, the song is a brilliant mix of indian classical with western sound.
Piya Milenge - Sukhwinder is back with Rahman sir, and what a comeback it is! A soft Sufi rock, the composition has shades of Noor-Un-Ala from Meenaxi. The words will hit you in the soul, Sukhwinder’s enchanting singing being an added bonus.
Aye Sakhi - I wasn’t sure whether i like this song, until the portion came where Madhuree, Chinmayee and other singers start humming “Tyun Tyun”. THAT was the high point of the composition and made me listen to the number in a loop, with a child-like glee.
Nazar Laaye - You know what happens when Neeti Mohan and Rashid Ali are paired up for a song? History is created. A seemingly simple composition, with even the minutest details of the song expressed like a poem, this is one song you can cherish on a rainy day, trying to touch the droplets of rain on the other side of the glass pane of the window.
Tu Munn Shudi - Passionate, innovative and extremely seductive, Rabbi and Rahman add new dimensions of class to Indian film music. The blend of west and east is perhaps reflected best in this song, among the rest.
Aise Na Dekho - Anyone listening to the song for the first time would invariably think that it is similar to the title track of Jaane Tu Ya Jane Na. Well, the genre is same, but this song is more haunting. The first antara is so well written that it brings tears to your eyes! Rahman sir always reserves the best song of the album for himself
Tum Tak - By now i must have listened to this song at least hundred times. Javed Ali’s voice and the shehnai make you wish you could dance!
All in all, a very romantic album by Rahman sir, Raanjhanaa surely breaks the saying that Rahman gives his best only for Mani Ratnam.
My Rating: 4/5 stars. Happy Listening
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