By Vivek Dehejia and Rupa Subramania. Grade: B+
Indianomix – Making Sense of Modern India is a great read for those who are inquisitive and want to understand the application of economics in the real world. The book revolves around everyday questions and tries to answer “why things happen the way they do?” in a non-conventional style. While scanning various events under an economist’s lens, both the authors give a fresh perspective to everyday thinking and uncover some very fascinating facts.
The book encapsulates a number of research papers prepared by economists around the world and use them to answer some very interesting questions.
“Why does the stock exchange dip during a lunar eclipse? Why dont cars with safety features lead to fewer injuries? Why did Nehru ignore the Chinese threat in the lead-up to the 1962 war? Why is it that a stranger might risk his life to save yours on one day, and a street full of passers-by might casually watch you bleed to death on another? Why did pollsters wrongly predict a BJP victory in 2004, and what was the real reason for their defeat? And why is Indias Independence Day not, in fact, on the day on which it is celebrated?
In pithy, sparkling, bite-sized chapters, economists Vivek Dehejia and Rupa Subramanya tackle these seeming mysteries and unearth the real reasons why we are like this only. The answers are entertaining and surprising at every turn, and reveal a picture of modern India as never seen before.”
The book cover requires a special mention; it is groovy and engaging which attracts your attention instantly, but the cover picture perplexed me. I spent endless minutes correlating it to the title. But the good was that at least I started the book on a curious note.
The book starts with an introduction on how economics can be applied in the real world problems, how problems can be viewed from different angle and further explains as to how different complex concepts work behind a seemingly simple problem. Each chapter talks about a number of practical problems interwoven together under a broad framework which helps you connect the dots and facilitates comprehension of the whole concept. The authors largely follow a set pattern in each chapter wherein a set of problems is introduced, followed by explanation of a concept and then problems are unlocked miraculously one by one.
The book moves on from one concept to another in no time, making the reading experience a delight. I, for one, have been having waiting for such a book on the nascent topic of behaviourial economics, after the immense success of Freakonomics.
“When you dig below the apparent chaos of India, and get to the deeper mechanisms hidden below the confusing patterns on top, India makes sense after all.”
Indianomix does not focus exclusively on any one field and has a range of topics but the theme that binds all the topics is that data and reasoning should be given prominence over popular belief. This is the first India-centric book which makes this point and hence is a must read for all.