Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Poor Economics: Rethinking Poverty & the Ways to End it - Kitabi Karwan Repost

Poor Economics


View this post on Instagram

Poor Economics : Rethinking Poverty and the Ways to End it by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo A perennial issue faced by academia of any kind, and economics in general, is an alleged lack of pragmatism. Laymen generally tend to be dismissive of theories, with the most common complaint being that the suggested solutions, and for that matter, the propositions themselves, are detached from ground reality. Honestly, that’s a fair attack point. The number of retrospectively flawed theories massively outweigh the successful ones. This is where this book, and the methodology adopted by J-PAL(an organisation founded by the authors of this book) exceeds expectations. Abhijeet Banerjee and Esther Duflo require no introduction. Their seminal approach to developmental economics won them the Nobel Prize for Economics last year, and this book is an amazing place to start what they propose. To put it concisely, they advocate a common sense driven and solution based approach to poverty alleviation and developmental economics in general. They choose to deliberately look beyond the myopia of high academia and embrace economics from an all-encompassing perspective. If I may attempt to be witty, they liberally use an interplay of liberal arts ranging from understanding the psychology of the poor (famous now through Richard Thaler’s idea of Behavioural Economics) to understanding the social structures of specific communities. But that’s not what I want to talk about. For me, the book was a brilliant example of how and why a holistic approach towards policy making has the potential to maximise social impact, and how seemingly puzzling dilemmas are rooted in simple notions and basic understanding of the human mind. Poor Economics is an outlier for anyone who wishes to develop a more hands-on approach towards making the world a better place and/or wishes to understand a modern approach to developmental economics in a succinct manner. #PoorEconomics #abhijitbanerjee #estherduflo #poverty #jlab #mit #economics #developmentaleconomics #endpoverty #povertyalleviation #nobelprize #nobelprizeeconomics #penguinbooks #penguinrandomhouse #penguinrandomhouseindia #book #bookstagramindia
A post shared by Kitabi Karwan (@kitabikarwan) on

A perennial issue faced by academia of any kind, and economics in general, is an alleged lack of pragmatism. Laymen generally tend to be dismissive of theories, with the most common complaint being that the suggested solutions, and for that matter, the propositions themselves, are detached from ground reality. Honestly, that’s a fair attack point. The number of retrospectively flawed theories massively outweigh the successful ones. This is where this book, and the methodology adopted by J-PAL(an organisation founded by the authors of this book) exceeds expectations.

Abhijeet Banerjee and Esther Duflo require no introduction. Their seminal approach to developmental economics won them the Nobel Prize for Economics last year, and this book is an amazing place to start what they propose. To put it concisely, they advocate a common sense driven and solution based approach to poverty alleviation and developmental economics in general. They choose to deliberately look beyond the myopia of high academia and embrace economics from an all-encompassing perspective. If I may attempt to be witty, they liberally use an interplay of liberal arts ranging from understanding the psychology of the poor (famous now through Richard Thaler’s idea of Behavioural Economics) to understanding the social structures of specific communities. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

For me, the book was a brilliant example of how and why a holistic approach towards policy making has the potential to maximise social impact, and how seemingly puzzling dilemmas are rooted in simple notions and basic understanding of the human mind. Poor Economics is an outlier for anyone who wishes to develop a more hands-on approach towards making the world a better place and/or wishes to understand a modern approach to developmental economics in a succinct manner.




Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Nehru : The Invention of India by Dr. Shashi Tharoor - Kitabi Karwan Repost



View this post on Instagram

Nehru : The Invention of India by @shashitharoor History is a cruel master. Ruthless actually. You can never be sure how future generations will view your present, or even what your past was. Hitler is probably the best example of this phenomenon. Let alone Germany, Hitler enjoyed support, both academic and otherwise across Europe. Yet, today he is reviled as the embodiment of evil. In that context, examining Nehru in modern day India is an exercise in understanding not just him, but also a country, and a society. I am not going to talk about the factual history of Nehru’s life, as I believe that his persona rose beyond his life and the events that occurred during it. Yet navigating biographies is a tricky business. Writers, and for that matter, humans are yet to transcend the barrier of bias. I guess in a way, it is impossible to not have an opinion on small acts by great people. To that extent, I was pleasantly surprised by the nuance displayed by Dr. Tharoor while talking about one of the tallest leaders of the 20th Century, given that he’s a staunch believer in Nehruvian politics, and is a key member of the Indian National Congress. He doesn’t flinch or even moderate his words while often brutally criticising some of Nehru’s penchants, decisions and thoughts. Although this reads like a complaint, it is perhaps the highest compliment that can be paid to a biography. A tall statesman, a failing father, an optimistically naive policy maker and the ever pragmatic politician, this book explores Nehru in a way most of us never have. In context of the shrill rhetoric raised in Parliament (in re Prime Minister Modi’s speech as a reply to the President’s address at the beginning of this Budget Session), most people today end up listening to either end of the spectrum. They’re either people who blame Nehru for everything that is wrong with the country today, or are staunch Nehruvians who cannot hear a word against him. Ironically, 21st century India is when Pandit Nehru matters the most to Indians, and to that extent, this book is an amazing place to start.
A post shared by Kitabi Karwan (@kitabikarwan) on



History is a cruel master. Ruthless actually. You can never be sure how future generations will view your present, or even what your past was. Think about it. Hitler is probably the best example of this phenomenon. Let alone Germany, Hitler enjoyed support, both academic and otherwise, across Europe. Yet, today he is reviled as the embodiment of evil. In that context, examining Nehru in modern day India is an exercise in understanding not just this phenomenon, but also a country, and a society.

I am not going to talk about the factual history of Nehru’s life, as I believe that the his persona rose beyond his life and the events that occurred during them. Yet navigating biographies is a tricky business. Writers, and for that matter, humans are yet to transcend the barrier of bias. I guess in a way, it is impossible to not have an opinion on small acts by great people. To that extent, I was pleasantly surprised by the nuance displayed by Dr. Tharoor while talking about one of the tallest leaders of the 20th Century, given that he’s a staunch believer in Nehruvian politics, and is a key member of the Indian National Congress. He doesn’t flinch or even moderate his words while often brutally criticising some of Nehru’s penchants, decisions and thoughts. Although this reads like a complaint, it is perhaps the highest compliment that can be paid to a biography.

A tall statesman, a failing father, an optimistically naive policy maker and the ever pragmatic politician, this book explores Nehru in a way most of us never have. In context of the shrill rhetoric raised in Parliament (in re Prime Minister Modi’s speech as a reply to the President’s address at the beginning of this Budget Session), most people today end up listening to either end of the spectrum. They’re either people who blame Nehru for everything that is wrong with the country today, or are staunch Nehruvians who cannot hear a word against him. Ironically, 21st century India is when Pandit Nehru matters the most to Indians, and to that extent, this book is an amazing place to start.

PS: The victory of the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi 2020 elections seemed like the perfect occasion to post about the biography of a man who dedicated his life to India’s freedom, development and upliftment.



Thursday, February 6, 2020

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg - Kitabi Karwan Repost



View this post on Instagram

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by @gretathunberg Have you ever been slapped? Not play slapped, but smacked really hard. Right in the face. The kind that leaves an imprint? Imagine being told that you deserve it. Even worse, knowing deep down that you really do. That’s what this book is. At the outset, it is nothing but a collection of…frankly repetitive yet evocative speeches at multiple forums harping on the same point again and again and again. But there is something about them. Something in the deadweight, exhausted, exasperated yet slightly hopeful voice of a sixteen (now 18) year old. Something in that assertive yet pleading voice that reaches deep into you and squeezes every ounce of humanity from you, forcing you to face yourself. Climate change is real. Its effects are obvious and visible, and are exponentially getting worse. Yet, all we have are empty promises, half-hearted initiatives and talk of an optimistic future. It is something Peter Singer indirectly spoke about. While coming up with his seminal theory on global justice and addressing poverty he posited that humans are likely to help a person dying in front of them, but are somehow not motivated enough naturally to save the millions they don’t see suffering. He goes on to advocate a case that they should. I believe the same is happening right now, but the difference is that the millions are actually billions of young children who will be the generation to suffer through the present inaction. Secondly, the factor which mind numbingly is paradoxical is that this so-called “invisible” future generation is actually composed of people who the present generation espouses to love, care for and adore. I apologise for the crude parallel, but the actions of the present are tantamount to pushing people into a gas chamber, blissfully ignorant of what is happening. CONTD. IN COMMENT #audiobook #audiobooks #audible #penguinaudio #audibleindia #climatestrike #ParisAgreement #KyotoProtocol #earth #kitabikarvan #bookstagram #fridaysforfuture #penguinbooks #penguinrandomhouseaudio #nooneistoosmalltomakeadifference #gretathunberg #climatechange #globalwarming #ghg #greenearth #greenhousegas
A post shared by Kitabi Karwan (@kitabikarwan) on

Have you ever been slapped? Not play slapped, but smacked really hard. Right in the face. The kind that leaves an imprint? Imagine being told that you deserve it. Even worse, knowing deep down that you really do. That’s what this book is. At the outset, it is nothing but a collection of…frankly repetitive yet evocative speeches at multiple forums harping on the same point again and again and again. But there is something about them. Something in the deadweight, exhausted, exasperated yet slightly hopeful voice of a sixteen (now 18) year old. Something in that assertive yet pleading voice that reaches deep into you and squeezes every ounce of humanity from you, forcing you to face yourself.

Climate change is real. Its effects are obvious and visible, and are exponentially getting worse. Yet, all we have are empty promises, half-hearted initiatives and talk of an optimistic future. It is something Peter Singer indirectly spoke about. While coming up with his seminal theory on global justice and addressing poverty he posited that humans are likely to help a person dying in front of them, but are somehow not motivated enough naturally to save the millions they don’t see suffering. He goes on to advocate a case that they should. I believe the same is happening right now, but the difference is that the millions are actually billions of young children who will be the generation to suffer through the present inaction. Secondly, the factor which mind numbingly is paradoxical is that this so-called “invisible” future generation is actually composed of people who the present generation espouses to love, care for and adore. I apologise for the crude parallel, but the actions of the present are tantamount to pushing people into a gas chamber, blissfully ignorant of what is happening.

This collection of speeches is not perfect. Greta has been widely criticised, and to an extent, rightly so, for not being, for a lack of a better term, pragmatic. She proposes no solution. She talks about inventions that haven’t been made yet or are impossible to implement on scale (yet). But that is something she, and no sixteen year old can ever be held guilty for. It simply isn’t her domain. No child should be held responsible for such a burden. After all, when you are drowning in the middle of the ocean miles away from the nearest coast, you won’t be asking for a boat or a ship or a floating device. You’ll scream, shout, fight, cry in agony…all for a breath of air. To survive. To live. That’s all Greta is saying. “I want to live. Please make sure I do”


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Low by Jeet Thayil - Kitabi Karwan Repost




View this post on Instagram

Low by @jeet.thayil Orderly chaos. This oxymoron has always stood out for me as a perfect metaphor of the world around us. Most of us love to pretend that there is a semblance of structure, clear cut emotions and reality. But what we don’t want to acknowledge is that we’re wrong. That the world is not just grey, it is filthy grey. It’s grim, dirty and downright punishing. What we refuse to acknowledge, is what Thayil thrives in. In a beautifully written book, he has somehow managed to pen the most moving, touching and yet downright disgusting ode to a city that is exactly that. A mud and muck covered monster that will swallow you whole, but you’ll love it. His drug addict protagonist is sharply aware of both the lows and highs(pun intended) of his habit, and is enthralled by it. A purist and a conservative reader might recoil and shrivel on reading his words, but at the heart of the book is the story of a broken man, a recent widower struggling with the loss of perhaps the only person who understood him, and ironically, the one person he never completely understood. Low is extremely subtle in its narrative, capturing nuances which most works ignore. Reading it is in itself an intoxication if the substance marred underbelly of Bombay, one which shows the city at its disgusting best and beautiful worst. #Low #JeetThayil #Mumbai #Bombay #Maximumcity #drugs #heroin #cocaine #suicide #death #love #marriage #Book #Books #Kitab #KitabiKarwan #fiction #reading #bookstgram #bookstagrammer #hardcover #2020 #faberandfaber #faberandfaberbooks #uk #hallucination #realism #psychedeliabook #dark #depth
A post shared by Kitabi Karwan (@kitabikarwan) on

Orderly chaos. This oxymoron has always stood out for me as a perfect metaphor of the world around us. Most of us love to pretend that there is a semblance of structure, clear cut emotions and reality. But what we don’t want to acknowledge is that we’re wrong. That the world is not just grey, it is filthy grey. It’s grim, dirty and downright punishing.

What we refuse to acknowledge, is what Thayil thrives in. In a beautifully written book, he has somehow managed to pen the most moving, touching and yet downright disgusting ode to a city that is exactly that. A mud and muck covered monster that will swallow you whole, but you’ll love it. His drug addict protagonist is sharply aware of both the lows and highs(pun intended) of his habit, and is enthralled by it. A purist and a conservative reader might recoil and shrivel on reading his words, but at the heart of the book is the story of a broken man, a recent widower struggling with the loss of perhaps the only person who understood him, and ironically, the one person he never completely understood.

Low is extremely subtle in its narrative, capturing nuances which most works ignore. Reading it is in itself an intoxication if the substance marred underbelly of Bombay, one which shows the city at its disgusting best and beautiful worst.