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Games Indians Play: Why We Are the Way We Are
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Games Indians Play: Why We Are the Way We Are

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  366 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Raghunathan writes really well . . . there are rare instances where a reviewer thinks, I wish I could write like that. This is one of those rare instances’ —Bibek Debroy in Indian Express
In a rare attempt to understand the Indianness of Indians—among the most intelligent people in the world, but also, to a dispassionate eye, perhaps the most baffling—V. Raghunathan uses th
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Hardcover, 170 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK)
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(showing 1-30 of 678)
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Santhosh
This paragraph from the book sums up the author's central argument:
When I jump a queue or a red light, or throw that garbage on the sidewalk, I am taking a rational 'squeal' decision, since it seems to get me ahead of others or make life easier for me. Here I am being privately smart.
But then, as others are no less rational, intelligent and smart, they too start squealing for the same reason and before we know it, we have unruly traffic, filthy streets and stinking urinals. So collectively we ar
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Sundar Raj
one word about this book ,' Enlightening'. I was a little bit not so sure how one can do the job explaining why India/Indians are this way. Why do we have filthy cities,chaotic traffic where everyone flouts the rules, etc..,
This book explains, using Game theory, how we are ruining ourselves by thinking selfishly. don't get me wrong, this is not a preachy book, which preaches you to act noble. no,this book clearly shows how a small change in how we behave can make a whole lot difference.
There i
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Jamuna
Interesting analysis of the psychology of the contemporary Indian. Must read for anyone trying to understand Indian society. It also tells us why the utility maximizing mentality of Indians may not be all that good in the long run - both for individual and the nation. Also helps us understand why many Western societies, which are not culturally modest like us, still managed to develop quickly by maintaining some basic standards. This is all explained with the help of Game Theory.
The first step t
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Srawan Kumar Kamatala
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Salil
I had this book with me for quite some time but always postponed reading it. I was under the wrong impression it will talk about office politics . NO. This book is not just about office politics but about us Indians and why are we very selfish in a group and rarely think of group's benefit which can maximise satisfaction for all. Author has explained this with the help of Game Theory and prisoner's dilemma ( that's where the name comes from)/ I could really identify with "break the queue at any ...more
Alok
This book is my current favorite due to the author's absolute neutral evaluation of Indians using game theory. It definitely answers the question of "why we are the way we are!"
It changes your views on Indians forever, and suddenly ignites a flame of changing our defect-defect behavior in as many Indians as we meet.
A must read for any Indian or people who deal with Indians in general.
Rishi
Jan 03, 2008 Rishi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Indians
This book takes a shot at the behaviour of Indians. But it also gives a logical reasoning to why Indians are like that.The author does that with the help of Game Theory.Using concepts like Prisoners Dilemma, the author gives a insight of how human beings make a decision, and why the decision has a profound effect on Indian's ,thereby affecting the whole system.

Ramkumr
A must-read for anyone, especially Indians. The book provides eye-opening insights through game theory and prisoners dilemma.
Sachin
Good book.
I know now why so many folks try to cheat me :)
Anil Khandelwal
The author has done a commendable job by describing people's behavior using Game Theory / Prisoner's Dilemma. He has beautifully answered the question that why and how do people (Indians) behave in various situations of prisoner's dilemma, all defecting at the same time for their own selfish gains at the cost of societal development. The author has cited various good real life examples to prove his point. The best part that I felt was the comparison of Game Theory and Gita and how the author has ...more
Abhinav
An interesting, scientific, mathematical and shamefully revealing account of the behaviour of the majority of the Indian population, this book will definitely raffle a few (an understatement?) nests in the process of reading. Raghunath's wit and humour combined with real life instances make this book a necessary recommended addition to the existing academic curricula at all levels of education in India(where else?). Though it may not cause overnight changes in behaviour, it is sure to cause a st ...more
s
Notes on the book and NOT a review. Goodreads has a really low character count for reasons I don't understand.

(view spoiler)
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Giridhar Pai
Though the title sounds interesting, the book does not live upto its name and ends up being a stretched out academic essay attempting to decipher the behaviour of Indians. The sub-title, Why We Are The Way We Are does make readers curious, but the content insides does not provide meaningful answers to that question. The author has been an academician and with strong credentials in teaching and research and he uses such experience to explain twelve canons of Indianness (as summarised by the autho ...more
Sunil
Written by V Raghunathan (not N), a renowned academician in management, I picked up the book for the cleverly parodied title and the concluding sentence in author’s biography that said To relax, he fixes mechanical clocks.

The book unfortunately wasn’t as wacko; it tries to explain the behaviour and underlying self-interested reasoning of the average Indian psyche ( which is many millions in number) using the tenets of game theory esp. Prisoner’s dilemma ( PD).

But, the book is conflated to an ext
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Priti
The book is based on game theory and the famous prisoners dilemma by John Nash.... It's gives and insight on how a C-C outlook would help all of us to win in any situation... The Tit for Tat strategy is very apt in today's world.
It also talks about how selfishness and no self regulation would at the end lead us to be nowhere.. N all this with stats and the game theory...
In all an interesting read...
Krrithiya
A book that an Indian or a person familiar with Indians can very well relate with – the cases of nepotism, cronyism, the bribery. The problems of how we behave publicly, simple observations, something that most of us are already familiar with has been overwritten listing down a zillion of them. Game theory independently taken was an interesting approach on how do “people” (Indians or otherwise) behave the way they do. Interesting examples of the same have been given. Analyzing Indians behaviour ...more
Asha Prabhacar
The first few pages caught my attention and after that it was a repetitions of the same points again and again. I get it - we need to be more self- regulated but what more? It was a long lecture session on how Indians have to rethink their way of life/attitude/tasking. Average book.
Aswati Surendran
You wouldn't find anything new here .... only cliche Indian behaviors but i liked the way he explained the psychology behind it. I have never been to any other countries so I don't know whther we are the worst in somethings he poineted out.
Srinivas
I read this book a while ago, on my manager's recommendation. Was a big disappointment especially given its grand subtitle "Why We Are the Way We Are". I was expecting a decent analysis and at least a few clues about the root cause of the mess that is our collective behavior. Instead, all that the author has provided is two hundred pages of bitching about India interspersed with few very basic game theory constructs.

Though this book doesn't offer any credible solutions game theory based or other
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Pavel Chopra
Reading this book is like seeing yourself in the mirror. Any Indian can relate to each and every word written in the book. A must read to introspect whats wrong with us and how can we improve ourselves as a society.
Nafee
This book doesn't actually explain why at all. It just points out the deficiencies that anyone who has ever been in India for longer than 2 days can see.
Utkarsh
Interesting use of game theory but repetitive and restating the questions it was supposed to answer...
Good for casual read though...
Rohit
if it was less of a rant and more of an unbiased piece of work ... it would be better
Vivek Vivek
Interesting start and promise but incomplete answer to the question what we are the way we are.

I liked its approach of using game theory; it uses a solid basis to describe the problems in observed phenomenon (of behavior of Indians) instead of using other options, such as moral or ethical basis, that are not as appealing. But it stops at description of the phenomenon and does not provide an answer (why). I would have considered it more complete if it went into potential explanations, say from o
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Srinivasan Sankaranarayanan
Interesting read, a little repetitive in my opinion.
Devraj Dutt
This book is an accurate description of the psychological reflexes a majority of Indians would have given any social or business situation using statistics/mathematics as a tool to simplify understanding. It is sad that the negative character traits that the author talks about in this book are all very true and are so commonly found in India that it is okay for the author to express them as a generalistic view. It is a great attempt at putting forward explicitly and simply the flaws of the moder ...more
Narendra
What an interesting premise for a book - inspecting India's social fabric juxtaposed to the game theory...It sent my expectations into orbit...but what a disappointment! more often than not the discussions end up being just frustrated rants. I sympathise with the author's feeling about the state of our country but that wasn't the purpose of this book, was it?

If you have the patience of distilling the interesting game theory nuggets from this writing, go for it...I had not patience.
Kaustubh Prabhu
Interesting perspective on the modern day average Indian psyche using Game Theory. The observations made are peculiar and unusual. However the author makes a compelling case that make his conclusions believable, through mathematical analysis of the choices we make and the behaviour we demonsrate. It gives a better understanding into "why we are the we are". I have a feeling that most of the things said by the author might be true, unfortunately. Rating 3.5
Komal
Being Indian - is it genetically coded, or we are hard-wired? The book doesn't answer these questions, but brings out interesting traits which we all commonly share as Indians - being privately smart but publicly dumb! Relating our behavior with the concept of Game Theory, the author did make an attempt to justify WHY WE ARE THE WAY WE ARE. Some revealing examples - jumping a signal,littering around etc; make this book a good read.
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“It is a fact that we are an ancient civilization and that up to the medieval times we were among the most advanced civilizations. The putrefaction of our civilization perhaps set in a good thousand years ago, from which time our contribution to the world went steadily downhill. But then, a glorious past can hardly be a consolation for a sorry present. That the Indus Valley civilization at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa had glorious town planning over 2000 years ago is cold consolation for our wretched present-day cities, towns and villages. While other civilizations have gone on to build upon their past, we are merely living off it and, what is more, we have been doing it for over a thousand years!” 0 likes
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