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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

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  452 Ratings  ·  72 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
Hardcover, 170 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK)
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May 20, 2012 Santhosh rated it liked it
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
Sundar Raj
Nov 04, 2014 Sundar Raj rated it it was amazing
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
Aditya Patil
Jan 10, 2016 Aditya Patil rated it it was amazing
Having studied game theory in my first term of MBA made this book an exciting read. V Raghunathan has done a quiet detailed research on the reasons of Indians breaking rules, though I must say, the author, at times takes a very defensive stance, about his views not being the only right view, which again is a sign of modesty as well as badgering off any possible controversies. I admired how he connected Gita with game theory. Any Indian can connect with the examples author has given in this book ...more
Nov 17, 2012 Jamuna rated it really liked it
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
Srawan Kumar Kamatala
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 22, 2011 Salil rated it liked it
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
Jan 04, 2016 Divakar rated it it was ok
A disclaimer before I start the review…I bought this book some 6-7 years but never read it. The title pulled me to the book (and also possibly the foreword by NR Narayan Murthy - which was printed boldly on the cover) but could never go beyond the first 10-15 pages.

As an older and not necessarily a wiser person and I gingerly reopened the book as it resurfaced during the recent house shifting.

What is this man trying to write about? Is it about the idiosyncrasies of Indians and then trying to exp
Nov 19, 2012 Alok rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 03, 2008 Rishi rated it liked it
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.

Sep 04, 2015 Jonathan rated it liked it
A sometimes lighthearted, sometimes serious look at Indian culture and what game theory tells us about how the norms and habits of this great and frustrating country have developed, and how they could be improved for our own good.

The author's critiques of Indian culture are primarily anecdotal, but strike true. They are most powerful when they come from his description of his own heart and tendencies. The game theory examples he then applies to those cultural conundrums are apt and powerful. To
Jun 14, 2013 Ramkumr rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone, especially Indians. The book provides eye-opening insights through game theory and prisoners dilemma.
Sep 11, 2010 Sachin rated it liked it
Good book.
I know now why so many folks try to cheat me :)
Anil Khandelwal
Jan 04, 2015 Anil Khandelwal rated it really liked it
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
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
Apr 13, 2014 s rated it really liked it
Notes on the book and NOT a review. Goodreads has a really low character count for reasons I don't understand.

(view spoiler)
Giridhar Pai
Mar 19, 2013 Giridhar Pai rated it did not like it
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
Feb 11, 2008 Sunil rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews, india
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
Oct 24, 2014 Priti rated it liked it
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...
Jun 05, 2013 Krrithiya rated it liked it
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
Deepanker Kaul
May 25, 2016 Deepanker Kaul rated it it was amazing
Using game theory to discuss "Why we are the way we are"!! A brilliant take on the contemporary Indian, discussing his rationality and why he does what he does, which lead to the present day consequences.
Borrowing a quote i would summarize as, "if there is one book that you are going to read this year, it should be V. Raghunathan's 'Games Indians Play'. "
Samrat Roy
Sep 20, 2016 Samrat Roy rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for all Indians who wonder where do we go wrong (if at all they do accept that we do). This book examines our behaviour patterns using game theory and highlights the basic traits that makes us the way we are. Our penchant for flouting norms and rejecting systems, our tendency of free riding and how it transforms into our knack for corruption. My favourite part of the book was where V Raghunathan examines Bhagwadgeeta using Game theory.
Yoosaf Abdulla
The book shows good statistics on Indian economy. The way in which author comparitively study the behavior of India's boom and bust using game and psychology theorems are really inovative. a bit difficult to understand due to usage of jargon on an average level needs to be noted.
Asha Prabhacar
Aug 09, 2014 Asha Prabhacar rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 03, 2015 Aswati Surendran rated it liked it
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.
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
Pavel Chopra
Aug 16, 2014 Pavel Chopra rated it really liked it
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.
Neha Mungekar
Apr 24, 2016 Neha Mungekar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Indians are privately smart and publicly dumb', this sentence gives an idea of the mood of this book. The author has brilliantly analysed the various behavior that we Indians portray through Game Theory. He has later reviewed some of our National Policies using the same framework. He has very logically and through his witty anecdotes, flagged out how citizens themselves have pulled on this situation. A simple, fast paced book, that reasons the very root of why we are the way we are, and hoping ...more
Ajit Oke
couldn't agree more with numerous examples quoted from the real life. Interesting linkages to Game theory leaves us looking for more such scenarios from our day-to-day lives.
Mar 06, 2015 Nafee rated it liked it
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.
Dec 26, 2015 Rukmini rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Starts promisingly; ends in 'old crank' territory. A lot of statements in the book may very well be true, but aren't supported by evidence.
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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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