I read this book as a requirement of a course I was doing. The stories are interesting but the presentation is one of the worst I have come across.
BadI read this book as a requirement of a course I was doing. The stories are interesting but the presentation is one of the worst I have come across.
Bad language, interrupted flow of thoughts, and to many - I repeat - too many paragraph breaks. It feels like someone is outlining the story, before you write the story and then completely forgot to flesh out the story, read it aloud and see if it makes sense. You will need to put in a lot of effort to read this book.
If it was well-written, this could have well become a a motivational and an inspirational book....more
I did not have a specific expectation of the book, when I started it - having known about the Grameen initiative and its activities. I started reading this book as a part of a course that I am doing (required reading). In reading the book, however, many ideas, thoughts and guiding philosophies came to the fore. It is quite revealing about how the idea of micro-credit has worked, their systems, processes, and importantly - the role of the "human" factor in a business (whether social or profit-oriented).
It is a simple read, employs simple language. It is also a smooth read - something that you do not encounter quite often, these days. There may be a good reason for this. Muhammad Yunus knows exactly what he believes; perhaps that's the reason for his articulation. He works with such a broad spectrum of people; perhaps that's the reason for the simplicity of presentation. It is, really a story book: a story of the Grameen initiative, the genesis, the growth and the future. There are a few compelling and innovative ideas and thoughts for businesses of all sorts - the focus, undoubtedly on social businesses. Not all of them are laid out on a platter for you in a bulleted list or in a grid like a standard management help book. But without explicit mention or presentation, they come to the fore.
As I neared the end of the book, however, I felt a sense of obstinate and inflexible stand on the constitution of a social business and the ideas for the future of social business and the new world order became slightly vague and romantic even. For someone who invented the concept of a social business, I found this stand -- of strictly separating financial and social profit -- suffocating. No doubt, he provides good reason for this strict separation; to my mind, however, it is the basis of confining a mind to think further. When the description of an innovative idea (the Grameen initiative) disallows further innovation (that has a chance of making it popular and bringing more people to the idea), it seems counter-productive.
It is still a good book and it still worth reading....more
I don't remember the last time, a "text book" was this interesting. I just finished reading Visual Culture and it more than made for interesting readiI don't remember the last time, a "text book" was this interesting. I just finished reading Visual Culture and it more than made for interesting reading. It is a thickish book - and I'll admit - it seemed daunting when I picked it up.
There is however an ease to the presentation that Richard Howells achieves, which slips you in comfortably, into the intricacies and complexities of Visual Culture. You are better off reading this book with an Internet connection handy, since not all references are available in the text - for reasons explained in the book: to keep the cost of the textbook down for the benefit of the students.
The book is divided in two parts - the first deals with the theory of visual culture - almost like defining the elements of grammar that we would learn for language and the second part takes up various media that allows us to practice this grammar on them.
In the theory section, Howells covers iconology, form, art history, ideology, semiotics and hermeneutics as the tools of the trade. As soon as we use the word theory - it bring up all possible guards for most of us. However as Howells says:
Do not be afraid of the word 'theory'. Yes, it can sound dauntingly abstract at times, and in the hands of some writers can appear to have precious little to do with the actual, visual world around us. Good theory however, is an awesome thing. [...] But unless we actually use it, it borders on the metaphysical and might as well not be used at all.
Howells lives up to this premise all through the book. The tools in the first part are well-employed in the second part - media - where he covers fine art, photography, film, television and new media. There is ample historical reference to all media - and the understanding of the media from the point of visual culture is well-contextualised.
One of the most important aspects of the book, however, is that Howells goes through the motions of introducing us to the theories and their sub-theories; he convinces us about the potency of the theory, and as we are about to be convinced of it, he flips it - and asks us to look at the opposite side of it - with equal conviction. He forces us to consider a theory in its own right - and demands that we draw our own conclusion and the application of a theory to a media form.
If you are new to visual culture and are intrigued by it, this is definitely a good start. Remember to have an Internet-enabled device handy. The references are many and useful....more
Given my interest in education and generally the paradox that the Right to Education Act is all about, this seemed to be a good book to pick up. Being shrink-wrapped, when I saw it in the book store, I was left to judge the book only by its cover - and the author bios on the back cover.
I am terribly disappointed by this book.
For one, it seems that this was supposed to be primarily to be just a paper and few thoughts that have been converted to a book. There is significant repetition of nay, not just paragraphs, but pages altogether. Many sentences find their way back into the text matter shamelessly, with unfailing regularity. The editor has done a shoddy job, ("short of human capital by 17 millions"), and Indian words like "melas" are not marked out in any way.
As far as the core content of the book, it does not provide any fresh perspective on the Act - the challenges and the solutions mentioned in the book have been argued ad nauseam. The research material from which certain assumptions are derived are very limited, and are repeatedly referred in the book. There is a vast amount of literature out there from organisations like NEUPA and UNESCO and the MHRD site, which does not find any mention in the book.
At the end of the book, I felt that this book was not written by the authors; they have just lent their name to it. Further, for such a low-quality publication to come out of and be endorsed by ASSOCHAM's President, Dr. Swati Piramal, was equally disappointing.
Finally, since this book did not show up in the GoodReads library, I had to add it to the library. As I filled in the details, I was very surprised to note that the blurb on jacket flaps was taken from an article by India Today.
A serious case of plagiarism, if you ask me. And a serious case of dismay....more
The story of their success is not new. It has been around for a while and has been excitedly spoken of in various business events and discussions. TheThe story of their success is not new. It has been around for a while and has been excitedly spoken of in various business events and discussions. They have made Mumbai proud by placing an otherwise taken for granted enterprise on the global map. I am, no doubt, talking of the Dabbawallas of Mumbai. Those pyjama-donned and Gandhi-cap clad busy-bees who are ubiquitous every morning during your commute to office.
I finished the very unputdownable book, Dabbawalas, by Shrinivas Pandit, yesterday, in one sitting. The entire book is a set of dialogues between the office bearers of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust and the author and Anita Dalal. The author has inserted takeaways at the end of every dialogue and has summarised them at the end of the book. It is a very simple read, does not use complicated business jargon, neither does it present an over-analytical view of the dialogues. In fact, the analysis, if you insist on calling it that, is embedded in the conversation seamlessly and does not require a separate process in your brain to comprehend that.
The dialogues provide a deep insight into the functioning of the Dabawalas: not as a process of implementation, but the philosophy and the value system of an enterprise. The dialogues often touch upon the concept of durability, which had me mesmerised, thinking of how these people look at their business and how most businesses are superficial in their mission definition.
This book is an important read for anyone in business for one very important reason. This book explores the psyche of the enterprise. Often, most business-self-help books provide you the tools of success -- describe what has been successful in one business that you may implement in yours. This is a classic posture for failure. Most processes are built on foundations of a value system that is often ignored. To adopt a process without it's underlying value system is a mistake that many businesses make. In my opinion, every enterprise is unique based on the value it creates for customers and markets. Therefore the processes that they should adopt must be derived out of the value systems that they follow. Processes that are orphaned from their biological value systems are doomed to fail or at best achieve mediocre results.
A significantly large population who knows about the Dabawalas story, will focus on their six-sigma performance -- one error in 16 million transactions (99.999999%). This would be the fallacy. Dabawalas, by Shrinavas Pandit, helps provide the perfect context of this error-rate. The context of the belief-system in mission; the spiritual density in action; a discrete single-mindedness of a business (not financial) goal, and the arresting inclusion of every stakeholder in the enterprise.
The book, if you are willing to delve in its takeaways, is even a guide for how you may live your life. Read it completely, if you want to make sense of why certain things work and why certain don't. In the fast-paced life that we live, it will be useful for us to take a few scoops from this book, rather than scrape the icing, mistaking it for the cake....more
Somewhere in the middle of September 2009, was when I started reading this book. As I went through the early pages, I slipped into a comfortable and cSomewhere in the middle of September 2009, was when I started reading this book. As I went through the early pages, I slipped into a comfortable and complacent state - I would finish reading Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River in a few of days; I'll cruise through it, I told myself.
It wasn't to be so.
The history of the river and of the 'empires' and the folklore and the community that laces this river challenged my curiosity as I, now, slowly made through the pages. The excitement that the author causes as she takes you, deftly through the caves and waterways and tunnels of 19th century history, folk-tales, social issues and right up to history that occurred a few thousands year ago - is a wonderful ride.
Your affinity for history will be of some importance as you read this book. First, because though it is on my history bookshelf, I would not classify this as a 'history' book as such. The other option is travel - but it does not sit snugly in that bookshelf, either.
To my mind, it is a biography - of a geographic feature. There is research there - loads of it - as becomes evident when you read through - yet the book is not blemished with distracting footnotes.
The writing is straightforward, simple and inviting; to participate in her adventure. And never a dull moment in that adventure (I must say warn, you have to have that streak of historic curiosity to some extent). The content very easily incorporates facts, whole stories, references, extreme emotions, and a sense of belonging. It has been a while, since I have enjoyed reading non-fiction history.
So after having started it in September 2009, I reached 2/3rd of the book by January of 2011. I cannot read books on history without context - I need maps, some background to an event, and an overview of the chronology. The book is now full of post-its and notes. For various reasons, I did not read the book after that. When I picked up the book again, earlier this month, I obviously could not recall the adventure earlier. Back to page 1. Thankfully my notes allowed me to cruise through, the pages I had read.
Pithy observation and insightful comments mark the book in equal measure. I loved the book!...more
For a long time, we have all been besotted by intelligence and intelligent people. "I didn't understand a word he said, he must be very intelligent,"For a long time, we have all been besotted by intelligence and intelligent people. "I didn't understand a word he said, he must be very intelligent," is an oft heard statement.
De Bono makes the distinction between intelligence and thinking-skill.
He uses an example of the power of eyesight and the ability to look in the right direction. Without the ability to look in the right direction, your power of eyesight is pretty useless.
From somewhere in the middle of the book, however, it all seemed to become an advertisement of all his processes and models that he has invented. It was almost a brochure.
It's a small book, and only the first half is relevant to the title....more
It's a good book. Let's start by saying only that much.
Especially the first two parts: "Voice and Heterodoxy" and "Culture and Communication". These tIt's a good book. Let's start by saying only that much.
Especially the first two parts: "Voice and Heterodoxy" and "Culture and Communication". These two sections take a very unusual take on India's history - far away from the usual format of a history book - whether written by an Indian or an outsider. And it is because Dr. Amartya Sen chooses a very narrow scheme to explore the concept of India. The language is impeccable, precise and often complex - but never confusing. For me, a paragraph like the one below, required serious slowing down:
"The absence of a conceptual congruence between different types of deprivation does not preclude their empirical proximity along a big dividing line, which is a central feature of classical class analysis."
I do realise that out-of-context it is even more vague - but even within context it took me a while to understand this concluding sentence. Perhaps it is just me.
The book, essentially, is a collection of previously written essays, some of which have been modified for the book. What this means is that there is significant repetition of certain examples and concepts and that can usually get you a but irritated. But books that are collections of essays have to be read in a different way - fairly independent of each other.
Somewhere in Part 3, I found a complete lack of the theme of argumentativeness - and that caused some reading pain. I say this, only as fair warning - not to criticise Part 3 as such. The content itself lacks nowhere; it has been researched well - and presented without emotion or unfounded passion. In the social and cultural crises that India finds itself, it may well worth be a book for most Indians to read - especially the bigots leaning on tradition and past culture. There's an interesting lesson in history for them. To the others, it is a wonderful exposition on India itself - and very interesting manner of looking at the country. For those of you who are not Indians, again, it is a fresh perspective - different from the dogma that has circulated so hard, it has created a permanent persuasion of what this country is.