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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

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  665 ratings  ·  102 reviews
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 the props of game theory and behavioural economics to provide an insight into the difficult conundrum of why we are the way we are.

He puts under the scanner our attitudes towards rationalit
Hardcover, 170 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK)
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Nov 19, 2011 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
Aryan Prasad
The author uses Game Theoretic Framework to answer the questions on why Corruption is so wide spread in India, why we are not much interested in public cleanliness etc.

While parts of the book was entertaining, I did not like the Author's looking down attitude towards his fellow countrymen.
A Man Called Ove
Firstly, this is not about games but game theory. The author uses game theory to explain why Indians lack civic sense and he does a good job of it - for beginners atleast !
Have read a bit about game theory earlier in “The Selfish Gene” by Dawkins and we all know the problems of and in India. What about solutions that work ?
Dec 28, 2007 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.

Kuljinder Singh
May 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
a big bore my total waste
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
An Indian take on game theory. Interesting theory, pedantic.
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Attempts to explain "Indianness" (of people living in India) using game theory/behavioural economics. Every sentence, feeling, complaint is VERY relatable as someone who grew up in India. Was a good, engaging read.

Although I must add that it does serve as a little depressing reminder of our state of affairs (and if you are someone who thinks that writing negative things is harmful to India's image, let me save you some money, don't buy it, it's not for you).
Sundar Raj
Jun 18, 2014 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
Nov 20, 2015 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
Sep 29, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 05, 2011 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
Nov 17, 2012 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
Nov 19, 2012 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.
Supreet Kaur
Apr 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Starts well, but ends up becoming quite repetitive around the prisoners’ dilemma.
There is one chapter focused on the mindset of lowest common denominator, which I found the most enlightening (it was corroborated by numerous examples of actions taken on a global scale).
Sep 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Good book.
I know now why so many folks try to cheat me :)
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone, especially Indians. The book provides eye-opening insights through game theory and prisoners dilemma.
Malhar Lakdawala
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Okish book without much of a depth
The concepts are very briefly and vaguely discussed.
Last chapter on 'Game Theory and Gita' was a bit insightful. Else okish

Srinivas Naik
Mar 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Picked this book on a visit to India.
"The Way We Are" headline to the book was more than intriguing and Narayana Murthy's forward was also encouraging. The book purports to explain our Indian-ness (in this book the pejorative sense of the term) based on game theory principles. Well so far, so good.
The first couple of chapters actually had me rapt as the author so very accurately described the various characteristics of Indians that I at once felt connected with and ashamed at. He also discredits
Prasad Rao
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
The singular thread running through this book is the classic 'Prisoner's dilemma', a core concept in Game Theory, that the author uses to answer the question of why do Indians behave the way they do -
Creating chaos out of order, bending (if not outright breaking) rules and regulations, and demonstrating pure self-serving behavior that leads to a lose-lose situation in the long-term that leads to a sub-optimal living environment for society at large.

Raghunathan uses examples and posers througho
Amit Bagaria
Though this book makes a lot of interesting points about how we Indians are selfish and uncivilised, and is very well written by the author who has obviously done a lot of research, it's not for the average Indian reader, as there are too may references to all kinds of GAME THEORY tables and equations that the Aam Aadmi (or Aurat) will definitely not understand.

Also, quite a few typesetting/editing errors from Penguin Books. Here are some examples:
Page 21, Bullet 1: Indents are different from ot
Aniket Patil
Mar 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
I selected this book with the excitement. Excitement was an outcome of the book title. However, this book has nothing to offer. There are general talks and issues. Author tried to discuss them with some theoretical references. "Any daily newspaper reader, news follower will consider it as a sheer dumb book, written with very uninteresting way. I don't know, but author seem to be having lowest self confidence. He keeps on comparing India with other countries, how they are doing things efficiently ...more
Abhay Garg
Jan 01, 2021 rated it liked it
The book is a good reflection on the psyche of general psyche of Indians while taking everyday decisions and smartly draws parallel from game theory. However , beyond a point and having already made a point , it becomes too much of rant. You will feel comfortable in skimming through large parts of the book for the same reason. Also , the book is more an observation and does not even attempt to get into historical reasons of 'Why we are the way we are' so the title can be misleading. All in all, ...more
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
An interesting topic with a lot of scope but poor analysis and lack of real experiments especially statistically proving the difference between indian and global behavior. Most of the book ends up being a repetition of prisoner's dilemma and tragedy of commons with superficial marks on Indian behavior from time to time with repetitive examples. You start off real excited expecting to gather new insight to an interesting topic but the book loses you halfway through it. To better understand the sa ...more
Jun 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Good, smart collection of our die-hard habits as Indians.
But it went into too many of them and may be a tad too negative.
My expectation from the book was matching my own thoughts on how we could change the mental models of Indians. Partially discussed in the book but a whole left still left on the table for all of us to brainstorm and make the change. Overall interesting anecdotal way of understanding what we do, and why we continue to do it as Indians.
Romil Bhat
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
I knew most of things if not all, so from “learning something new” perspective it was a waste. However the way author correlates game theory to describe the generic Indian mindset and the larger issues that we have, is something for which one can rush through this book. That said, for most people this alone might not be the reason enough...
Pratik Kothari
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Some of the concepts mentioned in the book like “tit for tat” is really good and gives a new framework to think along. But loads of examples (specific to Indians) are not based on scientific testing and mere output of surveys done at a party! Shouldn’t rely on it. Author draws attention to all the right shortcomings we have as Indians, but carries a very pessimistic feel to it.
Aug 15, 2020 rated it liked it
The book mostly complains about what is wrong with behaviours of Indians, and once in a while applies the lens of Prisoner's Dilemma to situations.

Light read, don't expect much insight, the book reads like a typical evening conversation with friends where you discuss what's wrong with the country and why
Jan 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
I found it very verbose and running around a point endlessly without making the point. I left it after reading 43 pages of 156 pages that it has. Was looking to learn some insights about Indian culture but they have to be digged out if they are there.
Suresh Wadhwani
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Was expecting too much from the book. Though I got gew good pointers that largely revolves around how Indians behave in different situations and why they do so. But noticed that same point is being presented again and again in different way.
Navneeth Baliga
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: indie-books
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