I just finished reading a very small and interesting book called ‘An Economist’s Miscellany written by Kaushik Basu’. Mr. Basu seems to be a renowned economist in India which I did not know before I read the book. He is currently the Chief Economic Advisor to Indian Government/Prime Minister and works from Finance Ministry, New Delhi.
Before that a PhD in Economics, Mr. Basu was professor in Delhi University and as a visiting Faculty to other US Universities.
The book is about Economics, his travel reporting, his memoir, his thoughts on current social and political events, and lots more deep thought issues relating to social sciences. He writes on everything and makes the book very very intelligible, easy to understand, relevant and interesting. The book mainly contains the adapted versions of his already published newspaper articles which were written on different subjects. In the book, he makes Economics a very easy one sans derivative, anti-derivative, i.e. without using calculus, without any sorts of quantitative techniques and therefore, makes the complex concepts of economics a very easy one and very easy to understand. He does not go after theorist and theories while talking on economics. He talks of normal social events to demonstrate how things are from economist’s angle.
However, it should not be construed or misconstrued as economics book. It is not. If you want to read economics as per the syllabus prescribed by world’s greatest Universities or searching for some standard textbook on economics, this is not. This is a whole point how this book covers economics of common man for common man and to understand the economics concepts from Basu’s book, you need not have in-depth knowledge of economics. This is a beauty of the book. The Author demonstrates us how sexy! A economics can be without any fashion and cosmetics. The plain and simple beauty of economics, it portrays.
This is about the chapters that deal with economics. But, Mr. Basu deals on more things than economics alone in his book. As already said, he deals on travels and arts. He deals with sexual, minority and women rights. He talks on laws on land acquisitions; he talks on same sex rights; he talks on government enterprises like Air India how badly managed they are! Therefore, the economist gives you handful of things on various subjects and on subjects on much more than economics itself.
After his articles are chronicled in the book, there are two short stories translated from Bengali to English. The first one deal with money lending business and second one is on religious superstition. Whole book is written in a light hearted manner and so, these two stories also appear to be. These both the stories, I had heard and read before long time back and to read them after a long time, was a very refreshing. In the end, there is a play and put in a lighter manner about Profession, conference and love. The story revolves round Delhi University and Train Journey to Banaras (Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh India), and then, a professor snatching (of course not literally) other man’s wife and marrying (?) with her who happens to be a very bright student of the professor in Philosophy many years ago in Delhi University. And the book is over.
While reading this book, nowhere you feel bored. Since the book itself is a small one, and there are multiple short articles, stories, essays, you can read them without any difficulty. The lucid manner of writing makes each article interesting. You have to travel with Authors to various places around the world and he shows you the world’s some of the best Universities, Professors, of course economists, arts, and museums. Therefore, at no point, you feel fatigued from the book.
The Oxford University Press has taken care to publish the beautiful book and the paper quality is a finest one. Nicely hard covered and appropriately priced, (Of course, I bought with discount from one of the Indian online e-commerce sites and I recommend you to check many of them before you purchase, you get wholesome discount), the book is a one who every intellectual and common man must read it. You must read not because you become economist overnight but it teaches you the quality of being simple and the pleasure of reading stuffs which are simple and therefore, beautiful.
I had almost forgotten one aspect of the book that was: author frequently makes reference to his mother. Maa was 90 years old woman and always with love and insights to the author who lately started losing memory power and the Author lost her in October, 2010. Our condolence to Mr. Basu on her demise!
Overall, I rate the book 4/5 and strongly recommend reading and sharing your views.