Though I dress very traditionally (salwar kameez , plaited hair , oil in hair – my choice), my business as an online publisher is related to domain names and web hosting which is “high tech” by Indian standards and I often wonder why my way of thinking is so different from others. I grew up in Goa in the 70’s and 80’s when it still had a strong Portuguese influence (it was liberated from portugal in 1961), admission to IIT Bombay was based on merit and Larsen & Toubro where I worked in the 1990’s had a European / professional work culture. In last decade I have devoted almost all my time to my business and have had a very limited interaction with typical / traditional Indian families.
Reading “Mistaken Modernity” by Dipankar Gupta was a revelation, it shows that though people may be outwardly modern in the clothes and their material possessions, many of them are not modern in their thinking , they lack the ability to appreciate merit or innovate.
The section on the status of women in the chapter “Tenacious Traditions”, explains why I am almost always incorrectly addressed as “Sir” instead “Miss” especially when I enquire about technical stuff like USB to SATA / IDE cables . It also touches on why rumours (which are often baseless and not supported by facts) flourish in India and why so many people believe them.
If you are planning an ecommerce (or related) business then Chapter 3, It Just Isn’t Cricket is a must read. The author has described a modern society as one in which the achievements and hard work of the individual are recognised and laws are the same for everyone. However changing the mindset of people takes time.
Mistaken Modernity, India between worlds by Dipankar Gupta
Publishers : HarperCollins India with The India Today Group, Fourth Impression : 2007
The story of Anupama who is afflicted by leukoderma but rebuilds her shattered life, importance of “status” and lack of scientific temper in India today. Also on how some doctors in India , who despite having a formal science education do not overcome the superstitions, meaningless rituals and blind faith in dealing with people in their personal life. They sometimes lack sympathy while treating their patients.
Mahashweta by Sudha Murty
Pages : 154
Publisher: Penguin India
One of the best books I have read about real Indian culture, society and morals. Reading this book helps me understand why
- it is so difficult for a entrepreneur with only professional qualifications and experience but no family background or community support to establish himself or herself
- ecommerce has not taken off
Being Indian by Pavan K Varma
Pages : 238
Publisher : Penguin Books India
Ambani & Sons By Hamish McDonald is an updated /revised version of the author’s earlier book, The Polyester Prince – the rise of Dhirubhai Ambani. The Polyester Prince was never published in India , and today 2 used copies are available online at Amazon for $909.90 and $999 + shipping (the list price of the book was $15.95) .
The book provides information on the family background of the Ambanis, their Modh Bania community , the financial network, political connections and affiliations and their rise to become the richest Indians in the country. The most interesting part of this book for me was the intelligence network developed by Indian family owned businesses to keep track of current and potential allies and rivals, something they don’t teach you in college and a job in conventional big companies.
Ambani & Sons By Hamish McDonald
Pages : 396
Publisher : Roli Books – The Lotus Collection
In recent months , I have greatly increased reading of books and magazines because
- The quality of the online content available is poor
- the same advertising is shown repeatedly
It is also much more simpler to order books online.