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So You Want to Know About Economics Paperback – 10 February 2017
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About the Author
From the Publisher
Conversation with Roopa Pai
WHY SHOULD WE TALK ABOUT ECONOMICS?
Here’s an idea. Pick up a notebook and pen, walk to the nearest adult, and with your most earnest face (practice in front of the mirror first), tell them you are conducting a Very Important survey for a school project. There are only two questions, so would they please give you five minutes of their time? If you live with more or less reasonable people, they will most likely agree.
When your unsuspecting victim has settled down, ask her your first question:
‘What is your opinion of Economics as a subject?’
The person you are interviewing will most likely look distinctly traumatised by the question. Then she will perhaps respond in one of the following ways.
Ø ‘Absolutely. The. Most. Mind-numbingly. Boring. Subject. On. Earth!’
Ø ‘You’d have to be a math genius to even begin to understand what the subject is about. I’m not.’
Ø ‘I passed with decent marks, but if you asked me what Economics taught me, I don’t quite, erm, know.’
Ø ‘No opinion at all. I’ve never studied it, and never been tempted to. Can I go now? I have to pee.’
Pushing on ruthlessly, ask the second question:
‘What do you think about when you think about Economics?’
People who have never studied the subject will be wonderfully vague. ‘It’s about money, right? About budgets—how a country divides the money it has? About GDP and stocks and shares and… uh, stuff to do with the Reserve Bank and the Finance Minister and taxes… and… oh all right, all right, I admit it, I don’t think about Economics at all. Please don’t judge me.’
People who have studied the subject, on the other hand, will clear their throats, sit up straighter, and proceed to throw random words and phrases at you. ‘It’s about, you know, markets and things. Supply, demand, price elasticity, externalities, cost-benefit, scarcity, resources, exchange rates, maximising utility, protectionism, globalisation, and all of them, of course, ceteris paribus…’ When they finally catch your glassy-eyed expression, they will turn up their noses and say, ‘See, it’s Very Complicated. Difficult to explain. You wouldn’t understand it.’
Only a few people—a rare species but they do exist—will smile beatifically when you ask them these questions. They will lean forward in their seats, faces animated, eyes sparkling, and tell you that Economics is the most exciting subject in the world. Over the next half hour, pinning you to your seat with their fire-and-brimstone eyes, they will tell you why they think so. This is what they might say:
1. Economics is important because it is really the study of how the world thinks and works! See, economists are really psychologists in disguise—they have looked into the deepest, darkest recesses of the human heart and discovered that all of us are essentially selfish beings at the core. But if every person is doing selfish things that only benefit him or her, how come society is doing more or less okay? Economists believe they have the answer to that Big Question, and they spend their lives figuring out how to arrange things in the world so that society benefits while people go on doing their selfish things.
2. Economists are really superheroes fighting for a fairer world! One of their lives’ Big Challenges is to figure out the best ways to share the world’s limited resources (like minerals, metals, oil, human labour, time, energy or money) amongst people who have unlimited needs, in ways that are as moral and ethical as possible. They constantly obsess over how to make things somewhat equitable for everyone—the rich and the poor, developed countries and developing countries, the healthy and the sick, and the old and the young, so that both sides benefit. They look at every problem from more than one point of view, and then they present all the different views, so that people can make the right choice for themselves.*
*Economists are so particular about looking at every problem from all sides that it often feels like they never have a firm opinion on anything. That can get pretty frustrating when you are asking them for advice. Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, once famously requested to be sent a ‘one-armed economist’, because he was so tired of hearing every economist say, ‘On the one hand, this,’ and ‘On the other hand, that’.
3. Economists are closet environmentalists. Just like environmentalists, they are constantly trying to understand how we, the 7 billion people that inhabit this planet, can get the most out of what the universe gives us for free—sunlit skies, clean air, flowing rivers, lush forests—without mindlessly destroying it and ruining things for ourselves. The two groups have very different ideas on how to make this happen, though.
4. Economists are wizards who make magical things happen with numbers. They have shown, time and again, that when, say, a billion people work together, the sum of their individual efforts is far greater than what it is supposed to be.
5. And by the way, if someone told you they didn’t think about Economics at all, they don’t know what they’re talking about, because everyone is thinking Economics all the time, even if they don’t realize it. Every time you go into a supermarket and find your favourite breakfast cereal, you are benefiting from the Economics of a free market, which makes sure that everything the consumer wants (and some stuff that she doesn’t even know she wants!) is available easily to her. Every time you scarf down a dosa at your local South Indian café, you are helping the economy of your neighbourhood grow. Every time you pay for a plastic bag in a store because you neglected to bring your own from home, you are participating in the fight for a cleaner, less toxic world (who do you think came up with the idea to have people pay for plastic bags so that they eventually use less of them? An economist!). So there!
By now, you are convinced that your manic-eyed interviewee is either wilfully exaggerating or has a couple of screws loose. But admit it, either way, your interest has been piqued.
So stick around and listen in while we talk about Economics. I’m betting you’ll be glad you did.
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- Paperback : 176 pages
- Item Weight : 195 g
- ISBN-13 : 978-8129145192
- ISBN-10 : 8129145197
- Product Dimensions : 12.95 x 0.99 x 19.79 cm
- Publisher : Rupa Publications India (10 February 2017)
- Reading level : 12 - 16 years
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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1. Nowhere it is highlighted that the book is 'specially' written for children (children are the target readers is clear by the texts on the pages 67, 69, 101, 109, 113, 117, 141 and 152). It should have been highlighted by the publishers on the FRONT as well as BACK pages (better in the endorsement of Raghuram Rajan itself). It seems a case of 'businessman-ship' by the Red Turtle.
2. Endorsement by an economist of international repute (that too Raghuram Rajan) creates a 'false' sense as if it has been written for grow-ups! Such a heavyweight endorsement looks for creating just a hype to enhance sales of the book. Rather such a 'huge' endorsement was not needed. Roopa Pai is already among the largest selling writer and well known name for children books by now!
3. It has some incorrect information also such as banks borrows from RBI to lend to its customers. Rather banks borrow from RBI for not to promote the cause of their normal lending but in cases of emergency (RBI is 'bank of last resort' for other banks operating in the country).
4. Writer directly uses the term 'invest' (on page 145) without giving any idea to the reader as what is 'investment' (putting money in productive assets).
5. Writing on the MRP (page 65) is not clear enough to make children (its target readers) comprehend it.
But overall a good attempt by the writer to bring economic across to a wider readership that too the children. Rupa's 'Red Turtle' is doing commendable job by promoting such writings. Good luck!
But then comes Roopa Pai with her brilliant book, which although has children as its target audience, is a wonderful little introduction even for adults.
It steers clear of economic jargon and explains the core concepts in simple terms and with lots of examples from daily life so that you never feel at a loss.
Must buy. 5/5
Must give it a try if you wanna know some key basics of economics. Obviously, this book is not everything about economics, but it gives you a picturesque of how economy of nations work. After developing a taste in economincs one can go for in-depth study if one wants.
Here are the pros and key points of the book.
1.The ancient history of trade and economics.How it all started
2.How an economy forms and what are its cogwheels.
3. How many types of economy is there?
4.How demand and supply effect inflation.
5.Why some countries currency have much more value than their counterparts
6. Simple and precise examples demonstrated with the help of pictures and cartoons.
7.Why black pepper was priced more than gold in Europe.
8. Once India had a share of 25% of the world’s GDP and How East India took over it.
9.How the price of different things is decided.
10.How economics is a brilliant amalgam of Mathematics and behavioral psychology.
As a newbie in economics, I didn’t find anything out of the context and irrational in this book. So personally recommending this book to everyone who wants to understand economics as a beginner.