Not Your Dismal Sport
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The depth and spread of Basu's reading is impressive, and he makes good use of it to amuse us. In the book, one gets to meet the likes of legendary journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski whom Basu considers "a philosopher, an astute and compassionate observer of human condition". After reading the book, the reader might want to bestow these qualities on Basu himself.
Thomas Carlyle's lament, "thanks to the rise of economics, the arts were being doomed", would not be out of place in modern India, notes Basu. "While celebrating Lakshmi, there is genuine risk that we will ignore the non-commercial flanks of society — art, music, good cinema and mathematics." There are more instances where the keen observer in Basu wears his witty best, reminding us that an anagram of ‘economics' reads ‘comic nose'. Sample these: "It is culturally ingrained in us Indians to overeat when we get good food, the way camels do with waters." And on the Maharaja with wings, he says, "India may be shining, but Air India is not." The book, a must-read for students of economics, policy-makers and travel buffs alike, reveals the cheerful side of a practitioner of the dismal science.
(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 02-05-2011)