SHYAMAL Roy, Professor of Economics in IIM, Bangalore, has written `an analytical guide' for managers who have no background in economics. The book titled Macroeconomic Policy Environment, from Tata McGraw-Hill (www.tatamcgrawhill.com) is reader-friendly, by being slim (less than 300 pages), and avoiding `jargon, diagrams and equations'.

Thus, you'd learn that GDP is "the market value of final goods and services produced in an economy in a given period of time", with the key words italicised. Addition to stock from current year's production is treated as `inventory demand' explains Roy, with simple numerical examples.

When discussing `consumption demand', the author takes up tricky questions, such as: "How does an individual decide how much of his/her income to consume and how much to save? How do we know what will be our lifetime income from work and lifetime income from wealth?" Consumption expenditure has two components, viz. induced and autonomous. The former is induced by macroeconomic policy variables like tax rates and interest, writes Roy; and the latter is driven by sentiment. Inducing read!

Ancient surgery

THE use of angioplasty has expanded from its original `save the heart' purpose to `save the brain' through its application on carotid arteries of the neck, says Dr Amrit Lal in A Heart too Good to Lose, from English Edition (www.englishedition.net).

A distressing fact that the author highlights is: "In almost every fourth angioplasty, re-blockage occurs within a few months and angina recurs requiring a repeat angioplasty or an outright bypass surgery."

Do you know that the idea dates back to 3,000 BC? It seems the ancient Egyptians used metal pipes to perform bladder catheterisation. "In 400 BC, they fashioned catheters from hollow reeds and pipes to study function of the heart valves using cadavers for their observations... However, it was not till 1929 when Dr Werner Forssman performed the first human catheterisation."

Though the book is `for anyone about to undergo heart surgery', I'd suggest a read of Lal's work for others too.

Is this India?

THE last 10 years have deeply divided Mumbai's social space, writes Rowena Robinson in Tremors of Violence, from Sage (www.indiasage.com). "Flags, green and saffron, are now used increasingly to demarcate `Muslim' and `Hindu' residential spaces, not just religious ones," writes the author.

What purpose do such flags serve? In a situation of violence, those fleeing can recognise and avoid `enemy' spaces, postulates Robinson. "10 or 12 years ago, police intelligence recognised illegal activities by these flags," she writes citing an officer. "A saffron flag was often a sign for a place selling local liquor clandestinely. A green flag more often than not marked a place selling illegal cannabis-based drugs such as charas and ganja. Today these flags have assumed a totally different meaning." Is this India?

Worth reading material about `Muslim survivors of ethnic strife in Western India'.

Take the trouble to understand

THE present trend of society does not encourage us to understand anyone, rues Usha Jesudasan in Being an Instrument of Peace, from EastWest Books (Madras) P Ltd (ewb@touchtelindia.net). "We are forced to be competitive, isolated and rough with each other to be able to survive. We rarely have time to stop and think of another person, even if that person is our spouse, child or close friend. As a result, fewer and fewer people have positive relationships at home and at work." How true! But what's the way out "to make our lives meaningful and to be in harmony with one another"? We need to take the time and trouble to understand each other more, counsels Jesudasan. "In a world where most of the time we are misunderstood, an understanding person is an instrument of peach who brings comfort, hope and strength." Soothing stuff.

A tsunami every month!

INTERNATIONAL cooperation at a crossroads; aid, trade and security in an unequal world: these lines stare from the cover of UNDP's Human Development Report 2005, published by Oxford University Press (www.oup.com). "Every hour more than 1,200 children die away from the glare of media attention. This is equivalent to three tsunamis a month, every month, hitting the world's most vulnerable citizens its children," reads the overview.

Unlike tsunami that ended 2004 with some three lakh dead, we can prevent the continual deaths that are caused by poverty, hopes the report, because "the world has the capacity to overcome extreme deprivation". But trepidation too is obvious; for, "there is a real danger that the next 10 years, like the last 15 years, will deliver far less for human development than has been promised." Powerful messages.

Burning house metaphor

SIDDHARTHA was presumably 35 years old a ravaged, weather-beaten, but by no means defeated, seeker when he finally awoke to what the poet Rilke has called, `the news that is always arriving out of silence'... That's a snatch from Arundhathi Subramaniam's The Book of Buddha, from Penguin (www.penguinbooksindia.com). What happened then? "Siddhartha was transformed irreversibly into the Buddha, into Shakyamuni, the Sage of the Shakyas."

Read on: "It was now clear to him that the flesh and spirit did not have to exist in a mutually antagonistic relationship. The instinctual had to be integrated, rather than denied, for liberation to be attained."

Elsewhere in the book, the author would explain, when discussing the burning house metaphor, that Buddha does not have you believe he is the heroic fireman. "He does not promise to rescue you. He trusts you to be able to do it yourself. His role is to show you how." So, what do you if your house is on fire? "Leave the site of the catastrophe, he suggests, but not in a state of uncontrolled panic. Remember that the fire can be mastered, but first it must be acknowledged." Enlightening.

Tailpiece"How do you spell cricket?"

"P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S!"

ReadingRoom@TheHindu.co.in

D. Murali

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 26, 2005)
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