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Book review: My World with Rafiki by Biswajit Nag

With rich stories, Biswajit Nag's My World with Rafiki maps cultural diversity and its effect on business.


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My World with Rafiki: An Economic Travelogue and Miscellany
By Biswajit Nag
PAGES: 138
PRICE: Rs 399

I have always wondered whether the socio-economic conditions of a region influence its culture or is it vice-versa? While I was seeking an answer to this conundrum, I chanced upon My World with Rafiki: An Economic Travelogue and Miscellany. It is a fascinating book filled with rich stories based on the observations of Dr Biswajit Nag, a senior faculty at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi, who has also done stints with UNCTAD India and UN-ESCAP, during his travels through more than 30 countries. Nag has the storyteller's knack of weaving in insights through anecdotes and the reader benefits richly from his observations. Somewhere while narrating these beautiful stories, he succinctly delves deep into complex subjects such as the nature and the root cause of corruption in India and liberalisation through an easy-to-understand behaviour matrix.

In the course of my visits to business schools and interactions with students from various countries, I have often wondered why MBA students are least interested in business-to-government and business-to-society relationships. Most of their textbooks and case studies revolve around pure corporate, business and consumer issues; while the business reality is quite different - governments and societies impact the businesses the most. This book would be an absolute delight to those life learners who want fast-paced stories to powerfully illustrate the extraordinary values of cultural and social diversity and their impact on businesses.

The book is divided into 10 chapters, which deal with free trade agreements, productivity and network development, Japan and innovation, among others. The last chapter on Ukraine gives a contemporary picture of what triggers the bilateral and multi-lateral relations among countries and continents and how. The beauty of this discussion is that the entire analysis takes place through exchange of emails between the author and one of his students. At the end, the author generously shares the resources and database and tools for analysis of business and economic environment of a country.

While the book mixes stories and theories beautifully in the midst of travel adventures, the chapters are quite random. This randomness creates hope for many more such stories from the author in the future editions of the book. To describe it simply, it is a little book of life and humanised economics.

(The reviewer is Executive Director at Marketing and Development Research Associates. He writes on the business of business schools and is a market researcher by profession)

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