Monday, December 31, 2012

The Wisdom of Ants - Book Review

Few can write of economic history as Shankar Jaganathan does. Recommended by Rahul Dravid, Mohandas Pai, and reviewed by champions in education, sustainability and the behavioral sciences, this is no standard output. 

This is the second book that Shankar has brought to our world. While the first was examining corporate history through voluntary disclosures made by companies in legal frameworks in the public domain, the essence of unraveling significant points of departure and phase transitions in the evolution of financial reporting stands out in this volume too. It is near probable that the second book, like the proverbial Russian doll, was born in the making of the first. By that token, a reading of the Wisdom of Ants, will give hint to the next volumes waiting to be written. 

However, this book is far more important than the author's efforts. It is the reader that will benefit more, as seldom, have we got answers to questions of economics as have been distilled from events and trends in thinking of economics. The reader is usually concerned with how it affects contemporary pursuits like profession or vocation. So even if the section on Ideological strands gives clues to thinking on economics from across the world, it is the way it shapes our thinking and the challenges of breaking its shackles that will weigh on our minds. The recent crises of the global financial meltdown and continental uncertainties of economic union are triggers that capture popular attention. Yes, the author may lead you to his personal recommendation to deal with the inequities produced by the recent ravages of structured doctrines in the administration of economics. Yet, like stars against the sun, it leaves no scar on your own choices. Written with a profundity of rare genre, it gets to fundamentals without frills or needless fancy. At once, the reader will find the simplicity and profundity hugging the bare essentials of economic history. 

Academics will begin to seriously ask questions of the epistemology of economics, for its classification as a science may seem even more suspect when this longitudinal view is read. Philosophically speaking, the functional form of economics may seem like the linear extension of argumentation in the pure sciences, but for the impurities that human behaviors and predispositions provide. 

Eventually, when we look back at our lives, we begin to pose ourselves deeper questions of Purpose. That money, economics, and social regulation was couched in assumptions of order and stability, or let us say predictability, stands exposed as a bruised and perplexed stance that beguiled our confidence in social systems. Hence, even from a very personal perspective, this book can transport us into facile comprehension of activity as in the enterprise of ants, grasshoppers and our very own illusions of societal and personal wisdom. It is quite likely then that the lens of finance, economics and commerce will not seem foggy anymore.

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