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Return to Jammu
DURYODHANA, Harper Collins.
DURYODHANA, Harper Collins.
DURYODHANA, Harper Collins.
Locks, Mahabharata and Mathematics
For an interview of the author on this book, please click.
Ganesha on the dashboard
The Corruption Conundrum and Other Paradoxes and Dilemmas
Don't Sprint the Marathon




Return to Jammu...

Balan, growing up in the small cantonment towns of Ambala and Jammu in the 1960s, is the son of a junior army officer. His is a packed life, with tough schoolmasters, homework and games with playmates to keep him busy. And, above it all, is the strange species called adults, who have a curious understanding of life. The story follows Balan's struggles as he grows up and enrols at IIM Ahmedabad. He is certain one of his fellow students is his childhood friend. But she is not who he thinks she is - she says so herself. Balan, though, is not convinced and returns to a despoiled Jammu to find out the truth. Return to Jammu is a story of growing up, with its heartache of losing close friends and a childhood sweetheart, and eventually making one's way in the world. Warm, personal and deeply evocative of the early years of one's own as well as the life of a nation, much like R.K. Narayan's Swami and Friends, it reveals a new side to bestselling author V. Raghunathan.

Locks, Mahabharata and Mathematics

The book is a tongue-in-cheek focus on our propensity to jump queues, irrespective of our educational, economic or social background, which frequently shows utter disregard for fairness and civility towards others. But in the process, the book does introduce available international literature on queue jumping to the readers to help them become 'better' queue-jumpers!

Locks, Mahabharata and Mathematics

This book is about a dozen odd British gentlemen who worked in India during colonial times - not as administrators necessarily, just ordinary men who did some extraordinary work in India and for the love of Indians, but who sadly stand forgotten today.

For instance, who was responsible for forming the Asiatic Society? Why did another gentleman devote half his lifetime decoding the Pali script - a study which would help extend the span of Indian history by centuries? Who was the surgeon who made Darjeeling tea a household term in the country? Why did yet another took up the cause of Mysore Wodeyars against his own superiors? Who was the assay master of the Calcutta mint, who deciphered the Brahmi script and revealed Ashoka the Great to us? Why did someone work assiduously to root out the thugee system?

Who were these men often barely out of their teens when they came to our country, thousands of miles away from their families, at a time when any two-way correspondence would take several months? They came to a land which had different languages, a different climate, different food, different diseases, different religions, different gods, different attires, different appearances and a different way of life from those they were used to back home. What inspired them, especially as in most cases these achievements were not even in the line of their jobs?

Read the book to find out.

Locks, Mahabharata and Mathematics

The popular tellings of the Mahabharata are about Duryodhana's deviousness, obstinacy and greed for power that would bring about the battle of Kurukshetra between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, and his own downfall.

But was there more to him? Was he all black, or was it a matter of shades of grey?

What was he?

True heir or pretender to the throne? Arch villain or brave prince defending his rajdharma? An ace strategist or wicked schemer?

History, they say, is written by the victors. So we have never heard the side that Duryodhana presents. The epic's enigmatic villain finally has his say - on people, their motives and their machinations. For the first time we read a different meaning into episodes we may be familiar with - be it the attempted killing of Bhima, the burning of the wax house, the famous game of dice or even Draupadi's vastraharan - and get insights into the story we may not have come across before. Here is the crown prince of Hastinapura as we have never known him, adding yet another dimension to the labyrinth that is the Mahabharata.

Locks, Mahabharata and Mathematics

From the Preface of the Book:

What could possibly be the common thread running through locks, the Mahabharata and mathematics? Truth be told, a very thin one! One could conjecture that there would be parallels between locks and certain aspects of coding and decoding techniques in mathematics relating to computer science. But anything beyond must surely feel like a bit of a stretch, especially if one states that one intends to tie stories from the Mahabharata into it as well. And yet, that is what I have tried to do in this book. Why would I try to tie these disparate elements (and therefore put in so much effort into writing it) if the book were merely an exercise in self-indulgence? It is simply to explore unexpected parallels, even if rough, across three entirely different worlds: of an Indian chronicle of epic proportions, centuries-old brilliant craftsmanship manifested in clever devices like locks, and the only absolute truth in the universe - mathematics.

For a review see:

Ganesh on the dashboard 

From the back cover:

Educated, smart and tech-savvy, Indians can be surprisingly unscientific in their daily lives.

Take the way we go about buying a new car. We identify an auspicious date and time, then proceed to break a coconut, plonk a plastic deity of Ganesha on the dashboard, and zoom off at great speed, refusing to wear our seatbelts. Think of the crores spent every year remodeling homes according to vaastu, in the hope of changing luck; and the continued horrors of female infanticide, because it is only the son who can help the father's journey to heaven....

This unsparingly critical, scathingly analytical book points out the shocking lack of scientific temper among the vast majority of Indians, and how this holds us up as a nation the twenty-first century.

For a review see:


Corruption Conundrum

Can two positives make a negative?  How is it that corruption is universally disapproved of and yet universally practiced?  Can voting always yield a consistent majority opinion?

How can you be a well-known secret agent?  Why is the only voting method that isn't flawed a dictatorship?  Why is India unlikely to get a Security Council seat in a hurry?

The world of dilemmas and paradoxes touches our lives on a regular basis.

In The Corruption Conundrum and Other Paradoxes and Dilemmas, V Raghunathan shares the charms of some of the more interesting examples allowing us to delight in the excitement, mystery, confusion, exasperation, and that occasional flash of clarity and enlightenment, often experienced when the world of paradoxes and dilemmas hits our own.

The book takes the reader through some of the fascinating illustrations, classical and well known as well as the less common, in the field of management, law, finance and work life.  For example, can every uncertain cash flow have a certainty equivalent?  Why are the results of Copenhagen-like summits typically predictable?

For a review see: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/corruption-conundrum-and-other-paradoxes-and-dilemmas

Praise for the book:

'This reviewer likens Raghunathan to an Indian Martin Gardner who writes so entertainingly and charmingly, you may not realize you are learning.' Robert Schaefer in New York Journal of Books


Obvious as that may appear, as proud and ambitious parents, we often push our children to excel in ways that may help them achieve some early successes - but may sap their stamina to endure the more difficult challenges which life may throw at them. What is more, our obsessive rush to get our children off to a good start overlooks the fact that in life, as in a marathon, an early lead hardly matters, but being too intent on coming first may leave our children lacking in many of the life skills that a normal childhood would teach them.

V. Raghunathan, best-selling author of Games Indians Play, offers an alternative approach that can be even more rewarding: life, he avers, is not a sprint, and it does not in the long run matter very much if you missed out on the best school, college or job starters. As long a s you give yourself the time to develop your personality and skills, you will still get where you want, at your own pace and perhaps far more happily. To illustrate, based on first-hand interactions, he gives numerous examples of many achievers, famous and not-so-famous, among them N.R. Narayana Murthy, Dr Kallam Anji Reddy, Dr. P.D.K. Rao, V Mani, Ashwini Nachappa, Ila Bhyatt and G.M.Rao. for those helping their children along for success in life, or rethinking their own approach to it, Don't Spring the Marathon will prove an invaluable guide.

Praise for the Book:

As Aamir Khan shouts it in 3 idiots, "I don't like the grading system", here is V Raghunathan, who echoes these thoughts in his book. The New Indian Express

A system where rote learning and percentage of marks is the norm, the book draws inspiring stories of less celebrated names, who started off being average and went on to make it big. The Hindu

The book bears a message for parents and teachers to give a child room to grow freely and not shackled by the over-regimented life that children are made to lead nowadays. It is a inspiration for youngsters to enjoy the process of life and not be bogged down by temporary ups and downs. Express Buzz

A Motivational Manual for teachers and parents..The Assam Tribune

In this engaging and informative book, the author provides invaluable tips for young and old alike on getting the best out of life.Mybangalore.com

The author vocally critics the prevalent system of education. Deccan Chronicle

Games Indians Play

In a rare attempt to understand the Indianness of Indians - among the most intelligent people in the world, but also, to a dispassionate eye perhaps the most baffling - V Raghunathan uses the props of game theory and behavioural economics to provide an insight into the difficult conundrum of why we are the way we are. He puts under the scanner our attitudes towards rationality and irrationality, selflessness and selfishness, competition and cooperation, and collaboration and deception. Drawing examples from the way we behave in day-to-day situations, Games Indians Play tries to show how in the long run each one of us - whether businessmen, politicians, bureaucrats, or just plain us - stand to profit more if we were to assume a little self-regulation, give fairness a chance and strive to cooperate and collaborate a little more even if self-interests were to be our main driving force.

For a review see: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/v-raghunathan-indians-are-privately-smart-and-publicly-dumb/

Praise for the Book:

'What makes Raghunathan's approach unusual is that his argument isn't a moral diatribe: He employs game theory . and related concepts such as prisoner's dilemma, to present his case' - Knowledge@Wharton

Game theory is not an easy concept to appreciate, but you have managed in your inimitable style and logical presentation of ideas, to describe and analyse common Indian traits on a scientific basis. The chapters are independent, written in a very readable language and full of humour to drive home the important points. -J.J. Irani, Director, Tata Sons.

'Raghunathan writes really well... There are rare instances where a reviewer thinks, I wish I could have written like that. This is one of those rare instances' - Bibek Debroy in Indian Express

'In a small book of 170 pages, Raghunathan describes what constitutes Indianness. Read this absorbing book to figure out why we are "like that only"' - Debashis Basu in Money Life

Raghunathan tackles the peculiarities of Indianness using game theory and behavioural economics. Using everyday examples, he probes the reasons behind our conflicting tendencies. - Deccan Chronicle

Raghunathan bluntly challenges the reader to stand up to scrutiny. He replays the fine art of unspoken "inetiquette" refined in India' - Soumya Sitaraman in Deccan Herald

'The book takes the reader through some powerful insights into why we Indians need to introspect.' - The Analyst, The ICFAI University Press

'Worth enriching a lazy Sunday afternoon - Times of India

'A saddening but delightful book' - DNA

'An incredibly interesting read' - First City

Stock Exchanges, Investments and Derivatives

This book is not about getting rich quick. Nor is it about making the reader an expert in matters of investments or derivatives. The primary objective of this book is to impart a basic understanding of the manner in which stock exchanges function, especially in India. In addition it seeks to present simple and easy explanations of important theoretical aspects of stock market operations, investments and derivatives. It also helps readers who have a nodding familiarity with basic arithmetic to construct and evaluate his or her portfolio of investment.

Praise for the book:

".I am confident that the book will be very well received by the target audience given the way it is structured. Few books on serious subjects, such as this, are as well presented to the readers as this one."
- M. Damodaran, former Chairman, SEBI

".It is one of the finest books I have read on stock markets and derivatives."
".Almost every topic that a lay investor could be concerned about is covered - from an exposition of how stock markets function to explaining the valuation of a share and the importance of diversification."
- Business India

".From the concept of time value of money to cashflows and the basics of investment analysis, this book should leave you a little more wise, a little less gullible in dealing with avaricious brokers and help you to use your acumen in investing your savings with perspicacity."
- The Times of India

".The book will be of considerable interest not only to the vast body of investors, but also to students of portfolio management and security analysis, executive development programmes and aspirants to career opportunities in mutual funds, merchant banking and stock broking firms."
- Fortune India

".The first time reader will benefit immensely from these (investment) techniques and strengthen his understanding of the theories expounded."
- Investment Week

".The book would be very useful to a keen investor in corporate securities, particularly those who want to build a fairly dispersed portfolio. The book carries the stamp of thoroughness and authority of the author."
- Chartered Secretary

". Explains the working of (financial) markets in a very lucid manner by answering 100 questions, covering various topics."
- Hindustan Times

".The part on investments is well written for readers willing to take the minimum necessary trouble."
- The Management Accountant

Strategic Corporate Finance

In 1997 and 1998, the world encountered its worst financial crisis since the Second World War. For East Asia in particular, it was a devastating blow that threatened to reverse a whole generation of progress in two short hears. Much has been written about how governments and supranational bodies should have coped with this crisis and what they can do to prevent such a recurrence in the future.

This book is distinct; it focuses, instead, on the impact of such crises on the corporate sector, particularly;

. How a national economic crisis impacts companies in the affected country
. How companies respond to such a crisis
. How companies can evaluate key strategic options in an economic environment that is changing every day
. How companies undertake drastic financial and business portfolio restructuring in a crisis environment
. Finally, what determines the vulnerability of a company to a national economic crisis?

This book seeks to find answers to such questions through case studies of six East Asian companies located in Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia, and belonging to varied industrial sectors: banking, finance, natural resources, and a diversified conglomerate. The actions of the companies encompassed corporate and financial restructuring, investment banking, financing decisions and derivatives. As backdrop, the book presents a brief economic history of the four countries involved covering the period till the 1997 meltdown. Individual discussions on each of the six companies in the last part of the book provide both a framework of analysis, and information and insights about how these compan9ies actually managed under the economic crisis; raising issues and offering lesions that are relevant to corporate finance managers and chief executives world-wide.

Portfolio Management

Is investing in shares chasing a chimera?

Is it like a ride on the roller coaster where after hair-raising ups and downs and twists and turns you are left panting with fear, thanking your stars just to be alive?

The authors argue that investing in shares need not be such a nerve-racking experience, provided the decisions are made on the basis of analysis and reasoning, and are not guided by whims, fancies and rumours.

Starting with the basics of time value of money, the book covers the principal approaches to analyze securities and to design, manage and evaluate both equity and bond portfolios. Fundamental analysis, technical analysis and modern portfolio theory are covered in detail. It illustrates the underlying concepts with examples drawn from the Indian capital market and also discusses the Indian stock exchanges and tax laws.

Praise for the Book:

". The book deals, very cogently, with the elements of security analysis and modern portfolio theories."
- The Chartered Accountant

". The treatment is lucid and characterized by avoidance of jargon in all possible cases."
- The Management Accountant

". The authors, who are management experts, have gone about their job with great care and meticulousness."
- The Hindu

". There is an excellent section on bond valuation - a market that is definitely going to hot up in the future."
- Business Today

Managing Alternatives

Believing in the dictum 'Teach by Example' this book comprises select case studies published in Vikalpa, The Journal for Decision Makers, brought out by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Selected by experts, these cases address some of the crucial challenges faced by managers and administrators in private and public sectors and government departments.

The book brings within its scope several fields of management. The cases are classified under six easy heads - agricultural management, financial management, marketing management, organizational behavior and human resource management, public systems management and strategic management.

The discussion on each case study is crisp yet thorough, highlighting the key points. It serves to tell the readers about the various aspects that need to be considered while taking decisions and the ideal approach that sets apart effective decision makers from all others. Each section concludes with a Framework for Case Discussion which helps the readers to understand the context and background of the cases and facilitate better understanding of the subject.

Though ideally suited for professionals and students of management, the book makes a good read as well.

Minva aur Dumpua Ke Kartoot

Minva aur Dumpua ke Kartoot' represents the first of the two volumes of Hindi rhymes (24 in each volume) for youngsters in the 4 to 7 age group. The rhymes were made during my morning walks in 2006 and 2007, and were inspired by two kids I have known (both grown up now)!

The inspiration for publishing the rhymes is not only to bring about a fresh supply of Hindi nursery rhymes to the extant kiddy literature, but also to keep the child in every adult alive, should any of the parent chance to read a rhyme or two! I trust this collection achieves the objectives.