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D.Muthukrishnan (Muthu), Certified Financial Planner- Personal Financial Advisor

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Some books and thoughts

Posted by Muthu on January 14, 2013

USA- 27.3

Newzeland- 25.8

France- 16.2

Sweden- 63.5

England- 28.8

South Africa- 12

Germany-9.4

Mexico-13.2

Norway-19.2

India- 1.8

What are the above numbers? This is the United Nations (UN) rape statistics for various countries per lakh of population.

To explain, every year 27.3 women per every one lakh get raped in US. In India the number is 1.8 women per lakh in a year. Sweden has one of the highest rape rates in the world. 63.5 out of every one lakh women in Sweden are facing this crime in a given year.

For the last one month media has highlighted India as a country of rapists. This has been widely reproduced by western media as well, forgetting the dirt at their own backyard. I’m getting more and more convinced that most of the media is pure sensationalism and noise. What happened to the Delhi victim is very cruel and needs to be condemned. So are many other such similar instances. The negative incidents are getting reported and highlighted frequently giving an impression that the incidents have multiplied than ‘normal’. I feel that the incidents are not increasing but reporting about them is.

We react more when something happens to our class- upwardly mobile- be it the Delhi rape case, Arushi murder case etc. There are no candle light processions if a tribal woman is paraded naked in a village or gang raped. As I’ve written in many pieces before, 90% of India and its problems never affect the main stream media. It doesn’t sell.

Some of you have been asking me to write periodically about the books I read.

I would like to mention about a few in this piece.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. With many real life examples this book explains how habits are formed in the lives of us, organizations etc. The interesting thing is that it also explains how habits can be changed and how our habits are exploited by companies for increasing their business. May not be a great book but a simple and interesting one which can be completed in one sitting.

Dan Ariely’s two books- Predictably Irrational: The hidden forces that shape our decisions and The upside of irrationality: The unexpected benefits of defying logic are excellent read. Dan Ariely is a professor of Psychology and Behavioural economics. When he was young, he suffered a serious third degree burn injury and miraculously survived. He gives insights and provides examples from his life which makes the above books all the more interesting and insightful.

No one would listen: A true financial thriller by Harry Markopolos. Harry discovered the $65 billion Ponzi scheme run by Bernie Madoff long before it became headlines. He tried his best to warn SEC, government, industry and the media about the scam. He was completely ignored till Madoff got exposed due to the 2008 financial crisis and lot of investors lost their wealth. When Madoff can survive and thrive as a big guy in Wall Street despite Harry exposing him 10 years before, less said is about India and various entities here (I’m not naming anyone to avoid legal notice:-)).

Whistle blowers have to be careful and not the crooks. David Einhron is a respected investment brain and hedge fund manager. Ten years ago, when he gave a speech at a charity investment conference and asked to present his best investment idea; he explained as to why his firm has sold short the shares of Allied Capital, a leading company in the private finance then. He was not appreciated for exposing the company’s questionable accounting practices but hounded even by regulators. In his book, Fooling some of the people all of the time: A long short story, he explains his struggle. He is the one who asked people to go short on Lehman Brothers much before its fall. When he wrote the book, he was still fighting Allied Capital, SEC and government. His stand was vindicated subsequently.

I’ve already mentioned about Ravi Subramanian’s novels. They are based on banks and give an idea about the grey area of the industry. A client gave me Ravi’s latest book ‘Bankster’ and I finished it in 2 sittings. Very interesting and fast moving.

For avid Buffett readers, Carol J.Loom’s Tap Dancing to work: Warren Buffett on practically everything, 1966-2012 is a real treasure. I borrowed this from Eloor lending library as soon as they bought it last month. As I’ve mentioned before, I find many good and latest books at Eloor and Eswari. Eloor is expensive (10% of book price is reading charge) where as Eswari is very reasonable; I borrowed 6 good and best selling books last week from Eswari for Rs.200/- with a reading period of one month.

I read in today’s newspaper that Chennai corporation is going to start around 1000 (200 in first phase soon) mini-canteens across Chennai and is planning to provide a Idly at Rs.1/-, a plate of curd rice at Rs.3/- etc. We have to see how this gets implemented. The Saidapet traders association, near Saidapet railway station has been running a similar kind of canteen for a long time. When I started my career and did not have sufficient money, I used to eat almost every day there. They used to charge hardly a fifth of what other hotels used to charge for similar quality and quantity.

Recently our maid went for a tooth extraction.  I asked her where she went and how much she paid. Ramkrishna Mission runs a hospital and they charged only Rs.300/- for X-ray, tooth extraction and medicines.

Two year ago a driver told me that for surgically removing his kidney stones he paid only Rs.1200/-. This is including 3 days hospital stay. Only from him I came to know about Sir Ivan Stedford Hospital in Ambattur.

If you know about things and services which are both affordable and of reasonable quality, please share the same. This information would be useful if we can pass on the same to people who need it in our known circle.

2 Responses to “Some books and thoughts”

  1. Notinterestedtogivenameinpublicinthiscomment said

    Hi Muthu,

    I believe the rape statistics are not really representative of actual numbers. The reason being the provisions of rape laws in different countries and attitude of police. In India there are various provisions, sub provisions on what can be called as rape and what can’t be and from what i understand the law is not that good, are from British times, are meant to shame the females who report it etc
    2nd, i believe compared to other developed countries that you highlighted, the under-reporting in India is more severe for cultural reasons.

    Like to give a related example, i don’t think in India, any police will accept a FIR based on complaint about simple molestation, lewd comment etc.. however the same thing in countries like Singapore, Taiwan etc can finish off one person’s career and the chance of living in honorable society. I think we can safely extrapolate similar difference in attitude and implementation on rape laws between other countries and Inida.

    We have reached the pinnacle of a shameless society, where one can get molested even inside religious places like Puri Jagannath temple and heinous act performed by same people who are doing service to god. Start a anonymous blog topic on this on the net and am sure there will be many faceless people willing to come forward to share their experiences.Just similar to Delhi, ask any female living in Delhi if she has ever been molested in public bus and am sure you will be surprised at the rate of yes.

    Am not saying, we are nation of rapist. Just that we are toothless when it comes to punish the offender’s. And am sure you will agree that it can make the serial and first time offenders very cold and rational in absence of fear of punishment.

    Like other’s am also more outraged and notice more of these cases reported in recent past, but i guess this is due to vividity bias. Me and many other people in middle class can mentally put themselves in a situation where they are alone with a female member and land up being in similar situation as that of Delhi victim. Whereas many of us may not be able to imagine a situation of being in a tribal woman’s position in a remote village. It’s shameful but i think their is a connection on why this incident outraged ppl so much.

    Well, enough of rant 🙂

    About books, i have collected around 50+ digital books (PDF) and i have gifted myself a digital reader this year:) Will be happy to share the books if you want. Let me know.

  2. Gopal said

    The number 1.8 is wrong. Most of the cases are not reported/registered in india and hence the low number. In sweden each count of rape even if it is the same persons involved is counted as different, hence the higher number among all. I agree it gets sensationalized in media, but at least it increases awareness of the incidents and things will change (though slowly)

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