Ethical toolkit, burnouts, small-town India

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New Delhi– Read about a new toolkit required to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that go beyond the precepts of good business management and prevalent best practices in government and civil society organisations; then a handy guide that offers a framework to ensure that you continue to have a productive life without getting burned out; and finally, commune with your brethren in small-town India to get a feel of their reality.

The IANS Bookshelf has quite a cerebral offering this weekend. Read on!

1. Book: Transforming Systems – Why the World Needs a New Ethical Toolkit; Author: Arun Maira; Publisher: Rupa; Pages: 221; Price: Rs 495

“The Sustainable Development Goals which citizens of all the countries are aspiring for, form a stage in the larger story of humanity… (but) the world is changing very fast because of humanity’s own actions, such as the development of new digital technologies and artificial intelligence,” writes the multi-talented Arun Maira, a former member of the Planning Commission (2009-14) who was with the Tata Group for 25 years and was also Chairman of the Boston Consulting Group, India.

With these credentials, he is in a unique position to show the way forward which he does by presenting four sets of inter-related ideas:

* Aspirations to improve the world

* Search for a new paradigm

* Re-orienting our minds

* Becoming a leader

The author also recommends three orientations required for anyone aspiring to make the world a better place:

* Systems thinking

* Ethics of citizenship

* Deep listening

“I hope the ideas in this book will be useful for readers who intend to make the world better for everyone and wish to find more purpose in their own lives,” Maira writes.

It’s a book that could well become a Bible soon.

2. Book: Burnout – Beat Fatigue To Thrive In An Overworked World; Publisher: Penguin; Pages: 298; Price: Rs 299.

Remember these lines by Welsh poet William Henry Davies: “What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.”

It’s all about burnouts.

“Though beating burnouts requires a deliberate and collaborative effort, where the individual, organisation and society have to come together to achieve this common goal, the primary onus still rests on you: the individual,” writes senior psychologist and business leader Anju Jain who has worked in India, Singapore and the US helping countless individuals counter stress.

“Ultimately, you have the choice to prevent burnouts, beat it or remained burned out.

“Take the challenge and become obsessive about the well-being of you and others,” Jain commands.

So, read the book and take the challenge.

3. Book: Blue Is Like Blue; Author: Vinod Kumar Shukla (Translated from Hindi by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra & Sara Rai); Publisher: Harper Collins; Pages: 168; Price: Rs 399.

Vinod Kumar Shukla, one of the finest living writers in Hindi and one of the few truly original imaginations in world literature, has been quietly forging his own idiosyncratic path away from the public gaze in Raipur, Chhattisgarh.

That is all set to change with “Blue Is Like Blue”, the first-ever translation into English of his short stories that deal with “smaller-than-life” people who live in India’s small-towns — their lives and experiences, their small joys and sorrows.

They live in rented accommodation, often in single rooms, where one electric bulb does for light. When the light dims because of low voltage, it is like air escaping from a punctured bicycle tube.

There’s a nail to hang clothes from and a wall-to-wall string for the washing. When the clothes are dry, you place the carefully folded shirt under a pillow and lie down to sleep.

Money is a concern, but the bazaar is the place to go and spend time in, especially if you have nothing to buy. The fear that you may be over-charged accompanies every transaction, but joy is not entirely absent.

The book also includes Shukla’s memoir, “Old Veranda”, with its unforgettable scene in which a bus bound for Rajnandgaon, the city of his birth, is travelling “through the air at great speed”.

Raise a cheer for the fresh perspective such a work provides. (IANS)


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