Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Economist and author, Uday Singh, has come out with his second book Inconspicuously Human that talks about not so obvious things – some that drive us and make us tick and some that limit us and make up stop. A non-fiction, it sheds light on to what constrains people; what motivates them; what makes people happy and what sad.
In a detailed interview, the author tells us more:
What is it that makes you delve into a different subject with every new book?
Great question. I say that, because it gives me an opportunity to provide a perspective about the disparate topics that my books currently cover and will continue to cover in the future. What was once considered a painful part of me, has become an asset from my own perspective – most others might still regard me as someone that has his fingers in too many topics. It was painful while growing up, to not be able to focus on just one topic and become an expert at it; I just couldn’t simply choose a topic and stick with it.
Now, of course, I don’t care about fitting into a mold that I can then leverage to preach from the pulpit, so to say. I have started living, researching, learning, and eventually writing about topics that catch my undivided attention, even if it is for only a short period of time.
After reading this, I hope others like me won’t lose hope; that they would rather begin to embrace this tendency and not than shun it by attempting to conform to the majority guidance.
Why Inconspicuously Human? What is that you want people to know through this?
This book is meant to provide a perspective (readers will have to form their own opinions, as in the end that is all that matters, as those self-formed opinions are the ones that stick with us) for all those that ever wondered about certain innocuous human behaviors – do we need to set goals? Do we limit ourselves subconsciously? Do we need to live in towns instead of cities? Do we need to marry someone with a fairer skin than ourselves? Should we be resting our bodies more (or actually working them is better)? And quite a few other questions along the same lines.
Most of these may seem obvious on the surface, but then, at least for me it was important to understand the theoretical underpinnings for arriving at the right approach or answers to those above questions. The theory was important to me, as it is theory that allows us to continue to execute on a given path even when the results may not become ready or available in the short run. Only over a long duration of time, will the result become clear.
Although most readers have categorised this book as a self-help book, it is not. The intent in writing this book is to provide a framework to think about our tendencies and form our own unique path.
Was Inconspicuously Human happening around the same time Pokhran was written or did you pick up the subject later?
I think it was set in motion about 20+ years back when I emigrated to USA. The distinct variations in the two cultures, the notion of what is good vs bad fundamentally changed for me, when I landed in USA. For example, for most of the Indian population harming the holy cow is unimaginable where as cow is just another commodity produce in USA (and Europe); most mothers in India (including my own) would consider it very bad to wear a bikini whereas most mothers in USA would kill to fit into a form fitting bikini (read as, they would consider it extremely good).
In that sense, Inconspicuously Human, was started long before Pokhran. But it was only after Pokhran had a reasonable reception, I began to realize that I might be able to translate all those behavioral elements into a book that will be meaningful to others.
How much research went into writing it?
From a research perspective, Inconspicuously Human, required lot many more hours of research than those that were spent researching for Pokhran. I do intend to use this book as my basis for teaching leadership, business strategy, and macro economics perspectives to first year Business students mostly in the up-and-coming countries including Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Kenya, etc.,
When you say this topic will need further research and this proposal is a hypothesis, does it mean a sequel to Inconspicuously Human is on cards?
The topic that you are referring to you, I believe, is in the 10th chapter of the book – it is termed Subconscious Business Analysis (SCoBA) part of the brain. This brain capability, at least at this point, is only a proposal. As this concept is not yet very well isolated or “compartmentalized” yet, let alone being researched, as part of neuroscience. I might continue to watch this space, and either be involved in conducting or getting involved in primary research or I might just focus on being a net consumer of such research whenever that comes about. Once there is meaningful meat around the bones of this topic, maybe it will end up being its own book. But that is too far out in the future and dependent on progress being made in this direction, within my life time.
Any new books in the offing?
The future books that are brewing in my mind are Ennui (fiction, a neuroscience-based thriller), Rice Economy (non-fiction, with focus on true nature of savings and the physical need for reserve ratios for banks apart from the risk of default), and God is in small things (non-fiction, a deep dive into how small rules like the octet-rule in chemical reactions can lead to macro structures like human beings and emotions; how wounds heal themselves; how trees balance themselves; how respecting the straight and parallel lines/ being on time/ following queues can lead to more organised societies).