Categories
Autobiography Book Review Dignity Forgiveness Global Human-trafficking International Development Non-Fiction Purpose Reconciliation

Book Review: “The diary of Bua Geow” by JC Shaw

“The diary of Bua Geow” is a heartfelt and enlightening read about the simple pleasures Bua, a northern Thailand country girl, finds in her home town and how they supersede all the desires of the bright lights of Bangkok. It serves as testament to the intelligence, wisdom, beauty and depth all people are capable of, regardless of their education  or social status. For me personally, it is a reminder that language is not a barrier to intelligence, it is only a barrier to communication.

The story is beautiful. One of the most touching I have ever read. The diary deals with atrocities that befall Bua and how she acts with bravery beyond her means to save herself and others and finds hope and love in the process. Reading the diary and experiencing northen Thailand at the same time, I feel that Bua’s life must be similar to many other Thai girls and I can’t help but think that the wisdom that is behind the diary is also behind many of the beautiful smiles I see on the road.

Bua’s brave actions are not without cost, as she is disabled from the waist down after her leap to freedom, which saves not only herself but a roomful of girls. In an amazing way, she casts aside any righteous anger and with the help of family and friends, she finds a purpose and starts on a path to hers and many others salvation. A salvation, which many knitters and sewers will appreciate, begins with a needle and thread and traditional hill-tribe costumes.

The reinforcing lesson here for development folk is that sometimes helping someone find the path to dignity and purpose is enough, if not more valuable, than the path to economic success.

The book is unfortunately in limited print, however it is apparently available from Amazon sellers and Google Books. I read the copy available in Gins Maekhong Resort and Spa reading room in Chiang Saen.

Categories
Base of the Pyramid (BOP) Market Book Review Decision making Emerging Markets International Development Micro-Finance Non-Fiction Psychology

Book review: “Poor Economics”

“Poor Economics” is a pertinent reminder that our assumptions and preconceived perceptions are often wrong and frequently create unintended and undesirable consequences*.  However, “Poor Economics” is not a nagging, accusatory reminder, it is a pleading reminder, a reminder that seeks cooperation and cohesion within the development field. It is also a reminder backed by random sampling and behavioral economics – the two biggest introductions to financial academia since regression analysis.

If you read the same books I do (Or Liesbeth Geerligs honours thesis!), than you will know a good story will actually be more persuasive then a set of statistics**. Thankfully Abhjit Banerjee and Esther Duflo know that, and they have peppered “Poor Economics” with examples and anecdotes to help communicate their message, their reminder.  Here is hoping that the reminder is heard and the small arsenal of positive examples they have documented in the book and on www.PoorEconomics.com helps convince the development world that they need to continue evolving, adapting and improving, especially by discarding preconceived assumptions and perceptions about what poor people need, want and what is best for them.

Adaptation and change is always necessary. Without it, we would still be carbon molecules. Perhaps the change is not the hard part, and as one infamous organisation puts it, perhaps the hard part is recognising there is a problem.

 

Notes:

*Interestingly, on a side note a few smart people at Yale have found that the erroneous use of preconceived ideas in economic policy extends beyond development and developing countries. Their paper discusses the preconceived ideas conceptualised in Japanese economic policy and is available here. Whilst it is an interesting paper, don’t ask me how they determined that the ideas were preconceived or erroneous as my reading of the article failed to find an explanation.

** For example, books such as:

“27 Powers of persuasion” by Christ St Hilaire. Undoubtedly not the original source and original source not cited. Review coming soon, in the mean-time don’t bother buying it.

“Mindfield” by Lone Frank will have cited the original source, as it was one of the first books to make brain science understandable for common folk. Read it if you haven’t already, even though some of the science is probably outdated now.

*** Many thanks to Scott for the extended loan on this book – it shall be returned. Whilst the book is an interesting read it is not exactly cover-cover reading. It requires a little dedication, which I have been lacking.