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In Review: My World With Rafiki

By Siddharth Bhavnani

One among the many engaging and passionate professors at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Dr. Biswajit Nag appears in a quite different light as you read his book aptly titled My World with Rafiki: An Economic Travelogue and Miscellany. In this review, I want to highlight why the title is justified and the reasons this book is a must-read for anyone who has been fortunate enough to have attended Dr. Nag’s lecture(s). ‘Rafiki’, originating from the Kiswahili language translates to friend and accurately describes Professor Nag’s approach to his interactions in the classroom. Throughout my perusal of the book, I realized this is true of his approach to life in general. Through this book spanning ten chapters and a concluding note, the author aims to underscore the importance of adopting a cooperative and collaborative approach to developing trade relations for all countries with the main focus on Indian policies and practices in this regard.

Having covered the suitability of ‘Rafiki’, I want to move the usage of ‘my world’ in the title. The book includes a lot of experiences that the author shares in his lectures and they span multiple countries covering almost all continents. From the author’s experiences in Tanzania to those in Ukraine, Papua New Guinea, US, Italy, Japan, Ghana, Thailand, and France, the reader truly experiences the world. In addition to these experiences, the author’s discussions with friends from Korea, China, and Greece among many other nations also adds to the global perspective of the book. The cherry on the cake is the analysis of countries such as Vietnam, India, and Japan (particularly the case of Kitakyushu) Dr. Nag puts forth in the book. This not only covers the world but also provides a peek into the author’s expansive worldview.

The economic aspects and theories used in the book as a tool to buttress arguments the ‘economic travelogue’ part is also highlighted. Furthermore, the use of payoff matrices and game theory to explain the Indian mindset and rent-seeking behavior also enriches the experience of reading the book. Apart from the slightly unorthodox applications of economic theory to explain daily phenomena, Dr. Nag also gets to flex his vast economic acumen while analyzing countries through more traditional indicators such as government investment and the GDP multiplier effect to name a few.

Lastly, the exploration of the impact food and culture on bilateral relations justifies the ‘miscellany’. The book does have other interesting miscellaneous aspects through the anecdotes shared by the author, but it is my belief that these are enjoyable if read in first person. In conclusion, this book is a must-read for its wide worldview, fascinating anecdotes, insightful analysis, and keen observations of multiple cultures, countries and ultimately friends.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- About the Author Siddharth Bhavnani, an avid reader from the 19–21 batch of IIFT, was first introduced to the magical world of books through the Bartimaeus sequence by Jonathan Stroud. He gradually developed an interest in the non-fiction genre and is interested in anthropological and political genres. He is also certified by FranklinCovey on the 7 Habits.

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