Handcrafted book summary of Games Indians Play

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Games Indians Play: Why we are the way we are?

V Raghunathan

Penguin India

184 pages; Average reading time 2 hours 40 min

This bookbhook summary will take not more than 10 minutes


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This bookbhook summary has been handcrafted by Nandini Shanbhag. Nandini quit her seventeen years long corporate career to pursue reading and writing and especially, writing book summaries for India’s favourite book summary app. She believes reading opens the doors to unknown realms.

The Veerappan Dilemma

The prize money on the head of notorious sandalwood smuggler, Veerappan, of Rs 50 crores was one of the highest ever announced. This means a lot for most Indians.  I wasn’t surprised, therefore, to read an article in The Times of India dated 20 November 2004 after his STF (Special Task Force) encounter death, that there were lot of claimants for the prize money.

In such cases, how do you decide who gets the money? At this time, I am putting up a situation for you which is adapted from Douglas Hofstadter’s treatment of ‘Luring Lottery’.

Imagine this scenario

With the number of claimants rising every day, the Karnataka Chief Minister came out with a clever solution. Twenty people (intelligent) shortlisted by his home department from the multitude of claimants are sent a letter by the section officer of his secretariat.

The letter informs them that they are one among the 20 shortlisted people to receive the reward.  Further, the Chief Minister has decided to give this whole amount to one individual only. Those desirous should write back in triplicate confirming the same. It is also advised to read the attached terms and conditions:

  • Each of the 20 shortlisted men is sent the same letter and their identity is hidden.
  • You are eligible for the award provided you respond within the stipulated time and YOURS IS THE ONLY letter received. If any of the others write back, then none will get the award.
  • If you try in any way to locate or contact the other 19, then you will be disqualified from receiving the award. You are on a watch from now till the time stipulated.

The question you are left with is whether to write the letter or not. If you don’t, you miss out on a chance for the award, so you will write, but then others must think the same too. So probability is that all 20 would write but none would get the award. The Chief Minister has put paid to your very Indian trait of trying something underhand. What are the chances of anyone winning that award? We will find an answer at the end of this summary.


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