Top 11

Recently a friend asked me for a list of books that I could recommend to read. So I thought I would just add it to my blog for all those times when someone might ask me the same question again. So here are the top 11 books – do note that they are of varying interest and are intended for a general audience with no specific background. I think the books listed below can prove to be very useful. If it was to me – I would even have a couple of them added to the high school curriculum and make sure that everyone stepping their foot into the practical word has actually read them. Even in the seminars that I am invited to – I end up referring to these books or making a part of them to be a part of my seminar.

  1. Think and Grow Rich
    My all-time favorite book. This is the single most book that I have gifted to friends and family. If you ever received this book from me – it was a clear indication that you were/are a part of my inner circle. 🙂  Also I feel this book forms the basis of all motivation books that have been written after that. Also the title is a bit misleading – essentially it is about how to achieve whatever goal you set in your life. Some may find their riches in Money, others in Social help, others in family … you get to pick your poison.
  2. Creating a World without poverty
    I am highly inspired by the concepts of Social Empowerment and Microfinance. As the pioneer of these concepts is Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus – this book naturally gravitates to my Top 11.
  3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
    The one thing that I absolutely love about this book is “The Circle of Influence” – how it is so important to stay in our circle of influence to stay happy and make an actual impact. Also the example of filling your life with big stones and then the smaller stones and after that the sand. The analogy being that the big stones are the ones which really matter and should take precedence over everything else in our life.  
  4. How to win friends and influence people
    It was always a struggle growing up to be able to make friends. An old time classic – I think this was probably the first “Self Help” book that I read to address the issue of making friends.
  5. The Richest Man of Babylon
    Set in Babylon – this book weaves a story around the steps a character in the book must take to make a fortune and the mindset that he needs to develop in the process of doing so.
  6. The Art of War
    Written by the great warrior Sun Tzu in ancient China – the book has many lessons for your personal life and business life. You could apply the concepts presented by Sun Tzu in any modern day situation to determine the outcome. Since I have always been influenced by the Chinese hence it naturally influenced my thought process 🙂
  7. Our Iceberg is Melting
    A book which you can easily finish in 3-4 hours. It has very important lessons about how to see the change that is likely to come about, and how different people react to these changes. Changes can be extrapolated to personal life and are also applicable for large organizations.
  8. Your Money or your life
    Some may find this book repulsive and a violation of their right to enjoy life but it has some great hard lessons brought forward by the author on how in order to maintain a life style we continue to work more and waste our time. Though many have explained the concept of the Rat Race but this one takes it down to the actual numbers to prove that life should be more than just running after a high paying job which leaves you with no time to enjoy life.
  9. Outliers
    Recommended by a friend when I did not know who Malcom Gladwell was. It eventually triggered me to read all books published by Malcom Gladwell. I remember the book for two things 1) How the birthday of hockey players are skewed 2) How the Chinese are so hard working and how easy the Chinese number system is.
  10. Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action
    Just recently was recommended this book by a friend. Even though a lot of concepts/techniques like the “5 Whys” have a similar approach but the way Simon weaves the story is quite nice
  11. The Prince
    Recommended by a friend who wanted to show me the other side. I do not recommend you to be influenced by the “Machiavellian tactics” but read it to understand what the “Dark Side” will employ to get around to you.

Biryani Democracy

By: Saad Rahman & Atif Anwar

People around get all flared up when I use the term “Biryani Democracy”. Before I give you reasons behind it, let me first take this moment and coin the term. It is a combination of two unrelated genres. The first part is the interesting one – one which any South East Asian will understand right away. Biryani is an exotic Mughal era rice dish, essentially an elaborate twist on pilaf. The only historical link it has with Democracy is the lack of it, as it has origins in a time of Mughal emperors. Till this day it serves the modern day self-proclaimed royals of the south east we call politicians.

Biryani has become a vehicle of journey for several politicians in the region. Unlike the dictatorial tactics of their royal predecessors, the tools of persuasion are less hostile but cunning. Making a mockery of the widespread poverty, politicians use Biryani as their weapon to coerce the common man into submission; essentially trading a few plates of Biryani for a vote. As sad it may sound, the poor public does not ever see much in reforms. So instead, every few years they look forward to a week or two of heavenly feasts as they listen to the never ending promises made all over again by the same few elite. Alas, the vicious cycle repeats. This is the Biryani Democracy we live in.

In a nation where even the basics defined by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are a struggle for the lower and middle class, Biryani suffices to win over the masses. The word democracy is pasted on every media outlet, to keep the world at bay. But in reality, these few elite still run a kingdom.

There is still hope. We need to join those who are trying to flicker a ray of light in this darkness. Being an avid supporter and associated with some organizations I urge all to look around and find what you believe will bring about a change. Amongst a few such organizations are TCF Foundation, Sawayra, Kashf Foundation, Asasah and BRAC Pakistan.