Wry Academic Approach

by Benedict Paramanand


‘Don’t judge the book by its cover’ is a line most book buyers try to remember just before swiping their card. Its natural extension could be ‘don’t judge the book by the smart title or the subtitle.’  ‘Quarter Idealism and a Pound of Pragmatism’ is a very attractive subtitle which got me interested in reading ‘Social Entrepreneurship in India.’ 

Author Madhukar Shukla is famous for organizing India’s largest and longest running conclave on ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ at the famous XLRI Jamshedpur. He has been a long-serving faculty there as well.

I’ve always wondered how management schools would be teaching courses on entrepreneurship when most of the lessons are learnt on the street. The way this book reads and is structured has convinced me that no one should go to a business school to learn entrepreneurship. 

This book is a tough read. It reads like a research paper full of quotes from other authors. The flow is incoherent. Language verbose.

I looked at the chapter on which the subtitle is taken – didn’t find anything that discussed play of words idealism and pragmatism. The saving grace are the fine examples of successful cases of social entrepreneurship sprinkled all over the book. The chapter on Scale is interesting but uninspiring.

I won’t even suggest this as a text book on ‘social entrepreneurship’ lest the future social entrepreneurs get scared to take the jump.  

For those who are already dabbling in social business and those who are considering it, my suggestion is to read books and articles about single success stories like Akshaya Patra (God’s Own Kitchen), Goonj, Selco, Sahas, Grameen Bank, Baba Iqbal Singh – Rebooting Punjab Through Value-based Education, among others.

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