Any time one turns on the television, barely a few minutes go by before there is an advertisement for beauty products that promise to turn one’s skin tone a couple of shades lighter. Watch any movie, and one would quickly conclude that the idea of beauty (in India’s collectively psyche) is still predominantly comprised of folks having a “fair” skin tone. It makes one wonder why a country, as diverse as ours, is still fixated on the standards of beauty defined by the British or the West? Although we have come to accept this as the norm, if one were to dwell on this for a moment, they would quickly come to the conclusion that this fixation is rooted in the nation’s reverence for the colour white. How is it that a physical characteristic (of being white) confers such a disproportionate advantage? Is there something inherently positive about white colour for skin, or is there something else that is going on here? Inconspicuously Human, by Uday Singh,takes on this nebulous topic, drags it out of the dark unexplored and unspoken corners of our mind, and exposes it to scientific scrutiny. The book arms the reader with all the latest science that is relevant to this topic and encourages them to develop their independent perspectives.
The reverence for white skin and the scientific basis is just one of many topics that the book endeavours to explore and expound. The other topics are equally compelling and shed light on the not-so-obvious aspects of human nature.
The book draws the reader to join in on the exploration with simple but evocative questions—How is it that during a tiring standing-room-only ride in the crowded subway train, it is the 10-year-old son that chooses to sit as seating becomes available. In contrast, the mom in high heels chooses not to sit down? When top managers were asked to arrange small wooden blocks one on top of another, why is it that one fumbled after arranging only five blocks while another made it past a whopping 20 blocks? Do we impose limits on ourselves without even being aware of them? What can fleas teach us about our own self-imposed and subconscious limits? Apart from individual self-imposed constraints, how do cultures evolve and constrain the very same people that they are supposed to help?
Normally when faced with questions such as the above, questions that are quite ambiguous, one ends up with a multitude of perspectives making it relatively hard to arrive at a proper conclusion. ‘Inconspicuously Human’ boldly takes on those questions and provides enough structure and substance with its well-laid-out arguments and supporting evidence in the form of scientific experiments, allowing you to draw your conclusions. And those conclusions can, at times, be quite profound, and they are likely to stay with the reader long after the book itself would have become a distant memory.
The compilation of various experiments and anecdotes mentioned in the book provides for interesting living-room conversations, regardless of whether those conversations are with expert academics or with curious neophytes. Apart from serving as cocktail party conversation topics, the insights from the book will allow the readers to gain a greater understanding of how their brains function, to understand their conscious and subconscious preferences, and to lead healthier and happier lives eventually.
‘Inconspicuously Human’ finds itself in the same class of books like those by Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, Outliers), Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational), S. Dubner & Steven Levitt (Freakonomics) due to its compelling and thought-provoking nature and deep insights into human nature. This book has been published by The Alcove Publishing Co. and is priced at Rs 350. This compelling read is available for purchase across all leading online (including Amazon) and offline bookstores across the country.
This book comes from the author, Uday Singh, who was also behind the best-selling revenge thriller Pokhran. Besides writing, he has served as a management consultant with McKinsey & Co. and holds a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University. He is known to have consulted and advised politicians, heads of corporations and senior leaders of major companies. His experiences in the field have translated well into stories and books. Currently, he works at an investment bank in New York City and lives with his family in Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
Inconspicuously Human is available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3zaVsLV