Creativity, Hunger Games and Battle Royale


“I had never heard of that book or that author until my book was turned in. At that point, it was mentioned to me, and I asked my editor if I should read it. He said: ‘No, I don’t want that world in your head. Just continue with what you’re doing.’”

  • Suzanne Collins on “Battle Royale”

In Psychology creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining others, and us.

Psychology has many psychometric tests to gauge the level of creativity in person ex. Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, Divergent Thinking, NEO PI (those scoring high on openness to experience) etc.

Research has also shown that those high on creativity need not have IQ and also creativity is not confined to any race, community, gender etc.

So can two people come up with same idea, while not being aware it? This has created lot of controversy where some authors have been charged of plagiarism, while authors maintain that the idea was original, similarity is just a coincidence.

"Your novel's a bit Stephen King, a bit John Grisham, it's the kind of plagiarism we're looking for."

In India two authors, Dr. Sumati Kshetramade and Sudha Murthy wrote novels with same theme ( leucoderma) with same title ( Mahashweta). Dr. Kshetramade was first to write novel in Marathi, then after few decades, Sudha Murthy wrote her novel in Kannada. Mrs. Murthy was not aware of Marathi novel till she finished her Kannada novel. So two creative writers can think on similar lines.


But in U.S there was lot of controversy over Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy. Many accused her of plagiarism.

Japanese author Koushun Takami wrote novel called Battle Royale in 1996, about junior high school students who are forced to fight each other to the death in a program run by the authoritarian Japanese government.


Suzanne Collins wrote first novel – The Hunger Games-of trilogy in 2008.

The Hunger Games is about nation called Penam, which consists of the wealthy Capitol and twelve districts in varying states of poverty. Every year, children are chosen form these twelve districts to participate in a compulsory annual televised death match called Hunger Games, in order to entertain residents of Capitol.

hunger games

While many accused Suzanne of copying theme from Battle Royale, Suzanne claimed that she had not heard of Koushun Takami and Battle Royale till she finished her novel. Her inspiration came from Greek mythology (Theseus and Minotaur) and Roman gladiator’s games.


Just because theme is similar does not necessarily mean that there is plagiarism, two creative people can come up with similar ideas.



BJP-Shiv Sena Government, Game Theory and Shapley- Shubik Power Index

Shiv Sena on Thursday criticised the Bhartiya Janata Party over the contentious Land Acquisition Bill.In a scathing attack, the Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna said the party will not support any bill that stands against farmers.

– India Today

BJP and Shiv Sena have formed coalition government in Maharashtra, as neither of them can form government on their own. Though both claim to be pro- Hindu, there is no love lost between them. Given this situation BJP is not in a mood to spoil its relations with Sharad Pawar’s NCP, which in turn means it will have to go slow on corruption cases during NCP regime.


Question is how critical is Shiv Sena in coalition game. Answer to this lies in Game Theory.

Noble Prize winner Lloyd Shapley is expert in area of Game Theory. He along with Martin Shubik, came up with Power Index in 1954 to measure the powers of players in a voting game. The index often reveals surprising power distribution that is not obvious on the surface.


In case of power index, assumption is all are rational players and they join coalition in sequence i.e. one at a time.

Let us imaging that there are 4 players i.e 4 political parties – P1, P2, P3 and P4 and they have 7, 5, 3 and 2 seats respectively. To pass any bill in assembly, you need at least 10 votes. No party on its own can pass the bill, therefore need for coalition.

Suppose P1 proposes a bill, P2 first supports it, then P4 supports it and finally P3 support it, then sequence is P1, P2, P4, P3. There can be other sequences also ex. P3, P1, P2, P4.

Number of such sequences for 4 parties will be 4! = 4x3x2x1 = 24.

Now suppose P1 proposes a bill and it is supported by P3 then it gets required 7+3=10 votes, then P3 becomes pivotal player (since because of P3 you got required 10 votes), it could also be P2 proposes bill, P3 supports it first and next P4 supports it i.e. 5+3+2=10, here required votes were obtained when P4 joined coalition therefore P4 becomes pivotal player.

Now for all the 24 sequences you find a pivotal player in each sequence. Calculations will show that P1 is pivotal player in 10 sequences, P2 in 6, P3 in 6 and P4 in 2 sequences.


Now we calculate power index using formula given below

Power index for a party = No. of times a party has pivotal position/Total no. of sequences.

Therefore power index for P1= 10/24, P2=6/24, P3=6/24 and P4=2/24. Higher number indicates more power. It is interesting to note that P2 and P3 have same power though P2 has more seats.

In Maharashtra Assembly majority means 145 seats, BJP has 122, Shiv Sena has 63, NCP has 41 and Congress 42. This is very interesting combination, so let us wait and see how the game is played.









Evolutionary Game Theory, Organisational Behaviour and Meat Ants


“Ants are good citizens, they place group interests first”

– Clarence Shepard Day, American Author.

Meat ants are found in Australia. They have wonderful organizational structure. At the top is queen and below are thousands of ants. Ants play different roles according to age and needs of organization. All are aggressive, focused, team player and hardworking (have you ever seen an ant loafing?).

Meat Ant

Now for some more interesting facts- all are females and also sisters (i.e. they have same mother, while fathers may be different), males have no role to play as they are considered to be useless.


How did they achieve such a wonderful organizational structure? Explanation lies in evolutionary game theory.


If ants were to breed on their own, they will be able to pass only 50% of genes, to next generation, the percentage will go down even further in later generations. Now to preserve their genes they did something different-to keep correlation of relatedness high they outsourced breeding to the queen, who is diploid, after she mates male drone that is haploid, she is able to maintain correlation of relatedness at around .75 i.e. the next generation will preserve 75% of genes. Since same queen lays eggs (male drone may change) the correlation of relatedness is around .75. Generations of ants are sisters since mother is same.


Optimization model can explain why ants are so focused. In dynamic programming there is interesting problem of how many things can be kept in a knapsack, whose value is high but weight is low (  using online solver for below example answer is all items except green box)


Ants use same logic, if they are given option of small amount of honey with high sugar content and large amount of solution containing lower sugar content, they will always opt for honey i.e. more sugar (quality) but less weight (quantity).








Evolutionary Game Theory, Coevolution and Red Queen Syndrome.

Evolutionary game theory (EGT) is the application of game theory to evolving populations of life forms in biology. It is especially useful for understanding the phenomenon of coevolution. Coevolution is change in one species triggered by the change in another species.


Coevolution game can be competitive or non competitive.


In competitive coevolution, the relation between two players is that of hunter and prey. Here conflict is for survival. The two players make changes in their bodies (mutation) in order to win the race for survival. Best example is that of rough skinned newt and garter snake. Garter snake eats newt. In order to survive the newt makes itself toxic, while garter snake develops capability to neutralize poison. Over a period of time to survive the newt has made itself more and more toxic, some are so toxic that a newt has enough poison to kill more than 20 adult humans, while garter snake has managed to evolve defenses to digest poison and eat newt.


As per game theory, each strategy of player has tradeoffs. While high toxicity improves chances of survival for newt, but it also results in production of lesser offspring. For garter snake higher capability to digest poison results in lesser speed.

newt trade offsnake vs newt

The conflict resembles Red Queen Syndrome- one is running faster and faster to stay in same place. Each is undergoing mutation just to survive.

red queen

Those working in organizations with lot of negative politics and toxic organizational culture can identify themselves with this game.


Non-competitive game is mutually beneficial. The two players make modifications (mutations) that are beneficial to both, resulting in symbiotic relationship. In fact if one species dies than survival of other is at stake. A flower called Darwin’s Orchid has very long nectary i.e. place where nectar is stored to attract a moth – almost 30 cms. To reach that nectar the moth should have a unusually long proboscis, the Morgan’s Spinx moth has such a structure, which helps it to reach the nectar (proboscis of 38 cms) and in process gather pollens necessary for pollination. In other words if moth was a human with height of 6 feet, his tongue would be around 18 feet!


While relation is mutually beneficial, if moth were to disappear, survival of orchid will be at stake.

Darwin's moth and its absurdly long proboscis

In corporate world, dependence of vendors on organization for which they make customized products, may result in similar dilemma i.e. if organization stops production line, it may impact survival of vendor.












United Maharashtra, Separate Vidharbha and State of Bombay


“If Vidarbha is hived off, we will have no funds from day one to run the new State. The region’s share is burdened by a deficit and Monopoly Cotton Purchase Scheme, Employment Guarantee Scheme and such activity will immediately cease since we would not have money to pay salaries”

– Dr. Shrikant Jichkar, Economist


“We had already passed the resolution in favour of smaller states, including a separate state of Vidarbha.”

– Devendra Fadnavis , CM Maharashtra


“Maharashtra and Mumbai??? Why not? Mumbai has always fancied itself as an independent entity, anyway. This game has countless possibilities.”

  • Shobha De, Writer


Humourist P.L. Deshpande wrote interesting article called “ Mumbaikar, Punekar ka Nagpurkar?” describing idiosyncrasies of Maharashtrians living in cities of Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur.


For Nagpurkars, favourite subject is backwardness of Vidharbha and separate state of Vidharbha with Nagpur as capital.


Punekar love to think themselves as custodians of Marathi culture and prefer United Maharashtra.


Mumbaikars live in world of their own, some wish to stay with Maharashtra, some want separate Bombay and some just don’t care as long as they have chawl to live, vada pav to eat and local & BEST to travel.


So what is the future of state of Maharashtra? Answer lies in history of Maharashtra.


During 17th and 18th century, lot of things happened which were to shape future of Maharashtra. Had they not happened, history of Maharashtra would have been different.


British got city of Bombay as dowry from Portuguese and took decision to develop it. It was money of capitalists (British, Gujrathis (both Hindu and Parsi) & Marwadis) and blood & sweat of migrants (mostly Maharshtrians from Konkan) that created Bombay.


Shahji Bhosale was noble in court of Sultan Adilshah of Bijapur, his son Shivaji, had other plans- serving Sultan was not one of them. He started his career from city of Pune and built Maratha Empire after fighting with Adil Shah, Portuguese and Mughals.


Few decades later a Brahmin, Balaji Bhat, from Konkan region crossed Shayadri Mountains and reached Pune. He started his career working as clerk in Maratha Army and later rose to become Peshwa (prime minister) of Maratha Empire, which was then ruled by Shivaji’s grandson Shahu. Balaji’s sons, Baji and Chimnaji, along with their team of warriors consisting of Holkars, Shindes, Pawars etc. were responsible for rapid expansion of Maratha Empire with Pune as capital.


One of the warriors, Raghuji Bhosale believed in Drang nach Osten.


To east of Maratha Empire was Gondwana- kingdom of Gond tribals. Their king Bakth Bulund Shah was impressed by city of Delhi (capital of Mughals) and wanted to build something similar for his kingdom. The site chosen was area around Nag River. The city was named after the river- Nagpur. After his death, his successors started fighting amongst themselves for the throne. Raghuji Bhosale took advantage of situation and annexed Gondwana along with Nagpur. Raghuji made Nagpur capital of his part of Maratha Kingdom.


During British rule province of CP & Berar was created with Nagpur as capital. Berar, a part of Nizam of Hyderabad’s kingdom, under princess of Berar Duru Shevar (wife of Nizam). British annexed it.


So post independence when demand was made of state of Maharashtra, situation was fluid. It could have resulted in separate Vidharbha and rest of Maharashtra or united Maharashtra (consisting of Vidharbha, Konkan, parts of Nizam’s kingdom called Marathwada, West Maharashtra and city of Mumbai) or Maharshtra without Mumbai or Maharashtra without Mumbai and Vidharbha.


One decision of Morarji Desai, Chief Minister of Bombay, sealed fate of Maharashtra and Mumbai. Morarji was against giving Mumbai to Maharashtra. He ordered security forces to fire on protestors who were demanding Mumbai to be made part of Maharashtra-105 protestors died. This event united Maharashtrians and now nothing could stop formation of united Maharashtra with Mumbai as capital.


On 1st May 1960 state was Maharashtra was formed with Mumbai as capital and Nagpur as 2nd capital. Much water has flowed under the bridge since then, so going back to pre 1960 situation looks unlikely.






















Game Theory, License Raj and Bajaj Scooter


The idea of raising your own added value is natural. Less intuitive is the approach of lowering the added value of others.

-Barry Nalebuff in Use Game Theory to Shape Strategy

Game theory is used to shape strategy; one such game is lowering value of other player to raise one’s value.

Here is example; there are two players a professor and group of students. Professor has 25 black cards and group of 25 students have one red card each. One red card coupled with black card fetches Rs.100.

Let us see how professor and group of students bargain with each other.

Total value of 25 cards of professor is Rs.2500, while value of all 25 cards of students is Rs.2500, so total value of game is Rs.5000, but only Rs.2500 is available for distribution. In ideal case, Rs.100 will be distributed in ratio of .5:.5 i.e. professor will keep Rs.50 with himself and give Rs.50 to student, so professor will end up earning Rs.1250, while each student will end up getting Rs.50.

Now professor decides to play a different game. He publicly tears off 5 cards, so he is left with only 20 cards, so value of his cards comes down to Rs.2000, while that of students is still Rs. 2500. Professor’s strategy is to decrease the value of other player. One can earn only if one red card is coupled with one black card, by destroying 5 black cards, he has reduced bargaining power of students, as 5 students will now end up earning nothing. Now professor can ask for new split ratio of 9:1, so while total value has gone down, Professor will end up earning more i.e. 90% of Rs.2000 i.e Rs.1800 which is still higher than Rs. 1250 he would have earned in earlier case, while 20 students will consider themselves lucky to get Rs.10 each, rather than getting nothing. Here assumption is students are not able to get together.

This game can be played between organization and customer, management and employees etc.

Before liberalization of Indian economy under Narasimha Rao, Indian economy was under influence of leftist thinkers. They believed that Indian economy should be strongly controlled to prevent Indian citizens from getting exploited by capitalists. So industrialist had to get permission from government to start production, the permission was in form of licence, which decided how much an industrialist could produce. Result was production was insufficient to meet demands of customers, which meant that customer had to stand in queue for everything. Competition was discouraged, so producer could sell whatever he produced at premium. There was no concept of quality, design, customer service etc. as customer considered himself lucky if he just got product.


Not all industrialists were against licence raj, some benefit by this strange arrangement esp. those in automobile industry. Ambassador Car, Premier Padmini Car, Bajaj Scooters etc. were such products, which had waiting list of customers inspite of poor design and quality.


Bajaj Chetak Scooter was one such product, at one stage if you wanted to buy this scooter you had to wait for 10 years! Not that it was a world-class product, but due to lack of competition and artificially controlled production, you had unusual demand & supply situation. In fact Bajaj scooter was anything but world class in terms of quality and design, one joke was to start scooter you had to tilt scooter to left and kick start it. Post liberalization, Ambassador Car, Premier Padmini Car and Bajaj Scooters closed production due to lack of demand while during same period demand for four and two wheelers went up dramatically.