Thursday, 23 June 2016

The confessions of a skilled lunatic.

Trust me when I tell you! It takes quite some doing to associate with yourself the title I've mentioned above. But post the grueling realization on how apt it is, you can't help but feel an eerie aplomb about it. I'm just another guy on the tenterhooks in the 21st century corporate scenario. Confused and clueless as I am about my future, I have a barrage of self-imposed confidence about my success that I genuinely didn't foster. And much to my surprise, even with my meager quiver of limited acumen on a handful of work related aspects, I'm often extolled as a young turk to watch out for. So I've largely lived my entire life equipping myself with more sharpened skills that would serve me better in what these people think would come of me. But of late I've come to notice some very strange but palpably obvious things about this entire fiefdom I now feel caught up in, and would like to share the same with you. 

All this time when I literally loved to study a few subjects and genuinely doted for those diagrams and schematics and precise descriptions of theories and principles in various books, I felt a sense of satisfaction that I'm finally gaining a piece of knowledge. One of our prime traits that make us human beings so superior, is our inexorable quest to never stop learning. And till the time I remained a student, from one institution to another, one grade beyond the lower rut, I just felt a mental elevation parallel to the allegorical one. I felt I'm moving up because I was building upon my knowledge and with every passing grade, I believed I am equipped with more sophisticated dexterity that is usually required at higher levels. So before stepping into the corporate folderol, that was quite a feeling to be initially solving case studies pertinent to an operations manager and then finally solving ones from the perspective of the CEO. It all seemed perfect till..

Till I finally joined the corporate world. As expected I was roped in at beginning levels and all I thought I had to do was to implement those entry level skills at work, learn more about the job, hone those skills with practical experience, and then just keep going and graduating one level up to move to the skills learned in the higher grade. But just a few days into the job I realized the innate fallacy in this. One, the teaching of stratified skills in your schools is not perfect. As you move to the higher skills, you concentrate so much on the fundamentals of the higher levels, that a very deep understanding of the basic levels is lost. I don't have a perfect analogy but consider a programmer who was trained initially on binary code, then assembly language and then he went on to the higher level programming instructions. Now he once knew the assembly language coding pretty well at college but he passed out knowing higher level programming with supreme confidence. 

His confidence was not dumbfounded. Everyone told him that most of the jobs need higher level programming skills so that was the right skill to acquire. And before you could know, you're in a software company, coding 9-5 on a high level programming language. Slowly and steadily you lose a grip of your fundamental skills of breaking down higher level instructions into assembly instructions, and assembly instructions into bits. After initial practice at the sophomore when you worked on high level programming, you initially did the conversions in a tedious and stultifying fashion but became good at it with time. Now, given that no one gives a damn about your conversion skills, you lose sight of what resides within what you do. And slowly and steadily, all your progress is linked to what you do and perform at a higher abstraction level. 

You earn well and you're promoted. So you learn more and more of that higher level programming language because you can now do more things on that higher abstraction level. And suddenly, all your erudition into seeing how things move at a basic level vanquish. In fact for the larger part of it you won't even recognize the presence of the lower layers - the cogs and sprockets. Your skill becomes detached from the fundamentals and while you're technically more skilled, your skills are narrowed down to a bare minimum. In fact to such a minimum, that now you entirely depend on your higher level programming language skills for existence and progress. So the language you coded on, now codes your life.

The above fallacy is hard to find but the analogy shows how more skills in the corporate world are tantamount to a depredation of your foundation skills. So while your actual skills, the ones that are actually needed to make something new and unique, like maybe a new programming language altogether, are made to vanish in the corporate culture. And all the while the success that comes with an emboldening of the higher level programming skills makes you narcissistic. So if tomorrow a young lad comes in and questions your higher level code by breaking it into bit levels, you'd knock him out because his volley was too hard for you to even comprehend. He'd be termed a ruffian and a misfit. And the culture that killed your real skills, now uses another you to kill skills of yet another young lad. And the vicious cycle continues. 

People sitting at the top of the corporate hierarchy run your life through pretenses and delusions. They know you don't merely work for any money, but you work for the ambition to improve. So they create a virtual ecosystem, a hacienda, where the narrow set of skills they want you to wholeheartedly work on, are made to appear so astounding that you feel like a god when you attain them. While in the real world, outside the corporate ecosystem, and in the realm of founders and innovators, those skills may hold no worth at all. So when I, a skilled professional realized my place in the scenario, I branded myself a lunatic. Because on one hand I'm able enough to see the sad and flagrant truth. But on the other hand, I can only feel mawkish about not being courageous enough to move out of a trap whose next layer is made out of this confession of mine!

Friday, 3 June 2016

The Decay hidden in development - The truth behind our imagined order.

"There is no God. But don't tell that to my servant, lest he murder me at night"


 - Voltaire



There is something very sublime about the lies a society tells itself. We, the Homo Sapiens, considered to be the most advanced species on the planet, the crowning glory of evolutionary heritage, consider ourselves to be a creation of God. We consider God to be the all powerful omnipresent, benevolent and condoning force that ensures we survive and thrive. We in fact placed so much of importance to ourselves while crafting these tales to last a millennia, that we neglected the symphony of nature and conveniently ignored everything else. In simple terms, God's prime purpose was set in stone. To atone for human sins so that humans could prosper, reproduce and produce billions of copies. And in this regard we heralded god so much, that it naturally became an obligation to help Gods in these endeavors by establishing what is known as the ''imagined order". 

An imagined order is a lie that is very obvious in hindsight, but which when enshrouded in a very surreptitious and delicately carved potpourri of myths, becomes too difficult to resist. One of which is the myth of development. Since time immemorial, sporadic human societies were made to congregate just so that some development could take place. Be it the gigantic pyramids, or the veritable Great wall of China, or the Taj Mahal, or the Burj Khalifa. All these monuments had very different objectives to serve. The pyramids served to engage slaves in dedicating lives to the service of the pharaoh - the manifestation of God. The wall of China in dedication to the future generations of the caucus. The Taj Mahal to fulfill the whims of the all powerful ruler. And the Burj Khalifa to establish the impregnable supremacy of a modern center of commerce. 

All four of these man made marvels symbolize development in the highest terms. Countless men and women, and later on architects and engineers, came together for many years, and once the edifice was in place, they went back to the silos. In that regard, development always served to integrate populations and till date, all modern nations are founded on the bedrock of an idea that derives from development. While the ideal of development in literal terms united the disparate American states in 1776, development of religious supremacy united the many pariah groups of Islamic militants who established the ISIS. Development is a solid motive, and a timeless trick to get together people who won't otherwise budge. But is development really that good?

The Egyptian syndicate collapsed, The Chinese empire vanquished and the Mughal reign extirpated. And maybe pretty soon Dubai too would lose all the glamor once the energy dynamics change. No development can ensure a long term sustainability of any kingdom or country. Development has an inhered decay of liberty. All development enshrines the belief vested in the imagined order that a state follows. The imagined order in Egyptian Nile Valley fiefdom was unrelenting unbridled service to the pharaoh. In China it was service to the protection of state. In case of Taj Mahal it was once again the ruler and commons relationship. And in Burj Khalifa it was a commercial contract. In that sense all development is centered around fulfillment of an imaginary promise. The Egyptian pharaoh could have simply revoked his obligation to the countless slaves after they built a pyramid by sentencing them to perdition despite their efforts, instead of bestowing eternal blessings. The great wall of China saw countless slaves die and their ash remains buried in the wall. The promise of security never saw daylight for them. It is believed that workers who built the consecrated Taj Mahal were ridden of their hands instead of them receiving honorary benefits from the king. And in case of Burj Khalifa, while it didn't happen, but the state could have reneged any contractual obligations before formal handover of the towering structure, owing to any inability to pay for the services and any other impending bailout clauses built into the contract enforced by a powerful state no one would have believed to fallout
All of the above arrangements are imagined orders. People join in because people believe in the myths these orders are set on. The myth of Pharaoh's godlike stature or in Dubai's perpetual prosperity. And so much we tend to believe in imagined orders that we lose sight of what's real. What's real is that all imagined orders come to an end. And religion is one of them. All Kingdoms and Gods and states have this thing in common - the imagined order that binds followers together. But while the imagined order of kingdoms and states is frail and fickle; and we've seen countless examples of ancient kingdoms and modern states falling into bits and pieces. Religion has reigned supreme as the myths go pretty deep. But you never know even with religions. After all, many theologists would still tell you how Islam and Catholicism were spinoffs of Judaism

That brings us to the deeper consideration. While imagined order breeds development, and in that light development is considered a revered virtue, is development just about as pestiferous as the imagined order when it comes to spreading lies that we build our lives and social systems on? Development as it's proved through the above examples, inevitably binds us to a belief. And being bound to a belief puts liberty of conscience in a decadent state. The belief in Egyptian Pharaoh mutilated all possibility of a more just and equal society. In fact as per Hammurabi's code followed by all Egyptian Pharaohs, it was dictated that the death of a supreme woman carrying a child meant much much more than that of a an expecting woman from the slave class. Likewise the development in China and the Taj Mahal too restrained possibilities of people moving beyond what was enforced as a mandate on them.

The above seems paradoxical, and the fact that we need a paradox to spurt development is quite a bit of a blow. We don't develop because we just want to. We develop because we are forced to. And in it lies the innate murder of our freedom of thought. No surprise when Alexander the great visited Diogenes, he was so sick of Alexander and the supposed modern world's garrulous jingoism that he shooed him away. He was the only man to sense the decimation of mankind's most powerful gift - free thought, in the light of development; Development that we humans take immense pride in, till date. 

With time however, inquisitive men like Diogenes plummeted badly, and we now are left with a miraculously large set of human plenums, all developing, all competing on development, and all thinking woah! what a good time it is to live in. While in reality, we're suffering from an exponential metastasizing decay in our thoughts and the degrees of freedom we once exercised in our cerebra. Our conscience is dilapidated, our finesse mortified and our cynicism quelled. We are much more progressive when it comes to materialistic marvels. But when it comes to thoughts, ideals and principals, we can't even write a formidable constitution, such as the one that was written just half a century ago in many nations. We can't think beyond what our myths, our imagined orders, and the concept of development compels us to exercise our thought prowess within the realm of. We are a race that on paper is progressing, but which in the scheme of nature's foreplay on evolution is becoming more and more morbid and decrepit. And one day, in the veil of more development, we'd become a bunch of human heap, sitting on a database of myths and beliefs, so large to devour and digest, that we won't even have any time to create any new ideals to engulf more human subjects into more development.   We're a gone case, but we won't realize it. Our imagined orders make it so very comfortable to believe that we're moving ahead, that it is only when we depart this life that we realize how big a lunatic we were! 


Monday, 11 April 2016

Economic hitmen, media and the myth of freedom in a democracy!

There is something grotesque about the way this world functions. Things appear so fragmented, so isolated, and yet there's an incredible connection that only a few could see. And those empowered enough to see it are either too timorous, too apathetic or are in connivance with the ones calling the shots. There are too many buzzwords hurled all over the world to make us feel pretty good about world order, which frankly speaking, is a bit of an oxymoron. The world, when referring to the beings residing in it, are by nature chaotic and rampant, and hence imposition of an order, is tantamount to chaffing their core liberty and fomenting their instinct of rebellion. Hence while a world order is at the zenith of the halcyon portrayed in the Koran, these buzzwords spread hope. This hope keeps us going, and gives us an aplomb, but there's big danger lurking. We're in the process of making things appear more idyllic than they are. We're hiding the demons and putting only the good things at display. We're in short making everyone feel good and sanguine. But the danger is that were still perpetrating misinformation. And we do know how misinformation, when the lid was blown of it, resulted in some of the most flagrant destruction mankind ever witnessed.

Just another deal of a large American energy company and a spinoff from the fiefdom of the Persian gulf, or a spree of financial institute collapses, or the bailout of a few while sacrificial oblation of others. These are not random inadvertent events. Economic advisors and the layers of analysts beneath them project future scenarios 10 and 20 years down the line. Then there are international regulatory bodies, working in close loop with financial gateways of major economies. But finally, the stuntmen in this global economic potpourri, is the extremely advanced breed of economic hitmen. 

Mankind has always found some solace in linking everything to religion. And with religion comes an irresistible temptation to deploy religious caveats to the concept of the operation. The Koran dictates the inseparability of the state and the religion. Christianity bred imperialism. And almost every other religion would have some tacit or delineated abstract on how religion fuels the system's cogs and sprockets. So with the Christian Imperialism apparently lunching global peace so openly, capitalism took over. And with the odiousness of Capitalism soon getting questioned by demands of global amnesty for the frail and the unprivileged, the most powerful clan of scions from all over the world had to create a new weapon. A weapon that beneath the pretext of corporate benignity, could perpetrate the same old imperialistic malaise, thereby denigrating the promise of equality, and furthering the original agenda of superiority for a chosen few. No surprise the 2015 OxFam study told us the world has more inequality than ever!

Economic hitmen have an aura of insidiousness and gaucherie about them. They set in corporate headquarters, consultancy corporations, global analysis wings, secretariats to finance and power ministries, embassies and last but not the least, in global monetary organizations. Post world war 2 when the world moved towards a reform of visible development with no hidden agendas, the first generations of these precocious hitmen was already in action. The Persian gulf which was largely occupied by men clad in white so eager to turn their brethren raiment red, was now basking under the dream of prosperity it could never even imagine. Oil was at the fulcrum of all development to follow, and American capitalistic mavericks and Russian oligarchies, both set their eyes on all that was there to savor. 

American hitmen hit pay dirt in the late 60's and early 70's. The royal Saud family was convinced of America's technological prowess and just right in getting multi billion dollar drilling contracts, and on the other hand, America's first claim on turning around arid deserts into Ivory towers overnight also seemed appealing. And snap! Two decades later, Saudi Arabia became both the pulpit of modernization, and the centaph of sovereignty. The royal Saud family spoke from every platform volumes about their role in elevating the lifestyle of their countrymen, and America about its supremacy and goodwill in making the world a better place to live in. And slowly and steadily America kept inching closer to assert a much larger dominion of control all over the world. And only today when we see where it stands, that we realize how it put pieces in the puzzle to set up this condescending network of control points. 

The economic hitmen were not just furthering an economic agenda. They were also emboldening the second stratum of bested interests. While the US, Russia and major European powers were changing one economy at a time, the hitmen were weaving a very intricate network of diplomatic triggers built through economic mutuality and tie ups. Both India and Pakistan have to ally with America. Pakistan hid their secret planes in Peshawar, India has and continues to seek massive investments. Likewise, every regional triad or quartet of influential powers, irrespective of how much frisson they witness when hearing of each other, is in someway or the other affected by the whims and fancies of the mighty USA. Such was the impact of the nuances manifest in most of the sprawling global corporate cartels these hitmen created. And then the final nail in the coffin was to follow up soon. Media consolidation. 

Media transformed during the 50's from a set of large government owned or subsidized media stations, to giant media houses, to titanic business conglomerates, one of whose many ventures would be a large and substantial media house. And hence suddenly, the already complex labyrinth of these myriad of interconnected players, all having some say in the way the world functions, linked up even more unnervingly. And soon, this unedeifying network of global players, grew exponentially to involve large corporations from almost all the nations. Not surprisingly, most of these nations were palpably successful free democratic economies too. Just like the soigne of the ball game USA.

People of all these economies, living under the clout of a mediocre media depicting redacted reality, teamed up with corporations both feeding the media and the government, to term every corporate progression egalitarian. Thus a staccato of developments and subsequent announcements was produced, which post initial skepticism, resulted in accession of public belief. And with constant reinforcements of this belief, the corporatocrcy - Corporate + Democracy soon replaced democracy by all means. So the democracy which faithfully stands to serve as the palimpest of struggle and torment to gain freedom, was soon replaced by a hideous, obstreperous and avaricious monster, which above all, appeared like a Samaritan!

The world as we live in today, may give the impression of a very ideal state. Barring a few, we've kept our killer instincts at bay for very long now, and we can even commend ourselves for that. But in reality, there is no comeuppance large enough for what we've done to ourselves and our liberty. While we still appear as if our rights are protected, the constitution which dictates those rights is the heirloom of this powerful syndicate. And   judiciary, which by default should've been quarantined, is rendered ineffective due to lack of action from authorities once again falling under the realm of public administration solely controlled by the elected representatives. All in all, it's utter chaos from within. All this freedom, all this exercise of constitutionally ensconced powers is allowed till a limit. And then suddenly, everything turns against you and you become the antagonist who just wants to disrupt peace. And before you could catch a whiff, the tentacles of this cartel of beasts clips off your nascent wings once and for all. And you realize how the democracy, whose chief aspect worth cherishing was freedom, is bereft of that element itself. The world is not at peace. It's in a constant state of war. Wars fought at stock exchanges, banks, oil fields and what not. And the wars whose impact surfaces when immigrants are forced to take up arms and blow themselves up or when famished children die of malnutrition. And yet we're happy in our own closet, silently waiting for someone to tell us it's all wrong, even when something within us keeps telling us it's more than wrong. But we'll wait, because that's what we always do!