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! 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

The butterfly effect and you!

Most of what we witness and go through everyday, can actually be summarized and explained through some very pithy laws of science. Physics defines our movements, Chemistry how we mold in the world, and biology how we stay intact from within. But all the while we believe that most of our life is tactful. That by simply providing some set and prudent inputs to most of the functions that dictate the outcomes, we can expect some set outputs all of which forebode acceptability for us. But what if there is one very big anomaly in this assumption on which we otherwise predicate our whole lives?

The butterfly effect is a very subtle yet powerfully consequential axiom. In layman terms, it states that the fluttering of a butterfly's wings, which is pretty innocuous and commonplace otherwise, can actually go on and set such events in motion that the cascade can go on and even destroy our entire planet! While the physical postulate is pretty recondite and is also considered quixotic, the implications of the effect, if it does exist, can explain a lot that goes on in our lives. 

There are a lot of people out there who work hard, take themselves to the hilt, and exhibit all the dexterity needed to succeed. But yet, very often a new kid on the block sways every judge in the jamboree by their charms in such an immaculate way, that even the set players can't help but feel buoyed about the new kid's entry in the scene. While the big guys on the scene did deserve all the success their hard work warranted, this new guy or gal pillages all the admiration and wins the battle in one shot! What do we have to explain such a situation as of now? Natural bravura, unquestionable talent, fortunes, elders' blessings, God's grace, and what not. Now let's view this through the window of the Butterfly effect. 

You do a lot of things in your entire life and you're programmed to believe all that you do can have ramifications. And then there are some really crucial moments wherein you're asked to give in your best shot. You can actually conceive your entire life as an interaction with multiple functions. You tune yourself and become an input to these functions, and the outcome of that becomes the input of another, and the chain goes on. Economics can be one function for which you're just one of the many inputs. Yours paying taxes, and yours taking loans and making purchases may have a negligible but extant impact on the entire economy. Likewise, ecosystem is a function. Yous using your car or bicycle, or yours using water judiciously is once again an input. So in a nutshell, life can be viewed as your interaction with all such functions. Now let's see how this really works.

As per the traditional view, most of the functions are usual mundane ones with set outcomes. Work for example is one function. Your inputs include yours reporting on time, signing an X number of files everyday, and being obsequious to your boss. Anything goes awry, and you know the set outcome of your career getting royally screwed.  On the other hand, there are some crucial functions for which you really have to prepare the best possible inputs. For example, an examination or a presentation that could make or break your life. So as per the convention, you have to treat them as special functions to which you ought to supply a more honed and advanced input and you expect a path breaking output. And thus we humans tend to simplify life in the most grotesque but palliative way. 

The butterfly effect on the other hand, nails this entire proposition. The entire theory centers around the presence of chaos. The theory postulates that it does not matter what credence we accord to functions in order to design the perfect blueprint for our lives. It emphasizes the emergence of entropy as the catalyst which can transform the entire equation for you. So all this while you believed you can transcribe your life into functions with a well defined set of inputs and outputs. However, the butterfly effect brings a new catalyst of entropy as an additional factor that goes in, which in turn produces a new and unique output, which in turn might as well become another catalyst for another function, and which may thus result in a cascade of catalytic chain reactions, finally leading to an outcome you never even dreamt of. 

Consider the usual work situation. You only thought of putting in all the effort you can, putting in extra hours and just boot licking your boss. And being the ideal employee you are, everything could only go right. But one day, some entropy in the R&D lab of a small corporation ensued in an invention that could literally decimate the hegemony of the previous technologies in the field. The entropy in the form of this invention, suddenly sends a juggernaut of frenzy all across the stock markets, and all companies downsize their current departments working with now obsolete technology. And before you could know that, not only your department is gone, but even your experience and the entire gamut of your skills is burnt to the ashes. And the once strident, confident and proud employee galumphs to oblivion. 

On the other hand, some entropy in the form of some ridiculously game changing decision in your own small team literally spirals your team into the kind of limelight it never even dreamt of being in. Not only that, what was once a seemingly commonplace decision which worked wonders for your company, now becomes the benchmark for everyone; and you become the company's blue eyed boy! So till yesterday you were the typical employee who found his job hackneyed, and today she's elevated to a new height every now and then.

The crux of this theory is that you can't even hope to believe that you can control what happens in your life by doing all the right things and then expecting nothing wrong coming to you; Or the other way for that matter. The butterfly effect dictates that your life does allow you to choose what functions to tinker with and what inputs to provide to the same. But the absence and presence of catalysts and the magnitude of their impact is controlled by this phenomenon. However, the basic premise of the effect is that a very basic input, provided to a very insignificant function, can actually be coupled with an unexpected catalyst, which in turn may produce another catalyst, and another, and then the slugfest can never cease and result in unimaginable things. The great depression, the world wars, the Nazi fray, and even some of the biggest inventions of all times. All of them were outputs of processes that had prevailed for very long. But suddenly, some small spinoff at one place toppled the entire dominion. 

The butterfly effect can really do a lot to explain much of human consternation. We often do everything we can. We work hard, we please everyone, we play by the book, and we even pray to God to succeed. And when we fail, we often direct all out polemic and angst to God again. But in reality, you really have to expect the unexpected. Good things don't bode benefaction. And bad things are not always maledictory. The butterfly effect is a pretty sibylline adage to live life by. Do your stuff your own way. Choose which mountains to climb and also choose your gear. But never dare think you can choose how nature will act. Even when you're 50 meters from the top, a hailstorm can end it there. And even when you're miles away, clearing of the weather can show you the way. That's butterfly effect for you!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

India: A nation that still couldn't be!

What is India, our country, our homeland? How do we define it? How do we characterize it? How do we put its essence in words? Is it our cultural diversity that we should forever be proud of? Or is it the barbaric savagery of dowry, female feticide, repression and hypocrisy that many of the same cultures stand for. Is it the varied landscape and opulent natural treasures that we are endowed with, or is it the ruthless extirpation of the same we seem to be carrying out incessantly? Is it our stultifying struggle for freedom that saw many martyrs getting slayed for the sake of their progeny's independence, or is it their idiosyncratic good for nothing progeny that doesn't even understand what freedom and independence are? Yes, I guess in the current scenario, that's the best way to put the plight of our nation's identity crisis.

Do we even know what freedom is, before we could go out on the streets, puffing our chests in conceit, hurling abuses at the nation and its institutions, because we think we are exercising freedom of speech. Can we ever gauge the price that has been paid for it? Or can we ever envisage what those who fought for it believed it shall bring with it?

Freedom in absolute terms can have many notions. It can range from the ideals of liberty that form the bulwark of a democracy, to the carte blanche that defines hippie trails. Many believe that the core essence of freedom is subjectivity, but then where does it leave the veracity of the institutions? It's here that we have to understand the real gravity of the problem that lies in what a lot of young 20 odd olds have suddenly started demanding. And also, what the venerable Mr. Arvind Kejriwal demanded before he went on to become a part of what he once castigated.

Freedom of any country has its own character and flavor. Take the United States for example. Their idea of freedom is actually a palimpsest of many successive masonic presidents. And hence the nation today stands for progress and unbridled superiority. After all, masonry in itself had its roots in establishment of a brotherhood that could withstand the crusade of oppressive Catholicism. That's what their freedom is like. A nation, that no doubt gets involved in financial debauchery and diplomatic promiscuity at a gargantuan scale, but a nation that has still allowed many a men to dream that they can change the world, and so they did. Now what exactly is our idea of freedom then?

Is it the freedom astronauts like Rakesh Sharma and Kalpana Chawla exhibited when they dreamt of literally challenging the adage of skies being the limit, or the freedom exercised by a bunch of university rookies who instead of progressing among the ranks of a well defined system of inclusion in the political fraternity, thought of howling and whimpering and using the short cut to sure shot fame?

 Is it the freedom that a pauper from the "excessively oppressed" and literally "endangered minority" of Muslims exercised when he took upon himself to buttress the country's armory with unmatched missile power, predominantly against a nation whose terror frenzy is led by Islamic fundamentalism? Or is it the freedom that a lot of Muslims enshrine in their self proclaimed righteous freedom struggle for Kashmir, a piece of land where many of them also used that kind of freedom to slaughter Kashsmiri Pandits and soldiers alike. 

Is it the freedom manifest in the martyrdom of many a jawan whose valor and blood formed the foundation of the formidable Jat regiment of the Indian army? Or is it the cohort of rogue jobless boys, who in the name of seeking reservations for their Jat community, demolish public property and disrupt usual activity, thereby defiling the sanctity of the profound status that their own forefathers achieved for them?

Is it the freedom in the pride that the premiers of our armed forces take at the salvo for a martyr like Hanumanthappa or the way they ensconce it in their distinct regalia at the republic day parade? Or is it the freedom the CM of the national capital exercises when he attends such a parade in flip flops just to express his own allegiance to his humble roots in being an 'Aam Aadmi'?

What exactly is this 'freedom' that is duly mentioned many times in documents of our constitution? Is it something that we use to fight against all odds and to build an edifice, or is it what we use to simply say someone else's magnum opus is tainted and hence should be torn down? Can we really exercise right to free speech while we at the same time we tirade certain institutions whose very job is guarantee that freedom? Can we really believe that freedom is tantamount to Eleutheromania, whereby our zest for freedom is juxtaposed on both our ability to question anything, and the amnesty of our constitution to allow that? Or is it the realization that being free is as much about being responsible for proper conduct of it?

In the end, it's worth noting that the institutions are much more fragile and perishable than one may think. After all, it was "We, the people" who gave the constitution to 'ourselves'. The institutions too were set up by us to ensure that the freedom was ensured along with the sovereignty and integrity of the nation, to which a superfluous and debilitating secularism was added later on. The day we take freedom outside this context, all the institutions shall cease to exist, and we'll have the kind of untrammeled freedom that no one shall have seen before. And we shall also have the freedom to call that bloodbath and rampage a constituent of freedom, till the day when there shall be no Indian left to realize how stupid we really were. We are India. We attained our independence 69 years ago, became a republic 66 years ago, and yet we are a nation, that simply couldn't be!