Sunday, 18 December 2016

To the places I could never make it to.

Right atop the cusp of my life, as I transition from the charlatan to the one people would want to look upto, there's a very eerie and stomping regret that bewilders me to the core. It's so often said that a life without a purpose is a life best lived. I've found that to be mostly true. But a life ought to have a longing for something or someone, which becomes the solemn desired outcome of all your travails. From the people whom I see toil hard to earn bread for their offspring, to the dreamers who stay up all night to be at their best when the golden shot arrives. To be honest, even I had an evanescent stint or two where I got my chance to chase the goose. But ultimately, I've always been the "getting swayed by the need of the moment" kind of man.

Most of my pursuits were unidirectional or in fact non-directional to place it in the right standing. I single-handedly made going with the flow the motto of a journey and tarrying along with the change that this demanded in me. I'm a changed man, changing at every instant, turning from a macabre stoic who means his business to an animated kaleidoscope when it came to try and light up a conversation. I've done those changes all the way and all the time and have committed myself to making them for as long as they are demanded from me. But as I make my transition from a boy for himself to a man for the people, there is something that has struck me so fiercely and so belligerently, that I thought I should take a moment or two to grasp the intensity and then waddle into what's inevitable.

Most of the people I know have had a certain period in their lives, early or pretty late, where the brunt of their mistakes or the vistas of their experiences, have exposed them to places and events which were to shape the course of their future. These experiences become the fulcrum of most of their conscience. What we perceive as happiness and what we take as grief, what we should emboss on the visage of our dreams to embolden their conversion to a reality, and what we ought to fear in order to avert all crises which could prevent from that happening. Most of these are decisions and considerations shaped by knowledge gained through our presence at those places mentioned above. 

We all graduate from one school and some of us from two or more. One is the physical one, with the resplendent balustrade and mighty troubadours of academia enshrining in us the art of being enslaved by a paltry occupation, But there is another much more important one that we often leave out of the equation. The school of life. We all come on this planet to be students of life. To be born out of a biological struggle itself, and to traipsing our way to the stages when we become the all seeing being. And then till the very end. We attempt, we fall, we feel debilitated, we learn and we go on. In fact, we learn things of much more value from this school than we do from any of those ornate and ostentatious institutions. It is this school, that I'm afraid to say, I could never get past! 

Too tamed to look beyond the wilderness of the realm I believed to be suitable, and too frightened to become a marauder outside who would steal experiences and interactions. The fact that the entire universe remains the only stable entity in a puddle of chaos, made me feel comfortable about the notion of not concerning myself much about what I was missing out on. In fact, soliloquy has been more emancipating than the riling chatter, and seclusion more enchanting than belonging to a cohort. But as I look back, the aplomb fades away to the grim reality of my future.

My future beckons many occasions, where the recondite argot I learnt at my earthly schools won't come to my avail, and I shall feel bereft of what shall matter the most. We all shape our lives partly by spontaneous decision making through intuition, and partly through applying our knowledge from the experiences encountered at the places we'eve been to. Those places and those experiences also serve to shape the intuition over a period of time, thereby becoming the bedrock of our judgment. I, therefore as I stand today in front of a mirror, find myself deprived of that facet of judgment itself. 

Our lives gradually becomes confined to the precincts of our judgments. Judgments at work, judgments at friendships, judgments on road, and judgments on adventures. Judgments are everything, and what good is a man who cannot judge? What good is a man who doesn't adulate the whimsical nincompoop who gets his bets right and chastises the sagacious sage whose prowess turned a blind eye at the very moment? What good is a man who doesn't favor the mirth of a friend full of duplicity over the transient indolence of a loyal to the word comrade? What good is a man who chooses hardwork and selflessness over deception and deviousness? Therefore, what good is a man who cannot really judge? 

The world just lives by one dictum all the time, and if you swear by the code of the caucus, you just have to judge. There can't be a no judgment scheme. Be it the transactional elements we indulge in for our lives, to the long term decisions we make only once in a while. We have to judge. Whom to maintain camaraderie with and whom to knock off the pack. What to do in order to rise up the ladder and what not to do in order to impel down. We have to think, we have to judge and we have to act. You know why? It's because the fact that certain things could actually just stay that way, is a long lost notion. 

All other animals except the homo sapiens either genetically evolved or went extinct. But we human beings surpassed genetic evolution and produced an evolution of ourselves, and of the rest of the world, including other animals. We can't stand the absence of change, and can't stand things remaining as they are. We wait to embrace change and dearly vaunt for it. We can't even live without it anymore. A sane man when sent to a jail, feels the same surroundings and routine garrote him more than the noose does. Likewise a retired man just wishes to travel or to die, because he can't stand just being at the same place everyday. But then there is me, who changed only when it was a compulsion from the rest of the universe, and the man who couldn't go to many places to experience things unravel and then learn the art of judgment. A man deprived of the ostensible paraphernalia to create his own armor to live through a life, and denuded of the desideratum of the most important practice one shall ever learn - judgment. So yes, this is an account of a man full of regrets, not for what he did or the places he visited, but for the places he could never make it to. 


Saturday, 29 October 2016

A catalog of defeats.

It is often said that history is written by the winners. But it doesn't do much to belittle the significance of the defeats, or so it was pretty much the case in the past. Victory beckoned glee and mirth, but defeats were not mere loses. They were often concomitant with the dignity and reverence of a fight that may not have gone your way, but a fight that stood up to the title. But times have changed and so has the meaning of the realm of losing. Losing is no longer as venerable as it was. It has now become a flagrant phenomenon often accompanied by humiliation, vituperation and literally demolishing destruction of the conscience. Defeats are no longer about the gigantic gladiator who fought with surreal rancor but succumbed to a more mighty humdinger. Defeats in the present times signify the doltish charlatan who despite using vice and venom, goes down begging and blanching, not because he didn't try, but because he was never even meant to win. 

In the past, battles ere fought among only a few and the rest of the world was conveniently classified as spectators. The right to fight was reserved for only an eclectic few and battles too were limited. Battles were fought in the Colosseum, in the arcades, on war fronts and in political balustrades. But now, we're fighting a battle, and a constant one, with ourselves, and that too almost everyday. Our battle's core fulcrum lies around proving that very part of ourselves wrong which knows deep down that we are too irrelevant to be even counted in for the great grand war. Yes, the great grand war still exists, albeit it is now not centered around ethnicity, but around the overall trend of things. Wars are now waged by bourgeoisie of countries and companies that dictate trends. And a few still make it to the war. But most of us, are still struck and confined in the meager walls of the battle we fight against ourselves. 

Look carefully all around you. People buying cars with decisions rooted not on mileage and features but on what car would make the neighbor envy and crib a little more. People joining courses not based on their own desires and aspirations but based on what the trend demands. And then there is this latest and creepy phenomenon - cataloging moments in pictures. 

During the first few years post invention of photography, or prior to that during the era of paintings, it was only considered apt for some of the most enchanting and prolific moments to be captured and enshrined in the annals of immortality. The signing of the declaration of independence, the first human flight or even in as late as 1969, it was man's great grand feat of having conquered the celestial bounds to reach on moon that was considered exclusive enough to be trapped in an everlasting and celebrated picture. And look around now. 

Not only have we far surpassed our recent iconoclasm of capturing everything from birthday parties to festivals, we've in fact started capturing every moment when we're eating, drinking, or even as much as breathing. We're capturing every moment not because we want to garner likes on social networks. Likes are not currency which could be traded at an exchange. Those likes are a way of keeping us at a safe distance from the truth. The truth that we are loses, and that we are cretinous enough to capture yet another moment of our miserable plight, well hidden in the veil of a glaring smile or a recondite pout. 

We're all losers and our biggest loss is not knowing we are one. We are living the most dreadful of lives. Not waking up by our will, not breathing at our will, not living at our will, and even not shitting at our will. None of our choices are really ours. It's either the companies who use the pretense of marketing or the countries which use the armory of regulation, which later on percolate to all strata and shape all our actions. We're marionettes in short, and just like them we're a motley of smiles, painted over dead and lifeless wooden articles. 

Look around and look deeper into what people are really doing. Look closely at the lady who is capturing herself at the contour of a food joint. She is not capturing her eerie smile and her salacious pout, she is capturing her loneliness, which is very well masqueraded by the glitter of her looks. Look at the guy capturing himself at the airport lounge. He is not capturing the glory of his travelling, he is capturing the vibes that come with the strings that are clanged to him, choosing where he goes. All of us are too beleaguered, too intellectually famished, and too physically worn out, to even notice the disparity between real joy, and one that is portrayed in pictures. The very fact that we take 2 minutes to make the perfect poses and another 2 to get the perfect shot of a moment that holds no worth, in itself tells you about the gravity of the harlequinade that our lives have become.

To clear the air, even I was victimized by this mental sodomy and remained one for years. I always avoided the Internet till as late as I was 20 and didn't joins social networks till as late as I was 21. But once I was in the fray, I was writing posts, snapping pictures, doing check ins, and all kinds of stuff on it. All this time, I was so engrossed by the prospect of making my friend circle know about all my activity, that I didn't even realize that my morbid existence didn't deserve to bamboozle anyone else, not even me. And it was only a few days ago that I realized during some introspection that I often took it to social networks at my lows, and when I was on the crests, I didn't even need it. And the fact that I was now literally living on it, was a testimony to the fact that I was now lost beyond the point of return. 

We're all losers and modern modes of communication are so instinctively built to make us feel like winners, making our view too narrow and too constricted for us to even know how badly we're injured from inside. We're cataloging the murder of conquest every day, through that good morning posts that receive the most tepid response, through that political critique which is all yours and which either attracts obsequious admiration or annihilating rebuttal, and through that perfectly captured moment which finally culminates in a barrage of likes, all from a group of more losers, who are just reciprocating by helping you stay away from the realization that you're so lost in the hubbub of universal glitter, that you don't even know that you've lost already. You were meant to be the spectator from the past or the glorified and celebrated vanquished gladiator at best, but you chose to be the winner who is so lame and tamed that his victories are too glib for even himself to believe in. And so we choose to make our lives and our times, a catalog of defeats, one that will condescend any other volume ever written, but one that will wither away the day we face the truth. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

The looming dystopia.

We're living in pretty crazy times. We're racing against a lot of odds, dancing to a lot of tunes, and grappling but waddling on a little too many fronts. Times are changing pretty fast. One moment early and you're an idiosyncratic sibyl. One moment late and you're a conventional prude. Generations before were allured to this enormous and rapid evolution due to the sloven lives they lived. Pretty much trite and slow, everyone craved for movement and life. And now there's more than we can take. 

We're a rotting bunch of miraculous multi-functional cells we don't even give a damn about. We've become the black box for the times to experiment with. Raw inputs generate raw outputs. And the judgment of your performance is upon another black box, which in turn is dependent on another. In that sense, we're sitting on a ticking time bomb when it comes to the way the world has been set. All sacrosanct documents, no matter how intensely detailed they are, are all prone to judgement and individual opinion. Life, as we know, is completely bereft of any logic at all. It's all fugazi.



We're too frail and scraggy on our social structures. Relationships built on provenance of eternal trust with the promises of a lifetime laid on them, crumble under the vice of one misguided whammy of truth and revelation. Business partners build empires together and then let ego make them part ways only to demolish empires built with blood and sweat. We're nothing more than a confluence of many varying coteries. We're too proud to be part of a clan, which stays intact only as long as some purpose prevails. But it's only after the savage storm of contemplation strikes, that we realize there was no purpose at all. 

We're guided by trends, by consumerism, and by all the scrimmage media feeds us. We take immense pride in being knowledgeable and speculative, but when a glib truth runs by, we can't do a thing. Our entire lives are spent in a large contradiction. We generalize in our interests and fancies, and specialize in what gets our bread and better. And when the field shuts down, all our plans of leisure post your quota of hardwork vanquish. 

We're too timid, too stolid and too gullible, all at once. We're taught to be achievers, but never taught to build on the instincts. We're too reliant on wisdom built through the years and even when intuition slams it down, our jingoism on our knowledge never dies down. We're too churlish to know that we know nothing, too flaccid to note that there's much more than meets the eye. We're getting more and more ill-informed and less knowledgeable because universal knowledge is doubling, tripling, and quadrupling by the day!

We're lurking towards a world full of aficionados who don't know their field, of veterans whose knowledge is outdated and praise uncalled for, specialists who can't see beyond yesterday, leaders who're more uncertain than the last man in the cavalcade, and heroes who're too tamed and frightened to tell you what lies ahead. The chagrin of realization is often so powerful that it either deludes you to see surreal beauty in the hegemony of the subterfuge or that it allures you to the tide that just doesn't want to look further ahead.

The waning bravura, the lost charm and the livid conscience of our times has left a scar of ineptitude on our collective abilities to sift through the gibberish of universal deluge. We're too free to tell lies to ourselves. That we shall win someday, that hope shall bode a prosperous and harmonious world for all, that things will fall in place. What's important is to know that halcyon exists only in the mind of the magician, and then reamed on the coppice left after your years of whining. 

People telling someone else everything will be alright, lovers looking in the eyes, hands in hands, promising of spending lifetimes together, and still clinging on to their own premonitions about the better half running away due to a fallacy and yet choosing to stay with the fallacy and not the lover. We'll never change because no matter who it is who demands us to, changing oneself is tantamount to acceding to the default proclamation of your own shortcomings.

Our egos and our lives, which are nothing but mere semblances, are too big and brawny to penetrate and so we please to be. We present to the world the compliant facade of our true selves, while we keep the harridan within, seething and kneeling for a chance to come out, which it never gets, only to take you down with it. We're heading towards a dystopia, the final showdown for mankind's survival. It shall be one where man shall fight against himself, for a position that debilitates his morality, but caresses his parapet. It shall be one where the sense won't prevail, but the judgment built on their veracity will. It shall be one where swords of rectitude will be  wielded but up against your own self. Finally it shall be one where we're set to conquer and win again, because like always our victories are measured against our own yardsticks. The same ones that proclaim a slave lesser than a man, and the heart lesser than the brain. 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The pyrrhic pride in our lives.

We're living very morbid lives. We we're brought into this world by parents who succumbed to the tyranny of the times. Socialism and communism failed to reveal and prosper, and neo-imperialism and capitalism now demand cut-throat competition. And it has receded so deep in the alcoves of social fabric that we now live the reality, instead of knowing it is someone's bloody job to change it all. We're alive and we're equipped and for the first time in many centuries, we're all relishing the proclamations of deluding maxims of liberty and fraternity; the enticing charm of being able to thrive in a world while taking everyone forward with you, and of cherishing the universal brotherly spirit of equanimity. Well, it's an absolute farce. The world is sadder than ever, and all that's responsible for it, is the way we've been made to work our asses off just to achieve a purpose, and to embrace the fortitude in being able to choose it, not knowing how vitriolic that liberty is.

We're chasing cars and brands and our proclivity to share quotes written on top of pictures of these artifacts makes our desires a tad too vocal. On the other hand, we also share posts related to some atrocity committed on some poor chap in some faraway land. Additionally, we're largely religious, fully obsequious to tradition and also obliged to keep that thread intact. But we don't see the irony. The purpose we choose has been materialized to such an extent that even if you ever achieve it, all ends will never meet. The labyrinth of capitalism is such that your victory is always someone's loss which rescinds your affiliation to universal equality, and your quest for your victory changes all the elements of your character you borrowed from your religious tenets. In short, all victories are now pyrrhic. They come at too high a price!

In a connected world where we adore superstars and dote on cars, the clamor of the world is hidden beneath the glamour of what these same superstars and the companies they endorse wan us to buy! We're not chasing just corporate success or that corner office. We're doing it for money, for fame, for pride and for the ones we want to make proud. We set up with a very noble purpose in mind, like acquiring more skills, more education or attending to a more noble cause. But given what we and our forefathers have allowed to become, all objectives are materialized and manifested in snobbery. What was once a world full of people who wanted to be someone, is now a world full of people who want to be someone so that they can attain something. The being someone for the veracity of being that has been completely forgotten. 

Our victories are inspired by possessions. That man from your downtrodden locality became a banker and made a lavish house so you follow the same path not because you want to become a banker, but because you want that house. And courtesy of the zeitgeist, if you told someone you genuinely want to be just a banker minus the house, you'd be deemed a cretin. Our victories are not real victories anymore. They're pride of being capable of moving up the ladder of consumerism coupled with the barbaric slashing down of someone else's right at that. That's the strata of the society now. 

The only pithy truth, the only applicable proviso is that only a few people ought to be happy, and not everyone. Back in the past the caste differences or the bourgeoisie proletariat scuffles meant the same. Today, it is split in the availability of limited opportunity for the largest population. We become so engrossed in our success and so engulfed in relishing our victories and seeking pride that we miss out on having just blanched in front of the eternal decimation of equality, thereby reneging on our very obedience to the universal equality and harmony as dictated by religious sermons which we couple with our modern education and direction. Every victory is a testament to growing differences but in your own constricted world, that Benetton shirt you can finally afford silences and garrotes any shred of resistance that your conscience shows. 

Your victories and your pride not only annihilate the rummaging and dwindling hope of someone else, they also shun out the real you. You feel lachrymose and putrid seeing everyone else succeed and get cars and watches and phones so you suddenly decide to take resolve to change the course of your life. You draw this realization that you've been serving horrible bosses ostensibly for no real reason or rhyme because you're not achieving anything. So you decide to leave everything behind and chase happiness by elevating your knowledge and skill and then subsequently your standing, but you don't see how you leave the real and genuine you behind. You're now just another replica of the person who inspired you, superimposed on the same catechism of material prosperity, without even noting that you didn't start for that purpose at the first place. 

The happiness you sought seems to be found, but you found something else. The definition of happiness changed just as the objective changed from reaching somewhere to reaching out to something. You wished and dreamed as a person, being in that social aplomb, that microcosm of your own friends and family. But you're a changed person now, and so is everyone's attitude towards who you are now. Your victory comes as  stamp of glory everyone rejoices, and so do you, but you haven't won because your victory and your pride were so pyrrhic that you lost what you once fought for - to get back happiness into the life of the real you. You lost the real you in turn. The victory, the pride, was all too pyrrhic, and as this pattern remains too hard to believe in, both I and you will still fall for it. 



Sunday, 28 August 2016

Move over Facebook-WhatsApp dalliance: Meet the CIA ECHELON.

So a lot of you seem to be livid about the supposed coquetry between Facebook and WhatsApp, in which WhatsApp shall provide your messenger communications information with Facebook so that the latter could provide better content to you. While we know this supposed purpose is just to inveigle you while both these communication giants drub ethics and mint money, it's important to know that such partnerships are merely the tip of the iceberg. So if this news perturbed you, you've got to acquaint yourself with the much more deep rooted problem; the testament to which is the CIA Echelon. 

For the larger part of 1950s, the world went through abrupt changes. Post the world war 2 as the world prepared itself for leaping on to the long cold war, the NATO treaty signed in 1949 marked the beginning of the latest tool among warring nations: SIGINT or Signal Intelligence. As the Soviet grip on USSR members and the Eastern Bloc(Communist Soviet nations largely in Europe) strengthened, the NATO spearheaded the silent movement against the Soviet aggression through sophisticated radio signal interception. At that time most military and political communication was transmitted through the radio. Established in the wake of opponent mutuality, was the Warsaw pact which served to strengthen the camaraderie among the communist folks to directly produce a moratorium of the NATO impact. Through larger part of 1950s all member countries of these two defining organizations intercepted most of the radio traffic to be able to get one up one the other. Then in the beginning of the 1960s something incredible happened. 

The Geostationary communications systems were now being setup, and communications were all set to explode. Terrestrial telephony was now going to have spatial counterparts and with a simultaneous rise in computing power, newer generations of communication equipment evolved. In the wake of these possibilities, SIGINT was no longer going to remain confined to radio transmission interception. The Soviet clan was always going to follow the western brethren in adopting newer technology to nudge interception. It is in this regard that the Five Eyes surveillance program was established. 

The Five Eyes program had 5 principal member nations - The USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These nations affirmed the need for an integrated SIGINT initiative to check for Soviet aggression across the eastern bloc through signal interception and eavesdropping. As a part of the Five Eyes program, multiple satellite interception stations were setup across the signatory nations. The most visible and celebrated of these was the Randome station setup at Yorkshire in England(pictures attached below). 




Using these satellite transmission interception stations that had a political and strategic organization to their placements, all satellite telephony and telegraphic interceptions could be made. With the rapid advancement of technology in the 70s and 80s, and with US DoD ARPANET getting a successor WAN network in the making, the Five Eyes program started getting immaculate funding from the telecommunications and homeland ministries of these countries. The Five Eyes program now evolved not only to keep an eye on the Soviet aggression across Eastern Europe and the possibility of there being a Communist-Capitalist clash, but also to equip military and national intelligence with appropriate and timely information on threats to national security. 

As the 90s approached, the Communist Warsaw pact was tremendously battered and most of Soviet Russia's energies were focused on keeping USSR intact, which soon disintegrated putting a large and mammoth load of economic transformations on a nation that could no longer splurge on satellite technology and communications advancement. With this, the original objective of the Five Eyes program was officially accomplished. The Cold War was officially cited over and no one knew the fate of these international signal interception stations established under the Five Eyes program. Much to say, no one really bothered as all eyes moved on the fall of the Brobdingnagian Soviet state and the collective revolution that ensued. Five Eyes and SIGINT were forgotten, but from the ashes of these forlorn Buzzwords, a new code name emerged in 1996. The name was ECHELON. 

As United States asserted its supremacy with renewed vigor with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it also became the pivot of how global communications were to be shaped. The Internet had already come out from the embryonic form it assumed in the US Department of Defense's ARPA(Advanced Research Projects Agency) laboratory. Additionally, much of the telecommunication protocols came in from there. The US had a bigger than ever say in how global communication networks evolved. It isn't surprising that the CIA(Central Intelligence Agency) and NSA(National Security Agency) didn't lose track of all of this. 

If Edward Snowden's revelations on US Intelligence projects are anything to go by, the CIA has multiple code worded intelligence operations being run through satellite stations all over the world. Hidden from most of the world, the CIA managed to setup various intelligence gathering stations either veiled inside United States embassies or in partnership with local friendly governments. The CIA and NSA always emphasized that a newer and more powerful enemy was emerging in the form of radical Islam. So the countries which assumed the obvious threat namely UK, France, India, Turkey, Canada and a lot many more, immediately allowed for their services to be available for this purpose. 

As per experts, all these programs had a name known to the local government, like SCS(Special Collections Service) which was designated to satellite signal analysis at known locations(SCS in New Delhi and Brasilia, and GARLICK in Munich etc.) and then there was always a hidden signal analysis team working undercover, with a palpably veiled agenda. It was this undercover signal analysis operation that the CIA code named for its internal intelligence gathering and organization. It is believed that one such operation was code named the ECHELON. 

Apparently, ECHELON was a secret intelligence gathering operation that worked well within the cover of the Five Eyes program ever since the radio signal gathering days. When the name ECHELON first appeared in public domain in the mid 90s, the US government maintained absolute reticence on the matter with them sending their most laconic members for defense. The reason was because ECHELON, if its existence was proven, was to be the biggest subterfuge ever played in the history of cooperation and partnership. 

The USA established the Five Eyes program with the purported agenda to counter the Soviet movement across the Eastern European bloc that could denigrate European integrity. However, the ECHELON ran deep within the Five Eyes, allowing US signal intelligence systems to in turn intercept the conversations among politicians and military top shots of many of the member nations themselves. Initially as addled and bemused everyone was, even member nations couldn't admit to having committed the most preposterous fallacy of all such military cooperation projects, but they didn't stay down either.

While the US government constantly denied the presence of any ECHELON, more evidence kept cropping up their claims. In 1998 a former Lockheed Martin employee brought to public attention how she had during 1970s worked on some equipment she was told to be a part of Five Eyes, but which was in fact reserved for ECHELON. The European member nations which consorted to UK's involvement were soon worried and they even sent a panel to the US to see if anything could be unearthed. But being the master of deception as it is, the CIA always maintained absolute silence and became a pretentious palimpsest of the non existence of ECHELON. No one would have expected the storm to calm down so easily, but it did. 

All opposition fizzled and everyone soon forgot what ECHELON is. This was in 2001 when terrorists had started using the Internet for recruitment and propagation of hatred and maladroitness. It is believed that the USA which already possessed much critical and explicit material involving the secrets of many of the diplomats of these member Five Eyes nations, used all of it to the advantage of it denying the existence of ECHELON. Moreover, the US finally offered the services of ECHELON, the allegorical tribute to the Big Brother from George Orwell's 1984, to these nations that were easily lured into believing ECHELON's capabilities would yield benefits, Little did they know! 

As ECHELON continued to prosper and bloom beneath innocuous and benign signal interception protocols and treaties, it is believed that ECHELON stations are now so well spread out that effectively every satellite signal sent from any part of the world to any other part could now be intercepted, recorded and then reproduced. Effectively, every human being who communicates through any modern means of communication is now under the scrutiny of ECHELON. 

ECHELON is backed by humongous power and capability of DoD's supercomuters which can store and process trillions of terabytes of all these signals and can also further organize and delve into the same for various buzzwords. In fact well before the 9/11, the ECHELON was able to capture random communication about their being a prospective building collapse coming out of the ongoing US interference in Taliban. Post the aftermath of ignoring the outcome of ECHELON's intelligence gathering, ECHELON's prowess was well established. 

Today, all things you talk to your lover about, all things I write on this keyboard and post on the Internet, all documents you send through mail, all pictures you tag on Facebook and all messages you share on WhatsApp. Everything gets converted into a satellite signal that travels through the Geostat network. And every such signal is recorded and processed by ECHELON and then analyzed in conjunction with all other information. Then various mining tools are applied and selective patterns are sent for further analysis. 

ECHELON, which started as a rogue spinoff from the noble Five Eyes program, is now the US CIA's eyes on you, your personal life and almost everything related to you. What started as a just and needed program to prevent a third war, today results in industrial espionage, and breach of hacking ethics committed at all levels possible. ECHELON is the eye to the world. Maybe in the future as we become more connected, ECHELON would become a parallel repository of all human existence and activity. And you are still worried about WhatsApp sharing contact details with Facebook! 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The middle children of India.

If you were born and brought up in the 90's this post is a direct reference to the lives we live. The past 2 odd decades have made India witness some of the most ecstatic of all transformations. While the world took 3 and a half decades to move from 1G mobile telephony to 4G, we took a mere 18 years. And the same has been applicable on almost all fronts. But beyond the bustling parapet of success and evolution, lies the core element that is not very established, to say the least. There's no denying we are way better than many of our ancestors and we should just pause for a moment and even pat ourselves on the back. But basis my own reflections on my life, and basis serious conversations and heartfelt banters with friends, I've realized that all in all, something is always amiss. If you've ever felt that way, read on and maybe you can relate. If not, than this will just come across as the rudimentary rambling of a maudlin man. 

We're the middle children of India. Our grandparents witnessed the struggle for independence and lived in severe frugalty, our parents, bound by pressures of succeeding, were honed and chiseled by the challenges of their times. Our future progeny are promised the most copacetic of lives. But we, the middle children, are lost somewhere in between these extremes. 



We bequeathed from our parents a long legacy of pride in taking the small steps towards success. Our parents were never boisterous for they succeeded one step at a time, with no premonition whatsoever. Born out in astute families, they drove lives on optimization. So they'll often tell stories of getting the maximum out of the minimum. We, on the other hand, have things aplenty. From the economy of shortages in 80's where even the rich couldn't attain all possessions, to today where even a pauper gets a car without a collateral. On paper, the lives have improved. But in reality, we missed a big facet in there. 

We're exposed to enormous amounts of availability. We're born in a generation where we adulate the riches and have plenty of role models that way. We follow trends and we blatantly follow suit. We allow heroes to be born overnight and have an inexorable appetite for more stars to cherish. We put France's flag on our Facebook display picture without even knowing why everyone else did that. We start taking selfies and have produced the maximum number of casualties while doing so. We have superstars whose movies lack any possible purpose, and on the other hand stars who even indulge in real life social service are neglected. We pursue courses not because we want to, but because someone else did that and set the vogue. And we even tend to suddenly fall in love because everyone is doing that so we ought to as well. The common denominator among these is our lack of decision making abilities, and our monstrous proclivity to let someone else shape our future! 

Preceded by folks who just embraced a free nation and who were entrusted with carving a new India out of the ashes of a forlorn and torn apart British colony, it's debatable whether they did the right things or not. Other economies which were set free along with ours soared and rocked while we're moving at snail's pace. However, the last few generations at least took charge and did stuff. We on the other hand, are just taking cue from the world.

We don't set trends, we seek them. We don't make decisions, we make situations take decisions for us. We're too afraid, we're too petrified to try something new, unless of course we follow a trend on that as well. We don't make bold moves, unless a path tread by someone else is proved right. We're seldom trailblazers, and those of us who become so, become icons and superstars beyond any match. We've become a society that has only a few limited types of heroes who are followed blindly, while the real heroes who wither under the hegemony of neglect and weak bulwarks, are often scoffed at for being lunatics. 

We've never assumed charge of what we want the nation to become. We've become a replica of what all of us individually are. During the freedom struggle, India for the first time saw its best factions. There were moderates and extremists. There were those same old chauvinists who kept women out and then there were suffragists. Those factions were welcome because we as a nation started taking stands after a lot of time. But the last time we took a stand was when our fathers left the cozy confines of their homes and took charge of their destiny. We, on the other hand, simply did what our fathers passed on to us. 

People became IAS officers, and suddenly that became the buzz of the town. Certain other professions like medicine, engineering and management took apex positions. Certain well celebrated professions like law lost the glamour. And noble professions like art lost a large cohort of followers. The first trends were set and you found a barrage of people aiming for the same piece of the pie, and a larger pie having no claimants. Latest of the trends is the IT and service sector. Everyone wants to purse a degree that lands them in this sector. No one wants to go into manufacturing. And surprisingly, no one realizes that one day we may not be manufacturing at all, but would just be servicing manufacturers from all over the world. 

We've lost all ground and we've become followers of the leaders of the world. We managed to secure a place for ourselves alright, but it's not at par with our competitors. It's not about the intensity with which other economies expand and countries prosper. It's about the identity crisis we find ourselves in. We're constantly limiting our vision and on the other hand we get swayed by what's in front of us. We've just become followers of trends, political momentum, thought change, professions, entertainment, and what not. Neither we as a nation create much original stuff and thinking on our own, nor do we allow many things to dictate us. We're happy with whatever our role models throw at us, but we don't encourage neophytes who show promise. So they, through struggle either become new heroes, or they perish under the double whammy. We're too afraid to try, because we're comfortable and content with the constricted reality we endure, we're too naive to let new ideas flourish, because of our shortsighted envisaging abilities. We're India's middle children, too privileged to have a direction and a future, and too unfortunate to ensure we set that direction and future right!  

 

Friday, 15 July 2016

The market of lies.

As economies expand and explode, new markets show up everyday. Markets for brands, ideologies, professions and what not. All markets, no matter how disparate they are, have this unique characteristic of being largely transactional. To say it the other way, brands, commodities or whatever it is, can often be replaced with a similar substitute without much hustle. Very few Coke fans would remain Coke fans if they were in a Coke drought for months and always had Pepsi around. Hence markets, no matter what's traded in them, are extremely dynamic, virulent and competitive. Now what if I tell you that after the tangible obvious market objects, comes a rather abstract set of entities that can also be traded? That entity is a lie! 

Oh yes! The market of lies is an old and an established one. Right form the Mayan prophecies which made a cabalistic truth stand on top of everything else and made a rotten community of profligate stay strong, to modern established religion, to industrialization, to capital markets, to augmented reality! Everything exists and promises a certain set of benefits in return for faithful unbridled, unquestioned preaching! So initial followers give it a try, and find the benefit of being the first cohort. Then more people follow suit, and more, and the chain goes on. It ceases finally only when no one checked for the veracity and the action of exchanging full loyalty with the supposed benefit is so well established that the question of questioning the worthiness of the exchange is altogether debilitated. 



Lies are in fact the most suitable candidate to be marketed, and despite our beyond all doubt Darwinian evolution bypassing human intelligence, we still allow all marketing communication appurtenant to lies to titillate us and sweep us off our feet! Why? Well, because lies are never marketed as they are. They're always, and almost infallibly, wrapped conveniently in a mesmerizing labyrinth of facts, events, happenings and incidents which all cover up the lie and give it a unique and a much more sanctified identity of its own!

Consider major wars! Looking back at WW2, it seems silly and moronic that a race suddenly considered itself far more imperial and suddenly felt the need to assert its right on supremacy of all forms. However, if you read Mein Kampf, you'll see how perfectly the harbinger of the war, Adolf Hitler, had wrapped the original agenda in a veil of purported tyranny and struggle, which justified emancipation by ripping off everyone who was not ostensibly exploited! 



Look at industrialization now. People prior to it had agriculture, no electricity, no hi-fi comm gear and nothing of what can be qualified as a 'life'. People were also struck by epidemics and one would be compelled to deem their lives miserable and filthy. But make no mistake, those people were far more happy! Why? It's simple! One, they were fewer in number so even with the limited resources, everyone just had about enough. Compare this with today when a handful have much more than the remaining 99%, and the remaining 99% have the sole and meager 1%. So we technically have more per head, but the distribution more than annihilates the advantage. 

It was all a lie. Wars, revolutions, capital markets, everything! Look beneath the many veneers, and you'd see the solemn truth. And very often, it's not the ones who work hard and wither under the hemorrhaging travails of masqueraded lies who win. It's the ones who seek the solemn truth and find it, who go on and win. It will seem pretty surprising but most of what we're told to do to appear ideal, is farcical. So why is it that despite the world becoming more transparent and more intellectually advanced, a handful of people still rule the roost? It's because the rulers know there should be only a limited number of rulers and they've upped their game to keep it that way. Lies have evolved.

A few years ago, multiple investment banks across the US created what later came to be known as Collateralized Debt Obligations(CDOs), which were a complex investment instrument tied to the repayment of loans at the US house markets. Despite the innate fallacies of the product, these products were deemed top grade by credit rating agencies either because they were fooled, or because they connived with the rulers. Later on more complex instruments CDSs(Credit Default Swaps) were invented to bet against the already complex CDOs. And that was the best example of the mired malarkey mentioned above. The instruments, despite the ridiculous perils associated, were even bought by state pension funds, thereby embroiling the hard earned pensioners' money. The lie hidden in all of it was that the US house market would crash. Everyone knew from the bottom of their hearts that most loans were bad with no securities, and yet everyone largely bet for the market's bullish future, until CDSs came in and changed the specifics. When markets crashed and multiple economies collapsed at once, everyone spoke that the downfall was obvious. Such, ladies and gentlemen, was the prowess of those who managed to market this lie. 


Consider a country torn in bits and pieces due to a dictatorial regime of a local demagogue. Now another country comes in and says we'll spend a lot of blood, we'll devastate all the infrastructure and we will then give you your country back with nothing left. So you think wow it'll be amazing to get the land back, and yet you miss on the fact that the country would not be what it was. Or consider an incumbent government raising taxes. The public goes on strike, there's massive hoopla and hubbub, and everyone goes crazy. A few days later. all rise is rolled back and suddenly everyone sings paeans of praise for the government, even though the government raised for a rollback. The welfare and egalitarianism of the outside country in first case and the govt in the second case is all a sham, but wonderfully packed in complex human perplexing mechanisms so impeccable that everyone misses the bus. 

As the world progresses and the reins move from administrative moguls to media, telecom and cyberspace moguls, the world will become an intricate network of populace ruled by extremely powerful rules who'd be in a position to hard press anything with an almost indomitable cover to break through. You're told to work hard so that you buy better houses, afford emis for the same, pay bills your whole life, have kids and die. The banality in that is obvious but the rulers have ensconced such fear and anxiety in us, that the mere thought of deviation from the set path bodes paroxysm. Lies become more and more complex to decipher, and as the world becomes more glorious in terms of materialism, the world becomes more sombre in terms of quality of life. At the end, remember how you wake up vis-a-vis a 2016 BC man. You wake up to see pictures of waterfalls on your cellphone screensaver and feel good. The other guy actually owned a couple of them! 


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!