Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Khadi and the Semantic Web

I am extremely anxious about the prospect of Lokavidya debate realizing the dimensions of a Jan Andolan . Why? Because, on the one hand, in the conventional sense of theoretical discourses, such an Andolan has never happened in history. On the other hand, each Jan Andolan has at its base an active Lokavidya, wherein the ordinary people get awakened about all aspects of human life to an extraordinary extent.

Thus, for example, Khadi movement and burning of British cloth during Gandhiji's Satyagraha days, appears to be a complete example of what one may understand by Lokavidya Jan Andolan. Khadi, created by the 'Music of the Spinning Wheel' starting from the cultivation of cotton to the way in which ordinary people in the villages clothed themselves in a dignified manner, needed the 'religious determination of millions to spin their yarn in their own homes as they cook their food in their own homes'. Many years after India gained independence, my personal experience of a remote village surviving severe deprivation ( item #7 in Gandhiji's article in Young India 21-8-1924) in the sixties with the help of Khadi taught me the completeness of this as an example of Lokavidya Jan Andolan. It may be added that much of the difficulty in comprehension of the concept can be mitigated by keeping this example in mind. May be we will realize that Rebirth of Khadi as part of Lokavidya Jan Andolan has the power to bring down the empire of Reliance Industries today. Moreover, a deep reflection of how this may happen will surely enlighten us about the nature of Lokavidya Jan Andolan we are imagining in the future.

But we can not expect to fashion the andolan without the constructive program involving the millions of half-clad, half-fed, half-literate people who understands lokavidya, who practice lokavidya today. But,alas, they are being trained to be mere survivors of famines created by the powers that rule the country. So, it is demanded that the discussion concern with reality beyond mere survival, with the future of human civilization itself. We have to imagine the process of flooding of the streets by people who consider themselves satyagrahis for the task of saving human civilization on the earth; not American civilization, not European civilization, not Chinese civilization, not Indian Civilization, not African civilization, not this ... not that.

And that's why we are concerned about universality, in some measure, that arises when someone questions the completeness of Lokavidya, as an instrument of change in the future, a future which is going to be determined by the Semantic Web, that is being fashioned out there in front of our eyes, by the way the powerful of each 'nationality' or 'civilization' is negotiating to make their evening party last forever. The Semantic Web will enhance the advantage for the early starters, which the ICT already bestowed on them, for it is communication and technology rolled into one. It is going to provide solutions which finally put an end to all human diversity forever. In the words of Tim Berners Lee and others of WWW: " The challenge of developing the semantic web is to provide a language that expresses both data and rules of reasoning about the data and that allows rules from any existing knowledge representation system to be exported to the web. ... The structure will open up knowledge and workings of human kind to meaningful analyses by software agents...".

And, that means we are constrained to talk about in some measure about the meaning of life of our times, talk about in some measure about the extent of open exploitation of our nation, its wealth, the dignity of its people, who give an identity to these greedy serpents, and what is left of life for the ordinary Lokavidya folks, for whom the world will become a cauldron of black magic . And that is why we may need to explore beyond the rather fragile idea of nationality, pay attention to the reality that the dominant existing opposition to all that is wrong today is trans-national but military. So, how do we think about trans-national non-military satyagrahi options?

We are aware of the exponential increase in the power of every aspect of this black magic. They call it by various names - Moor's law, Nash's equilibrium etc to grant legitimacy and natural invincibility. So, we may discuss the importance of halting the speed and acceleration of the technology driving things of the day. It is common knowledge that hardware has gone far ahead of software. And software in turn is trying enlist the collaboration of all by co-opting Open Source Software movement itself. How does one make software people aware of the significance of arresting the speed, make sense of Lokavidya and be harbingers of the new slogan 'Knowledge of the People, by the People, for the People', for the people do not want any government! They want Music of the Spinning Wheel to arrest the Speed of the World.

Surendran K.K.

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