Friday, March 19, 2021

For The Alternative to Emerge : Lalit K Kaul


For The Alternative to Emerge 

(Technology & Automation is the Challenge)

                                                                                                                Lalit K Kaul

To start with it may be useful to state that self centeredness and self interest are the basis for the contemporary societies driven by materialism; the political leadership has been assiduously driving our society towards achieving more and more material gains as that is the main index for economic growth and when they talk about human resource development, it’s all for the purpose of attaining higher and higher economic status. Human development has become synonymous with economic development sans concerns for deteriorating value system, ethics and the means adopted to achieve the desired economic goals. To look for the much cherished ‘Human Angle’ in this jungle shall be at the cost of being designated as retrograde. To compete is the Mantra and those unable to do so are not worth their existence; never mind the absence of level playing field. How well versed one is with the technology and its usage decides the winner in the competition which is merciless; what to talk of those who could never become part of this modern set up. Those left behind- by design and not by choice- the pressure release valve has been the distribution system of doles like, cheap food grains, cheap housing, cheap toilets etc that not only is insulting to the very existence of this human specie the Creator endowed with ever evolving Mind, but enslaves the very life and its dynamics to the machinations of a privileged few. This is a Monster out to devour the very life it did not create.

For the class of hapless people, there is no choice but to appreciate whatever fell into their laps in the last 6 years as had not happened in the preceding 69 years because everybody wants to live, no matter how and why. For them, a Messiah has arrived and they intend to stand by Him as by doing so material benefits are accrued; who can have any complaint against them? This, in my opinion and understanding, is the ground reality and would continue to be unless a viable alternative emerges.

For any new world view/philosophy of life & living to emerge the greatest impediment as also the challenge is ‘Technology’ and its offspring ‘Automation’, both set to increase productivity (enhanced profits) no matter if millions go out of work and lose the opportunity to apply their minds to make their own choices and bear its consequences. Again the pressure release valve is: unemployment allowance; social security; national health scheme and public distribution system. So the message to a vast majority of people across the Globe is that ‘you are being taken care of to the extent that you may keep breathing’ while We, the manipulators, having nearly completely exhausted the resources of Mother Earth are, now, “exploring” Space to make Colonies in Mars/Moon and/or any habitable planet in the “neighbourhood” of Earth. The propaganda is so powerful that even the hapless is compelled to clap and admire the spectacular “progress” the “Mankind” has made since World War II. These hapless ones are so bewildered by the power of the Media & IT that they forget their pain & miseries and stay convinced that yes, indeed, they deserve the place they are in & continue to live in the fond hope that One Day their siblings/ grand siblings/ great grand siblings shall make it to the members of the ‘enlightened’ society which is in the process of conquering Space.

Those who look outwards; how to make them look inwards? In a situation where an individual’s progress in life is determined by the fact whether he/she could make it to a city life starting from the native village; make it to the US or Europe, UK having got educated in professional institutions in India. Only if technology is brought to the door steps of a village, migration to towns & cities may start diminishing. In the neighbourhood of villages with the availability of barren lands or by the process of acquiring agriculture lands (due compensation as per the Act as amended by the SC), large scale investments can pour in to raise capital intensive industries which will absorb the locals    (with SSC certificate) for menial jobs & those decorated with certificate courses with some artisan kind of jobs; who would object? Who would object to availing a chance to go through the Gateway leading to “world of learned people” in the hope that their generation next will be able to climb up the ladder a few steps by availing the facilities like schooling & health care as provided for by the multi-national enterprise? The Corona pandemic & the exposed game of the CCP, the supply chains are being shifted out of China to places like Vietnam South Korea and India. The fact that many airports are being built in the state of UP is the pointer towards the things to come. The technology is going to shape the destiny of the people who hitherto were unconnected with the ‘modern world’. More than the employment generation, it’s that distant hope that this infrastructure generates in the minds of ‘not so well to do’ class that one day their siblings will also make it to such ‘temples’ of knowledge & this may lead to parents spending more on their children to get quality education. When Yogi and Modi call it Vikas in Janhit; everybody not only nods in agreement, but also shower praises on the duo for their commitment to development of their state.

For the leadership who continues to be inspired by the economic development paradigm of those who colonized and tormented us for more than 200 years, what processes can be thought of that may give birth to a leadership that decisively challenges the extant one? Or, by what mechanism/ people’s participation can an equilibrium point be reached between the usage of technology and empowerment of people? How to evolve a dispensation which doesn’t allow Technology to enslave/marginalise people to the point of them becoming irrelevant to the dynamics of the society they are a part of? Can a set up be envisaged where ‘Man the Maker’ is supreme & its progeny does not devour it?

Farmers’ Movement:    

Sorry, but Rakesh Tikait has lost his way. Sure, he did not understand the political import of his demand: “Repeal All Laws. No Negotiation”. He further ceased to be a farmer leader when he started campaigning for & against a political party. His panchayat with farmers in Bengal, I thought was a good step forward. Media criticised him by belittling his effort, citing the numbers present in the meeting; not impressed by 500! However, numbers never matter as it’s the Idea/Thought that mobilises people. If he could communicate to Bengal farmers the essence of his demand, then those present are bound to discuss with others in their fraternity for the idea to grow further & gain acceptability within a larger cross section of them. His idea to hold panchayats in different states was, in my opinion, a very unique initiative, but his seeking votes for a political party in Bengal may have exposed him to the charge of being anti BJP and he unwittingly gave a huge handle to the media to expose him as a political agent & not a farmer leader. Curtains closed.

I have always believed that the farmers alone have the capacity to redefine politics, social relationships and economic model of growth, but again they too look outwards instead of looking inwards. Al along during their agitations/movements they have failed to present themselves as leaders of a socio economic group and while earlier they used to be One with each other, in gross terms, across the country on their demands; this time around that kind of unity is found lacking as is borne by the fact that in the government appointed committee under the directive of the SC had one of its members from Shetkari Sangathana! Unless I missed out on the statements made by farmer leaders in Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan etc; I did not come across any such statement(s) opposing the laws. In fact within UP, many farmers have spoken against Tikait & even questioned his credentials as a farmer!  

However, farmers across the country are part of the panchayats and as food producers may be having a say in the affairs of the panchayats. I think that it is through those panchayats that the farmers collectively can set up a political agenda associated with the socioeconomic one, if only they can rise above caste considerations and various other professional discriminations. Likes of Tikait may end up serving a better cause than siding with one political party or the other as all the parties are votaries of a highly exploitative socio economic and political system.

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