From Pocket 17: The short history of global living conditions and why it matters that we know it

​A recent survey asked “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better nor worse?”. In Sweden 10% thought things are getting better, in the US they were only 6%, and in Germany only 4%. Very few people think that the world is getting better.

What is the evidence that we need to consider when answering this question? The question is about how the world has changed and so we must take a historical perspective. And the question is about the world as a whole and the answer must therefore consider everybody. The answer must consider the history of global living conditions – a history of everyone.

 Is Gandhi/Nehru/Lincoln a good person?

Everyone of us will have encountered history somewhere along our educational or recreational reading process. I have been a silent spectator of historic events being revisited in light of a simple question-Was he or she a good person?.The inferences of M.K.Gandhi being a petite politician,a sexual pervert has been ringing its bell around every corner of Internet.The question whether Lincoln actually intended to abolish slavery has been the new line of thought for some days.

The curious line of thought to understand those historic figures etched in our mind, is quite fascinating in the sense that we have started to decrypt them to their human nature rather than keeping them as noble untouchable idols. I believe that such interpretations are reflections of the emotional and ethical pessimism that the younger generation has embodied themselves. Without any doubt, this generation would be one of the pioneers of expressing themselves quite openly through social media. This allows them to channel their frustrations spawned from ambiguous incidents in judgement, ethics, morale, politics and even arts. 

The algorithms of social media to provide selective news feed to its participants if yet another problem that kind of focuses to create the feed back loop that caters and further plunges one to his existential ambience. The news channels which were envisaged as carriers of facts have  become the beacon of judgement manipulating and aligns themselves and its viewers to a peculiar judgement.I remember when I was participating in a debate, one of the guests (a grand father of visual media in Kerala) declared that every investment has its intentions  which is applicable to even media. Even though the economics of the statement was pretty clear, the ethical questions that tag along the statement are quite shocking. But we know that in our world, we have resigned to  accept that economics always wins. 

I recall the statement that perfectly summarises history -“History is the rediscovery of facts not truth”. We can never know the truth since the people, the documents and archaeological objects can provide us with only glimpses of facts. The arrangement of these facts in any meaningful progression can give us multitudes of ideas that we are prone to believe as truth. We may be unable to even understand the social, economic and political environment these gentlemen chose to work with. Remember even if we knew their world word by word, still the psyc of these people is a dark room for us. We can never ever predict the mental state of each of them formed by the then events and environment.

The introspection into the character of great men has its merits that we might understand humanity better than ever. I seriously believe in the elevation of one’s judgement when we are involved in such deep introspections. Such interrogations are necessary to recover the facts which were discredited by the winners in history (who essentially shaped modern history).  Thus I believe that such introspection will lead to better understanding of ourselves but the conclusion of them may be always kept as ambiguous rather than concrete so that the future generations that follow us will have the same opportunity to do the reimagining and interpretation.

Whatever be the character of these people, they have been instrumental in shaping the world a better place for us to live. Gandhi/Lincoln/Nehru has inspired enough people to restore their faith in revolution and freedom that brought life and happiness to innumerous people in the world. Remember it was their choice to do what they did & face its consequences and we all have that same freedom to choose and the same responsibility to face the consequences.

Derozians’ are  dead? -Free thinkers need to live.

World, as we know, has come to an era of stagnation. Even though firebrand thinkers continue to survive, rather cherish than the usual, they are deemed to be irrelevant in our times more than ever. Free thinking is more than what the cryptic word declares them to readers. Free thinkers are those people who in spite of all the odds, are ushering to investigate the impossible due to a shimmering little glitter of probability. Eventhough radical, if rational the philosophy or for that question even a conspiracy or an economic policy, everything falls prey to their grey matter simply because of their logical rational thought process with thorough mix of knowledge and communication put in appropriate amount. 

Henry Derozio was a firebrand processor in Kolkata, India who,  during the British rule, was instrumental in spreading the Ideals of humanism, logical and rational thinking among his students. The students who followed him to form debate clubs and other activities became the intellectual centre of social, religious and cultural renaissance among the youth in Bengal. He achieved this unmatched stardom at the age of 17 and following to his  unconventional teaching style, he was expelled from his office by the then administration. Derozio was technically an Anglo Indian, but always considered himself an Indian by which he loved her culture, history and diversity. Derozio was also one among  the first Indian nationalist poets who wanted to eliminate the foreign rule. 

Why is this subject so important? Is it relevant? During these times of cultural amalgamation, rising forceful moral policing, pro- religious banters from the highest hunk of Central ministry, the proposition of free thinking is the lighthouse we hope to see while stranded in the vast sea. 

In India, the class struggle has always been  mixed up with religious sects mostly due to the socio-religious background of the highly polar economic gradient. With the introduction of reservation , and its continuation exploitation to satisfy the needs of political sphere, people of India are aligning themselves to their religion & caste thereby slowly abandoning the sense of nation which was expected to bind us. As Tagore pointed out, with such diversity,  the concept of nation is always a difficult notion, but neverthless we should at least stand strong on the base called ‘India that is Bharat’ . The biggest concern regarding the rise of BJP has always been the complimentary growth of RSS and other radicle Hindu organisations who sell the idea of being Hindu -religiously, morally, ritually or even habitually-as a sole criteria for surviving in a diverse country like India.

 The culture of India differs from North to South, West to East, from past to present, from rituals to language. One born in any part of world is allowed to follow his sense of culture without curtailing rights of  fellow human being. When a person evolves into a group (and they always do), catering to their demands translates to an untapped economic potential. The rise of pubs, dance bars, nightclubs etc are such institutions flourishing on the needs of rising western-eastern hybrids of new age. The human exploitation happening behind the scenes must be questioned rather the need of such an institution itself.

 Social media has become a playstation game where we play against each other with hatred, frustration and lack of respect for each other. We forget to be thinkers of possibility while trying every single time to be genuine speakers  of fact fetched to  us by equally malignant media-The unsure pimp with an agenda.

Looking around, Derozio would be tired, wandering the astral plane for reaching to us.Free thinking is required to collect, arrange & dissect facts since the world requires some of us to see the sea of possibilities and  reflect other order of perspectives hidden by our blindspot in roaring day light.