Tag Archive for 'Arab Spring'

The World in Denial – Focus on the Unknown Knowns

I read with interest an article by Geoffrey Wheatcroft published in New York Times and reproduced in Deccan Chronicle today titled ” A world in denial of what it knows ” .

From the Mayan prophesies of the world ending on 21st Dec 2012 to the intermediate stages towards this scenario like global warming , tsunami , nuclear disasters , forest fires , hurricanes , climate changes ,genetic disorders , massive deforestation , biological epidemics , and even large scale political upheavals , wars , cultural conflicts all stare at us and ask us to take note before it is too late !!.

During the last decade , the world was also in a state of denial about  financial melt downs , collapse of the Euro Zone , the rise of communist capitalism in China , global terrorism , the Arab Spring and other middle east popular uprisings , and the rise of middle class in the developing countries .

We have no dearth of  Thought Leaders but they do not focus conveniently on the so called ” Unknown Known ” of the decision theory to prevent global disasters – mostly man made and preventable .

According to Geoffrey Wheatcroft , unknown knowns are things that are not all inevitable and are easily knowable or indeed known but people chose to “unknow” . To save this world from future disasters , we need to heavily focus on these “Unknown Knowns ” .


The New Culture of Desire and Hope.

It was pure coincidence that I read the two books – ” The New Culture of Desire ” by Melinda Davis and ” Karama! – Journeys Through The Arab Spring  ” by Johnny Smith in quick succession.

While Melinda creates a new geography of the human imagination that will not only help humankind navigate technology but also enable us to find our way around the inside of our brains and provides five radical strategies that will change our business and life , Johnny takes us through a journey in Tunisia , Egypt and Libya immediately after the Arab Spring where the author encounters revolutionists and security staff at the ground level who narrate the why’s and how’s of the revolution which dethroned three long term leaders – Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya in quick succession .

It is technology and its absorption by the common public enabling a tectonic shift in lifestyle, desire and new hope which is central to the theme of both the books. While Melinda dwells on the life changes at personal and societal levels , Johnny tells us how a primitive Middle east society harness the power of the Internet , Television and Social Networking to start a revolution and overthrow the dictators in short time through public opinion and revolution.

Both the books have fascinating insights and foretell shape of things to come , probably in China , Myanmar , Tibet and other places where Democracy is still a distant dream .

Benign Neglect – A basic human trait ?

In all human endeavor , the hind sight is always  6/6 or almost near that . When we are required to act with speed or to choose an alternative , we at times either vacillate or procrastinate . But worse than this , we deliberately let matters drift hoping that the problem will either go away or get sorted out by itself .

The American Heritage Dictionary defines Benign Neglect as ‘ a policy or attitude of ignoring a situation instead of assuming responsibility for managing or improving it ‘. At a political level it can also be a variant of a “Laissez Faire ” policy .

This trait or an attitude of ” Benign Neglect ” comes with a Price !! . Many a times , the opportunity which was there initially vanishes or we are compelled to go for a sub optimal solution . While the consequences at a personal level is well understood , opportunities at the society or national or even international level can be problematic and prone to conflicts . Take the example of racism or cold war during the sixties , oil crisis in the seventies or the war in the middle east . Also , look at the delayed responses to global warming or energy crisis . In many such cases , we missed the best solutions through a ” benign neglect ” to act decisively and settled for reactive remedies which at times threw up solutions worse than the problem faced in the first instance !!

In the future , we can expect new issues in water management , tsunami , or melting of the glacial layers or man made disasters manifested through more social uprisings like the  “Arab Spring ” or more serious Nuclear Disasters thanks to the same collective human trait of  Benign Neglect  !

Determinants of Economic Growth

A positive outlook for economy has many things in common with your anatomy – your body weight vs flab and good vs bad cholesterol in your body . While , the US boasts of a global outlook with scientific temper , innovation and entrepreneurship and a positive population growth post the baby boomers retirement  , India boasts of a young profile for 60 percent of its population with an annual growth rate of over 8 percent for its economy . Both Europe and Japan are negative in its population growth while scoring on other factors .

Productivity is another important determinant of economy and most of the third world countries suffer from poor productivity – with China , Japan and South Korea bring notable exceptions . In order to jump start an economy , a country needs to focus on its productivity and elimination of waste both wasteful processes and wasting scarce resources . Energy conservation and a free market access also facilitates economic growth .

A democratic set up with transparent governance and a political system with adequate safeguard against corruption is essential for any national economy to grow and prosper . Educating the masses and giving them good health care and right to property is also necessary for social security and enduring economic health .

The current unrest in the Middle East , the Jasmine Revolution , Arab Spring etc have come about due to the opening up of the global economy and due to the  spread of information and knowledge because of the internet and social media . This trend will continue not withstanding the road blocks on the way from countries like China and Iran .

India and the US are both favorable placed in this aspect and can hope to leverage the good factors mentioned above for a robust growth in their economy .