(Salutations to You O Divine Mother, I Invoke You; Who is the daughter of the Mountain; By Whose presence the whole World is filled with Joy; For Whom the whole World is a Divine Play and Who is Praised by Nandi, I Invoke You O Devi Who Dwell on the Summit of the Vindhyas, the Best of the Mountains; Who give Joy to Lord Vishnu as His sister ….)
That once a year rendition in the voice of Biren Krishna Bhadra.
Aswiner sarada prate beje utheche alokomonjir,
Dharanir bohirakashi ontorhito meghomala
(In the month of Aswin, amidst the meanderings of autumn, resounds the light of the sun like anklets
As the clouds disappear from the skies above the world)
Listening to that Chandi path chants and the music in a half asleep, half wakeful state, has always been an intensely personal and endearing experience since my childhood.
I recall my father putting on the All India Radio station at dawn all those decades back, as we all huddled back under the blankets to sleep-awake through Mahishasur Mardini during those wonderful autumn laced mornings with that slight nip in the air. I have tried to continue that tradition.
This year as I lay on my bed listening to Mahishasur Mardini, I saw in my mind’s eye folks who had been part of me since childhood. My father, my father-in-law, other family members, friends. They were standing in two rows and smiling at me. I could sense the love and the warmth seep towards me through the smiles. I luxuriated in the enveloping feeling and closed my eyes. I woke up to find that it was but a dream. Al those who I saw looking and smiling at me were no longer part of my life today, having left for their heavenly abode.
Mahalaya is the day of making offerings to our departed forefathers. According to the Puranas, our patriarchal generations come closer to the living world at this time and this is when they need to be remembered and thanked in our prayers.
Did my dream have anything to do about my remembrance of all the departed souls and them reciprocating back?
The Pandemic has been with us now for more than one and a half years. A virulent new strain, the Delta variant, is the new weapon unleashed by the wily COVID 19 virus to negate all that the vaccines have been doing. Conspiracy theories abound. We look on helplessly through a tunnel with no apparent light visible at the other end yet.
The West and its much vaunted ideal of human freedom is on the backfoot. As US retreats, Afghanistan has once again proved to be the graveyard of Empires- earlier the British, then the USSR and now Pax Americana. The swiftness of the Taliban takeover has been shocking as they begin the task of taking the country back into the medieval ages.
Almost two decades back, US President Bush had declared, “Engendering democracy across the Middle East ‘must be a focus of American policy’ for decades to come”. Today democracy is sputtering like a flame about to go out, with the failure of the much-vaunted Arab Spring and the Middle East in a far worse situation than previously.
We are into an irreversible global warming era, possibly the most serious climate crisis faced by Mankind. July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded on the planet. An extreme heat wave in Canada at a searing high of 49.6 deg. C. was a one-thousand-year weather event. Floods ripped through geographically distant countries like Germany and China. Drought stalked others. It is now being widely claimed in scientific circles that the Arctic would soon be devoid of ice with the resultant rise of sea water levels and low-lying areas going under.
The above are glimpses of a frightening and dystopian future we are headed into.
Now here is the other story.
In the last month alone, one billion people have been vaccinated against COVID 19. By the end of this year more than half the people on the planet would have received the vaccine. Truly a stupendous achievement in terms of swiftness of response and effectiveness.
The COVID-19 crisis has led to a veritable explosion of scientific progress in the tinkering of genetic information flow and the formulation of proteins, the ultimate nano machines. Trials are currently being done for protein-based vaccines for diseases ranging from Cancer to HIV.
As we speak, electricity generation from the clean sources of solar, wind, hydro and nuclear has outstripped that from ‘dirty’ coal. Closer home in India, the wind and solar generating capacity has exceeded the milestone of 100GW output. In more and more countries, low carbon economy valuations are rising rapidly. The reason is economic. The average cost of power generation from clean sources is now half that from fossil fuels.
As investors spot a rising opportunity, more money is getting committed to climate investment funds in a day than used to be raised in years a short time back. Three weeks ago, two global asset managers, TPG and Brookfield, closed a combined $12.4 billion in climate investment funds.
Reforestation and conservation funding is taking place in countries as disparate as Indonesia and Bolivia who are supporting equatorial rain forests to United states and Canada who are focusing on wetlands, grasslands and coastal areas and the regeneration of flora and fauna therein.
These are but a few stories of a Utopian future we seem to be headed into.
So which future, whether the Dystopian or the Utopian, would come true?
As Morpheus says to Neo in the Matrix:
“……This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you…. believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill……. and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more….”
Is our future really like the story of the blue and red pills and the need for us to make a choice of the path?
Or could it be that there is no choice after all? The two futures, dystopian and utopian, would always exist together, like the two sides of a coin. It would all come down to our world view and the context lens we choose to use. If our context was one of dystopia, we would see signals of collapse in every situation we look at. Similarly, if we were to deploy our utopian context, we would notice the signals of renewal and hope all around.
Our story, the shared and evolving narrative that it is, would always contain both dystopia and utopia, both collapse and renewal. It would depend on us which context lens we choose to deploy, which future we would wish to live into.
“What we do makes a difference, and we have to decide what kind of a difference we want to make.” Jane Goodall, English Primatologist & Anthropologist
Acknowledgement: The above piece is inspired by ‘Collapse, Renewal and Rope of History’ written by Angus Hervey, Future Crunch Journal, Aug. 24th 2021
I am sharing here a somewhat longish video on Youtube.
Loved the extremely thought provoking and insightful conversation between Prof. Michael Sandel, author of ‘Tyranny of Merit’ and Yuval Noah Harari, author of best seller ‘Sapiens’.
The conversation covers the following aspects:
What is behind the recent phenomena of the spread of authoritarian popularism and the rise of authoritarian hyper-nationalists?
What has led to the increasing divide between Winners and Losers and the rising socio-economic inequality over the last four decades of Globalisation?
The increasing support for Meritocracy has a dark side. The strain between the hubris amongst Winners versus the resentment amongst those left behind. Unfortunately, the created Inequality of Income and Wealth has in fact led to a much serious issue of inequality of Honour and Esteem. What could be a way forward to decouple this strain?
The study of History has been such that we can very accurately explain WHAT happened but not WHY that something happened.
The urgent need to reconceive and reimagine the mission of social democratic politics of today.
The increasing obsolescence of the classical Nation State model due to the easy movement of Capital, Technology and Labour across the globe. What could be done to prevent the collapse of Nationalism in its true sense?
If one were to accept the core premise of the conversation, it would imply that Meritocracy, which dictates that a few succeed and the balance fail, is not compatible with democracy which is about majority decision making.
A more worrying aspect seems to be loss of political space by left of center parties who have been espousing the cause of the masses but have supported the meritocracy structure in their socio-economic decisions.
I was in a meeting with my new Chairman. I was passionately elucidating my future plans for the business.
The Chairman looked at me, made a sign of smallness with his fingers and said, “Your businesses generate too small a revenue!”. The stress was on the smallness, the inconsequence of all that I and my businesses were doing.
Stumbling out of the meeting, I was in a daze. To be told by your boss that all your efforts and dreams, all that you stood for, did not matter in the larger scheme of things, was devastating.
As I look back at that crucible moment, I can see how it changed the trajectory of my life thereon.
For days afterward, I was pummeled down by negative thoughts and low self-esteem. I swung between anxiety, anger and bitterness.
The way it occurred to me, there were all these guys, less qualified and with less competence, who were being acknowledged because they seemed to be ‘at the right place at the right time.’
I felt small. I hadn’t done anything wrong to deserve what I had heard. From that one conversation, I seemed to have lost a significant part of myself, opening up hitherto un-noticed doors to self-doubt and self-flagellation.
But then a thought came to me, ‘Had I done enough right?’
I unburdened myself by speaking about the incident and my thoughts to my wife and a couple of trusted workplace colleagues. I felt less like an idiot when I shared what I learned from screwing up. This helped me to move beyond the dark side of my self-doubt and low self-esteem.
The incident supported me to work on that crucible moment question, “Had I done enough right?” It taught me the practice of Self Reflection. It is this that opened up for me new possibilities and opportunities of growth.
In his Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller, ‘The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights’, author Doug Conant speaks of his own journey of self-reflection and discovery that revolutionized his leadership and transformed his career trajectory.
Doug condenses his remarkable leadership story into six practical steps.
Reach High – Envision
Dig Deep – Reflect
Lay the Groundwork – Study
Design – Plan
Build – Practice
Reinforce – Improve
In today’s world of uncertainty and disruption which can leave us stuck and overwhelmed, the above six steps have the potential to lift our leadership and performance to heights that would bring us career success, joy and fulfillment.
Yesterday, my daughters arranged for an all-Italian supper of pasta and Pizza with garlic bread for their Baba. As I was washing down all that great food with a glass of coke I felt so blessed.
In my younger days, we neither had the awareness nor the luxury of such DAYS to acknowledge our loved ones. The only days I recall celebrating were Birthdays and the occasional special anniversary (the tenth, the twenty fifth etc.). Those were simpler times……
Times change. The bond, the love, that heavenly security in one’s father’s arms remain. This is how the feelings, the thoughts, the conviction to take one’s rightful place on the world stage flow down from one generation to the next.
My father Late Debabrata Ghosal gave wings to my creative imagination since childhood. He inculcated the ‘can do’ mindset in me. Decades after he has left my side, I continue to sense his guiding compass when confronted by life’s situations.
Though I too held my daughters in the same manner that Bapi held me decades earlier, have I been able to pass on the right values and mindset onto them? I suppose only time will remain a witness to that ……
Dr. Viraj P. Thacker, the best-selling author of ‘The Myth of prosperity: Globalisation and the South’, has remained passionate about continuing his Late Mother’s work of a lifetime in the areas of Women & Children, the Environment, Sustainability & Social Justice. This has also led him to set up ‘Manushi for sustainable development’ of which he is the international executive director.
I am sharing a collage of the events associated with the above initiative as well as a thought-provoking article on Globalisation that he has published recently.
Environment, sustainability and Climate Change are areas I remain passionate about. My next book might just be in this area…..
Blogger Archana speaks of my profound way of articulating the tragedies of life.
I believe this articulation comes from seeing it as ‘Life Is’. The way we see situations as good or bad, tragedies or otherwise is really our perspective based on the experience lens we use to look at and make sense of them.
Moolya Foundation is a global non-profit organisation with an aim to bring greater inclusivity in public affairs through digital leadership.
The mission of Moolya Foundation is to expand the conversation surrounding public affairs and empower every citizen in the digital age where marginalisation of the common people is fast growing.
To abridge the socio-economic, political and information inequalities in digital societies, Moolya Foundation envisions creating future leaders in public affairs who shall be at the forefront to represent the interest of the common people.
Do see this first part of my freewheeling session with Neha Gour of Moolya Foundation in which we discuss ‘Is Digital Leadership a Skill or a Mindset?’ As happens at such times, The Chronicler of the Hooghly also gets discussed!