Do you know what this nameless decade?
The Obama decade?
The world is in crisis or in confidence?
To understand the world we live in needs enormous knowledge and wisdom.
The world is always in a sort of oddity. The world is not easy to live or easy to understand. The place is full of odd sorts of people and characters.
There are any number of cowards, less courageous people, it seems. There are always doubters and soothsayers of various sorts.
There more any number of cynics, fewer skeptics though skeptics at any moment over-number than optimists and believers!
Anyway, there are certain broader trends. These trends include the expansion of freedoms and democracy in all far corners of the world. As far as we see from the Indian perspective, the recent democratic elections and the coming in of democracies, in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, three great Islamic states, if we can say so, gives much hope and much confidence in the future of the world.
Nearby at home too the recent many happenings, the gay rights, the attacks on women in the bars, the attacks on outsiders, in Mumbai and in Bangalore, the gender sensitivity, the standing up of the girls in Muslim dress to the recent intolerant attitudes of the colleges and other places give much hope there is a growing sense of assertiveness of one’s freedoms, one country’s sensitivity for larger democratic rights, women in Iran and Afghanistan and even in Pakistan all indicate that violence in any form, guns and rockets are no guarantee of this decade’s new sense of liberation.
The youth decade? Yes, we can say so, more so in the case of the Indian youth who found their rights and freedoms now find thousands of expressions in the new opportunities and challenges. On the whole this decades we can write as one that gives much hope and one decade that is an optimistic decade, not much room for any pessimism whatever.
Yes, science and technology have grown a lot, we all seem to live in a more prosperous decade than ever before in history. May be we may not be living through a more and longer periods of sustained growth that later history describe as a new civilisation.
History has many cycles of history known as civilisations and dark ages or periods. But this time, this century, this century for me at any rate seems to be a decade of unprecedented prosperity. But then when we were about to proclaim and celebrate came the world bust, the meltdown, the recession and call it by any name you fancy. How to explain these phenomena?
That is at times like this we call for the philosophers and thinkers and creative artists. We feel the need for them at a time like this only. Yes, we can only recall and recall the past and learn something from our heritage. As for me, I am confident that man with his vast past knowledge can learn to live and come back to once again to new height of glory and accomplishment.
So, let us recollect some oddities, the philosophers and the thinkers.
“I think, therefore I am” My favourite 16th century philosopher, Rene Descartes! “The starry heavens above me the moral law within me”. Another favourite, this time, the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant. His fellow countryman, this time, the formidable Hegel,” History is progress of history as freedom is expansion”.
How fine, you may not agree with much of what he said otherwise, but this idea of history as history of expanding man’s consciousness of freedom is what the world seems to be moving forward. Yes, his follow, self-proclaimed follower Karl Marx now may not be the flavour of the times. We all seem to be enjoying the fruits of free market capitalism. Then, capitalism seems to be in crisis. But then don’t lose heart.
There is the saviour, another favourite Lord Keynes whose’s espousal of “man’s animal spirits” would surely lift us out of the current depression mood. Man can’t live by pessimism nor does scepticism pays.
Much less the cynicism of artists and writers like say, the late Nirad Choudhury. Yes, he was a great prose writer and I am a great admirer of his chaste English prose but not his cynical views, be it how to be a good Englishman to how not to be a cynic! He lived all his old age in England and claimed his social benefits by decrying the Englishman’s values. But he didn’t live like an Indian and a Bengali bhadralok! That was my grievance against this brilliant brain.
But then, what Niradbabu didn’t give by way of his wisdom, his fellow Bengali intellectual, Amartya Sen gave us in ample measure going over to win the Nobel Prize once again and giving Santiniketan its due claims the very core of Indian education and tradition and values.
So, what have I to give for this decade, this decade of progress for the Indian youth and Indian self confidence? I give a new hope for further excellence and a world view that truly must take India this century to new glories.
India can hope to make good what was lost for centuries, our democratic freedoms must enable every Indian, to the last man to attain and realize their potential to their full. India must learn to live with a new world view a more mature and a more self-confident world view!
Yes, Obama has changed the world? It looks like that? Or, is it too early? These are some of the questions you read about in the Western press and elsewhere.
After the September terrorist attack in 2001 to the election of Barack Obama last year how the world has changed? When Bush left the White House, he left with a bailout package of 700 billion and Obama has simply moved forward without much persuasion or other hurdles usually faced by any President.
How far Obama has travelled since then? His attempt to adopt a more pro-active peace role, as opposed to the more aggressive and more confrontationist role adopted by George Bush has changed the world’s outlook a lot more in a more civilized manner. Yes, the world is better now, there is a more relaxed air of peaceful environment and the world seems to hope for more co-operative and a more consensus based approach to world’s many problems, from arms reduction to disarmament to climate change to dealing with the economic recovery. USA is the world’s biggest and powerful economy and there is no difference of opinion in the world capitals that unless the US economy recovers there is no hope for the world. But then Obama’s tasks aren’t that easy.
Daily newspaper reports bring their own quota of many new challenges and the need for understanding and coming to terms with the world. A Muslim model was given reprieve for drinking beer in a bar in Malaysia, China releases the rights activists, yet China is proving to be an immature country with so many oppressions of ethnic peoples, journalist, critic of Taliban shot dead in Pakistan, US quota of unsolved issues, the CIA abuse of cases, prisoner abuse cases in the USA, not the least the Guantanamo detunes, in Tokyo, PM also advises poor young people to avoid wedding! All these speak for the developed countries’s own quota of troubles. America has always lived as if the rest of the world doesn’t matter! So, there is much resistance to cut down the carbon emissions, there is resistance to live frugally, Americans has always consume -d as if there is always a plentiful supplies, be it petroleum to the best of everything.USA is the largest importer and also largest exporter.
So, the USA is accustomed to dictate terms to the outside world. One feature of the Bush regime had been its rash rush to war, unilaterally in Iraq and that triggered the rest of the wars, now in Afghanistan and in the Afghan-Pakistan border; the fight against Al Qaeda is the biggest challenge for Obama. Of course, America can’t sit quiet, it has to face the world realities and Al Qaeda has to be fought.
Of course, Obama has his own background and his own world view. So, we in India have their own view of America, the stereotyped view of America being a big country, becomes an imperialist image etc are simply hard to shed. But we have to learn to change our world view.
America can’t become a danger to the rest of the world. Never, never for one moment.