Editorial: Embracing Disruption
It will need a wise government to understand this ‘ highly intelligent disruption’ so that our society does not lapse into nasty, brutish mob violence
Hardnews Bureau Delhi
As the decibel levels of our political discourse soar to noisy heights, suggesting a collapse of civility and rationality in our flawed democracy, there are many who are hell-bent on wrongly diagnosing the symptoms of this messy breakdown. The cause of this ‘disruption’ cannot be merely located in the face-off at JNU over a group of students allegedly raising ‘seditious’ slogans, the insensitive handling of the suicide of Rohith Vemula, or the murderous riots in Haryana; these are mere manifestations of deeper currents of change in our society, economy and, consequently, our politics. Many of these changes are being initiated by technology and the way it is ‘disrupting’ ordinary lives and established paradigms.
So deep is the influence of technology and the speed at which metadata can be built up — driven by the growing penetration of the internet and mobile telephony — that it guides our decisions about which start-ups to fund. It has even shortened the cycles of a political movement which go from ground zero to capturing power in what seems like no time.
Jobs are disappearing not only due to the global slowdown or the demand squeeze, but also due to what the ‘Internet of Things’ is doing to businesses
It is not just in trying to control voting attitudes that parties are using metadata; they are using it to raise issues and battle-test them. This is why BJP leaders like Amit Shah are gloating over the ‘response’ they have got on the issue of ‘hyper-nationalism’ while attacking JNU. Maybe this ‘positive’ response reflects sections of the upper-caste/middle-class mindset that seeks a Hard State to protect it from a plethora of problems: terror and communal/caste polarisations, chaos, violence and anarchy (as in Haryana), loss of jobs and identity, and the breakdown of social norms. There could also be a feedback loop; the obsessive extent to which Rightwing Internet trolls crowd social media with their vitriol and multiple accounts is no secret. At this point, the BJP could also become rat-trapped in only hearing what it wants to hear.
Jobs are disappearing not only due to the global slowdown or the demand squeeze, but also due to what the ‘Internet of Things’ is doing to businesses. Now, traditional retail is seriously threatened. Footfall in big markets is falling due to e-retail companies like Flipkart, Snapdeal or Amazon. The new app-based economy has created half a million jobs, but many more have gone away. With no new job creation in the market economy despite Narendra Modi’s promises, there is a blind race for ‘secure’ government jobs as part of caste benefits.
This globalised community has access to an expanse of knowledge and finds governments and nation-states limiting
The agitation of the affluent landed castes of Patels and Jats has to be understood from this standpoint. In the past, when the economy did not show such upheaval, both Jats and Patels found the reserved quota ‘meant for lower castes’ below their social dignity. Now, their leadership believes that going backwards is the only way to go forward. There are other reasons for the disruption. There is a social section that has globalised and is drawing intellectual sustenance from global icons. This globalised community has access to an expanse of knowledge and finds governments and nation-states limiting. The conflict in JNU and other knowledge hubs is due to the clashes between people celebrating open-ended landscapes and kaleidoscopes of enlightenment, and those restricted by shallow, dogmatic notions of nation and way of life. The brilliant open-air ‘nationalism’ lectures in JNU, streamed ‘live’ all over world campuses, are an eye-opener. It will need a wise government to understand this ‘ highly intelligent disruption’ so that our society does not lapse into nasty, brutish mob violence. Or else it will be the ‘Second Coming’ once again: …The centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.