While I am back into my crazy travel routine, crisscrossing Asia and trying to give a shape, finally, to our training business, the question whether we live in an age of scarcity or of abundance dominated my thoughts. I have spoken to people about this, and also privately debated the concepts: I even made an earlier post on this blog talking about my anguish for not being able to accept abundance paradigm when I actually see so much misery across the world.
Anguish, because I am also mindful of the fact that most of these miseries are created by the scarcity mentality in the first place. While I mocked Chris Anderson's concept of FREE and talked about zero-pricing death, life and time, I am also conscious that unless we can move into the abundance paradigm, we don't really escape our animal selves and the narrow spheres we live in. Unless we feel free from scarcity, we can not really give; unless we feel the abundance, we can not overcome the fears that dominate our lives and restrict our possibilities.
The answer, however, was lying somewhat in front of my eyes all the time. I was confused between our physical realm and our cognitive realm, two different worlds that we live in at the same time. Scarcity is an unavoidable reality in our physical realm; there is a finite limit to the air, water, time and all other resources, and lots of time, it is a zero-sum game. However, this isn't true as far as our cognitive realm is concerned, there is no zero-sum game going on there and one person's gain isn't necessarily have to come at the cost of the other person.
Now, the fact is that our physical sense of reality still dominates our world of cognition and hence, we are always rushed, fearful and overbearing. This is, of course, a legacy of the industrial age and the fact that we have discovered this common currency called MONEY which helped us reduce everything, including the two different worlds of physical reality and cognition, into a single set of measurement. The sad truth is our physical sense of inadequacy has taken over our ability to think.
But it does not have to be so. In fact, in today's world, it should actually be the opposite. My big fear about the abundance thinking is the environment. I keep thinking whether we shall jump into the abundance bandwagon and drain out every precious drops of water and air by consuming more. But, then, I came across this example, which read a lot like what I am concerned about, in Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's new book - SuperFreakonomics. They write at length about an worldwide concern about urban environmental crisis. Quite like today, just that this happened at the turn of the Nineteenth century and the source of the crisis was - hold your breath - Horse Manure! In 1898, New York hosted the first International Urban Planning conference and the agenda was dominated by the problem of Horse manure and how this is making our cities unviable. Scarcity, right, a scary kind of scarcity of fresh air and livable environment, more like today. In fact, the Urban Planning conference broke up ahead of the schedule, as no solution could be found and the work seemed fruitless.
And, then, suddenly, the problem completely disappeared! With the advent of electric cars and automobiles at the turn of the century, horse manure was suddenly a thing of history, so much so that the crisis isn't even remembered today. This read like a Chicken Soup for the Environmentally Stricken Soul, and I felt so much better about man's ability to work out ways around intractable crisis. Those who have seen the recent version of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL will remember John Cleese making the statement to Keanu Reeves' Klatu: We change only at the precipice! So apt, and our history is full of such examples. And, I almost know the reasons why - at the precipice, as we stand to lose everything, it becomes easier to make the transition from scarcity to abundance mentality: And, that transition including solves the problem.
Interestingly, I saw a number of new inventions this time around which reaffirmed my faith in human being's ability to work its way out of trouble. For example, I saw LED lighting which consumes 70% less energy, generate almost no heat and can be made to self-power with an additional solar panel. I also came across this nifty tool which can generate water from the air - a device that can solve water problems in many parts of the world. In the latter case, when I enquired why such a wonderful tool is already not in wide use, I was told of two limitations. First, this consumes a lot of electricity, a scarce commodity in developing world, but eminently solvable with the application of solar energy, which is plentiful in most water scarcity zones. The second problem is more difficult - the device is patented and retails for about $30,000 a piece. Of course, some governments will put in the money and some charities will do their best, but our scarcity mentality here - one that is enshrined the way we treat intellectual property and ownership - will limit the possibility of which problems we are really able to solve.
So, I stand converted to abundance mentality. But I just know that our cognitive realm is so dominated by our physical realm and industrial age thinking, our concept of ownership and worth is so dated, that it is hard for us to work to our full potential. It is difficult to resolve, but we are increasingly becoming aware that the rules that govern our thoughts are not necessarily the smartest we are capable of coming up with, and if we were only half as good in overcoming our cognitive limitations as we are to deal with the physical ones, the world would have been a much better place already. However, in keeping with the spirit of the day, I shall sign off in an optimistic note: I know we are working at it and history shows that we always overcome, if only at the precipice!
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
A week into lockdown and things are beginning to change. Mornings are late, afternoons are lazier and evenings never end; meditations are filling out the time for Yoga routines and Netflix profiles are strewn with half-finished movies. This state-mandated, state-funded period of idleness is being likened to being called up to serve, but is nothing like that: Such a comparison is really an affront to the idea of service. Instead, this is just one long streak of panic; of the centre not holding and life not going on as usual. With the usual patterns and rules in suspended animation and business talk - and business - being rendered meaningless, space is opening up for unusual questions: Is Capitalism about to end? Is this the death of globalisation? Does it get uglier from here? My grandfather's generation would have scoffed at us. They saw through wars and pandemics. But, in fairness, we haven't had a life-ending crisis of our own. Notwithstanding the experiences of th
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.