Author Archives: foolswalk

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WORDCON India Tour 2018 Culmination – Calcutta – 7th Sept

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WORDCON India Tour for Freelancers 2018 came to a close, to the starting point – Calcutta with a Freelancer’s meet in collaboration with EasyDaftar – a co-working space in Calcutta, in their premises at SKP Building, off Kalighat Metro station in the heart of South Calcutta.

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A multi-location event, connected by Facebook in Wordcon’s traditional informal but serious event. The whole event is recorded and produced below (Facebook Live event – Wordcon Channel)

FULL RECORDED EVENT (Courtesy – Ms. Sritama Muhuri, EasyDaftar) – also shared at our Facebook Channel : Wordcon Channel

Highlights

  1. Sharing 4-city Freelancer meet experience, insight, success, failure, challenges and most-important : What Freelancers need and what are being done and what should be done. A bottom-up approach.Hear the problems at field level and direct, deliberate and build solutions and connect to resources for building solutions.
  2. Freelance Foundation officially announced its Master Freelancer and Masterclass Policy : A Master Freelancer affiliated with Freelance Foundation must guide qualified (humble, interested and strong desire to succeed) aspirant freelancers without any fee whatsoever. Only those Masters who share this value system should consider associating with us. 
  3. Freelance Foundation is building a process and platform to engage those freelancers who are humble and interested to be guided and Masters who are ready to teach.
  4. Announcing our England Tour starting next week including cricket match and 2 freelance meets – one in London and one in Birmingham.

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Thanking all our past and present partners for making the India Tour possible and England Tour feasible.

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Acknowledgements 

  1. Ms. Sritama Muhuri, EasyDaftar and her Team
  2. Easydaftar Clients / Co-working location members at multiple locations in Calcutta who participated in the Event online.

Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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Freelance Foundation / WORDCON – Vision 2020

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Freelance Foundation is a registered charity in Calcutta, India with the mission of Harmonizing Income, Leisure and Fame for world freelancers.  For last five years, we have been conducting full day conferences, meet-ups, online mentoring, music and sports events for freelancers.

VISION 2020

The Apex Council of Freelance Foundation has decided, a part of the VISION 2020 plan, the following Tour and Outreach Programmes for freelancers.

WORDCON INDIA TOUR 2018-2020 | 20 cities of India 

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Having completed metro city tour, we have realized that there is a growing body of freelancers in Tier I and Tier II cities of India. The format of each meet will be as follows, with amends as per the local custom /culture. This knowledge will come from the Lead Freelancer in that respective city / town and he / she will be part of our Team. We have already started finding those rare souls. The format of the meets (sabha) will be as follows :

  • A hosting institution will provide us space and facilities
  • The Lead Freelancer will spread the news / promote the meet in our network in the city
  • Teachers of Freelance Foundation will act as Chief Listener and will listen to the problems and solve / indicate a solution
  • It is observed that many freelancers and people in general are averse in discussing such issues in public and hence one to one, private meet will be arranged – in person or online.
  • The Representative of Freelance Foundation will not charge any fee whatsoever in any form, anytime – now of hereafter for the mentoring or training sessions.
  • Freelance Foundation is a charity and it does not and will not pay any fee for any form of activity by its representatives / teachers but reasonable cost will be compensated.

These tours will create field-data and broad spectrum case studies and that will be kept in public domain as a corpus of knowledge and know-how – both theory and of practice.

 WORDCON WORLD TOUR | VISION 2020 | 20 WORLD CITIES 

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The world tour will follow the same model of implementation and will work under the same philosophy that knowledge is free and it is the duty of senior and established Craftsman to teach younger ones without any fee – cash or kind. This comes in rare souls of the world and we are searching for such souls in 20 world cities.

We shall share our knowledge of India and vice versa.

We shall try to have educational institutions / co-working spaces as our hosting partner and will deliver our message as below :

  • Current state of Freelancing in other parts of the world
  • Challenges and solutions devised
  • Mentors who can be approached in your city for free, un-biased and honest advice and guidance. These mentors will be Foundation approved and guided by the code of conduct whose essence is : to be a true teacher without any agenda for personal gain in form of consulting, pushing products or selling a membership sort of. Every Freelance Foundation’s Global Teacher’s only duty is to help organize his students and deliver actionable knowledge based on his own experience as well as from the collective knowledge
  • We shall sponsor coffee/tea for these meets.

IMPLEMENTATION 

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For last 4 years, we have been growing with our family of sponsors and associates. We shall sound out these old friends and will try to on-board new friends who will help us fulfill our mission. Some sponsors have already on-boarded.

The only objective of Vision 2020 is to deliver knowledge as a true Acharya and hence we have proposed a Cashless Model of Patronage to our potential sponsors and associates. In this model, we list the requirements for us to deliver and then approach respective sponsors / associates to provide them. We have found this model to be very encouraging for both the parties.

More updates will soon follow.

If you are interested to be a Freelance Foundation Teacher, please let us know at wordcon2015@gmail.com.

Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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WORDCON INDIA TOUR 2018 – MUMBAI MEET FOR FREELANCERS

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The Mumbai Freelance Meet || 25th August || The Rise, Lower Parel | Mumbai

Around 2008, during the height of  Credit Crisis, few freelance translators, copywriters, content editors including yours truly used to meet in Calcutta in cafes and tea-shops and we used to discuss about income, work-life balance, feast and famine cycle, how to get the next project, how to enforce better rates, how to market our services, how to deal with deadbeat clients and such staple topics of freelance life. In due course, many younger freelancers and students started joining the meet (what in Bengali we call “adda”). Without our knowledge, these meets in addition to bringing some colour to our social life also became some kind of de-facto mentoring sessions. Few corporate professionals also used to attend, asking – “How to be free from the cubicle prison?”. 
 
Cut to 2015 – we all were some eight years older and admittedly valuing these meets more.   We had our first formal meet of freelancers in the form of an informal but serious workshop  – the first WORDCON  which was joined online by freelancers from other parts of the world and happened in a modest Calcutta hotel. It was a fantastic experience. Some senior members proposed  formalizing our meets and exchanges and Freelance Foundation was born as a non-profit entity registered in Calcutta on 14th of July – Bastille Day – the day French Revolution formally started. 
 
In last 3 years, we continued our journey and articulated our Mission : Harmonizing Income,Leisure and Fame. This year, we thought of meeting freelancers of other cities in person with many of  whom we have collaborated but have not met in person plus connecting the Millennial Generation. This made us undertake WORDCON INDIA TOUR 2018 – a Tale of Four cities with Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai completed and Calcutta meet happening on 8th September. We are organizing 2 more meets for freelancers – one in London on 26th Sept and another in Birmingham on 22nd Sept.
 
The Road Ahead 
 
1. To help freelancers and aspirant ones grapple with the fundamental questions of freelance life, starting with income – how do I get projects ? How do I continue to get projects ? How do I prepare myself to achieve this ? How do I navigate in this flux and achieve the target – to have a tense but sustained career as a freelancer. 
 
2. Most of our senior freelancers members in various domains will help them just like a Master craftsman guides an Apprentice – not for any fee but as a duty and to continue the craft tradition. The relationship is non-commercial, voluntary and inclusive. This spirit is the Foundation’s spiritual equity.
 
3. We conduct events – meets, sports tournament, musical events plus one annual International Summit for Freelances. These events and meets create cross-pollination of ideas, thoughts and practices. We conduct these through a model of Cashless Patronage where our patrons/sponsors (for example The Rise) provide us resources to deliver our message and that helps us to keep almost all our events completely free. All our senior members do this as an Acharya – one practices what one preaches. We would like to continue doing this in an organic and community driven manner. 
We are looking for freelance acharyas (true teachers) world over to teach freelancers and the eco-system in which the freelancers operate, the Art, Science and Commerce of living and thriving in Freelance Life. 
JUHU

Wordcon Chairman Pritam B Wordsmith, a “Bombay Dekho man” for Mr. Soumendu, Head of Operations, Wordsmith – paying tribute to Mumbai at Juhu. Mumbai – City as Novel for Saleem Sinai of Midnight’s Children.

 
End-script 
2. Wordsmith University – Freelance Business School
4. Facebook : Wordcon Channel

Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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Visualization : Wordcon’s Conference in New Delhi (Winter 2019)

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This is a follow-up of the WORDCON INDIA TOUR 2018 for Freelancers, organized by non-profit Freelance Foundation that started last month at Bangalore and reached New Delhi on 9th August. New Delhi, as one of the major cities and capital of India since 1911, is a contrarian among great cities of the world. A land-locked city without any great port or a glorious river and where tombs of the past rulers look at the citadels of the present rulers. From Indraprastha to Dilli, to Delhi and New Delhi and now the centre of a region called NCR (National Capital Region).

We had two events in New Delhi – a work-shop for students in Amity University (Noida) and en-route, you see Huamyun’s tomb – the only piece of architectural beauty I could find in the  concrete wilderness of the  Noevue  Sub-urbium Indicourum.  Then we had a meet with freelancers of various domains at a Cafe, almost hidden in the boundary wall of RK Ashram Metro station.

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Students at Amity Noida 

 

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Freelance Meet

These two events that made us make new friends and meet old friends made me visualize the following :

  1. A Conference of freelancers in New Delhi in January / Feb 2019 to be attended by freelancers of all types.
  2.  A follow-up cricket match – retro style in some club-fields of New Delhi. We have considerable experience in organizing such retro style cricket matches from Calcutta to England. The match will include mixed-ability games, retro dress, good food and a musical finale.

What we have in New Delhi:

a. A local team and captive participants who are eager to make it happen.

b. Experience of Organizing such Conferences for last 3 years – see http://www.wordcon.in

c. Speakers, Content and Presentation Modes

d. Social Media Cell

e. Music Team for Musical Finale

f. A qualitative and quantitative report as how does it help the whole ecosystem comprising of freelancers, businesses, associates, friends, critics and curious.

What we need in New Delhi 

a. Few  sponsors with shared values covering hospitality in terms of food, mementos, gifts and printing / promotion

b. A venue partner for the Conference

c. A cricket field with the club as partner

Our experience tells that with these in place and with some luck added, The Conference and the Cricket during Winter will deliver high value and will help us fulfill the mission of manifest destiny for us : Harmonizing Income,Leisure and Fame.

Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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Fructus et Virtus : UK Cricket Tour for World Freelancers

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Freelance Foundation is organizing a daylong Cricket Tournament for World Freelancers entitled Fructus et Virtus – the matured fruit of Virtue as ancient Greeks understood to be the end of all their sports. The Art of Becoming.

In their finest hour, Britons, the inventor of modern Cricket also considered games as not some mere game of virtuosity but profoundly higher in scope and practice. It was the principle of being fair – strength with honour and of being a Gentlemn’s Game and the definition of a gentleman in Victorian era was something so sorely needed in our time – “A Gentleman (and Lady) is always above money.”  In other words, the ideal of a “gentleman / lady” was a Way of Life which is incorruptible by money.

We need this spirit so much in games of all sorts where more time in keyboard is spent not about the match being played but how the match could have been “fixed” after monies changing hands and sometimes these hands are the same hands that carry the National Flag !

It is these values which we want to uphold and as a symbolic act, we have organized a Cricket Match on 22nd September 2018 at the following venue – 10 am to 5 pm.

The Ground :

Aston Manor Cricket Club, The Colin Smith Memorial Ground, Church Road, Perry Barr, Birmingham B42 2LA 

Entry as a Guest or Player is free. But registration is needed and you can register here : 

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Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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WORCON INDIA TOUR 2018 for Freelancers |Bangalore | 28th July 2018

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WORDCON INDIA TOUR 2018 was a sudden “bulb-lighting” event. Since were were accompanying Infosec Foundation’s Cyber security CISO event in multiple cities, we thought of organizing an informal meet for freelancers in cities in Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta on the next day.

Our “freelance team” worked in tandem and we informed freelancers – email, phone, social media, word of mouth and also told them this sentence directly verbatim from the Chairman’s opening address : “..I come as a Chief Listener. We would like to listen to the city-specific challenges and solutions being devised by you. We are not here to sell motivational snake-oil, membership, mantra to increase income 1000 times overnight, some mircale or as such. We are here to listen – gather direct field data and then after the Tour, compile and keep it in public domain as a shared corpus for freelancers, those who buy services from freelancers, those who aspire to be and those will be forced (what was called “Bangaloreed” in the West some years back).”  

On Friday 28th morning where very senior members of Infosec Team were present, we encountered a counter-intuitive phenomena : Corporate professionals were too eager to ask : “How can I be a freelancer ? ” or more un-packed question – “Is there a chance to survive as a freelancer after so many years of corporate work?”

Then the debate and deliberation started. It was intense, very engaging and visceral including inter-generational face to face discussion on “transformation of values of work-ethic – between loyalty and freedom, responsibility and sentiment, self-worth and market-worth, net-worth and life-worth.

We also had an objective of connecting and building relationship with our next wave of Leaders in the millennial generation and we learnt a lot by direct interaction and then over lunches with few such Bangaloreans.

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What we Learnt on behalf of the Foundation ?

  • Freelancers face high risk from deadbeat clients, i,e, those who do not pay for legitimate work and there is not much of practical framework. Social shaming may be a method.
  • Senior and established freelancers / professionals must take the role of guide – not the fee seeking motivational gurus and Life coaches who have made a business out of the vulnerability and innocence of young and less experienced professionals. They must do this as one attendee told – “to give back to the society. not to take anything.”
  • The “romantic” view epitomized in the sentence – “be your own boss” is now almost equally pervasive among students (at the threshold of job) and corporate workers (at the middle of the journey) and that shows that the uncertainty and un-stability in Work, Mode of Work, Payment from Work are all under flux.  Chairman Pritam Bhattacharyya reminded the audience that this view is not the full picture – “being your own boss” is not sufficient motivation to get going, at the first stage. When you are a serious freelancer and just started, you not only have one boss but multiple bosses (read clients) to please. The ego-driven “I am my own boss” should be re-phrased as – “I have more freedom to decide how, where and to whom I sell my professional time.”
  • Mr. Subhasis Chatterjee, Tour Manager and Senior member informed how he started as a freelancer as a youth and then this made him visible to people who wanted his services and eventually offered a job. Or in other words, freelancing is not something one does leaving a job but can be a cornerstone of a job.
  • Bangalore media – both print and electronic surprised with their interest. With a small team based in Calcutta ( Communication and Control) and Silchar (Research and Guidance), we could reach a considerable number of media outlets and we hope to see their valued channels spread our message – a message not for profit or gain but to create a “garden” – unwalled so that cross-pollination of ideas, actions and best-practices can happen.

The TOUR led by two journey man of Calcutta Pritam Bhattacharyya and Subhasis Chatterjee and supported by many will call next port of Call : New Delhi – 9-11th August 2018.

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The Freelance Journeymen of Bengal – Gupi and Bagha from Satayjit Ray’s immortal work on an art medium called  film

Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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Infosec Global Multi-city CISO Summit

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Wordsmith’s associate Infosec Foundation, in association with Enterprise IT World has been running a multi-city CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) Summit for Enterprise Level Cyber security.

 

The Summit started its Journey on 26th July at Marriot Hotel, Fairfield on 26th and witnessed a galaxy of cyber security professionals touching academia, policy, business, government, technology experts and CXO level people representing corporate houses from all over India.

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Infosec Chairman Mr. Sushobhan Mukherjee delivering the Welcome Address

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Mr. Sanjoy Mahapatra, Editor, Enterprise IT World at the Lamp Lighting ceremony along-with other dignitaries 

In his speech, Infosec Chairman Mr. Sushobhan Mukherjee posited a dilemma in cyber-security landscape – should we blame or take the challenge upfront and create a vibrant platform so that this can be collectively confronted. Here comes the significance of CISOs of Enterprise who should not only be competent but communicate and enrich not only their organizations but the industry. Mr. Mahapatra, Editor of Enterprise IT World narrated the rationale behind conducting such events with CISO at the centre and thus pointing towards IT industry’s focus on security of digital infrastructure.

Infoquest – A Journal of Information Security was launched, under the publishing umbrella of Enterprise IT world – a New Delhi based specialist publisher in the domain.

Key takeaways from the Summit :

  • CISO warnings sometimes fall in deaf ear but when a breach actually happens, then reactive response happens. There is something organizations need to know : security, like health is best when pro-active and the highest level of organizations must understand this facet of our digital lives : security breach is not an event – it can be collapse of a brand.
  • Enterprises must communicate and collaborate in this area. The more our lives are digital, the more collaborative responses will work other than silo-based solutions. Some enterprises are actually implementing such a design philosophy.
  • 25 CISOs across the country were awarded and one of the dignitaries reminded the audience that these officers must be honoured and recognized for their services, especially in today’s world when they bear a grave responsibility and custodian of data / information of an organization
  • There was an exhibition pavilion displaying products and services and CISOs were keenly attending these stalls

We wish all the best to Infosec Foundation and Enterprise IT World for this very relevant and useful multi-city tour and we shall see them in Kolkata on 3rd August 2018.

Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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Teaching English – a method (questionable)

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I graduated into a freelancer in 2006 and by 2011, I graduated into something I call – “time-rich cash poor gentleman”, i.e. just enough cash to take care of the essentials but plenty to time for oneself.

I thought of using this surplus time to teach English (Bengali being the native and mother tongue) to my elder son, then 7+ years old. The method followed was this :

  1. I started reading from the great classics of English language – he did not understand most of Shakespeare, Keats and Shelley and Dickens  but something touched him. How did I know ? He had questioned about them.
  2.  Then I had him watch The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in you-tube (Jeremy Brett as Holmes) and that mesmerized him. Some 30 hours of exposure to the videos made English language (and the greatest consulting detective) and its capital city intimate to him. Mr. Holmes became a friend – a curiosity, a neighbour perhaps, mentally speaking.
  3. Slowly, as we traveled in Calcutta streets, he started uttering sometimes sentences and words like – “Elementary”, “My dear father”, “Singular”, “Moriarty” – I understood that the intoxication is becoming intense.
  4. In next six months, he started reading the Adventures in English and I could see that he was in a position to discuss the textual deviations in the TV serial because of dramatizations.
  5. In parallel (just antibiotics are given along with antacid), I prescribed him to read Great Expectations of Dickens which describes London of the same time where Mr. Holmes famously said as a justification for existence  – “London air is sweeter because of me.”
  6. In 2013, in a blessed day, he started writing a detective story in English.
  7. In 2017 while playing for first class under 13 cricket in Calcutta, he was promised a visit at 221B, Baker Street.
  8. On interrogated, he confessed – reproduced verbatim in English – “…before I read Holmes and Pip, the English language was very foreign. But Holmes are Pip were not foreign to me – they are like friends and how a friend’s language can be foreign ? There was slight distance but then it all melted away.”

This young man will play in the British soil on 22nd September 2018 – Fructus et Virtus Cricket Tour UK and will also pay his tribute to 221B, Baker Street and will also meet his Great Expectations in the London museum that is honoured to carry the name of the creator of Pip, Oliver Twist, Fagin and so on…. ”

p.s : I may venture to add that this model may work for other languages also. And my definition of classic work of literature in any language – “...these works have poetic dust. Poetic dust is non-material matter that Time cannot completely subdue and lack of qualification cannot completely deny. Poetic Dust is also that glue which can bind any heart with any heart – however divided in space and time. 

[I hear with mortification from some quarters that in some of the English speaking world today, one can be a graduate in English language without getting immersed, exposed and drowned in such classic works. Instead, non-subjects like Women Studies, Black Studies, South Asian Writing, Sub-Saharan Writing, Victim of English language studies and so on.

[I can only say, with the same desperate cry like the Roman emperor Augustus in his death-bed to Varus, dead since 30 years  – “Varus, Varus, Give my three Legions Back.” ]

Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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Contemporary Europe and Darkening of the Shadow of Amnesia

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Personally, I do not command enough nerve while sitting beside someone with some terminal illness in a hospital but strange enough, decline and decay of civilizations fascinate me and since my boyhood (first text I read was Decline and Fall of Roman Empire by Gibbon) I had a morbid interest as how colossal empires declined. How something that seemed inconceivable a century ago becomes something quite ordinary and settled affair. How quickly generations forget the glories of their forefathers and it has humbled me.

Contemporary Europe makes me shudder – a citizen of the Indian Republic, previously a colony of the British Empire and before that, an Eastern off-shoot and extension of the Ottoman-Persian empire, before that – in its classical period, coinciding with late Roman period, before that it repulsed Alexander’s Army and before that history’s light is dimmer and we pass from the twilight of the myths to a time where the highest birds of or Memory cannot reach.

My previous generations were exposed to Europe via the British Empire. As the descendant of the subjects of that now vanished Empire, may I remind contemporary Britons who have something of living inside them that it is un-Aryan for them to have only some guilt about that Empire. It is this un-Aryan *klaibya* in Sanskrit that is at the root of the present condition where Europeans find themselves, including Britain to be displaced from their own homeland – not by some blitz, not by some external enemy with overwhelming force but due to losing a sharpened consciousness and with that loss, the soul is lost.

Men and women of Europe, hark, from the descendants of  one of your Colonies in the East, even though your leaders of politics and leaders of mind-space teach you to be “diverse and nice”, “race-less and sex-less”, “guilty and seeking punishment”, “responsible for third world poverty, climate change, ice melting in the Antarctica”, “suspending all kinds of basic human instinct while encountering outre orientations in terms of sex, gender and what not:, “studying non-subjects like Gender Studies, Women Studies, Black Studies, Transgender Studies and such while not studying or not studying carefully enough your classical writers, true writers”, I, qualified by nothing but the Debt a Man owes to another Man, tell you this :

  • The world as we know today is pre-dominantly a creation, in seminal sense by European White Male lasting for last 400+ years.  This process was neither wholly bad or wholly good but EWM should be proud of, not guilty because the alternative was infinitely worse. Don’t you observe this in most places of the earth ?
  • Women of Europe, let me tell you this : 200 years ago in Bengal, an eastern province of India where I reside and speak the language as mother-tongue, there was a “culture” ( repeat now : all cultures are equal) where widows were burnt in the funeral pyre of their husbands after an elaborate ritual. No one knows how long this “tradition” lasted or about its “heritage”. In 1833, under the Governorship of a British white male called Bentick and with support from Raja Rammohan Roy – the first  modern Indian, this was abolished by law. Please note that it was in 1806 and then in 1826, slavery was abolished in all forms by British Parliament. Please understand that Slavery was going for thousands of years before British Empire and it was British Parliament that was pioneer in abolishing this “scourge of mankind.”
  • Europe – something miraculous happened in your continent some 500 years back and something equally miraculous is happening now – in its negative sense. An amnesia of spirit that has no known parallel in recent history.

Contemporary Europe and Classical Period of India : a mirroring analysis of the Culture-Soul

Post Buddha and Jaina period in Indian history witnessed a refinement of culture and civilization that has not been rivaled since then in India. It was the “peak” of Indian classical civilization.  The period was fortunate to witness relative calm in the borders and Hun threat long gone, North, Central and Western India enjoyed a prosperity and peace that will wait a thousand years when Mughals will consolidate in India by 14th century.  Architecture and painting of that period attest to the great refinement of that civilization.

Something happened within which was slow but continuous. The peace, affluence and prosperity, couples with Buddhist philosophical stand on Life made the higher classes inward looking, narcissistic, self-congratulatory and ideology driven rather than by facts. In India’s North west frontier, powerful forces were gathering and in next five hundred years, what was some mercenary raid became outright invasion because it was understood by the more vigorous outsiders that the target has a soft-underbelly – in all aspects.

In terms of civilization quality, there was a drastic difference between those who started the raids and those who were defenders of the classical world that nurtured them but as A Pacino says – “Desire Trumps Talent” and what I think is the re-statement of Schopenhauer’s Will in retail format, the outsiders overwhelmed the classical civilization and by 10th century the classical age gave up its ghost. The initiative totally lay with the vigorous outsiders.

Lesson for Contemporary Europe  

To my assessment, the same is going to play-out for the Old Continent. The migrated elements are coming with low civilization quality but that will not hinder them. Desire will trump unless this is met by an equally raw force – of continuation of one’s genetic code – of raw physical survival.

Europe is fading away – the Great Movement that started in 5th century with Germanic Tribes, who made the new Europe from the bones of the Old Roman Empire – the same Germania has opened Her Gates to forces whose true impact none knows  – I hear the tunes of Bach’s “Final Movement from Brandenburg” – the Compassion of the Weak has triumphed over the Magnanimity of the Strong.

Old Europe is withering away…. I do not know what lies store in long term but in the short term, it is inconceivable to believe that those “migrants” – predominantly Islamic men of young age will appreciate the “refinements” and “historical gratuity” of the host culture. History says otherwise – no culture has survived while taking radical change in policy especially regarding its “gates” in space called geography and time called historical time.

Let me advise you, men and women of Europe – a story from the Empire that was the foundation on which you had built Christian heritage to Enlightenment and modern science and then all technologies and finally – your social media where you try to be “virtuous” and “welcoming”.

While Rome was in its death thores, Valens was the Western Emperor and a nomadic tribe was asking to be given land in Italy proper.  Since Romulus, no tribe was allowed within the mainland of Italy to be settled – it was a policy that was at the heart of Roman statecraft. Valens went against this policy and allowed this ramshackle, poor and wretched tribe to be settled within the mainland of Italy – the Eternal City.

In next five years, Valens was brutally assassinated by the same tribe and with this Rome bade farewell to history and Europe’s light went out.

Lights are fading out in Europe – light that Men and Women burn in their hearts and consider Life sacred and beautiful because this Light passes on.

This is the Light for which one of the oldest prayer in Sanskrit – the language of the Vedic Literature and also the language in which Malqades of One Hundred Years of Solitude wrote the prophecy of a family which to me resembles so much of Contemporary Europe.

Defeated Love is greater than what Defeats it – I shall leave with this consolation for me and for Europe of the Living.

 

Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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A Bengali Gentleman’s engagements with America – Part III

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Part I and Part II of this series of works were more personal in nature and to provide a context of the individual who was writing about the on-going engagements. In this final and the longest part of the series, I shall deliberately de-personalize the relation between the text being written and the person writing the text.

This will discuss issues related to Immigration, Business, Cross-Cultural Interaction (Indian at the narrowest and South East Asian at the broadest), Habitat, Technology, Religion, Beauty and Aesthetics.

Religion 

Blaise Pascal, one of the greatest scientists in the true sense of the term and also an observer of human situation of the highest order, was historically and temperamentally placed at the greatest event of last five hundred years : the ideas of science impacting ideas of religion – Christianity  in Pascal’s time and in Europe. His genius of both of the head and the heart and sensitivity of a poet could foresee the vacuum that was being created by the discoveries of science and something invaluable was getting lost.

He could foresee that Man needed consolation – consolation of finding itself alone and orphan in a world which he claimed to have understood better but was suffering a bottomless nothingness inside. Hence Pascal could say – Man is a reed, a thinking reed and the triumph lies in self-awareness.  This self-awareness issue is more relevant today – when computers are becoming smarter and smarter.

The worldly activities and morals and man’s very purpose of Life  depend very strongly on how he thinks of the mortality and after-life. From Pascal till our time, powerful thinkers tried to grapple with this problem of “meaning” in life and we have a super-market of meaning :

  • Discard the question. Let us pursuit happiness in an equal and fair society.
  • Morality without God. Man is the measure, not only of architecture or of created things, but of Moral. French Revolution – where a new religion was tried to be established where Man was at the centre. The Great Human-centric Utopia at its most-eloquent articulation and also with devastating consequences.
  • We are progressing and Technology – a human created product will solve all our problems. However, as late as 1928, Oswald Spengler demolished all such hopes in his Decline of the West where he hammered on the idea and on its ambit – “if Man is on decline, its created product – Technik will not save him.” This is a re-statement of the doctrine – “Man is the measure of all things.” All relativism after sufficient number of iterations will end in nothingness and the only distinction that will remain is the bare physical survival. Hence continuous war without any higher purpose will drain such a culture of its vitality and the culture will go back to its baseline – tribalism.
  • High Art will replace the vacuum left by Religion. This may be possible for a minority but by its very definition, in a democracy and equal society, median taste will go downwards (and nobody dare to speak it as it will be considered unfair and unequal) and materialism will be the call of the day. In private sphere, this will mean “more stuff” and in public lives, there will be un-ending debate on crushing any incremental or imagined injustices whereas monstrous inequality nobody will notice.  So, in such a society, monstrous inequality will be tolerated as nature of things but any individual claiming “higher dimension of being” will be “cut to size.”. Such societies, in due course, with its unanimous agreement on not tolerating any infinitesimal “imposition”, “elitism”, “high culture” will consider, again for some finite time, baboons and imbeciles as “great artists.” Nowhere but in modern painting this is more clearly demonstrated.  The best defense of an idiot is to propagate the idea that intelligence is a construct by intelligent people and such an injustice can be only remedied by making “intelligence” as some kind of “phobic” word.  If you see a typical modern painting, especially those that are “famous” – if you put the work of art in the left and the description of the work in the right, you shall come to the conclusion that the work is mute – the description is of some value. Can this be said of an old master’s work ? Say of the Girl with the pearl erring by Vermeer – the painting, as if removes some stone inside us and meaning, words, images, poems come of which we were not aware of.

Without the absolute standard imposed by all true religion – the vacuum sucks in everything like a black hole and the first radicals who have all the dust of the classical age sprinkled over them at least retain the respect for the skill of the past. However, it remains the tragedy of their lives to see swarms of imitators and upstarts whose only claim now remains how much un-tutored and banal they can be.

Immigration 

Immigration has been the reactant and catalyst of all racial and genetic (plus and minus) evolution of the United States as a nation. This is a fact and not an opinion. I am directly aware of a particular human group in this Immigration Cycle into that country and that is the people of Indian origin born in the seventies and eighties of the last century. They belong to my generation and they were all, almost to the last man and woman were economic or intentional migrants. They have clocked close to fifty years in this country and the day Rajat Gupta, ex-McKinsey CEO (immigrated in the ’70s) was convicted for Insider Trading, I was shocked like most but the historian in me was delighted to find that the assimilation process  of this particular human group has now reached the level that of the immigrants some century back – Italians. Conviction of Rajat Gupta was the signal act where, I quote myself when the news broke, thinking of Marquez’s Macondo and its earliest settlers : “..a land does not become one’s own till some people are not in the grave” and then my own – “..when the human group does not produce irregular sons and non-regular daughters and some thieves and criminals who finally participate in the drama that is bound to the soil – local jailhouses and local madhouses. Nobody exports criminals or mad people once they are detected either by courts or by courts of community whispers.”

I did write my own observation – a mystery with a damning conclusion where I had asked why this human group – some million strong was not able to produce an enduring, classic piece of art (the mysterious process of self interacting with the universe). I was younger then when I dared to write the indictment but age has mellowed me and now I am more patient. I believe, it will take some time and we shall surely see some classic work of work by this human group. It was 30 years between the actual events happened in New York in the 1940s – Cosa Nostra and Art waited this time and then in 1970s, a 24 year old Italian-American Mr. Copolla was gripped by something which is pure genius and he produced The Godfather.  If Art or the Universe respects some pattern, it will be perhaps in 2042 (some 30 years after the conviction of Mr. Rajat Gupta and few more immigrants of Indian origin), we may wait to see some enduring classic in any art form by this human group. The wait starts now.

Why am I harping on Art ?

An Art of Enduring Beauty alone has the potency to connect dissimilar things. How ?

Nostalgia of the Forgotten Home  – America as a Continent of Circe 

Circe was a mythological demi-goddess who used to attract seafaring men by her siren song and once the sailors landed into her island, she treated them well, fed them, gave them wine but with all these, she mixed some herbs and potions that made those men forget their own land and that of their forefathers.

For all immigrants, America has been a continent of Circe sort of. For Indian immigrants, the magic potion worked better in terms of the forgetfulness. A whole new set of business – of enormous proportion was developed by Bombay film industry in 1990s – coinciding exactly with the time when the first wave of immigrants were having their children entering adolescence and whole new viewership emerged of the films of Bollywood. These films, artistically very mediocre addressed one thing, I paraphrase from the film Casino’s  invocation – “.. just as the Lourdes was for the hunch-backs, these films shot in the new home but controlled from India – these became the purgatorial exercise for those who were aware of being the victim and the suitor – both at the same time of the new land which had become the Continent of Circe for them.”

Technology

I lived my life mostly in India and one group whom I have observed incessantly is the so called “Indian middle class” – being a member of that class myself. These observations with suspended judgement provided me some insights which allowed me to be courageous enough to generalize two key pillars from which we can not only build a vantage point but even something useful for other human groups.

  • The less seminal contribution a human group has on some enterprise, the higher the chance of the same group being more fascinated and irrational about it. Note the word seminal.
  • The more seminal contribution a human group has on some enterprise, the less it will be fascinated and being irrational about it.

The world of technology to which India is beholden was created some five hundred years back in the small landmass called Western Europe.

Our times have witnessed the full flowering of these ideas and also its decay without the moral compass. Rather having no compass of moral or beauty, the whole enterprise finally boiled down to mechanistic exercise and the only measure was the measure of something which was a reductionist unit of convenience – money and its making.

Contemporary India is a major consumer of these technologies and the products the seminal contribution for whatever reasons is very less. Hence the spectral fury of interest and so much hope and faith bestowed on its redemptive value. Redemption, of course from relative, real and imagined poverty.  Our political class and leaders also believed on this and on this, in this divided land appears to be at least no disagreement. That is very strange indeed !

I shall perhaps write after a week once again the next part where two themes of contemporary lives will be discussed – Debt and Livelihood.

Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com