Contemporary Europe and Darkening of the Shadow of Amnesia

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.

 

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A Bengali Gentleman’s engagements with America – Part III

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.

A Bengali gentleman’s engagements with America – Part II

In 2006, something very radical happened in my career – I had “retired” just as cricketers do in India while they “peak”. Before I was 30, I left my corporate job for no other reason that that of becoming apathetic of going to work. I was not aware at that time but it was something taken not kindly in our environment. I was a married man with a child of one year.

I started working on my business – a business I had started while I was a Master’s student in the UK. The business provided me with ample leisure and I passed my time by reading and then writing a narrative history of my native province, Bengal, entitled An Intimate History of Bengal.  It was in this period, Democracy in America by Alex de Tocqueville came in my hand and I started reading the 700 page book with utter fascination.

The book was written in 1833 and wonder of wonder, the book started giving me underlying reasons of the contemporary  society’s reaction to my philosophy of life – “un-examined life is not worth living.“.  I was very delighted to find that in a democratic and equal society where all privileges of birth, lineage, pedigree, caste are theoretically made irrelevant and this vacuum will be filled by the sole identification of what one does (job) and what one earns (money). The more  society moves from aristocracy to democracy, it will amplify these trends. Interested reader may see a whole summary of the book here.

Hollywood

Hollywood also had its influence in my growing up and three films that stand out are The Godfather Trilogy, The Untouchables, Once upon a time in America. I do not remember any other film having any trans formative influence  on me. Most of the other mainstream films were more or less thoughtless like our Bollywood films but with better production and more disciplined acting.

Meeting my first American in person 

I met my first American in person in 2001 while  I was on a cable laying ship laying submarine cable across the seven seas. He was a big Texan man – 6 feet plus and a belly to match. I had found his English difficult to understand initially but after some training, the ear could be accustomed .

The Indian Immigrants in America 

The next interactions I started having was from Indian immigrants or those who worked for few years while deputed by their employers – large Indian IT companies. These people were in the age group of 25-32 years – predominantly male and it appeared quickly to me that being economic migrant and that too working very late hours, they had less temperament and more less opportunity in terms of time and money to have comprehensive cultural experience. Except one, I could not have any commentary of individuality and hence although such people were too many but influence was very insignificant to me. In short, they had fixed expectations and more rigid and fixed ideas and being operational workers looking for opportunity and nothing else, their commentary and observations were bound to be limited, selective and interest-driven.

I wrote my commentary on this theme and posited a devastating thesis on the absence of any first order work of Art by this population. 

Credit Crisis of 2008

It was in 2008, my interest in America got intensified. By that time, many new technologies appeared and that made the global village appear more and more vivid in images and videos. Something was lost in this barrage of information and that was penetrating the obvious.

In the last and Part III, I shall cover the next 10 year period when I worked as a business owner and in my own assessment – “a Time Rich Cash Poor Gentleman.”

A Bengali gentleman’s engagement with America – Part I

Bengali Gentleman : Author

America : the geography as well as the “myth” and stories interwoven collectively by Indians from 1970s. Also the New Rome of our times – the new Rome is told as an approximation and as a shorthand.

Engagements : Mental and in-person collisions / interfacing.

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I have never stayed more than 45 days at a stretch in America though I did come many times – first time as a Federal Government of India officer and later as visitor, business or combination. I did visit many cities and many locales although all these can be considered fleeting, fragmented and highly selective. The first visit was in 1997 – a different world perhaps and a different man, some 23 year old.

I first became aware of America while I read , an adolescent boy residing in Silchar, a small-town in Assam of North East India, a short story by a Bengali author Mr. Shankar called ” Milk of New York” where an immigrant mother was irrationally pursuing her daughter to drink a glass of milk while she was going out for a date. On being asked by the author for such such insistence, the Bengali immigrant mother replied: “I mixed birth control pill in the milk. ” The story timeline was somewhere in 1970s and I read the story in 1980s.

Then I read dispatches of Ms. Alolika Ganguly in one of the leading Bengali newspapers where she described the life very nicely and in a simple prose. It provided a small-town boy the idea of the goings-on of a far away land.

Then when I was 16, I read Buddhadev Basu’s travelogue in the United States – somewhere in the 70s when he was as scholar visitor and stayed in New York with his wife for few months.  Mr. Basu, being first and foremost a poet could communicate more essence of the land to me and it was also the time, I was getting ready to enter into the hyper-competitive Indian Entrance Systems.

In my engineering college, I met Mr. Mathew who was my class-mate and room-mate and he introduced me to the novel The Godfather. I was hooked by the English prose and the prose itself told me how American soil and the environ took Queen’s English and produced something utterly different and individual. The Godfather left in me a lasting lust for New York. Even after I had watched the trilogy, the charm of Puzo’s prose retained its freshness. One of the images that haunts me is Michael Coreleone’s escape in Italy from New York harbour at the same night, he killed Sollozzo and Captain McLuskey and his watching the New York skyline with its lights and the image of a Greek hero watching some funeral fire at the coast of Carthage or that of Byron greeting English coast or I myself finding the palm trees of Dumdum airport when I was leaving for England after leaving my job for my “tryst with destiny” in England. The imagery is old but it is so portable in ages when uncertainty is embedded on a moving vehicle.

In the final year of my college days, I did encounter an acronym called GRE – the entrance test to enter America as s student. I did see many of my classmates preparing themselves for the examination. Curious, I did see the structure of the examination and I discovered how hilarious and grotesque it was when the students were supposed to know very complex, arcane English words and their meanings.

Two American men impressed me a lot – Mr. Edgar Allan Poe and Mr. Whitman. I believe Mr. Poe’s stories impressed me a lot and Mr. Whitman was talking of something that was close to my heart as a small-town boy with wide fields and less crowded spaces.

Post-college, I was working as a Federal Government of India officer in the monopoly international telecom provider and I heard many of my batch-mates were leaving the job and joining “software companies” and then taking a flight to the United States. Curious, I went to visit a “software company” in Chennai somewhere in 1999 and one in Bangalore in 2000. An old colleague used to work there and I entered the office… I did not see the space at eye-level, instead I instantly fixed my eyes in space and it looked like a bee-hive with square boxes or hives. The whole space looked like a factory with matrix of men and women. The artificial light, a hermetically sealed environment and the AC cool air – all made me feel like a prisoner. My “dot com” dream ended then and there.

I started taking more active interest in the United States as a geography when I became a business owner (not an entrepreneur).

I consider, the word a sort of insult while spoken in certain context in India and that story I shall tell in Part II.

Voice – Future of UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience)

The Future Landscape connecting Smart Machines, Universal User Interface (i.e. voice – spoken words) and Business Mantra

  • In Sanskrit, the word “mantra” always signifies some spoken words, i.e. sounds with convoluted, complex and encrypted meanings. Something resembling genetic code. It uses matter (vibrations in air in general) but in itself a mantra is “de-materialized matter”. A mantra is a universal interface ranging from calling Olympian gods to that of activating a weapon.
  • The future landscape, I believe will resemble a situation where voice / spoken words will be the Universal User Interface. From keyboard, mouse, stylus, smart-screen, fingers, eyes and hand to completely TOUCHLESS.
  • Spoken words, VOICE or mantra – whatever you call it will use SYNTAX, SEMANTICS, CONTEXT  and SENTIMENT on a framework called – HUMAN LANGUAGE
  • One’s first language (by birth or by acquisition) will always feel like a “biological organ” for a person and being an organ rather automation, it will have all the attributes humans have.
  • Future devices and the ecosystem in general needs to be TRAINED on the huge number of languages spoken by people all over the globe.

LOCALIZATION – 1.0

The historical evolution of machines took a specific route but it could have taken other equally probable alternate routes. Hence, we learnt “computer languages” first to have basic interaction with world’s first computers. The evolution of this phase reached its zenith with the evolution of HLLs or Higher Level Languages.

Localization – 2.0

The parallel stream was computation through multiple natural languages. Then came the wave of localization of content – translation in major languages. Devices came with multi-language manuals and training kits opening a new industry vertical in the function of language translation.

Localization – 3.0

This is the phase we are now where new devices directly process “spoken words” in few languages some basic instructions. It is the equivalent of fighting with parsers and compilers in the era of Localization 1.0 whenever the syntax, semantics and context become subtle and inter-wined.  Handling Sentiment is in its infancy.

Localization – 4.0

This phase will rule few decades. In this phase, devices will be able to handle all natural languages – it will be able to process syntax, semantics, context and sentiment together. It will be also the phase when devices will resemble more like a “human entity” and the value-add will be on the emotive, (functional yet transcending functionality) artistic (functional but connecting to some hidden and intractable aspect of our being) and aesthetic (recall of beauty and our attendant sense of mortality).

These devices will interface pre-dominantly with spoken words – either spoken within the range of speech (sitting on a self driven car) or any distance away (directing a drone).

What will be the most-valued USER EXPERIENCE in this environment?

Of this new world, we have no historical precedent and human nature is our only guide, even if not an infallible one. Based on what we understand by human nature, i.e. our own, we can identify some attributes of this ecosystem:

  • The anthro-morphic principle: Human beings will project its own reflection into things created by him. Example, can you deny that once or twice, you have talked with an elevator or a computer in half-praying, half-playful mood as if the device understands your emotion.
  • The Beauty Principle: Human beings respond to beauty and will continue to do so although definitions will vary and there will be change in fashion but the poet was right – “a thing of beauty is a joy forever” and only this principle and none else can explain why people are ready to pay so much premium for an I-phone although functionally it is same like other smart-phones. Another example – people visit Acropolis, Greece to see a non-functional building like Parthenon but who will pay to see most of our highly functional office buildings?
  • The Intimacy Principle: This principle is founded on our liking for being closer with non-judgmental and “you will err but forgiven in advance” environment.  This is at the root of some of our greatest attachments and friendships. This is the psychological and sexual glue that binds relationships that endure. This is the reason why rather than becoming angry, we find comfortable when devices suggest the corrected string we have typed in a hurry.
  • The Morality Principle: Starting from name written on a grave-stone to that of emperors putting obelisk, the under-lying principle is the subterranean but perpetual presence of the inevitable human mortality. Until every human is immortal, this principle will be the fountain-head of all other principles. The Beauty Principle is the complement of this principle. A thing of beauty is a joy forever only because we know that none are here (or there) forever.

CONCLUSION

With Voice as Universal Interface, a whole business landscape will emerge and that means there will be new business models. The value concentration will be in the niches. It is not yet clear where will be those niches but we can have some idea about the nature of those niches and the skill-sets supporting them:

  • Artistic
  • Linguistic
  • Auditory
  • Phonetic

Event Report – Wordcon 2018 – 3rd International Freelancer’s Conference, 9th Feb 2018, Calcutta, India

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Freelance Foundation – non-profit for freelancers organized its 3rd International International Conference for Freelancers called Wordcon.

Event Report of Wordcon17/18 – 3rd International Conference of Freelancers

The Park, 9th February 2018, Calcutta, India

The Heritage and Mission of Wordcon

Wordcon is a movement, born in Bengal, India but belongs to the world. The Vitruvian Man of Da Vinci as theme image brings a freelancer, an individual at the centre of the Kosmos. The theme this year was Harmonizing Income, Leisure and Fame in the Digital World – a time snapshot manifestation of the Eternal Cosmic Order.

 The Event Structure and Chronology

 Wordcon17/18 was structured more or less like a classical Indian wedding – starting with invocation and closing with music and also wishing a pollinated, fruitful and prosperous future to all the stakeholders.

Brief Summary

Dr. Angshuman Bhattacharyya chanted verses from Rig Veda and also translated in English. Mr. Bruce Bucknell, British Dy. High Commissioner, Calcutta, Dr. Parthasarthy Bhattacharyya, MD, DM, renowned pulmonologist,  Mr. Sushobhan Mukherjee, Chief Architect, Wordcon and Chairman, Infosec Foundation, Mr. Pritam Bhacharyya, Chairman, Freelance Foundation were present and they inaugurated the lamp and the Conference was declared open.  The message to the audience was that there are changes in the power structures and freelancers have tremendous opportunities as well as unknown challenges.

Invocation was followed by Inaugural Session, then formal opening of the Conference with the lighting of lamp. Keynote Address, Panels, Speakers, Speeches, Debate, Lunch, Music, Panel Discussions, Gifts, Felicitations, Awards and then a musical finale by live performance and Vote of thanks with the wish to meet again.

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Keynote Address entitled “Freelancing and the New Media” was delivered by Mr. Jawhar Sircar, ex-CEO, Prasar-Bharati and an inter-disciplinary scholar. His address covered the changes sweeping  and he talked of two technologies that

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are going to impact the world of Life and Business – Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality.  Presenting these themes in an easy to understand and humorous way, he ended with a great sense of hope for freelancers – collaborated content will be always in demand and will have a hitherto unthinkable  scale and depth.

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2 panels – represented by freelance panelists from Consulting, Strategy, Translation, Law, Sports Coaching, Journalism, Food business, Chartered Accounting, Auditing, Academic Research discussed and debated on the essentials themes of freelancing – how to charter the new seas and also to be a valuable part of the society. Mr. Kaushik Bhattacharyya, Chief Strategy of Prime Infoserv and Mr. Nirpuam Sen, Regional Head of BSI moderated the panels. How to build enterprises neither for the Government nor for an oligarchy but the model itself having checks and balances to create a social enterprise. Freelancer as a social hero, not only an enterprise-building warrior.  The panels witnessed the launch of 3 books – first is Bootstrapping Market Innovation – a book by two freelancers as how to build an effective and reality-tested marketing plan with virtually no financial cost. Freespace – Freelancer’s Journal – 3rd Edition was launched and Bengali collection of short essays অবকাশ সমগ্র (Collected works of Leisure) by Dr. Abakash Ranjan Kar – ex-Editor Freespace and Professor and Head of the Department of Leisure, Wordsmith University.

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Mr. Goutam Choudhury – a virtuso performer of harmonica and a archivist for the music of one of the greatest musical geniuses of India – Mr. Salil Choudhury who is based in Netherlands but roams around the globe for his archival work on the Life and Works of the musical genius. It was our privilege to hear a passionate man who is spending time, a fortune in creating a archive for posterity.  As luck would have had it, he met Mr. Jayshankar – a rising star in Bengali music and it was wonderful to see the old archivist meeting the young musician on the stage of Wordcon.

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 Wordcon’s perspective on Sports is based on the holiness ancient Greeks attached to their Olympic games and in more recent times, Britons, in their finest hour attached to the Game of Cricket, which can be called – “an Indian game discovered in England.” Mr. Sanjay Sen – a national football coach told how a sportsman goes through the cycle of a freelancer of other domain, followed by Life Skill coaching by Mr. Saurav – an ex-Army man and now a NLP practitioner. Mr. Subhasish Chatterjee delivered an important address as how freelancers need to groom themselves to be an efficient unit in terms of physical and mental health.

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Income uncertainty and anxiety thereof is an existential fear of any freelancer of all times. The successful fear whether they will be successful next time and the aspirants are anxious to succeed.  How to fight this fear and anxiety? On top, one needs to be physically and mentally fit to run one’s vocation and there are so many changes and uncertainties. Swami Sarvalokananda, a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order and sought after speaker on Vedanta philosophy discussed the short solution – Human empowerment. Very interestingly, he said that many monks do not have technical qualification of some works the global order is engaged with. But they master it. How? The secret lies in working with devotion, dedication, hard work and patience. This means that we need not fear change – these ingredients will universally succeed.  He also narrated incidents from the lives of Swami Vivekananda where the centre-piece is: FEAR NOT.  Face the challenges life is throwing at you and with the practice of virtue, internal power will manifest and that power is the subtlest and the greatest – the power of the Self within.

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Dr. Devasis Ghosh discussed something all professionals are prone to : stress, clinical depression and anxiety and impaired mental health. A holistic healer and independent researcher on the subject of stress and cancer, audience could relate easily. Then came the finale – Mr.Parijat Biswas – a lyricist, composer, musician sang some of his own songs with his instruments and the songs talked of the time gone by but also of hope and to be sensitive.

All problems either remain or vanish but Beauty remains forever.

The Next Milestones in the Journey

 We, the Organizers consider ourselves as a gardener for Wordcon and all events under the banner of Wordcon. Like a good gardener, our job is to work honestly, harmonize all the interests of the stakeholders, create an open, inclusive, transparent, fertile and friendly environment so that flowers and fruits of all time and clime may bloom and flourish. The agents of change and connection – the birds and bees visit, so do the lovers and the curious and lay visitors and their purposeful or purposeless walks create footprints in the globe.

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March / April 2018 – Spring – Summer Musical Show

June / July 2018 – People’s Cricket Exchange Programme – UK Tour – Birmingham + London + Oxford

November 2018 Flying Feathers – Corporate Badminton Tournament, Calcutta

December 22nd and 23rd 2018 – Wordcon Mela + People’s Cricket Exchange (Fructus et Virtus- Season II) – NKDA Cricket Ground, Calcutta, Calcutta / Tagore’s Shantiniketan, Bengal Sweet festival, Yoga classes in the rural heartland of Bengal.

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Contact

 Email : wordcon2015@gmail.com

  1. Facebook : facebook.com/wordconconnect
  2. Web : wordcon.in
  3. Blog : wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com
  4. For all media enquiries, contact Anik Gupta at +91 9073361512
  5. For any engagement inquiries, contact chairman@freelancefoundation.in and wordsmith.bengal@gmail.com

Photo Essay – Fructus et Virtus Cricket Match – 30th Dec NKDA, Calcutta, India

“Greeks, the inventor of Olympic games considered Sports as something sacred and also an avenue practicing Virtue. Britons, inventor of Modern Cricket, also considered in their finest hour this as not mere Game but something of character building and connected with moral virtue. A British father did say to his young son while he was padding up to go to the crease : “Remember, anyone may not be watching but God is watching. Play fair, play well and enjoy the Game.”

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Cricket is sometimes called “an Indian game invented in England.” Many old lovers ( generation born between 1970-1990 in India) of cricket in India consider that the Game is perhaps lost forever – it resembles more like gladiatorial arena and the old charm of playing and watching the game is gone forever. The very soul of Cricket, for her old lovers is sold to Big Money, Big Stars, Big Media, Big Stadium and the combination.

It occurred to us that as a Curtain Raiser to Wordcon – 3rd International Freelance Conference, we may organize a retro style cricket match with good food, lazy afternoon and socialization among friends, colleagues and strangers turned acquaintances.

Four teams played on knock-out and 40+ players played.

NEXT INNINGS 

We are planning a fixture called Indo-British People’s Cricket Programme where teams from the UK will play in Calcutta during December/January and Indian teams will play in Birmingham in May / June.

This will be Wordcon’s endeavour to bring the old charm of the Great Game.