[The reader must fly! She should mentally airlift herself like Jonathan Livingstone Seagull to observe life on Planet Earth. This approach will enable the dharana (form), dhyana (focus) and samadhi (flow) of her thoughts].
When Alexander the Great read “KNOW THYSELF” encrypted in the façade of the sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi City before embarking on his Asian conquests, he made a profound observation: “It‘s obvious – to know ourselves is the most difficult of enterprises because it involves not reason alone; but our fears and our passions as well. If we are capable of truly knowing ourselves then we will be able to understand others and the reality that surrounds us”. This has always been the fundamental evolutionary challenge for human civilization.
Two Thousand years later, at an entrepreneurship conference in Zhengzhou, China in April 2017, Jack Ma had this to say about the Future “Society should prepare for decades of pain as the IOT disrupts the economy. In the next 30 years the world will see more pain than happiness. Social conflicts in the next three decades will have an impact on all sorts of industries and walks of life”… as the new technologies disrupt life and living. Accelerated disruptions, shifting growths in different sectors with societal tensions are rising. By confronting these, societies will create better strategy & act in unison to forge a brighter future. Ma regretted no one listened to him 15 years ago when he had said the same things because he was Mr. Nobody then. Ma has touched upon a fundamental problem. There are ‘cracks’ in our 21st century VUCA living.
The Emerging Persons of Tomorrow
First, in India the family as a unit of core decision making, is disintegrating. The Baby Bloomers’ parental upbringing carried mutual responsibilities. The Gen Y/X/Z/Next (?), with Millions all around, have fewer such attachments but more opportunities. Middle class society has rapidly spread its children Pan-India. The kids are concentrated in IT Hubs across hundreds of huge Electronic Cities & SEZs. Their employers are their parents who, short of breast-feeding them, offer all 24×7 facilities. They live in the now. They never worry about the past or what the future portends. They have a different lingo and their communications begin and end with a palpably contagious laughter that rings positive vibrations. Their parents are on-lookers to this unique blend of familiarity with professionalism. This is the generation that is elsewhere building airships, tiny reusable rockets and even spaceships for the Mars. Time never moves with these kids; they move forward ahead of The Times! They are the Persons of Tomorrow. They have the responsibilities of securing a better future for their lesser privileged ilk. And so we need to know how their brains are ticking.
Way back in the 1920s Edward Bernay, nephew of Sigmund Freud, migrated to the USA and became very close advisor to many American Presidents for the views held by him. He said: “If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the Group Mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will & without their knowing it?” And thus was born fundamentals of Peace Time Crowd Management. To manage the aspirations of millions of youth in the era of Artificial Intelligence, we need an effective game-plan.
These Darling Young Ones listen to one another better-much more than with their parents and teachers. They bond with one another beyond imaginations. They create subdued and sometimes virulent reactions from their parents who however, soon enough loosen their parental bonds in favor of their children & their happiness (both fiduciary and mental). Their role-models are the ‘Who is who’ of Sports, Cinema and Politics. Their self-images, values, vision and feelings are absolutely different from previous generations. They carry the grit and the self-confidence to deliver that makes their employers blindly invest in them with money and amenities.
Incidentally, these are the same children who, according to Jack Ma, “will see more pain than happiness”…as…”Social conflicts in the next three decades will have an impact on all sorts of industries and walks of life”. It is untested if their education and upbringing have taught them more knowledge without the requisite values: such as resilience and suffering. In their total commitment to their work do our Movers and Shakers see themselves as employees without understanding the hidden messages and myths that surround their tasks? Aristotle had said “Man lives in deeds not years; in thoughts not breaths; in feelings….he should count time by heart throbs. He most lives who thinks most, feels the noblest and acts the best”.
Communication fails when no one listens! This trait is a human Achilles’ heel. There is also a ‘sickening’ feeling within us that we can do no wrong and others can and will… much like when these children move at jet-speeds 24×7. But does the human body truly suffer if there is near happiness and contentment even if food is consumed untimely? Are such symptoms indications of in-built Inner Strengths? Can we assume our kids are unconsciously in communication with the laws of the Universe? Sometimes it appears the kids in the IT Hubs and SEZs have gone beyond the matrix of life into a “Grow & Grow” mode. Remarkably enough, we seem to have created millions of youngsters who are unconsciously aware of the fact neither they have any burdens not do they operate within limitations. Is this a competitive advantage for the ever present 21st century Edward Bernays?
Human Brain & the A-B-C of Communication
Researches in brains recognize that the combinations of 4 elementary thinking components convert into our behavior at any given time and place. Every person’s self-image, values, vision and feelings convert into appropriate or inappropriate situational behavior regardless of color and country.
When we speak as we do and why, our listeners are more prone to “buy-in” what we say based on the “why” we say it. Our listeners are somewhat linked to the “how” we say but much less with the “what” we say. Hence the how’s & why’s, though important, have to be critically merged with the core i.e. the “why” because the essence of communication is nobody is listening! Speakers like Shiva Khera, Narendra Modi (a few that come to my mind now) are more successful because they have intrinsically mastered the art of the “why” language. Thus it is that it is the nature of the content in what we are saying and not the language we are speaking, that determines value of our communication & its inspirational qualities. Good leaders therefore are known to talk “inside-out” and not “outside-in”.
The Reptilian (R), Neo-Cortex (NC) and Limbic (L) comprises the three brain portions. These involve what we eat & reject (R), our learning abilities (NC) and judgmental abilities (L). Over centuries humans have, unconsciously for the most part- but almost consistently- used their brains to mold Reality with Thought (language) and vice versa. Reality and Thought have fit each other through our philosophy, literature, poetry, scientific discoveries, technological prowess, communication abilities (or inabilities). And now we have created Artificial Intelligence (AI). Are we in a Catch 22 dichotomous situation? In the next 30 years, given Jack Ma’s visionary prophecy, will reality (humanism) mold the thoughts of these Persons of Tomorrow or, with the predominance of AI; will our thoughts (and language) be endowed with primarily technical bits and bytes sans humanism?
EHIBIT ONE (Source: http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_05/d_05_cr/d_05_cr_her/d_05_cr_her.html)
The emergence of Artificial Intelligence indicates paradigm shifts in human behaviors. Human communication is being more articulated via Big Data and IOT (social media). Parents are coping with the non-communicative abilities of their children & vice versa. Industries are creating driverless vehicles, Flying Cars & so many other wonderful products. There is almost a “Back to the Future” scenario. “Something is happening but we/ you dunno what it is…”
The Unavoidable Macro World Scenario post 1990s
There has always been a direct co-relation between our micro lives and the macro world scenarios. Our economic history confirms this nature. The West under Bush and Blair (subsequently labeled by The Economist as “Sincere Deceivers”) used the WMD pretext to liquidate Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Four generations of people have been born in the Indian sub-continent and yet the Indo-Pak conflicts are still unresolved for 70 years. The Syrian and Korean conflicts have ignited old passions. According to James Cameron “falling popularity of globalization, rise of nationalism, Brexit, Islamist terror and Trump’s travel bans are few of the tangible and non-tangible impacts upon industry in 2017.” The impact of globalization has not just been economic but cultural as well.
And yet, the American War of Independence, the 2 World Wars, Indian Freedom Struggle, the Chinese and Vietnam Revolutions, the Bangladesh War of Independence, was won by mostly selfless young warriors aged 18 to 40 from these different countries. In their times, they were also the Persons of Tomorrow of their respective countries. And in 2017 Digital India has the same age group persons glued to the Large TV Screens and Mobiles playing the digital games, movies and related work issues- differently revolutionary, albeit with automated activities.
Their brains are fixated digitally. In other words, their analytical brain processes are functional (neo-cortex); but their Limbic (trust, loyalty extended to intrinsic feelings, global values and vision etc.) may be relatively limited. Their biological clocks are altered. Time is indeed Money. Morality has a different, more practical meaning for these youngsters. Their definition of Emotional Intelligence involves pragmatism and not sentimental perfunctory.
The New Age Parents of our Persons of Tomorrow are quite justifiably their IT Employers. In lieu of the Family, the Team is emerging in organized sectors. Understanding the emergence of this Digital World within such reality may enable astute political leaders to manage these wonderful resources more effectively and imaginatively with investments, opportunities and utilities in National Disasters. Alternatively, the pain quotient that Jack Ma predicts can have very bloody social repercussions indeed. The youth have a threshold to pain & suffering too!
If the nation hasn’t a common Vision & Mission, how can there be an aligned Team Vision in different sectors and micro fields of management? India’s is the largest youthful population in the world today-enough energy that can to be converted into solid assets in next ten years indeed. We now need a few masterstrokes to manage and utilize our vulnerable youth.
Inner Engineering -The Art & Crafting for our Youth
It was thus with some trepidation I happened to pick up the book “Inner Engineering- a Yogi’s Guide to Joy”. It is written by Sadhguru, the Founder of the Isha Foundation. I was at the Calcutta Airport Book Stall, rushing to Bangalore early in the morning of Sunday 16th April, 2017. The last pages of the book stated: “Inner Engineering is an opportunity to engineer an inner transformation and deepen your perception, bringing about a dimensional shift in the very way you look at your life, work and people…The Foundation is a non-religious, not-for-profit, public service organization addressing all aspects of human wellbeing.”
Last several weeks I had been heavily immersed in the thoughts of the impact of Artificial Engineering on our behavior. I was veering to the opinion that though our organized society is debating incremental behavior changes, nothing substantial is happening practically. No one -organization, government body, education institution or even parents- is encouraging the “look within” approach that matters. Everyone in our society is more motivated by personal revenue improvement programs (PRIPs) and less by General Revenue Improvement Programs (GRIPs). I wondered if the book had my answers! Exhibit Two somewhat substantiates by apprehensions.
Are conscious mothers, dedicated teachers and role models fast disappearing from India? The fact is we are communicating with machines that do NOT possess the powers of our brains & yet are programmed to be functional to our all our material needs! With the disappearance of the mother, the teacher and the role models, shall we be able to muster the “why” with AI?
EXHIBIT TWO – An Analogy to take the reader forward exponentially-
There are few similarities between today’s Persons of Tomorrow and yesterday’s Freedom Fighters. Taking professional responsibility for example has not compromised with their respective sense of Freedoms. Both generations exude relative responsibilities with awareness. They are conscious. Their youthful responsibilities, albeit in entirely different circumstances–one social the other techno-economic, are based on inner choices based on clear perceptions and knowledge. Unfortunately the bulk of the leaders in India, who are guiding India’s true tryst with destiny, are unable to recognize the value proposition in our Persons of Tomorrow. Feelings of transparency and honesty are lacking among our political leadership.
Such is our National Asset Crisis of the 21st century! And our National Exchequer has been already swindled of over INR 6 lakh crores (=NPAs), equivalent to the market value of all the Public Sector Banks!! Hey!-Rumblings of a different type of sub-prime fiasco in the offing?
Is it therefore an opportunity cost in 2017 to seek a solution through triggering of Inner Engineering concepts aligned to Digital India? The 21st century has to be a century of collaboration and cooperation. Definitely Inner Engineering concepts provide the key to holistic growth. We need to re-visit the Exhibit I & II. Incremental human capital development in the Era of Artificial Intelligence will never ever fall from the Skies on our laps!
From an organization’s perspective, getting a solid Team together over a period of time with clear objectives, it is well worth to recruit persons who believe what it believes. They must be driven by a cause & not the result. This logic is equally applicable with larger teams such as families, civic societies, communities, education institutions and the nation. There is a need for Indians to be causally bound together in this VUCA World? There has to be well articulated will for a better change, where the micro and macro aspects are aligned. And to be in such a state, it is not essential to be a Rightist, Leftist or Centrist. We need just be what we are born as- plain Humanists.
Our primary challenge is to prevent a possible demographic dividend becoming a demographic disaster. If our Society’s Future has to deal with Artificial Intelligence management and yet have a whopping percentage of our peoples under-nourished and ill-gotten both morally and physically, then where exactly are we heading- Apocalypse? Barrack Obama had said he did not believe in Apocalypse until it occurs. India is already on notice-given the structural shifts in the global economic relations. IT companies in India have cut their staff strength. McKinsey reports half of 37 million IT service holders will become irrelevant in the next three to four years. IT companies in India (refer Capgemini Head Sri Srinivas Khandula) have restated that the majority of the IT workforces in India fail to acquire the skills required to use new digital technologies. Most CEOs of IT Giants have a BIG PROBLEM ahead with Big Data management! With millions joining the employability India’s problem is very acute indeed.
For years FICCI has been advocating intense Industry-Academia interface in order to preempt a ‘glut’ and reduce the “as-is” and “to-be” gap which India has been carrying. Even seven years ago, neither Industry nor Academia had effectively predicted the emergence of the New Digital economy (read Artificial Intelligence) and its impact on the young Indian work force. Men and women in power have given speeches, attended seminars, quoted data but no one listened to one another! Everyone has held forth in her area of expertise but no one has predicted to link our core competency with human inner engineering. As parents, teachers, industrialists, students, politicians don’t we need to look within in this Mother of All Centuries?
History has never really been a story of the right, left or center. Extraordinary circumstances, inimical to peoples, have created world history that has been open to interpretations. Some prefer the Romila Thapar leftist variety; others the Subramaniam Swamy rightist approach with many hovering on the Empirical. And yet history has moved on without its predicative nature unearthed by these honored historians.
India suffers from many prejudices. For instance, we cannot believe we are racists. But our Nigerian and Ghanaian student friends, who come to our country expecting an open society; have a different story of being mercilessly lynched in Delhi and Bangalore! History of Human Civilization, past and present is descriptive of such carnages. So much so that Bertrand Russell, in his seminal book “Has Man a Future?” began with the comment: “Homosapiens or Human beings are the cruelest animals on Planet Earth”.
It is also plainly true that the increasing advancement of technology has brought about tremendous changes in the context of work and workspaces today. Trends such as automation, flexible work timings, collaborative workspaces, work malls and virtual teams are transforming the organizational landscape. People issues such as diversity, employee wellness, inclusivity and a
 Federation of Indian Chambers and Industries
motivated workforce are at the forefront in policy making. All these have resulted in the need for open systems and new insights to help organizations be ready to adapt to such new dynamism. This is also Inner Engineering-i.e. adaptations with a high degree of Consciousness.
But, even as the above indicate positive organizational transition within the domains of manufacturing and service sectors, in our civic lives & community living we have not brought about any paradigm changes. In fact, we seem to be more rowdy and disorderly than ever before. Relations between parents, between parents and children, teachers and taught, nodal agencies of the government and citizens, between central government and state governments are more antagonistic than ever before. Garbage pile up in neighborhoods, lakes get polluted with industrial foam and roads turn into moon craters. Our rowdy personal and civic behavioral lives simply lack positive consistency.
‘Government’ does not imply the Prime Minister, President and Vice-President of India giving sermons, however relevant the contents of such may be. Government means disciplined government employees & citizens who have the responsibilities of making this transitional change brought about by disruptive technologies. In 2017 it implies we have quick responsive time (QRT). The work stations in Bangalore and other IT hubs are working on a Team spirit. They have no alternative. But are the mind-stations of our government employees, civic staff & general citizenry fine-tuned toward combating Jack Ma’s description a Future Shock and Disaster Management?
It is very probable that in the near future India may be carrying more than 100 million unemployed. Another 50 million or so may be displaced with the advent of Artificial Intelligence. When young people are not getting employed, what will they do? What will happen to the lives of ‘serendipity’ when water shortages hit large cities? Are we being trained to keep our inner systems and therefore our social fabric prepared for Disaster Management? What is the capacity of our individual and community balance when it comes to problem-solving?
These Issues are yet untested in our era of Artificial Intelligence. And it signals a glaring complacency. At the civic life levels we are seeing municipal corporations computerize; transport systems carrying automated ticketing systems and CCTVs, retail malls springing up to attract everybody who feels she is somebody. But we are also seeing jobs that existed a decade ago becoming obsolete while new ones with differential skill-sets are in demand. Unemployment is growing. This is one more scene in our play with Artificial Intelligence!
Archimedes had said should a point in space serve as the fulcrum for a sufficiently long lever, he could move the world. This idea can be used to identify the origin of philosophy. Philosophy uses neither observations nor experiments like Science does. But both use factual knowledge: as the scientist asks “why does this species exist?” and a philosopher queries “why does anything at all exist?” Contextually, in this 21st century we need to re-assemble and review if the structure of our current reality determines the structure of our present day thoughts & Communications. Throughout the history of human progress we have created tools and instruments based on our selection of the right scale of relative measurement. We yield the fruits of works by Newton, Edison, Einstein and so many others. And we sustain ourselves by enjoying the ‘privileges’ created by such persons in balancing our lives.
Balance is paramount in life and living. The Universe is balanced. When body and mind balance is disrupted we observe erratic behavior. An individual’s chronological and psychological age must be at par with each other. Where there are remarkable variances in the “as-is” and the “to-be” gap, inconsistent behaviors occur. There are numerous evidences to conform that in this rapidly changing commercial world, we are becoming more psychological beings than existential ones. So if we are not doing the right things, the right things will not happen either.
The impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our lives
McKinsey April 2017 article “Artificial intelligence: Implications for China” written by Dominic Barton, Jonathan Woetzel, Jeongmin Seong, and Qinzheng Tian provides very interesting information for us in India. It says:-
“Artificial intelligence, or the idea that computer systems can perform functions typically associated with the human mind, has gone from futuristic speculation to present-day reality. A new discussion paper from the McKinsey Global Institute, originally presented at the 2017 China Development Forum, explores AI’s potential to fuel China’s productivity growth—and to disrupt that nation’s workforce. Where computer systems once had to be programmed to execute rigidly defined tasks, they can now be given a generalized strategy for learning, enabling them to adapt to new data inputs without being explicitly reprogrammed. Advances in data collection and aggregation, algorithms, and processing power have paved the way for computer scientists to achieve significant breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. AI has now moved beyond the lab, with many machine-learning systems already in commercial use for a wide variety of applications. Adoption is growing rapidly in sectors such as finance, healthcare, and manufacturing.”
Artificial Intelligence is man-made imitation of behavior. It may be a mockery of our inability to achieve a required state of equilibrium (balance) that guarantees equal facilities to all, including Nature and other animal and plant lives. Artificial Intelligence delivers without delay and maximum efficiency. I believe managing AI environment means we need to restructure our own upbringing processes and education systems more inclusively. Much like we do to AI (with ‘a generalized strategy for learning, enabling them to adapt to new data inputs without being explicitly reprogrammed’). We need re-orient our children that balance begins within us and not outside our bodies. Back to fundamentals!
The McKinsey article continues “These technologies can dramatically boost productivity—and that could be a crucial capability for China to sustain its future economic growth as the country’s working-age population declines. Automating workplaces with AI could add 0.8 to 1.4 percentage points to GDP growth annually, depending on the speed of adoption. Realizing AI’s economic potential in China also depends on its actual adoption—not just among the technology giants but across China’s traditional industries. Achieving this goal will require building strategic awareness among business leaders, developing technical know-how, and overcoming implementation costs.”
“But wide adoption of these technologies would represent a profound shift for hundreds of millions of Chinese workers and for Chinese society as a whole….half of all work activities in China could be automated, making it the nation with the world’s largest automation potential. Jobs made up of routine work activities and predictable, programmable tasks will be particularly vulnerable. While the impact on the labor market is likely to be gradual at the aggregate level, it can be sudden and dramatic at the level of specific work activities, rendering some jobs obsolete fairly quickly. Overall, AI will raise the premium placed on digital skills while reducing demand for medium- and low-skilled workers, potentially exacerbating income inequality.”
India may avoid Jack Ma’s predicted ‘pain and agony’ for only a few more years. In these intervening years we need understand that by nature we are very aspiration-oriented- 90% of our people are self-employed in the unorganized sector. We are ambitious; goals oriented and have community orientation. But we are also short of discipline. As a culturally strong nation, we appear to understand the value of a person who makes money by giving and sharing prosperity with others. Modern Indian civilization owes much to the House of Tata & large houses and philanthropists. We are intrinsically inclined to enjoy prosperity and morally obliged to assist others create a better life as well. But unfortunately, our Leaders have not shared such proactive values directly with the masses. And our panchayats systems have failed. In emulating the western life-styles, we are teaching their children to compete with others and not with their own selves first. Thus ‘educated’ Indians feel success is not what you attain within but what you gain materially. And we also frequently refer to Krishna, Buddha & Gandhi in our private discussions. Indeed our lives are very contradictory.
India is on the cusp of a better GDP growth than many of the other economies of the world but has our growth come at the wrong time? The competitive edge of GDP depends on managing the global shifts of supply and demand with national productivity. Our gung-ho ITeS may be going for a toss with America’s restrictions on trade barriers. Our manufacturing and ravaged agricultural sectors require restructuring. Migration of our youthful labor is a reality but migration of such labor to do what jobs is the million dollar question? Experts predict that in another 10 years there would be close to 200 million youth in the age group of 21 to 41 with no jobs or disguised unemployment. India appears in dire straits!
The Dichotomy that is India in 2017
The stories of the Freedom Struggle of Nations are enshrined in their Constitutions & through exemplary leadership. The USA had George Washington and Abraham Lincoln; Great Britain had Oliver Cromwell, Walpole, its Victorian Aura and the 2 World Wars have lessons for us. Russia has had Lenin; China and Vietnam have had Mao and Ho-chi-Minh. In India we revere M.K. Gandhi- whose best practices are more respected in other countries and little less practiced in our own. Gandhi advised on all issues ranging from personal hygiene, love for the country, worker participation, governance and customer behavior-with epicenter on the concepts of inner engineering undoubtedly. The current signs of unrest in Indian society reflect leadership failures in emulating the intrinsic values of Gandhian way of living. Our Prime Minister today assumes the role-play of what the Prime Minister of our country should have donned in the 1960, 1970s & 1990s to motivate the youth. No one did all these years.
We seem to be controlled by lumpen hallucination and agitations. Our aspirations are materialistic and less spiritualistic (as opposed to religiosity). Our billions of youth are intrinsically more inked to the conviction “I think therefore I am” and not “I am therefore I think” mode. They are more enamored by physical comforts and the emergent gaming technologies. Their ‘mental happiness’ seeks material satisfactions. Very few have the time or inclination for reflective observations. In effect technological progress is making us more sensuous and less sensitive as we focus our powers of attention on form and not substance. Happiness is redefined today in terms of healthcare, insurance and cars. Increased medications indicate maximum persons are suffering today. With shortage in ethical values, Artificial Intelligence can have a very unique role-play in our lives and living in emerging Digital India. And hence the relevance of “INNER ENGINEERING” at a Pan India level for implementation.
The Leadership Challenges
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India is a well intentioned person. Perhaps one of the best India has had after a long while. In his regime, we may expect a radical change in critical areas. Sri Narendra Modi needs to bring about an educational cum Cultural Revolution in the country as soon as possible. Alternatively the Indian youth will neither learn from nor with each other. An imminent collapse of our complex Global Village may seem far-fetched to most optimists. But, at the end of this article, does Inner Engineering sound at all plausible?
Lead Scientist Denise Park of University of Texas says: – “It is not enough just to get out and do something- it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially.”
This is also one of the reasons why I believe if there is one thing that can dramatically increase India’s chances of success; it’s this- turning all our endeavors for success from a one-dimensional picture into a multi-dimensional one.