Saturday, 17 May 2014

Insane norms of modern societies


21-4-13

 The norms of modern societies are insane...how else can we justify the mindless corruption, high energy lifestyles, wide scale dehumanisation, sheer hyper competition, living beyond ones means at individual and govt levels, violence in families and outside both physical and psychological...resulting economic collapses, climate change, extreme weather, robotic lives, denuding natural resources, ethnic wars, widening income and wealth disparities.... The root causes are complex ... These incidents are mere symptoms of deeper societal malaises... Which cannot be cured by quick fix solutions...need for integrated holistic     green yogic root cause solutions ... Which may not be palatable acceptable to a desensitised society hungry for more of so called technological progress..instant ecstasy....

Friday, 16 May 2014

Air Conditioned Economies

March 27, 2009

Gradually I can see signs of the global financial crisis downward spiral being arrested, bottoming out and maybe some mild signals of recovery in some sectors. India is perhaps best poised to ride out the storm. US, too, with the large banks cleaning up their acts, Govt buying up toxic assets, China assuring that it will continue buying US treasury bills, of which it already owns about $ 1 tr, and China asking US to keep the dollar stable so that its investments in US treasuries do not depreciate, is perhaps seeing signs of deceleration in its economic freefall. This is certainly good news for the world. Last month retail spending and housing starts in US have seen some mild upward movement.

We are living in the age of air conditioned economies with all detailed online macro economic and other information flows. This has facilitated fine-tuning of a plethora of economic parameters. With the help of all governments, regulators, central banks, fiscal measures, taxes, currency and forex management, interest rates, economies are being surgically operated upon. What is happening that entire economies are being put on heart lung machines and ventilators in ICUs.

Entire nations, continents are administered prosaic.  

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Pressures of Modern Civilisation

29th June, 2002


The WorldCom debacle has pulverized an already stunned world which was gasping for oxygen after Enron. There is an air of disbelief and skepticism everywhere as people do not know whom to trust. As it is the world economy had been under tremendous pressure since the advent of the new millennium with tumbling indices.

The last years of second millennium were heady ones with the markets booming everywhere and it seemed as if humankind was on the verge of the promised land of milk and honey. The United States was the powerhouse which fueled the world growth. Capitalism was at its peak. Communism and socialism breathed their last in the 80s with the fall of Soviet Union. The Chinese brand of communism reeks of capitalism.

The Dow Jones, one of the holy cows of capitalism, rose by over 200% during the 90s. Wall Street was the center of the universe. The US economy experienced an unprecedented run of 110 months of continuous growth. Unemployment had declined to historic lows. Consumer spending was on the upswing based on the feel good factor of ever increasing wealth due to the stock markets, property prices and retail loans.

The IT revolution which re-engineered all processes and the entire supply chain in most critical industries lead to quantum productivity increases which seemingly explained the meteoric rise of the Dow Jones. The internet spawned thousands of dotcoms given birth to by eager venture capitalists.

No one ever questioned as to how the stock market indices could rise at rates which were far out of sync with that of the GDP and real and nominal interest rates. Everyone sung paeans to the magic realism ushered in by IT – the universal panacea for a world struggling with several harsh existential realities.

The euphoria mounted with the coming of the new millennium accompanied by the Y2K fears which proved to be unfounded mainly to the astronomical amounts invested. The upside of it was that the IT systems all over were stress tested to overcome all eventualities.       

The good times came to an end with the dotcom balloon getting pricked. But the Dow Jones recovered which was rationalized by the intrinsic strength and resilience of the US economy. According to an analysis published in the Economist, the correct level of the Dow Jones should be around 6500. But there is too much at stake all round – individuals, HNIs, institutions and corporates – all of them have invested heavily in the stock markets either directly or through the mutual fund, pension or insurance routes. Hence it is in the interest of all concerned that the markets must be propped up at any and all costs.

The feel good wealth factor has been driving the consumer markets and the effective demand in the US. This has been responsible to a great extent for the keeping the wheels of industry and commerce running in the US. One of the major reasons why effective demand has not flagged off in the US is that the average age in the US is lower than in Europe or Japan. The aging societies in Europe and Japan are primarily responsible for the waning effective demand there. These two economic conglomerations together constitute about 40% of the world’s output. Hence the world’s output has been depressed.

This picture of economic gloom has not been very conducive for the markets. Hence there has been immense pressure on all listed companies to keep performing continuously quarter after quarter in order to keep their shareholders happy. The tyrannical markets have been flogging the horse endlessly. The poor animal has no option to perform till it drops dead. The desperate animal is pushed to fudging its accounts in order to paint lipstick and mascara over its pallid features. The Big accounting firms are only too obliging to help them achieve this end.

There is a sense of disbelief now all over. Nobody would like to upset the apple cart. There is simply too much at stake. No body knows how deep the rot has permeated. Gamely all the players are going through the motions. Nobody wants the referee to blow the whistle. Endgame is at hand. 





 Parameters-wip

Bubbles – stock, property

Human nature – greed , lack of morals

ST expectations – stock prices

EVA, shareholder

Overcapacity

Fall in effective demand

Aging populations

Deflation, recession

Hyper competition

Consumerism

Quarterly increase in share prices

Management accounting

Big 5 – consultants

Dow Jones inflated

Banking sector















Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Vision 2050: A New Map of the World

“Vision 2050” was an international research project conducted in 2013 by the Foundation for Facilitating Research and Social Forecasting of the World. I have given below my responses to the questionnaire of the above research project.


1.   Areas of major shifts by 2050:


1)Some of the biggest game changers and tectonic shifts will come from climate change and extreme weather,
namely, global warming, melting of poles and mountain caps, rise and heating of sea, leading to more interfaces
between hot and cold air resulting in intensifying snow storms, tornados in North America and Europe and elsewhere,
unprecedented floods like in Pakistan, US, Europe; disturbed rain  patterns;  famines, endemic shortages of potable water
and food grains.
2) Growing deficits in government financials especially in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, US, and also in varying degrees
 in some other countries. Expenditure cuts, compounding unemployment covering many countries accompanied by widening poverty disparities resulting in social unrest.




2. State of the world in 2013?
State of the world in 2013 is indeed a very complex one. The major upheaval triggers are financial instability in developed economies and climate change / extreme weather. These two factors are occupying the centre stage at present. Both are being addressed by knee jerk cover up remedies which are not helping in redressing the problems. The root causes are deep seated and mired in the contractions inherent in mankind’s and society’s approach to progress of human civilization. “Citius, Altius, Fortius” was appropriate for the Olympics spirit. But the “Faster, Higher and Stronger” approach of modern civilization based upon industrialization, energy intensive lifestyles, consumerism, cars, air-conditioning, etc is the death knell of our earth with almost irreversible climate change which is wreaking havoc with compounding frequency over the past five years or so. The financial structures of the developed economies with the exception of a few like Germany and Scandinavia have become extremely fragile and are hurtling into a long tunnel of zero growth / shrinking economies.


3. Metaphor to describe the state of the world in 2050.


Apocalypse.


4. Humanity’s greatest problem in the period of transition from 2013 to 2050?

In order to analyse humanity’s greatest problem during 2013-50, we may use my New Grammar of Living  Model. The NLG Model  is principally focused around the triad:
1. Social
2. Economics
3. Climate

All the symptoms of the mounting global crisis may be categorised under the above three heads. All of excesses which are responsible for present convoluted multi crises which are plaguing the entire globe which are deteriorating both in terms of increasing complexity, frequencies and amplitude. Some details of the root causes have been outlined under Grammar of Life in my earlier blog pradeepdas.blogspot.in during June 2010, now under my current blog newgrammaroflife.blogspot.com.

Since then the magnitude of the problems have perhaps compounded at an alarming rate. Everyone is bent on trying to at best solve the problems by tackling the immediate causes which are not the root causes which are often holistic and integrated in nature.

We must not loose any more time in selflessly working towards integrated holistic solutions many of which will at 180 degrees to all that human civilisation has been aspiring for for the past several centuries. All of our standards and aspiration levels have been based upon non satvic (pure or subtle) values. Tamasik (gross or base) value systems are the order of the day in each and every sphere. Difficult to really wean away the human race from its tamasik desires which have been amply fueled and satisfied by the Frankensteinian developments of technology. Now it will be well nigh impossible for the human race to give up these toys of doom. Each of them has negative connotations for the traid social, economics and climate.

We are trapped in a complex labyrinthine mesh of our making. Is there no way out of this quagmire?  Maybe only in renunciation of all that we know, admire and aspire for now and building up a phoenix which can rise only from the ashes the past.    


5. Path of state development between 2013 and 2050 considered most preferable and most likely?


Preferable

Likely


EVOLUTIONARY PATH


1
ü
1

REVOLUTIONARY PATH

ü
2

2



The biggest game changer in human history – climate change and extreme weather are accelerating at a compounding rate and seem to be irreversible. Soft approaches to mitigating the root causes will not help. Same with trying to solve the economic crises across the western world and social crisis (as marked by rising violence, depression, health problems, etc). Soft approaches or traditional solutions will not help in eradicating the problems. Need for revolutionary, tangential  or 180° solutions.
                                                  
7.Whether long-term state planning can effectively influence the development of a country and nation?


Long term state planning can effectively influence the development of any country if and only if the objectives of state planning are in sync with economic, social and climate based needs of society. Also plans need to be rolling plans of shorter duration of about 3 years. Need to be flexible in order to fine-tune objectives and goals based upon changing environment and scenarios. Need for self sustaining communities at regional / local levels. We are living in a future shock era with telescoping change and uncertainty. Hence any effecting long term planning process has to constantly adapt to the rapid changing times. Any rigidity in the planning process will jeopardize the process. Another important factor is that the private sector in most of the economies is a crucial partner in the growth process. Any successful state plan has to integrate the private sector initiatives.



8. State planning or market forces:


Some countries had interesting periods of state planning. The degree of state control varied. Countries left to pure market forces may enjoy economic successes, but their regulatory foundations may not be strong. The very market forces which fuel their growth would create fissures would lead to economic crises. Heavily socialistic and welfare states also face the dilemma of running up huge fiscal deficits which become unsustainable over time. Essentially the best route for state planning to follow would be the middle path. 




9. Which national competitive advantages do you believe will be decisive in the period “transition 2013–2050” in the light of intensifying international competition?

Competitive advantages cannot be absolute, but are relative and cyclical.  Competitive advantages are evolutionary in nature. For a country to have secular growth and improvement over time during 2013-50, it has to be assessed upon multiple criteria like per capita GDP, benefits percolating to the bottom of the pyramid, reasonable fiscal deficits, environment and climate friendly urbanization and industrialization, human happiness index, physical and psychological health of citizens, low energy intensive lifestyles, low violence, etc. These criteria can form the objectives and goals of state planning of a society / nation which aspires to be emulated and admired in 2050.



10. What kind of state do you believe will be most effective in the transition period 2013–2050? (Choose ONE option)
a secular state
1ü

a religious state
2

this factor will not influence the effectiveness of the state
3

Other (please specify)
4


With advance of human civilization, with greater knowledge and education, more people are turning away from organized religion. States which are secular / agnostic will be the progressive ones. Again the definition of progressive in the future will be defined by the objectives and goals outlined in nine. By 2050, mankind, whatever portion has survived the ravages of climate change, extreme weather, toxic nuclear wastes, etc, will be living in a society which is technologically very advanced with robots, thinking in the cloud since computers will be omnipresent (Kurzweil’s Age of Singularity). In that kind of a scenario the concept of religion as we know it today would have changed considerably and dramatically. The has been so much change over the past 30 years, 60 years, relatively 1950s now seems like 150 years ago in a relative sense (central theme of Toffler’s Future Shock). Hence the next 43 years is relatively almost 300 years away from now.


11. What kind of energy do you think will be most prevalent in the world by 2050?

Mankind will be forced to adopt clean energy solutions within a decade, otherwise climate change and extreme weather events (including black swan events) will force nations to relook at their energy sources and policies. There are two possibilities:

1.     There are no great new clean energy inventions / discoveries, and then society will hunker down usage of hydrocarbon energy in order to reduce pollution and damage to eco structure and balance. The impressionistic probability for this about 35%.
2.     There are significant breakthroughs in clean energy sources and society is able to continue its energy intensive lifestyle. The impressionistic probability for this about 65%.

This is a simple model with two likely scenarios. There could be other more scenarios. This is a subject of research with multi scenarios with probabilities after studying the current state of global energy position and likely futures based present energy lab research. I can build appropriate models for research which can be taken up.


12. Do you believe overcoming the problem of limited natural resources is connected to the establishment of a new world order?
If yes, then what are the main features of the new world order?
Main features (not exhaustive) of the new world order are humanistic based upon:
  1.  Green living: 
    • Reducing use of and dependence on high energy
    • Adopting solar energy, CFCs, LEDs
    • Planting trees
    • Organic food
    • Minimum and only essential use of air conditioning
    • Conserving water
    • Ecological balance
    • Rain water harvesting
    • Low use of finite natural resources
    • Community living (as against growth of mega cities)
    • Less long distance travelling (by high energy intensive air travel, rail, etc)
  2. Simpler and wholesome lifestyles
    • Reducing materialistic and consumer lifestyles 
    • Yoga as way of life: meditation and pranayam
    • Return to pastoral lifestyles
    • Spiritualism (non-religious) and mysticism 
    • Humanism
    • Back to nature 
    • Deconditioning
  3. Economic
    • Reduce income inequalities
    • Tighter regulation of corrupt banks, corporates, etc
    • Reduce hyper competition and excess capacity building
    • Restructuring of economies away from megacities, high industrialization
    • Creation of viable occupations
  4. De-industrialisation
    • Stop mindless production of cars, etc
    • Scaling down high polluting industries
  5. Evolving new economic structures
    • Creating massive employment in green activities such as agriculture, agro based industries, education…
    • Limiting growth of large cities
    • Creation of sustainable self sufficient economic communities 
    • Poverty aleviation
    • Limits on wealth accumulation
  6. Social
    • Respect for women
    • Respect for all sexual identities
    • Reducing income inequalities
    • Population control
    • Treat root causes of violence
    • Treat alcoholism
    • Health care pricing affordable
  7. Psychological
    • Treat mental illnesses
    • Yoga for calming mind
    • Reduce TV and internet addiction
    • Assist reducing loneliness, alienation and dehumanisation
    • Happiness index

Above is not exhaustive. If Institute requires, I can prepare a fairly complete list.

13. Please name the states which currently have major influence in the world (for example, are G20 members) but will suffer a significant loss of influence in the period up to 2050.

USA, UK, France, Japan, Spain, Italy
The existing international world order will undergo significant changes. US and European Union share of global GDP may drop to about 12.5% and 15%, respectively, China 25%, India and Russia 10% each. Assuming no cataclysmic climate changes. Projections are impressionistic. If requested, can do a proper multi factor analysis model.




14. Please name the “dark horse” states which are not currently G20 members but may enjoy unexpected and significant success in the period up to 2050.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Iran, Bangladesh
Half the present G20 countries will be out of the then G20.

15. Do you believe Asia will retain its status as the most dynamically developing part of the world?

Study into the history of civilizations shows that all large nations rise to a place of prominence and then decline gradually. Asia was the pre-eminent continent about 300 years ago. China and India together commanded about 45% of global GDP. Seems a full cycle would be over with the rise of these and a few other new super powers.


17. Which factors will allow the “new tiger” countries to make their breakthrough?

Need more research on current new tigers and factors which made them breakthrough. But these factors will not fully help in future. The challenges of next 43 years will be vastly different. Major challenges will be harnessing IT, creating domestic effective demand for goods and services which can be produced within the country or an export led growth. Much will depend upon changes in relative competitive advantage and countries are able to cope, adapt and master and able to address economic stability, social pressures and climate changes.

18. Do you believe the measures currently being taken by the UN, the USA and NATO against countries they view as problematic to be effective?

Now mainly military solutions. Must address root causes which are socio economic, poverty, exploitation, etc.

19. What priority measures should the international community take against countries experiencing a severe internal conflict?

Most of these conflicts are ethnic clashes with historical roots. Need to get into root causes. May need socio-psychological-economic solutions with sacrifices from sides. Yoga may help.  

20. Which peacekeeping principles do you consider effective in the new era?

Adoption of objectives outlined in question 12 above will go a long way in achieving peace. Need alternative approaches to achieve peace and relative prosperity (as per new definitions which are not materialistic).

21. Please name the statesmen (well-known politicians or national leaders) who you believe could act as peacemakers in the new, changing conditions?

Leaders like Nelson Mandela or leading musicians, social scientists like Nassim Taleb or some of the Nobel Peace Prize winners who are not politicians.

22. Please name the countries which you believe are currently adhering scrupulously to a policy of neutrality and peaceful conflict resolution.

Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Norway.

23. The period 19912013 (following the collapse of the USSR in 1991) provides examples of striking leaders of various countries in various regions. Among leaders, who do you believe has clearly facilitated the success or development of his or her country? Who has caused their country to lose its previous positions?


Need for transformational leaders, not politicians without leadership qualities, who can have strong vision to steer country through turbulent times ahead with multi counter pressures.




24. Please choose THREE main ideas which you believe will have the greatest influence on people’s minds in the period of transition 2013–2050






Future is extremely turbulent and uncertain. An amalgam of ideas will be necessary which may differ from country to country. Situations obtaining will be vastly different. Appropriate strategies will be necessary.        

Post Covid World

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