This book by scientist, futurist and editor-in-chief of World Affairs Journal, reflects on the effort of various nations and people to overcome their limitations and create a new vision for the future. The book'semphasis is essentially on the fact that the world is going through a vast transformation. The speed of change is not so much in the inner core, but in the rapidly shifting outer peripherals without any relevance to the real and basic human needs or the inner reality. This volume includes two sections?one largely devoted to India and the other to the larger human and the world context.
Talking about India, the author throws light on the Indian civilisation'sconcern about the future since the ancient times. The belief in reincarnation and transmigration of the soul conditioned their attitudes and actions, giving a sense of direction, stability and continuity to the Indian society and culture. Later the spirit of revival of economic and social development was manifested in the Gandhian concept of satyagraha which was successfully applied in the struggle for independence. But the author laments that in the quarter century following independence, the high speed of inevitable change has left no time for reflection and the people'sfreshly awakened sense of identity and purpose ?is being threatened by the hypnotic power of the seductive and aggressively materialistic consumer societies.?
Not that the author advocates total negation or total acceptance of the accumulated worldwide knowledge; instead he favours a synthesis of the two, i.e. make a self-possessed use and creative assimilation of all that is available and temper it so that an orderly vision of life emerges. He regrets that consumerist globalisation is launching developing nations on the GDP race-course of ?welfare through gambling? – and once on this course, it is difficult to retract. ?The promoters of the system take all. A few winners become a part of the system, while the rest, who are victims of these policies, slide further into deprivation,? says the author. The policies also come with a packet of armaments to enable pliable leaderships to protect themselves from the rising anger of the deprived people and for the protection and promotion of their hegemony.
The author voices his concern over the adverse role played by the media in propagating images of freedom and a consumerist utopia. Indeed the elite and the youth are being hypnotised by these illusions, more so in comparison with the parallel images of starvation, death, genocide, war, refugee camps and terrorism. He laments that the consumerist society is fast losing its sensitivity to the high culture of aesthetics, literature and spirituality and is being drawn systematically into the vortex of the lowest form of culture where shopping for goods has become the highest form of cultural expression.
The book emphasises that the human being is an expression of the cosmic reality and to every intrusion in its rhythm, as in nature, the body reacts to fight back to correct the distortions?physical, psychic and spiritual. It reminds us of the essence of Indian thought??aham Brahmasmi???our future and salvation at every point, at every turn of history, at every level of realisation, whatever the path, from nothingness to the great beyond of infinity, rests on the upward mobility of our own consciousness, through personal acts of life and progress.?
Talking about consumerism and humanism in the world context, the author singles out the USA for all that is happening in the world. He says that though the internal affairs of that country ?are the concern of American citizens?, but what is of concern to us is that almost no one of any real consequence within the Congress or the power structure, has questioned the rising ?neo-imperialist trends within the nation and the American States? right to revile, ostracise and destroy any person, country or culture it so chooses.? He warns that the USA cannot indefinitely ?escape the consequences of these actions and the instruments to commit them?. He questions as to where the ?alienated US, saddled with a huge destructive?and self-destructive?superstructure go from here? And how much more damage will it inflict on other countries in the increasingly desperate process of trying to hold on to its power and pelf??
The book raises very pertinent questions particularly when we see in Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations what this ?hyper power? has done and is doing.
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