Posted on 29-04-2012
Filed Under (POLITICS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Remember those employee strikes galore when Indian banks first tried to computerize? Actually the very first time people were afraid to use a machine thinking it might replace their jobs was when Frenchman Blaise Pascal invented the mechanical calculator called Pascaline in 1642. To honour his role as a precursor in computer technology, there’s even a computer language named Pascal. 

Some of the world’s most spectacular inventions that we’d be lost without in our modern, day to day life emanated from France. But are these inventions done for charity donations? France has largely not been able to fructify her inventions for financial gain, while other nations have taken those inventions forward for social and economic advancement.

Invention without execution makes you a loser. Much before World Wide Web was introduced 1994, the French enjoyed Minitel, the world’s most successful Videotex online service accessible through telephone lines since 1982. French Post launched this online service, handing out millions of terminals free to telephone subscribers. Minitel allowed users to make online purchases, train reservations, check stock prices, search the telephone directory, have a mail box, and chat in a way similar to what’s possible through the Internet. About 25 million of France’s total 60 million population had used the Minitel network. But today when you look at the top ten countries with the highest computer usage, France does not figure in the list.

Influential French inventions modernizing our life in medicine, communication, computers, transportation, clothing, arts, entertainment, food, physics, chemistry, mathematics, weapons, military, even sports, have come over a few centuries. Blind man Louis Braille invented the Braille system for the blind to read and write. To keep Napoleon’s troops well-fed in far-flung places Nicolas Francois Appert invented canning in 1809. Louis Pasteur invented pasteurization to sterilize food, kill contaminating micro-organisms. Undersea explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau invented the aqualung in 1943 for divers’ oxygen supply underwater. Today’s standardized metric measurement system was invented in Paris Academy of Sciences in 1790, oxygen by Antoine Lavoisier in 1778. Tailor Barthelemy Thimonnier perfected the sewing machine in 1830. American Isaac Merrit Singer turned it into big business. Among women’s garments, Herminie Cadolle made the bra 1889, Coco Chanel the little black dress 1920, Louis Réard the bikini 1946, and Guy Cotton the raincoat 1960. Father Marcel Audiffren invented refrigeration in 1894 to keep French monastery wines cool. American company General Electric capitalized on it in 1911, manufacturing refrigeration machines for homes.

Individual transportation was another convenience the French gave us. Nicholas Joseph Cugnot physically drove the first self-propelled car in 1769. Édouard Michelin invented inflatable tyres in 1895, Louis Renault invented the drum brake 1902, while French-born Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel engine, and Gustave Trouvé the first electric automobile 1881. So where does France stand among auto majors? In the 8th and 10th positions, overtaken by Japanese, American, German and Korean companies. In water transport the steam boat came from Denis Papin in the 19th century and the first outboard motorboat by Gustave Trouve. Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement developed the bicycle 1864, but France figures nowhere among the best or biggest manufacturer today, Taiwanese company Giant wins. Frenchman Rinaldo Piaggio invented the scooter 1884, but world leader Piaggio is an Italian brand today. Even in air transport, the first flying helicopters were experimented independently 1907 by Louis Breguet and Paul Cornu. Brothers Joseph and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier designed the hot air balloon and Louis Sebastien Lenormand the parachute in late 18th century.

Extreme Right rises as recession weapon. When General Charles de Gaulle became French President after World War II, he believed the French had struggled greatly during German occupation, so he nationalized most industries. Through liberal laws he provided good living comfort with free medical and education facilities for citizens. The people became totally dependent on the state, their only desire was to work less, get better leisure. The small and medium enterprises (SME) in France started vanishing. Selling sophisticated luxury goods to the world’s rich has remained a French preserve. But this cannot be a country’s backbone. When the Government molly-coddles people, the backlash can be non-productive corruption, as we’ve seen with India’s 100 days of work for poor people. In many cases people work only 2 hours not 8 hours, sharing the booty with the job-doling official. The repercussion? Rural farmers are experiencing exorbitant daily labour charges to do sincere work for 8 hours.

In Europe’s recessionary wave where Greece, Spain, Portugal even the UK is suffering, the German economy stands tall on the strength of her SME manufacturing base. German SMEs give financial and political stability, and export globally. Whenever a country’s economy deteriorates, jobs become scarce, citizens become protesters and the political fallout is rise of insular Extreme Rightism. That’s just happened in France’s first round Presidential elections on 22 April 2012 when the Extreme Right party unexpectedly got 19% votes among 10 candidates. The more recession grows, so will parochialism. Indian business houses focusing on Europe have to observe this movement. It cannot be a permanent, but will have high volcanic eruption from time to time.

Typical French inventive characteristics are worth emulating. They include embracing the new, constant effort to differentiate work, be curious, find out more. In fact modernity is characterized by the aspiration of freedom, equal rights and brotherhood that translate to the 1789 French Revolution motto of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. However, during Nicolas Sarkozy’s Presidential term 350,000 industrial jobs were lost; the unemployment rate for mainland France in the fourth quarter 2011 was 9.4 percent, close to a 12-year high. This proves that when invention is not put into the execution of industrialization, even an inventive country like France has to battle an economic crisis, having lost the inventive SME spirit and the AAA S&P rating from long years of financial indiscipline. When invention becomes charity the country suffers economically.

To download above article in PDF Inventions for charity

Financial Express link:http://www.financialexpress.com/news/inventions-for-charity/942967/0

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Posted on 22-04-2012
Filed Under (POLITICS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Wielding the photo-weapon of a handsome hunk with distended biceps, lean abdomen, sleek briefs, Extreme Right FN party Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen bemoaned French diplomacy collapse. “Was it an ad for Eminence (male underwear brand), or the real ambassador in Tunisia?” she questioned, demanding sexy-underwear wearing, 41-year-old French Ambassador Boris Boillon resigns, “for the honor and dignity of the French and Tunisians.”

Playboy girl: Daughter of Jean Marie Le Pen, who for 35 years tried becoming French President with the “French first, immigrant out” slogan, perhaps Marine is over-sensitive about body exposure. After all, her parents’ explosive divorce 1987 led her mother to take revenge by appearing nude in Playboy magazine. Madame Pierrette Le Pen wanted to ridicule her “misogynistic, despot” husband who’d humiliated her with housemaid reference. So she posed wearing an all-revealing maid’s apron, white cap, black collar, high heels, nothing more, while performing household chores in sexy submissive servitude.

Woman lover President: In contrast, France’s longest serving, 1981-95, President Francois Mitterand’s reputation was coureur de femme (running behind woman), he loved women. They say his extramarital affairs were numerous. He met Anne Pingeot in a French village 1974 while preparing for his presidential campaign; they parented a daughter, Mazarine. As President he secretly provided his mistress and Mazarine with security at the taxpayer’s expense. The French public was unaware as Mitterand prevented such information from leaking out by ordering illegal wiretapping of journalists among others as part of his campaign against terrorism.

Mitterand had incredible political shrewdness. He’d joined Marshall Philippe Petain’s pro-Hitler-Germany government at Vichy 1940-44, then about-turned in 1943 to join the French Resistance. After World War II, Mitterand became a Socialist, but such was his political acumen that Conservative Charles de Gaulle appointed him minister. At the end of Mitterand’s 2-term Presidential tenure 1981 – 1995, he revealed Mazarine’s existence. French society appreciated that he’d recognized her, not abandoned her. Even in death 1996, Mitterand made gossip headlines when his wife, Danielle Mitterand went against Catholic practice, and invited Anne and Mazarine Pingeot to his funeral, seating them with the legitimate family.

Amorous bling-bling President: Nicolas Sarkozy and his second wife Cecilia divorced soon after he became President 2007. “I don’t see myself as First Lady,” Cecilia had said. “It bores me.” Sarkozy didn’t waste time feeling dejected. At a party he met Carla Bruni, Italian supermodel, singer and heiress, who’d walked off a live-in relationship with philosophy professor Raphael Enthoven. Carla and Nicolas became paparazzi fodder worldwide in a whirlwind 80-day romance. Their marriage in February 2008 starized sombre Elysee Palace, setting a new benchmark. Sarkozy now welcomes celebrity and multi-billionaire visitors, wears expensive suits, stylish sunglasses, conspicuously large wristwatches, which prompted newspaper Libération to baptize him “the Bling-Bling President.”

Christie’s International chose April 2008, when she accompanied Sarkozy as official First Lady to New York, to auction a black-and-white nude Carla Bruni photograph taken 1993. It fetched $91,000, almost 20 times its high estimate. Two years later into marriage, rumours started on Twitter about it being shaky, that both Sarkozy and Bruni are supposedly no strangers to infidelity. According to British tabloid Sun, she’s remarked she’s “easily bored by monogamy.” Gossip romantically links Bruni with musician Benjamin Biolay, and Sarkozy with ecology minister Chantal Jouanno.

Broken love Presidential candidate: Sarkozy’s 2007 Presidential election opponent, darling of public polls Segolene Royal, lost, many say, largely because of broken love and scant support from male chauvinistic Socialist party members. The Party’s General Secretary, her domestic partner of 30 years who’d fathered her 4 children was Francois Hollande. She’d thrown Hollande out 2006 when he started an affair with Paris Match celebrity magazine journalist, Valérie Trierweiler, but hid their broken relationship until after her defeat. Officially declaring Valerie “woman of my life” in 2010, Hollande slimmed 10kgs to become the 2012 Presidential candidate. Much to her chagrin, Valerie’s own magazine splashed her on the cover page as Hollande’s “trump charm.”

Loss of Presidential candidature in seven-minute sex scandal: Actually the Socialist Party’s hot candidate to defeat Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential race was Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), former IMF President. But 7 minutes in New York’s Sofitel Hotel irreversibly changed his stars. According to hotel electronic key records, chambermaid Nafissatou Diallo entered DSK’s suite about 12.06pm. His BlackBerry phone recorded 12.13pm when he spoke to his daughter Camille. For what happened in those seven intervening minutes he has seven criminal sexual act charges slapped against him at New York Supreme Court, although his version is “consensual sex, no rape, no constraint, no aggression, no criminal act.” Brilliant French journalist and heiress Anne Sinclair who’d experienced coup de foudre (sudden fiery love)1989 with DSK, they married 1991, rushed to New York to extricate her husband from this mess of lifelong imprisonment. Women criticize Anne for supporting her sex maniac husband, but she’s among those rare persons who prove real love is beyond social trauma.

Presidential candidate with out-of-wedlock children and new girlfriend: Catholic society would generally frown on an unmarried person with 4 children and new girlfriend stepping into Elysee Palace, but polls are indicating Francois Hollande as the next President with 57% runoff. Rising above the Socialist Party backstab she received during her 2007 election campaign, Segolene Royal surprised everyone by campaigning for Francois Hollande in Rennes on 25 March 2012. France was waiting to see them kiss on stage, if not on the lips, at least cheek-pecking French tradition style. But they merely shook hands, maintaining the high standards of Ecole National d’Administration they both studied in.

Protocol issues prevented unmarried Carla Bruni from accompanying her newest love Sarkozy to India 2008. As French First Lady in 2010, visiting Taj Mahal was for her “like a dream.” Let’s watch France’s first election round today. If Hollande wins the runoff 6 May12, will he bring his amour (love) to India’s monument of love? With Presidential elections revealing underwear and political armour, France lives up to her coinage of liberty, equality and fraternity.

To download above article in PDF Underwear & political amour

Financial Express link:http://www.financialexpress.com/news/underwear-and-political-amour/939867/0

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Posted on 15-04-2012
Filed Under (POLITICS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

France, harbinger of the world’s first revolution in 1789 to overthrow monarchy for democracy, is heading for Presidential elections on 22 April2012 with 6 May 2012 as the runoff if no party gets 51% majority. In the complex social electioneering drama, two distinct, historical Frenchie factors are popping up for attention: camarade and cheese.

Camarade, translating to comrade in English, is used by all hues of Leftists worldwide, but it originated during the French Revolution. It means hearty friend as confidant. The sudden astonishing comeback of the French Left Front under Jean-Luc Melenchon is making poll statistics bob up and down. An erstwhile Socialist party member and minister 2000-2 in the Socialist Government, his proposition through fiery extempore speeches is to “Take the power,” create France’s 6th Republic and introduce 100% taxation beyond earnings of 360,000 Euros. Melenchon-mania is sweeping across the youth. In the 18 March 2012 rally he called in Bastille, 120000 people gathered. He exclaimed, “Thousands of red flags in Bastille. Yes! We’re dangerous.” His red flag has no hammer-&-sickle, just a single star “To change Europe.” He’s tearing away the protestor crowd who traditionally votes for the Extreme Right FN party of Le Pen. Whose camarade will Melenchon finally become?

And cheese? France cannot exist without cheese, the stronger and smellier the better. I went to France with the taste of Indian jalebi in my mouth. It took me a certain time to get accustomed to the ancient food cheese whose origins predate recorded history, ranging around 8000-3000 BCE when sheep were first domesticated. My work in Europe is highly associated with French culture so I’ve had to dive deep into their gastronomy. I actually learnt from my son, who’s born and brought up in France, how to appreciate cheese. Ever since my tongue has absorbed the taste and logic of French cheese, nothing can now shift that enjoyment and habit. My favourite cheese is one of Emperor Napoleon’s favourites too, Epoisses, made from raw cow’s milk. It definitely stinks. To give you an idea of its repulsive odour, Epoisses is banned from public transportation vehicles all over France. Many a foreign visitor in my home in Paris has asked to “Open the window, quick! There’s a foul smell….” when I tried inviting them to taste Epoisses cheese.

The way French people obsessively identify with different cheese varieties made Charles de Gaulle, national hero after World War II, once ask in exasperation, "How can you govern a country in which there are 246 kinds of cheese?" The political history of my cheesy-camarade adopted country is really spectacular, other societies have picked up its deeper meaning.

It’s incredible that the French demolished monarchy to form the First Republic, then in 1804, voluntarily brought back monarchy by crowning military-man Napoleon Bonaparte as Emperor. Undoubtedly Napoleon’s political and administrative prowess makes him France’s favourite emperor. Through Napoleonic Wars he secured a dominant position for France in Europe. Until the British defeated him in the Battle of Waterloo 1815, Frenchmen greatly enjoyed peace and order that helped raise comfort standards. Provisions became cheap and abundant unlike earlier frequent bouts of hunger, thirst, and lack of light; trade prospered, wages ran high. Napoleon’s war campaigns are studied at military academies throughout much of the world. The Napoleonic Code has influenced legal systems in several countries including the Indian Penal Code drafted during the British Raj. Among his legacy still practiced in France is the Baccalaureat exam and Legion of Honour awards recognizing hardwork and talent. But his unacceptable, abhorrent words were, “Women should not be regarded as equal to men. They are nothing more than machines for producing children.”

To return to the subject of Communism, France was the first to introduce working-class democracy. French workers went on strike 1934 demanding paid holidays for their 47-hour work-week in factories. This prompted France’s first Socialist Council supported by French Communist Party to introduce in 1936 two-weeks paid vacation each year for the first time in the world, and 40-hour work-week. So French Communism, unlike the Soviets, was liberal enough to practice the working-class ideology they preached. French Socialists put the system upside-down again by adopting 35-hour work-week effective 2000, although I’m not sure this is the right direction.

The French Muslim terrorist who recently killed 3 Jewish children, a Rabbi and 3 French armymen may have played a role in fluctuating polls. But Camarade Melenchon’s impact after rounding up support of protesters, has been more significant. In fact protester votes made the Extreme Right become, for the first time, the second party against Jacques Chriac in France’s 2002 election. This Extreme Right score scandalized both France and the world. But Chirac’s run-off victory by 80% confirmed that France had 20% protesters. CSA polls predicting the 6 May2012 run-off shows Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande win 54% and reigning President Nicholas Sarkozy of Rightist UMP party lose with 46% votes. Tracking details, CSA 2012 polls of 6 February and 2 April show Marine Le Pen fall from 17.5 to 13% while Melenchon rose dramatically from 8 to 15%. This heralds the imminent return of the Communist Party that peaked 21.27% votes in 1969, dropped to 8.66% in 1995 at the end of Socialist President Francois Mitterand’s second term, and plummeted to 1.93% in 2007 election.

Hollande best personifies French liberty. He perforce reduced 10 kgs for the aesthetics appreciating French electorate. He won the Socialist party primary candidature fighting his former domestic partner, the mother of their four children, the very same Segolene Royal who lost the 2007 Presidential race to Sarkozy. Just imagine, an unmarried couple both Enarques who graduated from France’s most prestigious Ecole National d’Administration, both from the same party, but they didn’t like each other becoming Presidential candidate. But suddenly on 4 April2012, Segolene reversed this image, she appeared publicly with Hollande. Traditionally the Left eats cheese with Socialists, considering them as camarades. With Segolene and Melenchon beside him, will Hollande clinch victory at the 6 May 2012 run-off? Touche!

To download above article in PDF Cheesy camarade

Financial Express link:http://www.financialexpress.com/news/cheesy-camarade/936827/0

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Posted on 08-04-2012
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Six hundred years ago Leonardo da Vinci secretly “mirror wrote” engineering and other non-religious ideas because Rome’s powerful Catholic Church disapproved such activities. Although his paintings and sculptures brought him fame, Leonardo understood that art pieces that provide future vision can physically only decorate museums or rich people’s homes. Art cannot be duplicated to serve livelihood needs of millions of people. So he took to inventing machine after machine to bring incredible functional benefits for improving human life.

Let me elaborate on this “machines-for-livelihood” context I’d written about last week. To kill India’s poverty we need multiple types of blended mechanical+digital engineered, low cost, highly efficient, compact machines for livelihood generation for the population earning Rs 3,000-10,000 per month. Such machines require no fundamental invention, just adaptation. Japan, since 1970s, has bought humanized mechanical+electronic engineering compactness into the market. They incorporated reliability with extreme user friendliness and grand quality in miniature format. That’s all our hard-working working-class professionals require but they have no way to get it.

If you travel throughout the country with an engineering eye, you’ll find poor people struggling for their everyday livelihood. Either they have no machine, or if they do, it’s archaic. In South India’s famed silk industry, from cocoon to thread-making is a very meticulous process. I saw highly skilled men and women working painstakingly and with passion, but in pathetic, constricted conditions, no machines, no fans, sitting on the floor. Their gorgeous output of creamy white silk yarn is carefully unwound from the cocoon filament as one continuous thread, collected into skeins, reeled and twisted. You’d never believe that the rich, shiny, twisted yarns sent to silk factories for weaving expensive saris or even to global designers for fashionable haute couture had emanated from this machine-less, hot, miserable workplace in today’s world of advanced technology.

Take jewellery, where India’s branded market is growing 40%. If you spend time at a goldsmith’s workplace, you’ll realise how workers physically struggle without up-to-date instruments for perfecting their handcrafted art and livelihood. If Switzerland can have sophisticated, precision instruments for small-scale watch-making companies, why can’t India’s working class also expect excellent modern-day machines? Obviously because their requirement is on no one’s radar.

Indian businesses are highly driven by the demand-led market, when there’s demand, they supply. But to cater to “machines-for-livelihood,” industrialists have to develop a value-led market mindset. There’s no stated demand from the 720 million population earning less than or about Rs 3,000-10,000pm, but one has to discover what machines they need. Creating a value-led market requires huge research, a unique approach and self-urge to create value as such needs are hidden in poverty. Indians have not changed their age-old high tolerance of poverty.

Thousands of automobile, commercial vehicle and 2-wheeler mechanics serve everyone who won’t go to bonafide auto-dealers for repair or servicing. They continue to exert physical effort using tools and machines that existed for Fiats and Ambassadors before liberalisation. Modernizing equipment will ease their livelihood, and provide business generation opportunity for such manufacturers. You’ll find professionals like technicians, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, masons, MSME workers, fabricators, as well as traders, contractors, small restaurant owners, mass market product dealers and distributors, and mom&pop store-owners all working without efficient, updated machines that could enhance their earnings. Neither government nor private industry cares about how they earn utilizing pure wits, high entrepreneurship and hard work.

On rural India visits, I find hapless farmers burdened with so much debt they cannot move anywhere. Micro-finance offers hypnotise them, and they get bogged down without fathoming why they’re paying so much interest money. A farmer’s 22-year-old son says they make only Rs.50,000 annually from their two-acre farmland. Rs.30,000 goes on input cost, with Rs.20,000 their 7-member family cannot run. So they’ve found a way out. They buy potatoes, boil and mash them by hand, add spices and besan at home, then run a few meters, the big vessel on the head, to a corner of the village. Here they’ve set up a stove and openly fry potato chops. Replenishment happens on foot as they own no means of transport. They spend Rs 300, and generate upto Rs.1000 daily, making a clean Rs.700 profit. If this old-fashioned, laborious and unhygienic preparation job is helped by mechanization, this farmer can standardize his earning, reduce his labor and increase hygiene.

Government appears to have no clue on how to solve livelihood generation problems of such farmers despite promises made by politicians during elections. Nor has Indian industry cared in 65 years of Independence. So shouldn’t someone take interest to invite already established developed country industries to bring modernized mechanical+digital machines to increase the earning capacity of India’s poor people according to requirements specific to India?

When I was in neighbouring Thailand, a street vendor on a motorbike with a sidecar of well-designed workmanship said he’s got his Alladin. His sidecar has arrangements for stocking, cooking and selling, so he needs no intermediary. He drives to source raw materials, goes to different localities at different times for better earnings. He serves wearing gloves, a machine cleans up the cooking plate, changes the oil without his hand-touch. His dustbin has a recycling system. Such practical systems are available for all their street vendors. Why can’t we similarly reduce effort, increase comfort in India where large numbers of street vendors physically push their non-mechanized carts and execute everything by hand?

When America beat all nations in industrial advancement in the last century, they first looked at improving the lot of working class masses, shifting them gradually from small home enterprises to becoming factory workers. Machines and tools for better earning possibilities were invented even during the Great Depression. If Indian poverty can be eradicated by adopting the da Vinci engineering code of modernizing tools and machinery, let’s make it our single point action. That’ll upgrade livelihood prospects for the hard-working working-class, percolate to the bottom of the pyramid too. Simultaneously, everyone will enjoy hygiene and civic improvement.

To download above article in PDF Poverty killing machine

Financial Express link:http://www.financialexpress.com/news/poverty-killing-machine/934013/0

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Posted on 01-04-2012
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by admin

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Financial cut-and-paste executed with sophisticated financial cutlery made the share market in developed countries a virtual valuation casino. The West threw out manufacturing industries and suffered economic recession as the backlash. Everything happened with digital technology advancement in the last 20 years. Nobody assessed what danger could lurk behind it for fulfilling basic human needs in future, somewhat like suddenly discovering the Y2K bug when the century turned. 

This virtual digi-viagra is marvelous for eye and mind enjoyment anytime, anywhere. It can reduce distances, overload information in your pocket, allow you to acquire huge knowledge with little effort, give you innumerable social network addresses to connect to people, but you can’t smell any of them. The titillating digital circus cannot gratify human physical need and desire. Just imagine, digi-world has no solution for your empty stomach, roof over your head, garments, medical necessities, transportation, sex. These are irreplaceable fundamental physical requirements.

Low-cost, high-efficient, digitally-engineered machines for India’s poor: Overcoming tremendous day-to-day life hardships are those in the Rs 3,000-10,000 per month earning bracket within the 600 million population range. These people are surprisingly quick to respond to entrepreneurial challenges. They want to earn more by working harder. But they desperately need mech+digi help. A variety of modernized livelihood generation tools and machines can reduce unnecessary physical sweat and speed up efficiency. To enhance living quality while working in their current professions, they could certainly use easy, affordable, individual transportation. Unfortunately there’s no research, and subsequently scant industrialisation of specific mech+digi low-cost, high-efficient, digitally-engineered machines that such working class professionals require. Only when this working class flourishes can India Vision 2020 to become a developed country be realized.

Raison d’etre for Western society’s digital space: Digi-space had a different purpose for the West, that of making life for their society always easy. Their invention platform invariably looked for better ways to reduce effort while increasing people’s comfort. Colonization served the purpose of getting new sources for inputs to ensure predictability of everyday need supplies, some exoticism from foreign shores, and to experience life better. More importantly, they got slaves for manual labour to reduce their own physical exertion. Industrialization was the elemental drive, which then led from mechanical to electronic to digital inventions. This helped create the mass market where low income $1200-1500 per month earners could pay for and enjoy life’s everyday essentials of food, housing, clothing, travel, healthcare. The spin-off from their slavery mindset was to displace manufacturing units so that other countries’ people can undertake the physical part of work. They wanted to be rid of pollution and trade union problems, enjoy unpolluted air, not suffer bodily hard work. The result? All basic jobs packed off to poor, developing countries.

Even digital junk gets deported as hardware scrap, the favourite dustbin of developed countries being India, China and some African countries. USA is world leader in e-waste, annually rubbishing 3 million tons, while Europe discards 100 million phones every year. Although they’ve understood that virtual dreams cannot fulfill life’s essentials, digital technology has enabled them to win the slavery game from afar. Today it’s called globalization and outsourcing. 

Dissonance of Western digi with India’s poor people requirement: Satisfying the outsourcing needs of developed countries through digital technology opens up merely a few jobs, pubs, cafes; chic foreign cars and motorbikes become visible. If India concentrates only on global service business, the Rs 3,000-10,000pm income band will never see a better life. There’s a sub-Rs 3,000pm class below them too. In sophisticated coffee table discussion they are designated BPL (below poverty line). The traditional rich and nouveau riche talk glibly in TV interviews about their donations to charities and NGOs. They quote progress of the poor by throwing big-size statistics of mobile phone and TV set penetration in rural areas. But can virtual entertainment or information solve the livelihood and basic needs of poor people?

Can digital technology shape Indian rubbish? Let’s not talk only of Western e-waste affecting India’s poor. The rubbish that society discards here is collected and sorted by poor people who display high entrepreneurship even in such ad-hoc livelihood means. We have irregular consumption and trashing patterns, with almost no machine or modernization of waste collection and disposal systems. Most developed countries have 5 to 6 types of organized dustbins. The public follow the ritual of throwing different kinds of waste into designated bins like paper, metal, plastic among others. For industrial waste disposal there’s a controlled procedure.  Littering is a national Indian pastime of rich and poor alike. Is digital technology intervention to change this paradigm possible? But clever BPLers, totally neglected and living in unhygienic surroundings, perform a well-processed sorting job to earn a few rupees so that society at large can enjoy better hygiene.

Global disaster: Natural digi mutation is creating version after version to rationalize its worldly existence. Such restless virtual developments are signs pointing to another imminent global disaster like financial engineering that led to global recession. Every industry’s marketing purpose may require some trendy digi imagery to connect to youth, but can digi, so easily drumming up complex world poverty statistics, get basic enough to quell hunger pangs? Somehow we will always value the physical aspect. You don’t need any effort to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting as your mobile phone can download it. Yet last year 9 million people from around the world have visited Mona Lisa in Louvre Museum, Paris.

Digital engineering’s unquestionable positives are here to stay. Its inventors sitting somewhere in the West will never think of how to apply its benefits to rid India of poverty. It’s time for Indian digi designers and industries to start catering to the physical professional requirements of Rs 3,000-10,000pm earners who need low-cost, high-efficient, digitally-engineered machines. Let’s achieve the developed country tag by 2020. Otherwise poor people will continue to sort and clean rich people’s consumption aftermath dustbin as that becomes more and more of a mountain.

To download above article in PDF Digi not Physi?

Financial Express link:http://www.financialexpress.com/news/digi-not-physi/930988/0

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