Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Social Time Telescope

Crystal Ball Daze

Last week, I have been wiki'ing about Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Mike McQuay. All of that started after watching Star Wars Episode III the Revenge of the Syth. So I started wiki'ing for Star Wars and George Lucas and found tremendous material on the influences of Star Wars and the influences that started the Star Wars series of movies. I could relate to some great science fiction stories I had earlier read, like The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. I had read a collection of Robot stories by Asimov and greatly liked the plain matter of fact style of writing. I felt that it was essential as there has to be some believability in the narrative as the subject matter is itself a fascination and fantasy. A Science book like matter of fact way of referring to miraculous gadgets and intelligent super computers, of course not to mention 'Robots' helps a lot by making the viewer believe that all these are indeed the natural course for human civilization. Once the awe associated with the subject matter is removed from the tone of the narrative, the reader can now focus more on the questions and the characters. This also leads the viewers to assume and construct their own premise in addition to visualization of objects in their own mind and in their own way. Thus by being stoic, the story makes the viewer think and spurts creativity in an hitherto barren (but receptive) mind. However Asimov's great success lies in the fact that he always went into how groups of people or robots or intelligent beings would react and behave after many milleniums of breath taking scientific accomplishments that would have eventually transported them to all corners of the galaxy. In particular, I felt that his stories were actually about emotions and the eternal struggle between intelligence and "sense" over emotions of a human being.

Now since I got started on this path, I was wondering how would Indians behave and evolve over centuries? Would they be able to solve all their internal problems and bickerings and integrate with "One humanity"? Will India lead the galactic quest or lag behind, or to be specific, left behind in Earth with caste system and regional bias pitting one below the other in a dog fight to stamp their narrow sense of identity and superiority over each other? Will women move forward and assert their position as equals without the helping hand of male counterparts? Will our family set up remain as is, enriching the intelligence and emotion equally? Will Indians evolve into visionaries and inventors instead of being implementors and cost effective alternatives? What would a space conquest entail on the Indian industry that is slowly limping into 21st century? What will happen to the farmers of India? Will their condition improve? will they innovate and succeed to be the terra - farmers of distant planets or will they be fighting for the last drop of water and brought down by huge loans?

Whenever I read of a western mind, like that of Asimov dreaming of a global human community participating in a "space conquest", I feel so confused when my India with its hundreds of languages, thousands of castes, millions of sub castes and sects ever join this thinking? I sometimes think that if you let an Indian team land and set up a base in Mars, how many sub groups will be formed? Will they be able to , lets say make a contact with an Alien intelligence in one voice? Or will they scare the heavens out of the Aliens when it finds out of the millions of prejudices in thier minds?

So with all these thoughts, I plan to write some snapshots on how various facets of Indian/partially global society will be in say 2 centuries from now, assuming that no killer asteroid or nuclear (unclear how to pronounce? contact white house) war has met humanity. My approach is to look at Indian society the way Asimov looks at the galactic empire's society. Shortly put a psycho historic extrapolation of Indian society. In case you dont follow what is Psycho historic, please read Foundation series by Isaac Asmiov or simply wiki for it. Somehow I feel that the picture is going to look bleak as I begin to peep into the crystal ball.

As I complete this post, butterflies are flying merrily in my stomach as to what P.Chidambaram has in store for me in this forthcoming budget. So much for someone who is thinking of looking 2 centuries from now!!!

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Blogger sherin said...

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