Tuesday, August 05, 2014

When Landmarks turn Bookmarks

Courtesy: www.indiainfoline.com
An IIFL report on Mansoor Khan’s Book Launch event at Pune
Sudhir Raikar / 09:21, 24-Oct-13

Filmmaker, Farmer or Futurist, call him anything you wish, Mansoor Khan remains the same fervent maverick who has consistently defied convention but has invariably refrained from branding his innovation ever. His sparkling non-conformism is the natural outcome of his shifting pre-occupations seemingly led by an intricate mix of disillusionment with the established worlds and a relentless quest for deeper meaning in life. For more about his unconventional life voyage, refer the IIFL interview http://www.indiainfoline.com/LifeStyle/Art-Approach/The-Solitary-Reaper/3826284

No wonder, this academic drop out has purposefully picked up many discarded clues leading to overwhelming realities that most scholars and pundits across spheres have either chosen to ignore or have consciously worked their way round them.

Khan’s book titled “The Third Curve – The End of Growth As We Know It” is about a ‘head-on collision’ between two contrasting forces. On one end is our blatant worship of an institutionalized notion of exponential economic growth, on the other is our mindless denial of a foregone conclusion emanating out of the earth’s finiteness. Khan’s position is as pivotal as his book’s premise, devoid of patronizing clarion calls on populist critical issues of morality, justice, equity, human values and environmental sustainability. In articulating the largely veiled truths of a fictitious Growth model, Khan expresses open surprise and deep concern on the ‘willful’ ignorance of even the revered and radical individuals, institutes and organizations across the globe.

Stay tuned on IIFL Art Approach for a detailed enumeration of the subject matter of this epoch-making book (we dare not call it a review because the author has painstakingly and single-handedly made us aware on an obviously impending reality the onus of which is actually our collective responsibility) but here’s a first-hand account of the recent Pune event that has once again exposed the falling standards of audience participation at most book launch events in India. When the author in question is a self-deprecating gem like Mansoor Khan, this demand-side flaw hurts even more.

For a discussion on a critical issue of global significance, the least Landmark could have ensured was an able and agile host. Instead the audience had to bear with a redundantly beaming and full-of-himself host-cum-moderator, immensely proud of his Economics background way ahead of the guest’s credentials. For him, the letter ‘E’ stood only for his brand of Economics, not the Energy which is integral to Mansoor’s book. The way our great host went about his business, he got his ABCs wrong (apart from the E) in due course. Towards the end, he even unabashedly proclaimed himself as the world’s premier soothsayer Economist who accurately predicted the irreversibility of the 2008 stock market fall for the benefit of all universal species including humans.

If this hefty dais burden was not enough, we also had to suffer the wrath of a few hopelessly animated sections of the audience who seemed keen to drop their pearls of wisdom on the slightest pretext. Some reminded us of Gandhian thoughts and Bhutan’s notion of Gross National Happiness with the vigour and vitality of a school student. There were a few who seemed supremely thrilled with their individual blazes of spiritual enlightenment, courtesy 24-carat workshops and discourses by branded spiritual Gurus. Few others looked up to Khan to dispel the doubts and fears linked with their impending ‘retired’ life. We could still condone the litany of myopic views and versions for the sheer innocence with which they were presented but worse, the event also marked the presence of a few condescending individuals who seemed desperate to sidestep Khan’s irrefutable logic to project their non-existent insights, damaged foresights and even extraneous hind sights.

Khan faced every member of the audience - adversary or admirer - with astonishing endurance and inimitable dignity. While he magnanimously sympathized even with ideas that seemed visibly utopian, he was quick to expose pre-conceived notions and baseless claims, thanks to his crystal clear clarity of thought and incredible wit. For him to reach out to the masses, the rigmarole of accommodating every viewpoint is perhaps inevitable but we as the audience surely need to be more sensitive and empathic to the larger cause that Khan has fearlessly raised. The powers-that-be worldwide including many politicians, bankers, brokers, physicists, economists, academicians and even a few environmentalists will now obviously go firing on all cylinders to disprove Khan, solely to protect their long nurtured and nourished vested interests that have necessarily flourished on a graveyard of suppressed economic and ecological realities, however ghastly they threaten to be in due course. Khan deserves our wholesome support to spread his ideas of common sense far and wide. We badly need to build and sustain a greenhouse of introspection and ideation that could hopefully create a future of fertile possibilities, if not a full-proof secure future. Khan makes no bones of the fact that he offers no solutions but he’s conscientiously asked the right questions which we have consistently overlooked since ages. Finding the answers – right or wrong - is undoubtedly our collective responsibility.

As Mansoor puts it pithily “I believe that time will make it clear that this is not about a choice. It’s an inevitable eventuality. I have based my argument not on moral choices but on logical possibilities of pitting the infinite expectation of money growth against the limits imposed by the earth’s finiteness.” May he win worldwide support and may his tribe grow!