Education and Networks

Folks complaining about the decline of public sector higher education in India and globally have to realise that college education is a privilege and social capital does influence outcomes.

In the real world, networks matter and college is a Network. Only the paranoid survive as no one is offering hand outs sans the IRR and ROCE being computed. I realise that having an Ivy League MBA is a huge boost to a professional career but it comes with a price tag. That access to C Suite networks is the opening to talent to access opportunities.

Elections are not theoretical exercises

People react to the circumstances that they encounter whether it is the lack of resources or opportunities. When families can’t put food on the table, the alternative which seeks to demolish the status quo seems viable. People are not interested in theories and policy white papers. Most are interested in the latest Netflix series, rather than evaluating the cost benefit equation of migrants as a value driver in the market economy. People vote against destitution and despair.

Whether it is Naya Pakistan or Malaysia Bahru, or New India; the vote for an alternative imagination is not the sole preserve of the left. Chavez and Lula were not saints. Trump is creating jobs, and Modi leads a fairly popular government. Brazil should be no more worse rather than opeds condemning it from moment zero. Rhetoric during the campaign and governance are different beasts. Left should get out of its theoretical bubble. The battle for democracy is often at the both not in TV studios and critical theory graduate school courses.

Writing as Genealogy

I was always discouraged by my liberal arts/management educator parents to take up the humanities even after I did a NUS engineering masters that too on a scholarship at NTU as it was seen to be not profitable enough. I studied sociology coursework and researched at NTU on a fascinating program. Fortunately, my interest in public policy catalysed in me reading modules at LKYSPP. The story however is slightly deeper.

My interest in history and politics is intrinsic, as read books on WW2 and gobbled up India Today magazine and The Outlook and The Week while I grew up. This interest in the humanities has evolved into writing as a state of being. As I was today renewing the WordPress subscription of my online repository of dispersed meditations aka blog , something struck within me that this blog has been more than a site of cultural production in the form of analysis, aphorisms, criticism, spoken word and photography over the past eight years and 20.5k hits. It has become a genealogical understanding of me a person, an understanding of me as a writing as I believe in Prof Amit Chaudhuri’s writing-living continuum. It has been a way of pivoting out of mediocrity, engineering prominence, that I have a voice sunk under gelf migrant middle class utilitarian thinking expressing in an engineering education. Writing is politics with a small p, activism as a small a and civic engagement for a non important engineering consultant, who scribbles and takes photos on an old I phone.

Writing is entrepreneurship as the market for ideas is crowded. I have used the skills picked up in consulting for thought leadership. Creating content, marketing it on social media and pushing the envelope by lobbying literary, media, non profit and academic gatekeepers to get my word through, literally as have not read a MFA program yet. I am thankful for friends to care to read my work.

My blog has been paradoxically entrepreneurial venture without having earned a single cent out of it. Writing is political, yet deeply personal. It is living and engaging with the wonderful spirit called life.

The Talent Equation.

Having talent is one part of the equation, making money out of it is another. Market needs a lot more than talent ; ability to communicate, be agile to unlearn and relearn, work in teams well, able to mentor and to be mentored, the ability to sell your idea to internal and external clients, go the extra few miles to create value, be well networked to leverage the resources. I am pretty sure no college taught these to to any freshmen.

Food Security.

Food Security about global supply chain resilience and not purely the ability to grow food. During the Qatar blockade, cows were airlifted from Turkey and Oman flew in fresh produce. Logistics from farm to folk is outstanding in Singapore and this reflects in the rankings. Hydroponics, and vertical farms, biotech and data analytics will make agriculture into the next level, that is food security grossly interconnected with Water Reuse and renewable energy.

No Post Capitalism.

Post capitalism will only come if the capitalists allow it, as the market is the optimal condition for people to live out their lives. There will be always room to make fulus, liang liang or paisa as markets reconfigure as per demand and supply. The social theorists also have to sell their books in a marketplace of ideas. Nothing is free. It is true that wealth accumulates but the person with the money dictates the terms of the game as well.

Durga Pujo in Muscat: A Photo Essay

Shubho Nobomi. A very vital aspect of Hindu middle class migrant life in the Gulf is the temple run on festival days. The best saree, an opportunity to express an ethnic identity in a foreign land, even if one is raised here has a celebratory feel, as if one is clutching on to something fluid.

So this Navratri/Durga Pujo, on the final day at the last hour I managed to visit the Pujo and the Garba for a brief while, to the oldest Hindu Temple in the GCC in old Masqat next door to a community Masjid , and the more contemporary Shri Krishna Temple in Ruwi, lodged next to a flourishing Church Complex. Oman with its multicultural character, is endearing as the Hindu Bania’s arrived here almost two centuries back. We often forget that Sindh and Kutch in British India were not too Far East of Masqat, as it was in the Trading neighbourhood of the Arabian Sea/Sea of Oman and the Western Indian Ocean.

The Bongs were arranging a Dhunuchi Naach Competition, while a stream of the faithful were passing by with pranams, and the Bong association pandas were rushing the outsiders, as the focus was on the insular activities of a cultural club rather than larger Hindu fraternity. Not a single iota of a handout was present typical of a Gulf Bong. The Gujaratis in the Garba at the Krishna Temple were more amiable. Teenagers and their older kin were in the best attire. Oman is special and inclusive, and such days are testament to its ethos.

#migrantscholars #weekendhistorian #experienceoman

@ Shree Krishna Temple, Muscat, Oman