The Fourth Industrial Revolution is to Empower People, not the Machines

Machines, rather than something to be feared, are the tools that will help us solve the world’s biggest problems. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is now. And, whether you know it or not, it will affect you.
Billions of people and countless machines are connected to each other. Through groundbreaking technology, unprecedented processing power and speed, and massive storage capacity, data is being collected and harnessed like never before.
Automation, machine learning, mobile computing and artificial intelligence — these are no longer futuristic concepts, they are our reality.
To many people, these changes are scary.
Previous industrial revolutions have shown us that if companies and industries don’t adapt with new technology, they struggle. Worse, they fail.
Mindset shift
But I strongly believe that these innovations will make industry – and the world – stronger and better.
The change brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution is inevitable, not optional.
And the possible rewards are staggering: heightened standards of living; enhanced safety and security; and greatly increased human capacity.
For people, there must be a shift in mindset.
As difficult as it may be, the future of work looks very different from the past. I believe people with grit, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit will embrace this future, rather than cling to the status quo.
People can be better at their jobs with the technology of today—and the technology that is yet to come—rather than fearing that their human skills will be devalued.
Human and machine
I’m reminded of chess.
We have all heard the stories about computers beating even the greatest grandmasters. But the story is more nuanced; humans and computers play differently and each has strengths and weaknesses.
Computers prefer to retreat, but they can store massive amounts of data and are unbiased in their decision-making.
Humans can be more stubborn, but also can read their opponent’s weaknesses, evaluate complex patterns, and make creative and strategic decisions to win.
Even the creators of artificial chess-playing machines acknowledge that the best chess player is actually a team of both human and machine.
The world will always need human brilliance, human ingenuity and human skills.
Software and technology have the potential to empower people to a far greater degree than in the past—unlocking the latent creativity, perception and imagination of human beings at every level of every organization.
Power of data, power of people
This shift will enable workers on the front line, on the road and in the field to make smarter decisions, solve tougher problems and do their jobs better.
This is our mission at Uptake—to combine the power of data and the power of people, across global industries.
Here’s what this looks like:
Railroad locomotives are powered by massive, highly complex electrical engines that cost millions of dollars.
When one breaks down, the railroad loses thousands more for every hour it’s out of service (not to mention, there are a lot of angry travellers or cargo customers to deal with).
After the locomotive is towed in for repairs, technicians normally start by running diagnostic tests. These can take hours, and often require technicians to stand next to roaring engines jotting down numbers based on the diagnostic readings.
That’s the old way – or, at least, it should be.
New solutions
When locomotives operated by our customers roll into the shop for routine services, all diagnostics have already been run.
Our software has forecast when, why and how the machine is likely to break down using predictive analytics — algorithms that analyze massive amounts of data generated by the 250 sensors on each locomotive.
Our systems have examined that data within the context of similar machines, subject- matter experts, industry norms and even weather. If there’s a problem, we detect it, and direct the locomotive to a repair facility.
A mechanic can then simply pick up an iPad, and learn in a few minutes exactly what is about to break down, as well as the machine’s history and the conditions it’s been operating under.
Virtuous loop
That leaves the mechanics to do what they do best: fix it, using their experience, judgement and skill. And the mechanics decisions and actions become data that feeds back into the software, improving the analytics and predictions for the next problem.
So, technology didn’t replace mechanics; it empowered them to do their job.
In the same way that chess masters and computers work best together, the mechanic used human skills that a machine can’t replicate: ingenuity, creativity and experience. And the technology detected a problem that was unknown and unseen to human eyes.
In short, when the mechanic and the technology work together, the work gets done faster, with fewer errors and better results.
Multiply this across all industries: aviation, energy, transportation, smart cities, manufacturing, natural resources, and construction.
The productivity we unleash could be reminiscent of what the world saw at the advent of the first industrial revolution. But the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will run much broader, and deeper, than the first.
We’ll have the knowledge, the talent and the tools to solve some of the world’s biggest problems: hunger, climate change, disease.
Machines will supply us with the insight and the perspective we need to reach those solutions. But they won’t supply the judgement or the ingenuity. People will.


Most People-Rich or Poor- Are Wrong About Poverty

The percentage of people living in extreme poverty around the world has fallen by more than half over the past three decades. But polls show that most people are not only ignorant of this fact, but believe that poverty has increased. This column explores progress towards ending global poverty by 2030, the first of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Poverty figures have fallen around the world since 1990, and there is a broad consensus on the policies needed for further reductions. Eradicating global poverty is achievable, but it is dependent on global and domestic political cooperation.
“Did you know that, in the past 30 years, the percentage of people in the world who live in extreme poverty has decreased by more than half?”
In 2014, 84% of Americans who were asked this question were unaware of such declines in global extreme poverty. In fact, 67% of adult respondents thought global poverty had been on the rise over the past three decades. Unsurprisingly, 68% did not believe it would be possible to end extreme global poverty within the next 25 years (Todd 2014).
A recent study analysing the public awareness around the world of the Sustainable Development Goals confirmed that this widespread ignorance is not a US anomaly (Lampert and Papadongonas 2016).1 A significant majority of respondents from several countries, both developing and developed, are unaware of this achievement (see Figure 1). Interestingly, Chinese citizens appear much better informed about global poverty trends than those of the US or Germany.
But this is just what adults report. On 17 October – the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – a poll of about 150 college students from the Washington metropolitan area were invited to the World Bank and showed more encouraging results (World Bank 2016a). Two thirds correctly responded that global extreme poverty has been reduced. Yet, more than half of those didn’t think the decline had been substantial. Even less auspicious, only four out of ten thought that extreme poverty could be ended by 2030 (World Bank 2016a).
It is tempting to engross ourselves in a discussion of why so many people know so little about this incredible accomplishment, dubbed by the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof “the best news you don’t know” (2016). Keeping speculations aside, we simply express our bewilderment at how widespread these wrong perceptions about today’s number one global development challenge are, especially within a hyper-connected and social media-addicted world.
The second part of this story is equally fascinating. Will global poverty end by 2030? We cannot really say for sure, and pretending to have a definite answer may seem ludicrous when we can’t even confidently estimate real-time poverty numbers. Indeed, our latest estimates in 2016 refer to global poverty in 2013 – a three-year lag.
However, there are several reasons to be optimistic about ending poverty by 2030.
The new Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report 2016 launched this October by the World Bank explains why (World Bank 2016b). The figure below shows that the number of extremely poor people worldwide – measured by the very low $1.90 a day standard – has fallen by 1.1 billion people over the last two and a half decades, a period in which the global population grew by almost 2 billion (see Figure 2). This is true for all regions in the world without exception, from relatively richer Eastern Europe and Latin America to poorer Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. True, each region has reduced their poverty numbers at different paces. But the numbers leave little room for doubt – extreme poverty has been effectively and dramatically reduced.
The second reason to be optimistic is that we know a good deal about how to reduce extreme poverty. The slashing of extreme poverty worldwide is not a random phenomenon. Leaving ideological views on the role of globalisation in this decline aside, the astonishing reduction in global poverty has been steadfast since the moment we have been able to track it confidently with household surveys, which began around 1990. The unwavering decline has taken place through economic booms but has also weathered global crises, most notoriously the Great Recession in 2007-08. For the record, the only exception was the Asian crisis in the late 1990s, when global poverty actually increased in numbers and rates.
Summarising decades of research on poverty reduction is beyond the scope of this column. Let’s simply say that there is a broad consensus around a set of policies that allow countries to grow inclusively:
– Invest in the human capital of citizens and the infrastructure of countries, to make both people and economies competitive and diversified;Protect populations from risks that threaten to reverse hard fought and won prosperity gains – this includes everything from illness to unemployment, droughts to cyclones.
– While the exact recipe may change depending on a given country’s circumstances, the strategies mentioned above are common ingredients in most successful cases of poverty reduction. Strategies eloquently coined by the World Bank as “grow, invest, and insure” (Gill et al. 2016).
The third reason for optimism is that eliminating extreme poverty may not be as expensive as one may think. The true cost is probably impossible to estimate with precision, but a simple back of the envelope calculation of the total income needed to close the gap to the minimum standard of living ($1.90 per day) for the world’s current extreme poor produces a perplexingly low bill – 0.15% of global GDP, or $150 billion a year. This bulk figure bluntly ignores that the real world involves administrative costs, political will, the need to properly identify and target the poor, and the challenge of sustaining millions out of poverty in the future. But this figure busts the myth that ending poverty is a chimera that troubled economies today cannot afford. Our back of the envelope figure is arguably half of the tax revenue estimated to be lost every year to tax havens. It is also less than half of the money lost in gambling every year in just ten countries around the world (Aziz 2014). We can all do the maths.
But as with any prediction into a distant future, one ought to be very cautious. If the world were to reduce poverty at the same pace it currently does, poverty would end well before 2030. Sadly, making such a linear extrapolation is naïve and misleading. We cannot bank anymore on the rapid reduction of poverty that came from the spectacular performance of China and other emerging populous countries. Simply put, their success will make these countries run out of extreme poor soon – again, and let’s insist on this, measured by earning less than $1.90 a day. China and Indonesia’s latest numbers are about 25 million each. India, however, still hosts 217 million poor and its ability to reduce this number will be instrumental in reaching the goal of ending global poverty. But, more generally, it is from the corners of the world ridden by fragility, conflict, poor governance, undiversified economies, vulnerability to climate change, and a long list of other socioeconomic and political woes that the last mile in reducing poverty must be walked through. And trusting it all to strong economic growth in these countries will simply not do the trick. The world continues to show symptoms of a protracted economic pneumonia, with low-income countries now facing more challenging circumstances (even after displaying considerable resilience during the Global Crisis of 2008-09). Since the end of the commodity super-cycle in 2014, growth rates have come down across the developing world and there is little reason to expect a quick turnaround. This is why a better distribution of the benefits of growth becomes key to achieving the goal of eliminating poverty by 2030.
So, we do not know for sure if poverty will be eliminated by 2030. After all, what do we know for certain these days, anyway? President Obama has set the goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth. Will the world achieve such a feat? Or end poverty by 2030? In the case of poverty we do know a great deal about how to do it. Concretely, we already know the policies that are needed to bring the world to the end of extreme poverty, if only global and domestic politics would let them work. And we also know what challenges lay ahead and where. The only thing we seem not to know is that we do know all of this. And as Winston Churchill once warned, “those who fail to learn from history…”

Fact & Myths of Alleged Russian-Collusion Story

Polls show voters are jumping to the same conclusion as much of Washington: that President Trump “colluded” with Vladimir Putin to steal the presidential election.
But the evidence doesn’t back that up. Instead, such perceptions are driven by a number of key government and media assertions, which on closer inspection, dissolve into illusion:
“We have 17 intelligence agencies that know — with great certitude — that [the DNC hacking] was done by the Russians [to help Trump],” House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) recently said, echoing AP, CNN, The New York Times, NBC and CBS, among others.
The Obama administration’s Jan. 6 assessment reflected the views of just three intelligence agencies — and one of them, the NSA, which captures Russian signals, expressed only “moderate confidence” in the conclusion. The others, the CIA and FBI, cautioned their judgment “might be wrong.”
The FBI and CIA reached their conclusion based on the forensic analysis of a private contractor who was hired by the DNC to examine its hacked e-mail server. “We didn’t get direct access [to the server],” former FBI Director James Comey testified.
In a quid pro quo with Moscow, the Trump campaign “gutted,” as The Washington Post described it, the GOP’s anti-Russia platform position on Ukraine.
The final convention platform actually added tougher language on Russian aggression, including calling for “increasing sanctions against Russia unless and until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored.”
Much of the notorious “Steele Dossier,” despite being paid for by the Clinton campaign, still “checks out” (New York Times) or has “proven to be accurate” (Washington Post).
The parts of the dossier the media are citing as true are merely echoes of their own reporting. Even a recent WaPo analysis of the 35-page document concedes that “many claims involve things that would have been publicly known at the time the report was drafted.”
Some press accounts have treated the dossier’s allegation that Russian officials offered Trump adviser Carter Page billions to end US sanctions as confirmed in September 2016 reporting by Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff. But Isikoff’s “Western intelligence source” was almost surely the dossier itself. So the media used the dossier to corroborate the dossier. (Page, who has repeatedly denied under oath he met with the Russian officials cited in the dossier, is suing Yahoo News over the Isikoff story.)
What doesn’t check out at all, though, is the dossier’s most serious charge: that Trump officials secretly met with Kremlin officials overseas to hatch the hacking scheme against the Clinton campaign.
The idea that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague in August 2016 to meet with “Kremlin representatives and associated operators/hackers” to discuss “how to process deniable cash payments to . . . anti-Clinton hackers paid by both Trump team and Kremlin” has been debunked. Cohen denied ever visiting Prague; his passport carries no stamps showing he left or entered the US at the time; Czech authorities found no evidence he visited Prague; and University of Southern California officials confirm he was on campus visiting his son during that time.
Russian interference in the election opens the door to questioning the results of the 2016 election and the legitimacy of the Trump presidency.
The Obama intel assessment concluded none of the Russian hacking targets was “involved in vote tallying.”
And several states, including Wisconsin and California, now deny initial government reports that their election systems were ever even “scanned” by Russian cyber actors. Obama himself said any intrusions did not compromise the election results: “The election was not tarnished . . . We have not seen evidence of machines being tampered with.”
Russia launched a social media campaign that was “pivotal” to Trump’s victory: CNN.
Facebook data reveal there was no real strategy behind the social-media ads paid in rubles. Most never mentioned either candidate. Geographic distribution was broad, targeting even non-battleground states like Maryland and Texas. Virtually all the Michigan and Wisconsin ads ran in 2015, which hardly helped Trump in 2016.
Russian Twitter and Facebook bots trolled both the left and the right with agitprop — in what appears to have been a general effort to deepen divisions and sow political chaos in America, not to favor one party or candidate over the other. Judging by the rampant mythology on this issue, that part was successful.

New Ripples, That Can be Wild Waves, in the Oceans

Looking beyond the traditional areas of high-technology and defence cooperation, and the more recent focus on global mitigation of climate change, Delhi and Paris appear ready to lend a strong regional dimension to their strategic partnership. Until we get there, there is much that India needs to do in elevating its bilateral security cooperation with the members of the quad as well as other partners in the Indo-Pacific.
Amidst all the excitement and anxiety about the Indo-Pacific quad — which brings together India, United States, Japan and Australia — it is easy to miss the significant prospects for Delhi’s bilateral maritime security cooperation with Paris in the Indian Ocean. Looking beyond the traditional areas of high-technology and defence cooperation, and the more recent focus on global mitigation of climate change, Delhi and Paris appear ready to lend a strong regional dimension to their strategic partnership.
A series of recent high-level consultations — between foreign and defence ministers as well as the national security advisers — have focused on finding ways for India and France to work together, especially in the Western Indian Ocean. These discussions are likely to be turned into concrete decisions by the time French President Emmanuel Macron visits Delhi early next year.
Meanwhile, the debate on “getting France to join the quad” entirely misses the point about the nature of the new grouping. The quad is a flexible mechanism to coordinate the approaches of like-minded states to promote their shared political objectives in the Indo-Pacific. It is a work in progress and will take time to achieve institutional heft and make a real impact. When this quad is eventually up and running, there will certainly be room for its expansion.
Until we get there, there is much that India needs to do in elevating its bilateral security cooperation with the members of the quad as well as other partners in the Indo-Pacific. France is at the top of that list. France has territories in the Western Indian Ocean and South Pacific and has been a maritime power in the region for nearly four centuries. Paris has military bases in the Indian Ocean. It has the lead role in the Indian Ocean Commission that brings together the island states of Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros and the French territory of Reunion.
As a member of the NATO, France does not need the latest quad to do things with America. As it seeks to reclaim some of its historic role in the east, France is already stepping up its security cooperation in the Pacific. It has two quads of its own in the region.
Earlier this year, the naval forces of France, Japan, Britain and the United States conducted naval exercises in the Western Pacific. In a second quad, France coordinates South Pacific defence operations with Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Paris also has a trilateral arrangement with Australia and New Zealand (FRANZ) to provide disaster relief to the island states of the Pacific. The missing link has been the inadequate political and security cooperation between Delhi and Paris.
This limitation stands in contrast to the general affinity between the French and Indian quest for different degrees of strategic autonomy during the Cold war. France was among the first to propose raising a coalition of middle powers to promote a multipolar world in the mid-1990s to limit the dominance of what the French called the American “hyper power” after the Cold War.
Paris also was the first to argue that ending the atomic blockade against India and integrating Delhi into the global nuclear order were important objectives. If this demanded a revision of the non-proliferation system centred on the NPT, then so be it, France said. This idea was taken forward by the US President George W. Bush in the historic civil nuclear initiative with India.
One can recall two earlier efforts — in the early 1980s by President Francois Mitterrand and in the late 1990s under Jacques Chirac — to transform the partnership with India. But the lack of consistent purpose in Delhi led to limited results from the two earlier efforts. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, appears determined to realise the full potential of the partnership with France.
The case for a bold re-imagination of the India-France partnership has never been more urgent than it is today. The rise of China, the renewed tensions between Russia and Europe, the uncertainty in the US political trajectory, and the loosening of the old alliances demand more leadership from middle powers like India and France. Nowhere are the possibilities greater than in the maritime domain.
An intensive dialogue with the French on maritime issues under the Narendra Modi government over the last three years has created the basis for sharing intelligence and military facilities, promoting inter-operability between their navies, and the future conduct of joint operations. Once progress is made in the Western Indian Ocean, France could also help boost India’s strategic footprint in the South Pacific.
Although India and France have long shared the Indian Ocean maritime neighbourhood, they have not put it at the heart of their partnership until now. The new regional framing will help develop the much needed depth to the India-France strategic partnership through maritime burden-sharing and reinforcement of each other’s positions in the Indo-Pacific.
If India discards its military isolationism, develops productive defence diplomacy, and embarks upon deeper security cooperation with its partners through bilateral, minilateral and multilateral mechanisms, the “quad talk” might generate a lot less heat than it does today.

Sexual Harassment: A Part of Growing Up

Allegations about sexual harassment in Hollywood, politics and various other sectors have exposed a reality already familiar to most women. Harassment, interruption, and intrusion from men is commonly disregarded as an inevitable part of life, unpleasant but expected. It is rarely acknowledged for what it is: a key factor structuring women’s lives.

Comedian Jo Brand’s recent comments on the quiz show Have I Got News For You help explain how it works. Responding to panellist Ian Hislop’s dismissal of some forms of harassment as “not high level crime”, Brand explained the continuum of sexual violence:

I know it’s not high level, but it doesn’t have to be high level for women to feel under siege in somewhere like the House of Commons. And actually, for women, if you’re constantly being harassed, even in a small way, that builds up and it wears you down.

Rather than a hierarchy of one-off events, Brand’s comments demonstrate that sexual harassment needs to be understood as a process that is cumulative and connected. My own research in the area shows how early this process begins.

Just over a third of the women I spoke with recalled an experience of sexual harassment at 12 or younger, sometimes from known adult men but much more commonly from among their male primary school peers. Harassment was even more common in girl’s teenage years with almost two thirds describing experiences of intrusion during adolescence, experiences much more likely to be perpetrated by adult men.

These early experiences are confusing. Unsure why men are doing this, young women look to the women around them to explain what is happening. And the message they receive was broadly shared across accounts: that sexual harassment is ordinary.

One woman I spoke to said her first experience of harassment was being whistled at by an adult man when she was doing her paper route at 13. She told me: “I remember going home, talking to my mum, being very upset about it and she was like, ‘this is life’.”

Another recalled a similar response from her mother: I remember as a kid men whistling at me and stuff and my mum just laughed it off and said ‘stupid man’.

Another described an experience at 15: I was walking up to my boyfriend’s house and this man exposed himself to me, quite close as well, and I didn’t really know what he was doing. And the police weren’t called because … well, I’m not sure why they weren’t called. My mum said ‘it’s all part of growing up’.

Such responses are a powerful illustration of sexual harassment as a process. The message is that sexual harassment for women is unremarkable, all part of life, an individual problem needing an individual solution. And so women learn to adapt their behaviour and movements, habitually limiting their own freedom in order to prevent, avoid, ignore, and ultimately (like their mothers) dismiss.

It wears you down. As experiences start to accumulate in their own lives, women reinterpret the responses to their childhood experiences as an act of care – a passing down of knowledge from one generation to the next, as one of my interviewees explained:

I think that’s why I probably remember the first time so well, because it was like this horrible thing that happened to me and I have something to say about it, but from then on, slowly over time, it’s become more and more normal, just part of life, your daily routine as my mum said to me. She knew.

Though I was talking to women about public space, successive reports have shown these experiences follow women across all areas of their lives. They follow young women into school, where almost 60% faced some form of sexual harassment in 2014. They follow women to university, where close to 70% experience sexual harassment. And, as recent events have reaffirmed, they follow women into the workplace. Not to mention the levels of sexual violence and assault that many women experience from men in their homes. All of which act to reinforce the very messages that prevent us from speaking. It must be about us because it keeps happening to us. And what happens just to us, doesn’t really matter.

This helps explain why women are actually coming forward to talk about their experiences now. The revelations about sexual harassment embedded in some of the core institutions around which we operate, from Hollywood to Westminister, have helped challenge the individualisation and dismissal that have typified responses to harassment since childhood. We are getting a different message: that sexual harassment is an individual manifestation of a structural problem. And structural problems have structural solutions. Now we need to shift the focus of our questions from why women are speaking up, to why are they only now being heard

Power Makes Men Oversexed & is Magnet fior Women

Studies prove that powerful men have higher libidos. But not all give in to their cavemen instincts like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey did!
Henry Kissinger said it when he claimed, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac!” What he did not specify is that this holds true both ways, and for women as well as for men. A person in a position of power has a high libido, and also becomes more attractive to others who find the power a turn-on.
And, while talk centres more on over-sexed powerful men, the same holds true for powerful women too. If reel is a good indicator of the real, then Television shows such as House of Cards and The Fall prove this beyond doubt. A powerful woman can be just as ruthless in desiring and grabbing an opportunity for sex and discarding the object of desire thereafter! We hear less of high-powered scandals involving women simply because there are fewer women in the upper echelons. Among the CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies, a mere 54 are women! Then again, women by nature are more cautious and take fewer, more studied risks. Women also do not feel as entitled to power as men do, and so do not settle into it comfortably.
Men get carried away by power, relating to it more naturally. Power opens the lid to their instinctive egotistical, arrogant and oversexed behavior. They feel entitled to anything they want, and expect others to do their bidding. Experts in male sexuality aver that when men see opportunity, they see no reason not to make the most of it. For these men, unlimited opportunities lead to uncontrolled desires and appetites. They fool themselves to the extent that they genuinely do not believe it when someone does not want them! It is here that they meet their Nemesis. Not believing the denial, they force their way through – and engineer their own fall from grace!
This is when a Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey happen! Uncontrollable impulse and a feeling of invincibility and omnipotence leads to exposure and a mess that takes over their entire existence and leads to self-defeating patterns. This is what happened to Weisntein with allegations of assault and harassment by 60 women! Kevin Spacey is everyday collecting more allegations of sexual harassment by male colleagues! Consider allegations against Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Arnold Schwarzenegger – the list goes on. In India we have sex scandals like N.D.Tiwari, Abhishek Manu Singhvi or Ram Rahim. The more high-profile ones (make no mistake, there are many!) are all ‘handled’ appropriately before they hit the scandal sheets!
Sex is indeed a powerful force, which society has taught both genders to rein in and apply to willing partners. Look at it biologically. Males of all organisms, more than females, are genetically wired to spread their seed to ensure the survival of genes. Humans are no different. Power corrupts both professionally and in romantic relationships and serves to blow the lid off the need for restraint and self-regulation in men.
So then, are all powerful men oversexed and debauch? Not necessarily. Different people need to struggle in varying degrees to control their urges. Some manage it easier than others and stay rational; others may indulge for a while and finally settle down, while yet others may either not see the need, or not be able to emerge from the debauched existence. Those are the ones who provide grist for the mill…

This world needs more masculinity, not less.

Are you aware that traditional masculinity is lethal and is destroying our nations? At least, this is what many people now genuinely believe. Boston Globe columnist Renée Graham wrote: “Literally and figuratively, TOXIC MASCULINITY IS KILLING US. Mass shootings. Domestic violence. Fatal fraternity hazing. Rape culture. Workplaces and schools turned into cesspools of sexual harassment and assault. This is not consigned to one race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic level. Feral masculinity affirms itself every day through violence and domination”
“Toxic masculinity” is now so big, it even has its own Wikipedia page. “The concept of toxic masculinity is used in the social sciences to describe traditional norms of behavior among men in contemporary America and European society that are associated with detrimental social and psychological effects. Such ‘toxic’ masculine norms include dominance, devaluation of women, extreme self-reliance, and the suppression of emotions.”
Isn’t this just a little frightening? If you are male and you subscribe to “traditional norms of behavior,” a growing number of people in this world, some in influential positions, consider you toxic. And what does one do with a toxic substance? You eradicate it.
You have no doubt heard about the revolting behavior of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Roger Ailes, and a host of other powerful men. It seems every day there are new allegations of sexual assault, new apologies, and, very often, resignations and firings. Here in the United Kingdom, politicians are resigning so fast one wonders if we’ll have enough left to run the country.
As despicable as all these accounts are (and some of them, let’s not forget, are alleged), doesn’t it feel as though something much more significant is going on here?
The truth is, these scandals are being hijacked by an army of amoral, anti-religious, anti-tradition individuals and institutions, who are using them to redefine, isolate and even eradicate traditional masculinity.
This sudden quest for sexual justice is happening at the same time as a somewhat related movement is taking off: the crusade to normalize transgenderism. This cause has advanced further in the last 10 months than in the last 2,000 years. The exploitation of these sex scandals to redefine manhood and the dramatic advance of transgender rights are both part of a larger, coordinated attack on true masculinity!
It’s working too. Today there are various programs, including university courses, designed to help men conquer “toxic masculinity.” Teachers, professors and intellectuals are attacking anything that promotes traditional masculinity, including classic literature and Disney movies. Across the planet, famous males are setting the example in purging themselves of characteristics associated with conventional masculinity.
There’s no doubt about it, traditional masculinity—already in retreat from decades of being undermined and assailed—is quickly being eradicated!
If you consider yourself a traditional man, or if you’re in a relationship with a traditional man, then you are a target. If you’re a male who exhibits “dominance”—perhaps you’re a bit of an extrovert, maybe you occasionally raise your voice, perhaps you are capable of giving an order or two—then you are a target. If you are a male who “suppresses his emotions”—who rarely sheds a tear, who rarely talks about his feelings—then you are a target. If you are a male who practices “extreme self-reliance,” then you are a target.
When you think about Harvey Weinstein and these other men, the fundamental problem is not traditional masculinity. The central issue here isn’t the masculine tendency to exert dominance or to treat women differently from men. At its core, this isn’t even about the abuse of power. The fundamental issue here is acute selfishness and vanity, and a desperate lack of self-discipline’ doesn’t justify their behavior, but it does explain it. Fundamentally, the cause of these problems is not traditional masculinity, it’s human nature.
Moreover, understanding the truth about human nature makes the solution to these problems patently obvious. Ultimately, the solution isn’t to wage war on traditional masculinity, it’s to wage war on human nature. And for men, this means developing more masculinity—that is, developing more right, proper, masculinity.
What is real masculinity? First, traditional masculinity as it’s understood today is not real masculinity. To be sure, some aspects of traditional masculinity are rooted in certain teaching and principles, but these principles have generally been misunderstood and misapplied. Moreover, traditional masculinity does not include the essential knowledge revealed in the scriptures about what it means to be a godly man. Traditional masculinity, for all its merits, is not real masculinity.
So what exactly is real masculinity? Ultimately, being masculine means using the power to conquer selfish human nature, and to fulfil the responsibilities that come with being a man. Being male, and particularly a husband and father, comes with various responsibilities. But fundamentally, a man’s job is to love and serve.
Love, honor, provide—are these toxic characteristics? These are the characteristics of true, biblical masculinity. These are traits that produce happiness and joy, that build stable, contented, thriving families and communities and nations.
Can you see it? The problem here isn’t toxic masculinity; it is toxic human nature. And the solution is conquering that human nature! For men who understand this reality, the way to conquer human nature is to embark on the Spirit-led, Spirit-infused crusade to develop real masculinity.


Technology & the Future of Work

How many of us can say, with certainty, what jobs we would choose if we were kids today? The pace of technological change in the time I’ve been in work is only a shadow of what we will see over the next 15 to 20 years. This next wave of change will fundamentally reshape all of our careers, my own included.
It’s estimated that some 65% of children entering primary schools today will likely work in roles that don’t currently exist.
We expect the pace of change in the job market to start to accelerate by 2020. Office and administrative functions, along with manufacturing and production roles, will see dramatic declines accounting for over six million roles over the next four years. Conversely, business and financial operations along with computer and mathematical functions will see steep rises.
There is a central driver for many of these transformations, and it is technology.
Artificial intelligence, 3D printing, resource-efficient sustainable production and robotics will factor into the ways we currently make, manage and mend products and deliver services. The latter two have the potential to create jobs in the architectural and engineering sectors, following high demand for advanced automated production systems.
When the World Economic Forum surveyed global HR decision-makers, some 44% pointed to new technologies enabling remote working, co-working space and teleconferencing as the principal driver of change. Concurrently, advances in mobile and cloud technology allowing remote and instant access were singled out as the most important technological driver of change, enabling the rapid spread of internet-based service models.
It’s worth reflecting on how we could imagine a changed world like this.
Our future place of work might not be an open plan office, but interconnected workspaces not tied to one place, but many. They will be underpinned by virtual conferencing, complete and constant connection and portability.
Our working day will be fundamentally different. Leveraging big data, like real-time traffic information, could cut journey times, making the school run easier, and the morning commute more manageable. That is, if you have to commute: home-working will no longer be defined as a Friday luxury, but a more efficient way to work enabled by technology, taking the physical strain from megacities and regionalising work locations.
Technology underpinning what futurologists have christened ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’ will enable disruptive business models to decentralise our economies as we move from value systems based on ownership to ones enabling access. Personally owned assets, from cars to spare bedrooms, will expand entrepreneurship, diversifying revenue streams. It’s no fluke that within three years of trading, home-sharing platform Airbnb offers more rooms than some of the biggest hotel chains.
These disruptive business models will fundamentally reshape how we do business, both individually and as companies. For example, digitally enabling smallholder farmers can allow them to operate as a collective, transferring knowledge and sharing vital learnings with each other from proper crop irrigation technology to water efficiency. Cloud-based analytics hosted on BT’s Expedite platform can assist in radically transforming such supply chains.
Critically, these very technologies might help us unlock the solutions to some of the biggest societal challenges we currently grapple with. The ICT underpinning these technologies, in consort with the transformational power of big data, could support smart systems that will help tackle climate challenges. Connected homes, factories and farms leveraging smart energy management systems could mean dramatically lower energy use, which would contribute to the decarbonisation of our economies.
And yet we must be vigilant. Not of technological change; we have the power and innovation to harness and use its power as we see fit. But of access to the connectivity and opportunity it brings.
What will be absolutely decisive is how we equip our children, our students and our colleagues to harness the power of this technology to transform our world for the better. That means ensuring the ICT skills of current school leavers are fit for the future. It means providing incentives for lifelong learning as the pace of technological advancement quickens. And it means reinventing the HR function, equipping it to continually assess and provide for the training needs of employees.
If we get this right the prize is clear. We have the potential to revolutionise the way we live and work and do it in a way that avoids the vicissitudes of previous industrial revolutions, creating new economic opportunities that, even as children, we would not have before imagined.
Lastly, we must use every tool within our armoury to ensure the current and future generations are not left behind in the global digital skills race.



The Lost Voice of Reason

What are the traits of a totalitarian regime? How does it take shape not just in banana republics but also in countries with matured methods of governance? Why does a large section of the elite fall in line and supports such a move considering it to be beneficial to the country in that particular frame of time?

History has a strange way of repeating itself and questions which were raised 75-100 years back are relevant again. In this modern world! In the age of social media, instant communication and at a time when many countries have adopted the Western concept of democracy. There is another difference from the past. Today matured democracies are turning totalitarian with majority support of its population. By choice and not by force!

The signs are ominous and worrisome for the world that we may leave for our children. At such times, the silence of the lambs is hard to bear as the wolves take over the reins. The phenomenon evolved with the right-wing forces led by the so-called ‘silent majority’ in the countries raising their voices against the policies of empathy, love, acceptance, mutual respect and dignity of life in their respective countries. Undue hate and divisive issues were mitigated where none existed to divide and rule over people by desperate political, religious and social interest groups.

Words of a disillusioned writer! Let us discuss the current scenario and in this article focus specifically on India. Decades back in a secular and stabilising democracy like India which was focusing on national growth, an issue of Babri Masjid was taken as a stepping stone to launch the rightist forces into top gear. With the support of the majority and lame duck governance, the rightist agenda was nurtured well to become a force that it is has become now.

Today Golwalkar is more relevant than Ambedkar, even Godse than Gandhi! India seems to have been taken over by self-declared nationalists, cow-vigilantes, religion bashing, hate spreading groups which seem to rule over the masses and at times even the government in power. It is difficult to speak anything against their agenda lest being declared anti-national and sedition charges or immediate jail being thrust upon you. Sometimes one does not even need to wait for that and the mob and the society deliver instant justice.

Words like liberal, secular, accepting our now labelled as abuses in India and so are such people distanced with. People love to carry their nationalism on their sleeves.

And yet at the cost of being subjected to the deepest of rebuke even from my own friend circle, I need to mention my thoughts clearly as we cannot allow India to go down the lines of a failed state like Pakistan or a cocoon-like Saudi Arabia.

I would support any person to eat anything that they desire including beef or pork and the state should not interfere over what one eats or drinks. And for the sake of sanity take action against the perpetrators of violence that take the law in their hand and are beastly enough to kill or torture humans in the name of protecting animals. The photograph of the body of a man draped in Indian tri-colour who was charged for the murder of another man accused of eating beef is something which is the most horrific abuse of national flag that we could see in our living history. It has happened and has been watched in silent support by the political masters and blessed by their presence.

We have our political battles to fight with Pakistan and terrorists and not Muslims. So stop abusing Muslims at various forums including social media. Stop making fun of Shah Rukh, Aamir or Salman because they at times speak out against the hatred brewing in the society. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians-all are equal citizens of this country and no one has to prove their allegiance to the country every time a madman goes berserk or a hostile nation invades our soil. Or even if they speak against the evils of our society!

Questioning the government in power or calling people from a hostile country as humans is not sedition. Stop perverts from putting any kind of censors on the thoughts of people like Ramya, Kulkarni, Bhatt, Karan Johar or the likes who have as much right to express their thoughts as the ones who differ from them. Stop throwing eggs on their cars, blackening their faces, putting frivolous cases against them in courts of law or throwing abuse at them at all forums. Above all stop showing your pseudo-nationalism by shouting at the top of your voice against such people.

Also even if India is at war with Pakistan and not just against a section of people branded as terrorists, let the government decide what is good for the state and what is not! Why should the people take the law in their hand? If the government feels that the relationship with Pakistan needs to be stopped then they are capable of stopping the issue of visas to Pakistani actors, business man or common people. Or do we feel that the government is incapable of acting in the right interests of the nation?

Speaking for and against religious thoughts is the way this great nation has built on its richness. A Buddha could enlighten with his views which differed from the majority views and still be allowed to speak. Mahavir, Nanak, Dayanand, Ramakrishna, Raja Ram Mohan, Kabir, Osho all stood against the narrow boundaries of religion created in those times and broadened our horizons with their vision. Why Hinduism is at danger now if anyone speaks against some practices or rituals and why should a mob threaten people from expressing their view or the state thrust a case for hurting religious sentiments? Alas in today’ India a Jesus would need to be crucified before his message travels far and wide.

Hinduism is more than the religion and is a way of life. It sets you free. ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ or one himself is God is also accepted or you could revere a Supreme force ‘Ohm’ or even thousands of its forms. One is free to choose and live cohesively and yet call oneself Hindu. Hinduism enables choice and is all accepting. ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’ or the entire universe is one family is the foundation stone of Hinduism. One where everyone is welcome and diversity is respected as a way of life!

To all the soothsayers, India has survived for centuries, nay thousands of years being secular, accepting and has been a true melting pot of all thoughts and cultures. We speak a multitude of languages, display various cultures, enjoy diverse traditions and yet are capable of living together. What has worked for ages will continue to work for times to come. Do not mitigate the atmosphere with your divisive, narrow and all controlling ways.

Totalitarianism is dead. Its champions like Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Gaddaffi, Suharto are not just dead but passé. We have no place for it and any reference to its proponents past or present like Kim Jong-un is detested by the modern world.

Right? Wrong. The truth is that totalitarianism has evolved, is alive and kicking and is in fact gaining in strength in almost all corners of the world. It has a new name and a new camouflage – Totalitarian democracy!

Totalitarian democracy creates a charade of liberty and citizen rights but derives its strength from the ‘will of majority’ or majoritarianism- a word gaining prominence in today’s world. It is created by the cunning of the leader who well and truly knows how to light the fire by fanning the sentiments of the majority, use that fire to burn down to ashes any obstacles on the way and then rule over the citizenry who start considering silent cemeteries as gardens of peace.

Liberty, equality, freedom- farcical democratic values in the eyes of such a maniacal leader are manipulated by stroking the primitive banalities of the majority view to create a regime which is totalitarian in thought and action.

In words of Herbert Marcuse in his book ‘One dimensional man’: “Liberty can be made into a powerful instrument of domination… Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves.” Totalitarian democracy is just that – a mirage of freedom and equality where in the name of enabling common good, the citizenry gleefully surrenders its rights to its masters. Where the citizens feel that they have done their duty by electing their representatives and then let their elected shepherd decide which direction the herd will tread. Where the leader has the right to suppress and crush the views of any individual or group without fear of any rebuke or reprisal from the collective.

The state through its own apparatus or its crusaders decides what the common good is for the people as it is supposed to rise above the individual. It is beyond the sensibility of the individual to decipher the truth and the state needs to decide between right and wrong.

Any person or institution that does not adhere to the common goal has no right to differ and serves no useful purpose. As a result they need to be silenced or eliminated.

The state decides what is right for you to drink and eat even if it may not be based on scientific evidence but on moral or social norms and one must follow that. If one dissents then one gets punished for rising against the state. Even lynched by the mob!

The state decides who is an enemy or a friend based on political, religious or market sentiments and the individual must follow. Any differing views may make you liable for the charge of sedition and opposing the state. Even being deported in certain countries!

The state decides what social norms should be followed and what are blasphemous. Any deviation can put your life and limbs to risk. I am not talking about the last century or medieval ages. I am referring to modern, vibrant, liberal democracies which are turning into totalitarian regimes.

The list is endless- The French state fighting the Burqini which is worn by not even 0.1% of their population to create Islamophobia, Indian states spending time and energy on cow protection and liquor bans than on issues related to governance, Saudis lashing atheists, Russians and many African and Asian nations imprisoning LGBT communities.

It is the people who have allowed fierce hate and anger to be built in their minds based on colour, religion, creed and region. Donald has just touched the raw cord and let loose the animal inside from its leash. Trump is not an aberration but a product of the system.

Chabahar- Base of Pakistan-Iran-India Tango

The operationalization of Chabahar port is significant because India has demonstrated its intention to play on the regional chessboard, even while it balances its own relations with the US and Iran. The old great game just got a new veneer
A new churning is taking place in the region, with India announcing its first shipment to Afghanistan, via the Chabahar port in Iran, and Pakistan’s army chief taking a delegation to Iran earlier this week for a series of meetings.
Has India’s Chabahar initiative caused Pakistan to re-engage with Iran? Or, is this a parallel development, addressing bilateral issues and the repercussions of Pakistan’s involvement in the Middle East?
Pakistan’s Iran Predicament
Since Zia ul-Haq’s time, Pakistan’s relationship with Iran has been tense, indifferent and sometimes, even hostile. Zia’s Islamisation strategies were perceived by Shia Tehran as the deepening of Sunnization, creating new stress in the bilateral relationship and emphasising sectarian faultlines inside Pakistan.
High-level visits between Iran and Pakistan became the exception. Afghanistan soon became a much more important neighbour, with the US using Pakistan as a cat’s paw in its own war against the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Meanwhile, Iran-US relations went through the wringer, even as Teheran was bogged down with other issues in the Middle East.
Despite the continuing political tension between Iran and Pakistan, both countries drew closely together on two other matters. First, Pakistani nuclear scientist A Q Khan drew a willing Iran into his own underground network of nuclear linkages that served both sides well. Second, smuggling between the Pakistan-Iran border, especially along the Makran coast, began to take place.
Enter the Middle East Cold War and the Islamic Military Alliance
But the political divide was exacerbated by Saudi Arabia’s expanding influence on Pakistan. Riyadh’s Islamic Military Alliance is now headed by Pakistan’s former army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif. Clearly, the Pakistani government isn’t terribly attracted to the idea, especially because its own Shias, between 30-40 million, are said to comprise about 10 per cent of the total 200 million population. Pakistan’s National Assembly has even discussed Raheel Sharif’s new job and pointed out that there is a need to go slow.
Was Raheel Sharif given the job because he was once the most powerful man in Pakistan and Pakistan is the only country in the Islamic world with a proven nuclear weapon capability ?.
Meanwhile, Teheran’s relations with Saudi Arabia began to deteriorate over the ongoing conflict in Yemen. Riyadh also seemed determined to isolate Qatar, in an attempt to consolidate its leadership in the Muslim Ummah. Its efforts to get the US on board this regional great game were enormously boosted with Donald Trump identifying Iran as the cause of instability in the Arab Islamic American summit in Riyadh in May 2017, even as King Salman looked on.
Certainly, Pakistan being a part of this Summit would not have gone down lightly in Tehran.
Chabahar: Trigger, not the Cause
The operationalization of Chabahar port by India has triggered the panic button within Pakistan. As Delhi faltered in its execution of Chabahar in recent years, Pakistan was cynical and even sarcastic; meanwhile there was the China-supported Gwadar port as well as the Beijing-funded China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, both projects being described as a “regional game changer”.
With Chabahar now in the mix, the regional great game has taken a new turn. Chabahar is not far from Gwadar. As the crow flies, the straight distance is only 171 km, while the road route doubles it to 356 km. Second, Chabahar is more than a port, it is the starting point of a trade and transit corridor that could become parallel to the CPEC as it cuts across Iran and into Afghanistan. Third and most importantly, New Delhi has big plans for Chabahar, to connect it to the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and opening it up to the passage of goods into Russia and onwards.
Gen Bajwa’s Visit: Should India be worried?
India’s political will to walk the talk with Chabahar has exaggerated the bilateral and regional predicament in Pakistan’s west. Islamabad would certainly like to repair its relations with Teheran. Gen. Bajwa’s visit to Iran must be seen in this context, when he met the Iranian president, its defence minister as well as the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
The army in Pakistan has always been all-powerful, but a trend towards greater consolidation of power can now be clearly seen. Gen. Bajwa’s visit to Iran was preceded by a trip to Kabul, where he also met President Ashraf Ghani as well as the top Afghan leadership. Both New Delhi and Teheran, now connected through the Chahabar thread, must be closely watching.
But despite the fanfare of the visit, Gen. Bajwa did not succeed in getting a succulent joint statement with the Iranians. Whatever was made public is mediocre and focussed on border security between the two countries relating hotline communication, border fencing and patrolling, intelligence sharing etc. The fact that Pakistan has to talk about establishing hotlines in 2017 shows the level of communication so far!
The powerful director-general of the media wing of Pakistan’s armed forces, ISPR, Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor, effusively thanked the Iranian Supreme Leader for a “supportive statement” on Kashmir and said, “It is a long pending dispute between India and Pakistan. Regional peace and security remains at stake unless it’s resolved to the aspiration of Kashmiris in line with UN Resolution.”
Predictably, the Pakistan media sought to project this as Iran’s Supreme leader throwing its “weight behind Pakistan on Kashmir”.
That’s why the operationalization of the Chabahar port in Iran is so significant. India has demonstrated its intention to play on the regional chessboard, even while it balances its own relations with the US and Iran. The old great game just got a new veneer.