Saturday, May 26, 2007

Saturation, Saturation Everywhere

Back in the early 2000s, the world was experiencing an economic boom - just like it had been experiencing an economic boom for a majority of the 20th century. There was always a place which was growing economically: be it Europe, Japan and the US in the 20th Century - or the mammoth economies of India and China (along with South America) in the 21st century.

The corporate model of society is not a stable model. It works, nay, flourishes in economies which are growing, economies where tomorrow is expected to be significantly more prosperous than today. The model will function as long as there are poor people in the world who need up-lifting. A demonstration can be affected by considering India, US and Japan in the early 21st century. Japan and the US were not growing fast. A 3% growth is really high growth. But India grew at 8-9% consistently. In saturated economies like Europe, U.S. and Japan, a business can succeed only by "snatching the pie from another's hands". In growing economies like India, new pies are baked.

This growth of the Indian (and Chinese) economies continuted until (roughly) 2049. By 2049, India looked like a developed country - and so was china. One just could not distinguish between the developed and the developing world.

You would think that this was reason to celebrate. But it was not really reason to celebrate. The "engines of growth" had been shut off. Companies could not get richer by increasing demand. The Google model of business ( beat the hell out of your competition) was the only one that could work.

So, picture this. The year: 2050. Everyone is happy because they are well off. The world is as well off as the US was in 2006. But all is not hunky-dory in the world. Corparations are no longer making those astronomical profits that they were used to earlier. It was almost as if you were denying a cocaine addict the white stuff.

But avenues of development, there were none. The year is 2069 now, and the era of human development is over. Don't get me wrong: this is an era of unprecedented and incomparable prosperity in the world. But the world isn't stable. Because "status quo" is just not good enough for the investor.

So, when Dr. Dasch came up with Bovine intelligence therapy, corporations listened. The Pandora's box was thus opened. Little did anybody know.

1. Ram Singh's Story

It was a Sunny Day in October in Mumbai. The Monsoons had just got over. They had been quite intense. They very getting more and more intense every year. This year was certainly no exception.

Ram Singh had a tough day. He worked as a porter in the Mumbai Railway station. He had always been a porter. His dad was a porter, so was his grand-dad, his great-grand-dad... ad . nauseam. So was his mother, his grandmother, his great-grandmother....

When he had started porting, he was just one in a sea of thousands of porters. But gradually the number of porters started to dwindle. People started using trolleys instead. Until finally, he realized, that there were no porters in the railway station but him.

Ram Singh was not an adventurous man by nature. Had he been more adventurous, he would have quit porting long ago. But he stuck on. Until he realized that this was not working anymore. He quit his job as a porter and he started to walk home.

Life is quite intriguing. Things happen, often, at the right place and time - almost as if by design. An a "thing" did happen to Ram Singh. Just as he was walking "home" (he lived alone in a hut in a back alley in the outskirts of Mumbai), he ran into Mr. Patel. Mr Patel was a grocer and he needed someone to stock his shop. Someone muscular. Ram Singh took the job immediately. The money was much better. He would earn five times what he would have earned as a porter.

The day was mentally tiring for Ram Singh. But it was a day which changed his life for the better. A day which, incidentally, was a significant milestone for Humanity in general.

Ram Singh woke up early next morning and got ready to go to work. He stumbled out from under the thatched roof in a shirt that he had procured from a landfill - and trousers that he had purchased in a moment of fancy a couple of months ago using a week's pay.

He opened his front door with the intent of walking out. But he could not. His path was blocked by a pretty woman wearing a business suit (with a mini - skirt) with a generous amount of orange lip-stick applied on her lip. She was holding a mic in her hand and there was a camera man at 45 degrees to him zooming into his face. And she then proceeded to ask him a question in perfect Hindi: "So, how does your new life feel?".

She was not the only one. There were at least twenty-five reporters awaiting this moment desperately. Of the twenty-five, eight were International. There was a reporter from BBC, one from CNN, one from Fox and another from a Russian Channel - not to mention a French, a Chinese and an Indonesian reporter.

To say that Ram Singh was taken aback would be stating a massively down-played fact. To say that Ram Singh stuttered, stammered, shivered, trembled and panicked would still be down-playing it a bit too. In reality, Ram Singh was mortified, but he did manage to vomit the following words (in bad Hindi) "What's the big deal?".

It was actually a really big deal. Ram Singh did not know that it was a big deal because he was an ignorant fool. Ram Singh was the last "extremely poor" man in India. His recent transition up the social ladder to "lower middle class" from "extreme poverty" was something for society to be proud of. India officially was no longer a poor country.

There were no "poor" countries in the world anymore. North Korea was prosperous and the Africans (whatever was left of them after the AIDS epidemics of the 2000s) were now more or less "middle class". Ram Singh, not only, until yesterday the only "extremely poor" man in India, but the only "extremely poor" man in the world. And hence the media circus.

A couple of cows then came up to him and the larger one said. "Sir, you are inspiration to us all. Even we, someday, hope to be as successful as your species.".

The year is 2069. And yes, cows can talk in 2069. This is certainly not Ram Singh's story. Neither is it the cows' story. But it is a story that begs to be told, nevertheless.