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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Many Incarnations of Slavery

Yesterday, a discussion while taking juice at the juice centre turned towards the question of our opting to join public organisations like ISRO, DRDO etc. The usual pros -- service towards nation, direct social impact, lot of scope for creativity --, and cons -- organisational rigidity, leg-pulling, low salary, lack of motivation among colleagues --, were enumerated. I concluded that there's a lot of questions inside; and hence, at this point it's quite difficult to say if I would ever choose to join places like that. I also said that most of those problems do exist even in private organisations, but atleast they give you a fat salary. The salary is not desirable just for the money sake. It gives you an illusion of being valued by your organisation. Social progress in any form resulting from one's work is a very intangible thing. It's very difficult to feel proud of one's work targetted toward bigger benefit, unless the benefit has been indeed substantial.

One of us said that most of these MNCs are based in some other country; and what we produce goes directly for the benefit of those countries. For instance, some companies work directly for US defence. What we make goes directly to their defence. Given the the fact that India and USA aren't the best of friends as far as foriegn and defence policies are concerned, our work may in some way harm the interest of our country!

To this, I said 'slavery has many incarnations.' Earlier, the most dominant medium of power was arms and arsenal. People who had more of them subdued many other races, enslaved them, and used their labour as a means to become even more powerful, perhaps drawing freedom of the subjugated races further and further away from them.

Following are the distinguishing features of slavery:

  • Non-identification with the purpose of labour.
  • The largest benefactor of the result is someone else.
  • The output strengthens and perpetuates the plight of the victim. A poor gets stuck forever in poverty.


Going by this definition, our plight could be akin to slavery. We might be benefited in a marginal way by increase in employment etc. But, perhaps, by the very fact that such precious intellectual labour being generated from our developing nation has USA and other european countries as its main beneficiaries, our second position to these nations, due to the output of our very own labour, is getting more and more strengthened. When, God forbid, there's a question of choice about which one of the two will survive, we will stand no chance. Noone can promise that such a condition will never arise. With the given trends, it looks all the more looming large at the horizon!

There are many afterthoughts; and they are deluged in confusion!

Is it not true that we all are slaves all our lives? The society imposes its rules and regulations on us, keeping in view some common good. We, people, the smallest units of society, have only vague idea about the logic behind things which are good and bad. That, even if the effect of crime is subtracted, we know that the resultant structure, the society, is not completely fine. There're many social diseases at large. We have every reason to doubt with the rules we so obediently abide by all the time. Doubt is non-identification. Non-identification + obedience is slavery. If there'd been a complete faith that we aren't, as individuals, in a position to judge what's right and wrong, and think it best to believe in whatever rules have been put in place by the ruling powers of our times, it would immediately turn our slavery into loyalty.

Perhaps, even that statement is taking it beyond the truth. Blind-faith is one of the common weapons of a tyrrant to enforce slavery. When a slave doesn't even realise that he's a slave, he is going to be really useful slave. A questioning slave is soon going to free himself.

It seems that slavery is intangible, in lines of emotions, honestry, truth etc. Whether one is a slave or a free man can't be measured by tangible things. That perhaps adds an ammendment to our definition of slavery. The fact that the master gains much more than the slave is known the master.

If (1)the hirer wants to gain much more than the hiree, and (2) makes conscious attempts to use the output of the arrangement to perpetuate the arrangement, and (3) has the power to do that, it's slavery.

In (1) and (2) is true and (3) isn't, it's a monopolistic trade.
If (1) is true, (2) and (3) are not, it's trade.
If all are false, it's charity, or love or altruism, or some such stuff.

A society which is a market-place trying to discover the bigger-good through capitalistic methods seems an urealistic method of finding the bigger-good. There has to be an explicit knowledge of the bigger good with some body with some kind of power to implement it. Only then can there be any actual bigger good. A trade-like policy will continuously increase tensions all over on the economic fabric of the society, and may result in estrangement of minorities in many form. The overall process of slavery, subjugation and estrangement being distributed meticulously over such a large expanse of time, space and agencies, and not one person will ever be stared at for being greedier, crueller, more selfish than the social norms give him the sanctions for.

Well, I guess, we are digressing. I will treat this topic separately.
Let's end this blog here.

1 comment:

Pritesh said...

Sujju, I agree that it's a rather sorry state of affairs that we are effectively serving other countries when we ourselves have such fantastic brains in our very own land!!!!

ANd I like that statement about blind-faith! Often that leads to slavery of sorts....