‘Peace’ is something everyone can sense, and yet, find difficult to define. Its complexity, and simplicity is reflected in our restricted definition of peace as an absence of war/violence, even though we sense it is far beyond that.
Peace is a concept that exists beyond the boundaries of empirical reality, but we seek it within the realms of empirical reality, where power has the final say. We conceive it as a static state, where a world view palatable to us will reign over all else.
But, is Peace what we define it to be?
Unless we see or infer beyond what we want to perceive, it may be difficult for us to understand any peace process or the realities governing acts of war or violence. The greatest fallacy we all fall prey to is negative peace as the final solution. A clear example of this is the ongoing declaration of all-out war between Israel and Palestine, even with the most advanced negative peace technology Israel has been unable to ensure negative peace for its citizens, and there remains the possibility that society will implode from within, given the limited scope for the governance system to totally isolate its population from the continuous conflict it is embroiled in.
The present negative peace strategy will bring peace neither to Israel nor Palestine. Afghanistan is another instance where negative peace has had limited success in attempts to democratize the governance system or ensure long lasting peace.
It is the over emphasis on negative peace which may have directly or indirectly exposed the human race to the realities of this ongoing pandemic. Our perception of Peace sees it as directly dependent on making others powerless, be it a different race, ideology, religion, culture or system of governance. To this end, countries are willing to try all forms of negative peace, for which they keep evolving the requisite knowledge, including that of Biological Warfare, knowing very well the possibility of accidental exposure to harmful experimental products. In this regard, all countries with resources and capabilities can be held culpable for strengthening this perception and making it possible for such approaches to survive.
We tend to forget that the human race belongs to a Universe that upholds diversity, at every instance, across generations. A path away from diversity may only mean our annihilation in course of time.
It may be useful to look at the present-day pandemic, not just for the scale of pain and chaos created but for the fact that it brought to the forefront the fact that all countries irrespective of their political ideology were caught off guard as none had given adequate importance to healthcare, especially healthcare among vulnerable, marginalized and discriminated groups.
Because the virus is very democratic in its interaction with the human race, even the elite could not feel safe and secure; to feel safe and secure it became pertinent that political parties upheld their promises to the marginal and poor in their country. What decades of debate, political assertions, human right struggles, could not attain, a tiny virus, invisible to the human eye, managed to do by instilling fear in the powerful forcing them to look beyond discriminatory policies?
A virus that could be terminated by a piece of soap brought change that international, national and local groups were unable to achieve for decades, but a price was paid, by all who fell victim to the virus or watched their loved one’s struggle for health care and felt the pain of loved ones being treated like dirt on demise (2).
Did the democratic virus bring about democratic change, not really, it but provided an opportunity for the mildest of negative peace to make a free display of its powers to create a sense of awe about ‘security’ with the help of the Fourth Industry. All countries considered it their fundamental right to shut borders not just to foreigners but to its own citizens stranded in other countries without hope of adequate care. Countries upheld their ‘rational’, discriminatory policy with pride. The focus was to ensure the numbers of those Positive remained manageable and Citizen Rights took a back seat. Governance across the globe ignored the Right of Citizens to privacy, to information, right to care, right to work and right to shelter.
Another reason for skepticism of the present style of governance is illustrated by Citizen responses to the Pandemic, they internalized the discriminatory approaches. In India, there were frequent news flashes of how in different states (at times districts) temporary borders had popped up, the assertion of such separation made a caricature of the concept of a nation, while at the same time the Central Government tried to highlight the need for citizens across states to identify as Indian for its tussle with neighbors at the national border. But Indian citizens did not have a great appetite for national identity, when they were struggling with this unknown, unseen virus.
Given the impetus for negative peace, the pandemic ensured there was scope for many a first time or increased discrimination against the vulnerable. Some of these as:
· A total blatant violation of the concept of the Rights of a patient, as families with patients lined up outside hospitals waiting in ambulances only to watch loved ones die, outside the hospital building (3). The state of Kerala has excellent healthcare facilities even in its public institutions, as compared to other states in India and the state was well prepared for oxygen and other needs but it still had to deal with many issues.
- Faced with discrimination and isolation, some infected individuals opted to shorten their stay on earth. Sadly, some of the children not infected also decided to call it day, unable to deal with the chaos and mental agony created by the pandemic (4.5)
- Cultural, religious and community norms took a backseat, when dealing with the deceased, instead international guidelines turned the new norm.
- Human interactions being seen as one culprit responsible for the spread saw live dynamic interaction being taken over by distant online interaction and communication of a different kind, be it for education, work, health care, purchase of goods of all types, participation in international events, even religious ceremonies were not insulated from the COVID preventive strategies.
- Restrictive mobility affected vulnerable groups, for it took away any chance for economic independence and stilled the scope for escaping violence within ones four walls.
The impact of restrictions on the quality of life, especially for children, elderly, differentially abled is yet to be explored to understand the extent of damage inflicted through the pandemic.
Reluctancy to give into fear:
Fear is an overpowering emotion, which can cripple individuals or nations, the only variation being in the speed and scale of its impact. But those who have nothing to lose, may be the last to give into fear. This is the one aspect the governance system ignored, while putting in place a complete lockdown as a solution to deal with the virus, it was done with minimal consideration of the challenges to those vulnerable with limited resources to fall back on, during any crisis. A limitation that could not be addressed by a display of Power!
When the Central Government declared a complete lock down for the country, migrant populations across India assumed the government had a plan in place to address issues after the lockdown. In complete faith, they used their limited resources to make ends meet during the lockdown. But reality turned a nightmare with repeated lockdowns and zero resources, these migrant populations refused to be immobilized with empty bellies to hold on to.
With little ones cradled in their arms, they decided to walk hundreds of kilometers on the way back home. Confronted with disobedience to national diktat, the police followed order to wield their lathis and arrested those voluntarily giving food to those trekking across states to but reach home. As the numbers of the migrant populations walking back expressing dissent increased, lathis lost their power and soon the Central and State governments had to listen to the voice of the masses. Highlighting the limitations of depending on negative peace.
We have elsewhere seen continued exposure to vulnerability and discrimination based on race, make fear take a back seat. The United States, despite its democratic declarations has been unable to see beyond Color in many instances, especially as preventive measures to address such forms of violence. The underlying assumption being that it is fine to use excessive force, whether debilitating or fatal, when addressing a perceived possibility of violence skewed towards members of the black community.
Not all were stilled and silenced by COVID, for COVID provided ample space for a reality check moment as ‘Black Lives Matter’ to happen. Assertions against racial discrimination have often been silenced by pure dispassionate institutionalized governance based on the knowledge that individuals caught in that cycle of everyday survival `would not be able to support voices asserting for equality or more rational policies on gun control. Salute to all in the United States, UK, and other countries who stood up for their rights and that of others, asserting that the Right to BE is beyond the clutches of a pandemic.
Keralites also witnessed an expression of the Right to BE, when a super spread was suspected where the fishing community resided. To control the infection, the government had Commandos patrol the streets and quarantine a large number of individuals suspected to be vulnerable to COVID. But, under the first wave of infections, the government machinery was ill-prepared to ensure quarantine of a large number of suspect cases. Many individuals found themselves being dislocated and held forcibly where even getting drinking water was a challenge. Unable to take these enforced undignified control measures, people took to the streets confronting the police. The sheer numbers of unarmed people asserting their right to BE ensured the state listened to the voices of its people. This led to a more participatory approach in pandemic management, but people had learned their lesson, the number of people willingly undergoing testing came down drastically (6,7,8).
Segregation, as a preventive measure raises concerns, when it also brings in asymptomatic individuals to one common location raising chances of increasing the viral load in that location. This when there is no specific treatment for asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms. There is an underlying thread to all these events and measures happening in Kerala and across the globe, that is this emphasis on negative peace in the subtlest form. It is only subsequently, that Kerala government gave the option of home quarantine for those who did not need hospital care.
Initially, when the WHO asserted that many countries were not making the right choices in dealing with the pandemic, they forgot one reality, when fear is static and provides no sign of hope, people make choices based on their reality rather than one driven by fear.
The eerie silence of COVID-19 has brought together two powerful forms of governance, an emphasis on negative peace as a strategy to deal with situations of conflict and a sudden assertion of the role of the digital world in everyday reality. All nation states embraced the new technology and took a keen interest in keeping the virus at bay even at the cost of citizen’s rights. Interestingly, Norway a country that often sets itself apart with its innovative and humane ways of addressing conflict, crime, and violence, did not think twice of using restrictive, controlling, invasive apps to keep the virus at bay. TV screens and social media were filled with political leaders vying with each other to project a low number of positive cases or the absence of any, as though, that was an indication of Good Governance!
A tunneled view of reality when States refused their citizens the right to return, a moral and legal right, when stranded in foreign lands, as part of the preventive measures in COVID management. How is that in any way Good Governance especially when citizens struggle in foreign lands for want of treatment and care. Isn’t the yardstick of humane State intervention more in line with upholding the rights of the infected, asymptomatic, and affected populations?
In the absence of any critical thinking on governance strategy, we may soon be putting in place a system of convenience, where negative peace and digital innovations would vie with each other or at times sync to ensure citizens are kept under tight control in times of any pandemic or conflict. This can become a new case scenario, a new ‘normal’, given the declining Total Fertility Rate (TFR), of many a developed and some developing countries with a fertility rate below the normal (2.1) rate required for natural population replacement.
These low population countries would then set the base for our manner of interaction with the Fourth Industry Digitization will turn a game changer in trade, manufacture, construction, mining, finance (be it the stock exchange or financial fraud) (9)
Countries with the highest fertility would then find the Fourth Industry enter their lives when their economic reality finds them hardly ready for the digital reality and available human resources would remain incapable of being economically and productively engaged.
The growing say of digital interaction in Governance of all activity calls for greater caution to be exercised in planning governance strategies as negative peace and digital reality play an ever more important role in human life.
This article seeks to explore how we let our reality define us without a critical review of the same, or thinking it through - be it in our held concept of Peace, when it is complex reality, in our attempts to create a common ground to deal with Conflict or build Peace.
Towards this, the article looks at three common grounds that exist in the present social reality – an Emphasis on Development, Use of Force/Negative Peace, and Use of Technology to create a common framework to address conflict, peace, and everyday existential reality. Interestingly, it is Fear that is the common thread that runs through our responses as we explore the scope and possibility of a sustained and viable common ground towards peace.
As our lives become slowly, but surely entrenched within evolving technology, the paper explores the implications of the same, not only on conflict/peace but also on our profile as human beings, which is especially relevant within the present context when COVID-19 is ensuring that social distancing is here to stay, in our lives and our minds. While social distancing is relevant within a temporary stage of the pandemic, as we try to understand an unseen enemy there is a need to be aware of the possible long-term impacts in case, we opt for strengthening Virtual Reality without the integration of humane dimensions.
Given the held view that virtual reality is the only option to increase our chances of survival. It turns important that we consider both Negative Peace and a Digital Reality turning enmeshed within Governance to avoid pitfalls that create conflict situations within populations
Seeking to define Peace
Peace is rarely static or extended over time without change, it exists within the span of a life in progress, which is dynamic and evolving. Yet, when we seek to define peace or war, we seek definitive characteristics for individuals or events or society, that have universal relevance over time. To make this possible we are selective in our perception and exploration of the concept of peace and war/violence.
Horowitz L. Irving (1973) (10) has given a comprehensive interpretation of various perspectives on peace - to name a few, Alfred North Whitehead’s emphasis on a continuous chain of becoming, inclusive of all species; the need to think beyond national sovereignty and the handing over of world affairs to the international community as put forward by Jacques Maritain.
George Santayana put up Reason, as the basis of individual inner harmony and collective societal harmony, while at the same time he upheld racial/ class differences and considered imperialism to be the age of good health. There is the pacifist dream found in Greek stoicism, in Judaic and Christian teachings. The ardent followers of Christ reinterpreted and asserted their right to use force through holy wars; it is Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi who asserted pacifism as a theoretical force and a practical way of life.
Bertrand Russell considered movement from conflict to harmony, a part of social evolution, and far more than reason, it is the impulse for conflict or harmony that set the path; Vladimir Lenin asserted the need to focus on the economic basis of war and its political characteristic.
The nation state was seen as a barrier to peace, for individualism alone can promote liberty and human cooperation, as Emery Reves considers world order within a society of free individuals and all invasive super-state to be the barrier to actual peace.
Albert Einstein saw peace as the highest form of human values that made the attainment of other values possible, and he saw international harmony possible through honest and courageous policy establishing security through supra-national foundations. The condition of material security was asserted by Kirtley Mather, who felt the need to get beyond “getting a living”, a possibility facilitated by science, through moving towards an “abundance of resources; the need for pragmatism was upheld by William James and John Dewey, while James disliked any form of bigness and felt “bigger the unit you deal with, the hollower, the more brutal”, Dewey, had his naive faith in the humanness of American international interest and felt unlike rivalry which is defined and nurtured by personality, war is a function of “social institution” that is constantly changing and war as a social institution can be destroyed.
The Universal individualism put forward by Ralph Barton Perry, considers ethics as central to human intellectual development and he focuses on the theory of interest (it is human to be for something and against something) and individuals and nations reveal both mutuality and struggle of interest in their dealings, to ensure the interest of State does not supersede that of the individual, a move towards this is to search for common survival ethics, where individual and ethics has a significant role to play. (ibid)
I. The Common Frame of Development-
way Beyond Discrimination
Peace or violence is rarely the result of an individual trait, disposition, or belief, that occurs in isolation from social reality. Whether it is Hitler or any other leader who demonstrated the violence of genocide, it was made possible not only by violence that existed in the minds of these individuals but also the existence of fear in the minds of individuals that made such scars on society, possible. The presence of fear, whereby rationality, logic, and critical thinking take leave, and blind-slave obedience takes hold creates a breeding ground that offers space, for violence.
Eminent scientists, philosophers. Sociologists and technologists have focused on society/nations for exploring war or peace. This viewpoint can be as diverse as “As long as spiritualism remains subordinate to materialism, peace is impossible” (Arnold Tonybee) to “Conflict occurs only in conditions of material scarcity”; when society and technology interact to create abundance of material resources to meet human’s need, peace exists, as it undercuts the egoistic drive for power and wealth.
The Theory of abundance assumes education would bring contextual change and reduce discriminatory behavior. But, do we give up our identities as defined by culture and community, for what is rational or right based. It seems we cling to our community or cultural identities, at any cost.
The complexity of addressing peace, conflict, or violence only through the theory of abundance is best illustrated when we take a closer look at gender-based discrimination, which when internalized as a member of a community or society, there is a desire to normalize discrimination and accept it and enforce it, as a way of life. To illustrate this, example of Kerala State, in South India is given below.
II. Gender Discrimination beyond the reach of Development- The State of Kerala (South India):
Kerala stands out among other Indian states in terms of gender sensitivity with a gender ratio of 1.084, whereas the national average is 0.940. It is densely populated with a density thrice that of the rest of India; at the same time, its population growth is far below the national average, and in 2011 Total Reproductive Rate (TFR) was 1.7, below the break-off point for the successful continuation of population. It has a literacy rate of 96.11% for the male population and 92.07% for the female (11). It has been designated the world’s first baby-friendly state, via its baby-friendly hospital initiative (12).
The relevance of the Kerala Model of development has however been a bone contention to some it indicates how access to land and empowering citizens, brought in positive change for Keralites, but its GDP reflected nothing to be proud of. It ensured a high-level of literacy irrespective of gender and better health indicators comparable to many a developed country. The role of education and the flow of events that led to people’s movements or organizations becoming an integral part of asserting people’s rights by all segments of the population, meant irrespective of its economic growth, the state population was highly empowered (13). At the same time, others indicate the difficulty in making the Kerala model viable for other places and point out that gender disparity is increasing with it being unfavorable towards the girl child aged between 0-6 years (14). Also, there are many instances of gender violence and the overlooking of women’s rights.
The reality of Kerala society is diverse, despite its women empowerment programs through self-help groups which have set up many financially viable initiatives in different areas and out of the box initiatives, such as organizing travel for older women who had never been outside their village, to other districts and states and yet gender sensitivity is not a part of everyday reality.
Gender discrimination stands out and overpowers everything else, especially when certain instances confront society. In the recent past there were three different instances when discriminatory and abusive behavior towards women came out in the open, only to evoke mild selective support from society for the victimized women.
Women empowerment as a concept has been defined and relevant interventions carried out to bring social change. Here the attempt is not to assert which theoretical framework is relevant to Change but rather to focus purely on whether Development can bring about the empowerment of women and end gender-based discrimination.
The right to self-actualization as an individual is central to the empowerment of women. For it includes not just the right to education, health, social justice, and right to land; but also, right over mind, to assert views and beliefs on issues relevant to being a citizen and a human being, and the space to act in accordance to it, as long as it does not impinge on rights of another citizen.
Theories on women empowerment evolved over the years are diverse in their focus. Broadly, focusing on issues as women welfare, women in development, women & development, and gender & development. The welfare approach is the least controversial, as the focus is on the reproductive area of life and not on women as productive persons; both women in development and women & development are conceptually centered around economic and social empowerment, even gender & development is also not very different given its focus on millennium goals, except for the fact there is an emphasis on gender-based disparity (15). But women empowerment finally comes down to cultural identity, community beliefs, and the highly held community honor; economic independence alone does not provide the strength crucial to stand one’s ground against all odds.
Kerala, as a state, has a development reality comparable to some developed countries, in areas of health and education, but Kerala has a long way to go before the Malayali (local) community, understands and accepts gender equality, though this should seem easy to Positive Peace or the Theory of Abundance. To illustrate, some examples have been looked at here within the context of the local reality.
The first instance, a case of an actress being held up, taken for a long ride, and assaulted. The accused, who allegedly planned the whole event to make a point with the actress, for a personal grudge, a famous star and the owner of a production company. The case is in Court, with the accused initially arrested being released. What is interesting here is that very few women, from the film industry, came out in support of the victim, but movie stars went on to express sympathy and support for the accused and a few even visited him, behind bars. The most striking statement was from a veteran actress, a part of the women’s committee meant to hear complaints of victimized women from the industry. According to her, the film industry was a family, and it hurt to see women go out seeking help, for their rights. Instead, all issues should have been kept within the group, for otherwise industry personnel would be taunted by the public. Like a family, the film community should sort out the issue within themselves was her suggestion to women sexually assaulted and harassed. (16,17,18,19)
The second instance, the recent attempts to silence call for Justice from Christian Nuns against a Bishop for sexual assault is another instance, where force was used to try and still the voices asserting the rights of women. A nun in Kerala was denied justice by her congregation on sexual assault by a Bishop had to approach the Law to seek protection and hold him accountable. Christians, from within the church and public voices, questioned her decision and cited obedience as the base for dealing with conflict, in a religious organization.
A handful of nuns went public in support of the victimized nun bearing placards as ‘We Demand Justice’. Sister Lucy went public in support of a sexually abused sister crying for Justice and her assertion of an identity and standing up for the Truth was seen as an assault on the Church which tried redefine Justice (20) Her call for Justice with other nuns did not go well with the convent administration, who prevented the nuns performing their religious duties. The local people then raised their voices against this and ensured such restrictions were lifted. The convent then decided to transfer the nun, with one being asked to relocate herself to the same state where the accused Bishop (out on bail) resided. The Nuns have refused to accept this unilateral, questionable transfer and they along with a group of social activists have taken the matter to Court.
On being forcefully shown the door and with no support from the Vatican, the sister approached the court for justice and managed to get a stay on her eviction.
The status of Nuns’ is complex remaining vulnerable to abuse. A Nun expressed their plight ever since the protest saying each day turned even more difficult in the convent, as a closed community discrimination and isolation remain a reality, every moment of their lives. The nuns who are part of the protest continue to live in fear as they know the Bishop, has powerful supporters within and outside the congregation. (21,22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27)
Unable to get justice, sister Lucy has decided to get her book “Karthavinte Namathil” or “In the name of God” published. The book focuses on abuse (physical, mental, and sexual), how novices are abused and have no scope for complaint, how counseling sessions become the context for sexual abuse, and the novice can’t protest against inappropriate behavior. For Sister Lucy writing about the reality of being a nun, or the traumatic part of it, was a way of asserting the rights of individuals who join the convent (28).
The third instance of public bias against women, came up with regard to the entry of women into a temple. They were not allowed if they were between the ages of 10 and 50 years. The reason for this restriction being twofold;
a) women being considered impure during their menstrual period, accepted as being between 10 & 50 years
b) the deity of the temple, Ayyappa, being an eternal brahmachari or celibate, and the presence of women could make him lose his celibacy. The devotees believe they must protect their Lord (not the other way around!) and his celibacy. Besides, the devotees who come for pilgrimage are also expected to lay off all non-vegetarian cuisine and avoid sex or desire for the same. These age-old practices had the silent support of the community and members of all political parties, and some of them are ardent believers of Ayyappa.
The issue was brought to court by a lawyer’s association, demanding that the fundamental rights of women be respected, and women devotees be allowed to enter the temple, irrespective of their age. After a decade of deliberation, the court verdict upheld the right of women devotees to enter the temple, without the age bar. This was unacceptable to many devotees, and the main political parties at the national and local level. The Kerala government (left ideology) decided to uphold the rights of the women devotee, their stand being that whoever approached the State for protection to visit the temple, would be allowed to do so.
What happened in the course of events (October 2018) is a clear illustration of the fact that the right of a woman is not seen as a priority by many and any attempts to change the existing mindset is aggressively dealt with. Large crowds took to the streets, asserting the need to uphold tradition. Interestingly, women, of all age groups and walks of life (professionals inclusive of advocates) shouted at the top of their voice, we have the right “not to be equal, to be discriminated against”. Surely, a first of its kind, in global history, especially when gender sensitivity is a major issue of concern at the global level.
Kerala witnessed women being threatened, physically assaulted, and their homes being surrounded and attacked, for trying to enter Sabarimala and complete their pilgrimage. A recount of the course of events throws light on how gender sensitivity does not even exist in the cultural frame of reference within the community.
The police presence within the temple premise was no obstacle to vigilante devotees, who had a field day asserting their view. Initially, police were almost sitting ducks, as the temple was surrounded by eight hills had different pathways to the temple. Whenever a woman from the banned age group was spotted, the ‘concerned vigilante’ devotee called out to others, who surrounded the woman.
While the protesters said their protest was peaceful, there was nothing peaceful about the visuals displayed live on TV. The political parties against any form of change in religious practice and devotes holding similar views resorted to strategies of psychological warfare; a huge crowd would encircle their prey resort to relentless loud chanting, threatening to throw coconuts, showering the traumatized women with abusive words and gestures. This behavior was meted out to every one of those who evaded their meticulous screening of verifying IDs, without any authority while looking for women from the banned age group.
Vigilante efforts of ardent devotees, to ensure celibacy of their Lord Ayaappa, led to women being tormented with a few being taken back from the site to the hospital in an ambulance (29,30, 31,32).
To ensure gender sensitivity being strengthened, the state government supported the efforts by different groups to assert the rights of minorities, inclusive of women, on 1st January 2019 to create a women’s wall stretching over 620 Km. This saw around 55 lakhs women joining and asserting their support (33,34).
Two women earlier chased away from Sabarimala temple, came back with other pilgrims (35). The women were taken and brought back by policemen in plain clothes and dressed as devotees. Information about their visit was then released by the police after the women reached a safe place. The final curtain for the events fell when the thantri (temple priest) shut the temple down and conducted purification rites, before opening the temple to the public.
About Sabarimala, there are certain issues of concern, especially given the strong support for tradition stated by political leaders, across party lines, at the state, and the center. But, isn’t this matter beyond whether State/Judiciary can interfere in religious matters.
- If, the court accepts the “logic” of devotees and political parties that it is acceptable to consider women as impure and ban their entry to temple premises. Then what prevents devotees from this community or other communities from extending that logic to other categories based on caste or ethnicity.
- The second assumption holding women responsible for the continued celibacy of the deity, or male pilgrims calls for rethinking legal provisions for the protection of women against violence and sexual abuse. Wouldn’t the acceptance of second assumption sanction the attitude that women are responsible for the sexual behavior of males. If the mere presence of women can disturb the Lord, then the mannerism and clothing of women can be held responsible for men’s sexual misbehavior. Thereby the abused women would end up as the accused and the perpetrator of sexual violence. Great!
What is interesting though is the fact prior to 1991 (when the entry of women to the temple was banned, by the High Court of Kerala) women did enter the temple for various functions without any ado. A public figure recently said on a TV debate that his naming ceremony was done in the temple and his mother was very much part of the ceremony
There are other instances of gender insensitivity that occur in the cyber world. It is the trend for individuals to capture shots of girls/women, they hold grudge against or even strangers; and then morph or de-contextualize and re-contextualize snapshots and put it on-line. A girl complained to the Police of a photo with her grandfather, a loving hug, found its way to a porn site after the necessary contextual changes were made. The women/girl victims are rarely aware of what happened and come to know about it, through others.
An ex seeking revenge may decide to morph photos and put them online, photos are often used to blackmail women. Women try to deal with it through police complaints or even pay to get the images off the web. Their struggles rarely successful except when the Police caught a ring involved in the activity.
A studio recording weddings and other social events set up a racket morphing pictures of women who participated in wedding celebrations, that found their way to porn sites. On receiving the complaint, police conducted a raid and found a huge number of morphed photos of women from the locality (37).
The reassertion of gender insensitivity was brought upfront when in June 2021, when three suicides of newly wedded women were reported in a single week, unable to deal with harassment for dowry, they decided to opt for the final act. Interestingly, one of the husbands being a soldier, another from the police department. Dowry is a reality in Kerala, which reportedly earlier gifted 8-10 kgs of gold ornaments, a car and that appetite for dowry has never abated, the demand continues. Strangely no one has any complaints about the practice per se, but on the extent of impossible demands. A reason for this, is that it is rare for family assets to be equally distributed between the male and female offspring. A move towards equality often hindered by the perception, that man is somehow a step above woman, a gap that is culturally impossible to get beyond (38).
The scope for this social reality changing any time soon is slim, as indicated by complexity of the situation for a recent judgement in another state ruled that gift given to the bride cannot be considered as dowry (39). Another reflection is the attitude of individuals in power, including women, as indicated by a recent incident in a live show on TV featuring the Women’s Commissioner for Kerala, a post meant to work towards empowerment of women and removal of social evils, inclusive of dowry. During a live chat with victims of harassment, the Commissioner expected to offer support and motivation to the victims; did not think about twice telling a girl, who sought the commissioner’s help that victim deserved her plight as she was not willing to complain to the police. This was not a stray incident, in another occasion, she questioned the relevance of a complaint filed on sexual abuse by an eighty-year-old woman (40).
Interestingly, on a previous occasion the state Women’s Commissioner told the media, for her, her party (of the left ideology) is Police and Court. The attitude of the Commissioner is a reflection of the limited impact the left party has on its own members to be able to make a successful dent on social evils within the society (41).
The Muslim community rarely raises the issues of gender discrimination, probably as they consider it a way of life. An indication that youth do think different is two women from a women’s wing within a Muslim political party who complained in vain about the inappropriate behavior of male party members, during a meeting. The party asked the male members to settle the dispute, to which they wrote back stating -We are innocent, if there has been any misunderstanding let’s talk and get beyond it (in brief). Unable to get any positive response victimized women took the issue to media and social media. Women felt their concerns were not addressed and one of the members stated that political parties should stop behaving as though- Male members are lords and female members their servants. The party’s final response was swift and sharp, they dissolved the committee of the women’s wing, basically threw out the complainants and set up a new committee. According to them, the matter is closed and it was time to move on. The women who raised the complaint have complained to the state Women’s Commissioner and the matter is “being addressed’. It is interesting to note that the Muslim political party did not think it worthy of attention to address the concerns of the women, inclusive even when they stated there was a veiled threat of scope to misuse the photos of hers and that one of close family members. (Sic- So much for women empowerment!) (42).
The case of Kerala indicates issues of gender discrimination cannot be addressed merely through measures based on the theory of abundance or provisions by the law. It would need further efforts to facilitate logical and critical thinking, which would require intervention at the level of the individual and community/society. (Personally, coming from Kerala and having spent significant number of years of my life in the state at different time periods of my life, have faced many instances of gender insensitivity from anonymous people, sadly even though years have passed Kerala has not changed much in terms of gender sensitivity and still have to assert my rights, including giving a police complaint. Kerala a state that has many positive aspects, but its gender insensitivity takes it all away, certainly not my idea of “God’s Own Country” (the term generally used to describe Kerala).
Gender abuse that breaks the weight of social stigma and comes out in the public, may be just tip of the iceberg, for there is another issue that often gets pushed under the carpet, the sexual abuse that occurs within institutions focusing on spiritual, mental, religious, tantric and black magic that form a significant part of social reality or belief system. Here there is scope for continued abuse for years, without ever being held accountable, in rare instance a single case may reach the media but only to be silenced in time. Along with sexual abuse, there is total dehumanization of the woman that happens, making them powerless to protest or hold the abuser/s accountable. As the abuse occur within an environ where abuser is totally in power, there is limited scope for incriminating evidence and the threat of being stigmatized for standing up for one’s rights is huge and may be unsurmountable for many women. The issues of abuse within yoga institution have been raised by a news article, and there have been stray instances of abuse being reported as occurring with Hindu Ashrams, abuse by Christian priests, including that of a priest fathering a child with an underaged girl, and also abuse by Muslim priests (43).
There is a need for the governance system to look into the issue and see how women can be empowered as not to feel enslaved by any powerful persona, or at least speak up when abuse happens. Probably holding institutions accountable may be relevant to deal with the issue, for otherwise abuse may continue without restraint.
Given the changes that can be brought in through Fourth Industry, the scope for abuse without leaving any incriminating evidence, could be far more real than it is perceived today. There is a need to look beyond the law, for creating a healthy environ for a girl child to grow and evolve.
III. Use of Force/negative Peace and Positive
Peace on a Dynamic Reality
With divine coexistence across faith being an evasive reality, we turn to the common mode of life or common linkages to ensure peaceful co-existence and focus on universalism or universal citizenship. But, our focus on negative peace continues to hold the fort in our search for peace and even in our measures for universal or regional citizenship.
We are not unfamiliar with disaster and the long-term destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons. Yet, after World War II. instead of making the threat of nuclear weapons a nightmare of the past, nations vied with each other to get nuclear technology and develop “national weapons of mass destruction”. The height of irrationality and misplaced national pride stood out, when Indians celebrated and joyfully shared sweets on India becoming a nuclear power, and keeping in line with negative peace strategy, Pakistan, also, became a nuclear power. To address our fear of elimination, the human race proliferated enough nuclear weapons to ensure our extinction.
According to SIPRI, nine states (United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) possess around 14,465 nuclear weapons, of which 3750 are deployed and 2000 kept in the state of high operational alert. From the global nuclear arsenal, 92% are with the United States and Russia, as per 2010 data they are reducing their deployed global forces and this reflects a global decline in the global nuclear arsenal race. But this is not the true picture as other smaller players continued to develop the nuclear arsenal. Both Russia and the United States may have opted to reduce their deployed forces but they are going all out to modernize their nuclear warheads, missiles and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapons production units (44).
Dealing with nuclear waste is another issue we have limited insight about, but we are not shy about piling them up. Our way of dealing with nuclear waste is set to destroy our environment. The US has found itself in a difficult position with its inability to plan or implement clear viable initiatives to dispose of both high and low-level nuclear waste. The USA had aimed at setting up the nation’s nuclear repository in Yucca Mountains, the site was selected in 1984 and the project was approved by 2002, but by 2019 all the plans for the nation’s nuclear waste repository came to a halt, given the strong opposition to the project. The USA has 121 nuclear waste sites in 39 states (45), and the only option of Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIP) is located in salt caverns 2000 ft below New Mexico. Drum by drum, weak nuclear waste (consisting of tools, clothes etc.), is entombed underground (46).
By the year 2015, the USA had over 70,000 metric tons of spent nuclear waste, in 121 sites, out of which over 88% is from the companies in the commercial power industry stored in 80 sites in 35 states (47) across the nation and with no concrete long-term plans. Some are contemplating using salt caverns for disposal of high-level nuclear waste, consisting of spent fuel which may be reused. Till a long-term plan is in place, many nuclear power plants in the United States have resorted to, onsite dry cask storage of waste in steel and concrete casks (48).
It has been stated that often civil nuclear power contributes towards development of nuclear power for non-civil purposes, for it makes research of scale possible through continuous provision of data and also provides required human resources. This probably may the reason why countries opt for civil nuclear power, for civil use ensures “economy of scale for manufacturers” (49).
If, the United States the most powerful player in negative peace, is unable to put in place any concrete plans for nuclear waste management, what would be the situation of other countries. At present there are nuclear power plants in 31 countries, largely in Europe, North America, East and South Asia, among them, the largest number of power plants are in the USA (99), France (58), China (46), Japan (42), Russia (37), South Korea (24), India (22), Canada (19) and Ukraine (15). Except for France with 71.7 % and Ukraine with 53.% of its power met through nuclear power plants, all the other countries with a large number of nuclear power plants are not dependent on nuclear power, the dependence is low among important nuclear powers, in China it is 4.2%, Japan 6.2% and India it stands at 3.3% (50).
Nuclear power dependence has been done away with in Italy, and many countries in Europe and Taiwan are considering phasing out their dependence on nuclear power. At the same time, China and other countries have no plans to call it a day, this even when the best laid plans of Japan were insufficient, to ensure smooth functioning of its safety system when a tsunami generated by an earthquake hit the nuclear plant, as the backup system meant to stabilize the reactor was disabled (51)
While natural disaster is something unpredictable, there is a predictable aspect of nuclear power, which we are unable to address or show prudence about - the way we handle nuclear waste. We tend to gloss over the fact that unlike the often stated period of 10,000 years for neutralization of nuclear waste, the requirement could be as long as one million years (52).
Those who are against nuclear proliferation are hoping that Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which has been ratified by 50 states, would set the path, as it establishes a comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons, including their development, deployment, possession, use and threat to use. The treaty is different from Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), that has been the base for nuclear order from 1965. While TPNW may offer a more rational choice, it would be difficult to get nuclear power states and its allies to change focus from NPT to TPNW. There is no clear indication has to how to facilitate the shit from NPT to TPNW and there is still no clarity on how nuclear waste would be managed (53).
III. a. Holding on to Negative Peace
Our desire to hold on to negative peace is evident from the fact that 39 countries are into the manufacture of modern armored fighting vehicles, some countries have a long list of patented products. Under the list of Military Vehicles, unique products have been named after alphabets with numbers (1-9) appended, there are hundreds of vehicles under M (54), a clear reflection of our passion for negative peace. Of course, the same applies to aircraft, submarines, laser weapons, the growing emphasis on cellular networks, microchips, semiconductors, and large-scale analytical engines; except for the fact that only a few countries have access to the required technology or knowledge (55).
The distance between countries with technical knowledge and skills is set to increase in years to come, given the increasing role of the digital industry. This will shape the ‘power distance’ between nations and will set the pace for international politics, including determining the scope and limits within which international agencies will have to function when dealing with issues between nations.
While access to technology may be elusive for countries, marketing strategies to ensure products are easily accessible to them is not. According to SPIRI, the diversification of arms suppliers, from mid-2000s, with technology transfer being part of the deal in some instances, meant emerging suppliers -Brazil, South Korea, Turkey and United Arab Emirates have a greater influence on regional conflicts, especially on the onset and duration of conflict in spite of lower volumes of trade in comparison to established companies. Their supplies are to Africa, Asia and Middle East, where most conflicts occur (56,57).
Diversification and transference of technology does complicate the situation of trade, but it may still be far too limited in comparison to the possibility of Fourth Industry technology playing a role in arms manufacture and trade. For example, how would it be possible to control the role of 3D Printing technology in this field, a reality that can seem tempting to both legit and other companies. A reality that would highlight the limitations of negative peace, at a pace faster than the imagination of nations passionately involved in asserting their might in ‘War games and strategies’.
The main exporter of major arms (2015-2019) was the USA with 36 per cent of the global share, followed by Russia 21 per cent, France 7.9 per cent and Germany 5.8 per cent and China 5.5 per cent. Interestingly, China is also the fifth largest importer of major arms with 4.3 per cent of the global share, other countries are Saudi Arabia with 12 per cent of the share, India with 9.2 per cent, Egypt 5.8 per cent and Australia 4.9 per cent (58).
Interestingly in recent years, the gulf region is a much sought-after destination, at times, receiving 52% of the arms exported. As stated by Dr. Aude Fleurant, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program, “The USA has further solidified its position as the world’s leading arms supplier, the USA has exported arms to at least 98 countries in the past five years; these deliveries often included advanced weapons such as combat aircraft, short-range cruise and ballistic missiles, and a large number of guided bombs (59).
The main beneficiaries of negative peace are the companies involved in the armaments industry and to some extent, the countries they originate from. Globally from the top 10 companies that benefit from the war economy, seven are based in the United States, one each in the United Kingdom, European Union, and Italy.
Earlier countries would consider the manufacturing of armaments a way of influencing the labor market, but this may be changing. Take for the instance the US deal with Saudi government, whereby till October 2015, Saudi had bought $14.5bn arms, but changing dynamics meant transferring manufacturing jobs to Saudi instead of the USA. As the Saudi government has put in place measures to ensure that 50% of Saudi arms deal was to be manufactured on its soil, by 2030 (59).
The USA is not rethinking its emphasis on negative peace, but focusing on ways to make it more pragmatic. This is reflected in its response to an untoward incident, as when the pilot missed the target and instead hit a school bus carrying 40 children and 10 adults. The pilot did not follow instructions, and kept a safe distance from the selected point of impact. The fatal incident caused unrest in the US, and many within the country asked for the arms deal to be scrapped. But, the promoters of negative peace saw it in a different light and suggested putting up gun cameras on Saudi and Emirati warplanes for tactical effectiveness (60).
When technology is seen purely as a way to ensure the grip of power in the international scenario, the present risks associated with conflict could change drastically. For example, the issues associated with pre-emptive strike could change, as to make it almost irrelevant. Nations could use technological innovations (e.g. Robo-soldiers, drones, other gadgets) and ensure there be no direct detectable link about their role in questionable acts. This shift would be a game changer, for it would create a privileged powerful group of countries, and powerless majority seeking protection through association. It would make present regulations inadequate, and moves to put in place relevant ones would be difficult and an up-hill task.
Despite systematic expenditure on ‘force’ to attain peace, harmony may give us the slip. This is the case with the Democratic Republic of Congo. United Nations has undertaken three missions to the Democratic Republic of Congo, since 1960; United Nations Operation in Congo (1960-1964) to deal with the Congo Crisis, the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (1999-2010) in the Second Congo War, and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Republic of Congo to address Kivu conflict. Peace enforced through the presence of peacekeepers is expensive, the expense for the year 2017-2018 was $ 1, 141, 848,100 (63). Hence, seeing this as a long-term solution is unrealistic.
But, instead of changing our strategy, we look for ways to strengthen the role of negative peace. A clear indication of the same is the shift in policy, whereby peacekeepers in Congo were given right to use force and bear arms as to intervene in local conflict, offering support to one warring group over another/others. This is a clear shift away from how peace operations were conceptualized and implemented for the first time, under United Nations Charter (64).
The situation of Congo continues to be far from harmonious, and though it has 70% of the world’s coltan (an important ingredient for computers and cell phones), a third of cobalt, and more than 30% of diamond reserves, the local population lives in poverty and in the Human Development Index Congo stands at 176 (65)
Congo is not an isolated example, the continued conflict in Angola or the persistent conflict in Israel-Palestine, the assertion of voices raised in protest in Kashmir and parts of North India all raise questions about the dependence on force to achieve peace. The assertive use of force to attain peace seems to set in a vicious circle whereby it is force, that entrenches itself in areas of conflict, and takes on different forms and symbols.
Our reality centers around the threat of force or its actual use, a fact across the globe. While some nations hold the key to force, through their nuclear and armaments industry; and other nations assert the role of force, through their political arrangements with the powerful players, through treaties or other agreements. The Australian step for a pact with the US, UK is one in that direction (66.)
The state of the nuclear and armament industry is rarely static, given the possibility of shifts in the arrangements between nations. The body of knowledge, using force as a strategy for peace, keeps evolving. At the best, it changes its focus from nuclear to armaments technology; or from direct action to deterrence, this shift offers more scope as it can be all-pervasive and can be implemented without eyebrows being raised. The acceptability of surveillance, on a 24x7 basis, has gained momentum with COVID-19 across many countries and is seen as a mark of great governance. The foothold gained is something the Fourth Industry and governance would be very reluctant to give up.
Globally, all strategies, activities towards positive peace are geared to function with force as it is base. Force has already gained acceptance in our mental frame, and we are not even aware of its presence and linkages. Force/Negative peace, once in place, would evolve and grow and rarely becomes redundant unless specific focus and measures are taken to dismantle it. Fear can strengthen our desire for force, especially when coupled with deterrence as the strategy for peace. A shift towards deterrence is seen in the use of armed drones, screening, risk assessment, surveillance of citizens both direct and indirect.
This shift has been facilitated by the pandemic when most countries have opted for instilling fear as the main strategy to address a health emergency, for it made virtual policing real and plausible under the umbrella of protecting the individual, even as it ensured many human rights violations go unquestioned. Evolving digitization and its conceptual mergence with negative peace, can increase the level of control and invasion of personal space, thereby make the concept of freedom and justice an evasive reality unless one diligently tries to understand and evolve beyond this complex reality. This can be a herculean task in many countries, where digital life has become our second shadow with the time series history available at the click of a button.
The scope for negative force to entrench within civil space is evident when individuals can be made homeless overnight, individuals can be denied housing for having got into financial trouble for an amount as low as $300 and it is not uncommon if you miss your rent by five days to have diligent cops at your doorsteps, with gun drawn to throw you out now as a marked criminal (67). This the reality of the United States, is the American Dream then an illusion created for the masses?
All micro level policing of issues among vulnerable populations is made possible for online databases on citizens, which provide records of all the crimes committed by individuals and house owners can easily access it, the process ensures vulnerable populations continue to remain in a difficult spot. Strange if prisoners, convicted for murders can be given a second chance, isn’t there at least a time period for which a crime of $300 should be remembered by the system, can an individual be punished for life, for the crime (ibid). The United States is not alone in thinking its system is being Just and Fair. The use of technology for surveillance governance is finding followers, with Kenya feeling online documentation and monitoring is the way to manage defaulters and keep everything smooth (68). It would be interesting to know how many countries would be willing to follow the same or even a very watered-down approach with regard to industries (be it with regard to taxes, or payment of bills due to the government) rather than wait for some to declare themselves pauper. Strange that Justice seems to skewed unfavorably to the vulnerable citizens.
When peace is associated with force, and positive peace bases itself on the presence of negative peace in the background, the process becomes a vicious circle, each feeding into the other. The existing force is feared, and all antagonism restrained, till the situation changes, to make any reaction possible, and this probably ensures a continued vulnerability to violence.
III. b. When Negative Peace Reigns, Positive
Peace gives us a Miss.
Focus on positive peace is central to many international interventions, whether by the United Nations or other agencies. Often, these interventions are initiated when there is a truce or some moment of calm between conflicts. No State can assert it adheres to positive peace without the protective shield of negative peace. Even countries with no standing army, are dependent on superpowers for protection as allies.
The greatest example of how force can be entrenched in a society, even if it has all the resources needed to ensure, positive peace does happen, is the United States. Its Constitution through the second Amendment asserts the role of Force for peace when it states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” (69). It is for the same reason that Black codes were put in place, to ensure black community members were disarmed. The third instance of an assertion of the right to use Force for peace came in 2008, when the Supreme Court (In District of Columbia v Heller) recognized the right of the individual to use firearms, independent of service in State militia for traditionally lawful purposes, by including self-defense as a rationale for bearing arms within a home (70).
The strong association between Force and peace has led to the growth of the arms industry within the United States, creating a flourishing business and the United States has the highest number of arms per 100 persons, it stands at 120.5 for United States (in 2017) and the next highest country being Yemen at 52.8 (71). The dependence on the use of force has led to gun violence which has adolescents and youth taking to the streets demanding a change in perception (72). Yet, their words of wisdom for a humane approach did not change the attitude to gun culture or the power of the gun lobby. Even COVID-19 increased the desire for firearms and made people seek it like an essential commodity (73).
On gun control two different narratives exists within American society and narratives evolve with us unless we make a conscious effort to change them. According to Heyes Cressida (2010) (74) in our everydayness through our interaction with entities and beings, we shape our identities, whether asserting certain values or moving towards change. These interactions could be with fellow beings, inanimate objects, living forms, and symbols. Those in support of bearing arms would associate guns with the safety of life and property, a sport, a skill to master, and even a passion. At the same time, a person for gun control would see it as a source of violence.
When living with AI, probably, the need of the hour may be to empower a younger generation to develop critical thinking when dealing with the complex existential reality of technology. Growing up in cultures where deterrence is an integral part of keeping away violence/conflict, peace is often associated with some sort of gadget or personnel, for ensuring security. Within such a context for peace to be thought about outside the world of gadgets (which can be the means but not the solution or goal) we must “think about peace and not just talk about it”.
III. c. Talking Peace instead of Thinking Peace
India is strengthening its foothold in ensuring negative peace is viable and sustainable, and positive peace is glossed over as something to be addressed when convenient. This is played out in the case of Kashmir, unable to deal with internal conflict and knowing very well that a plebiscite is never an option on the table. A recent measure by government of India made it very clear, how aware they are that peace is a very distant dream in Kashmir, when it pressurized the relatives of a State leader whom the local population respected to buried in the middle of the night, on his demise (75).
The Government of India, irrespective of the political party in power knows plebiscite is a No Go Zone to visit. For the population of Kashmir is greater than the combined population of Jammu and Ladakh, and there is also scope for support for the plebiscite from some individuals in Jammu and Ladakh.
There is an emotional, political need to address the Kashmir issue with an iron hand; as that was central to canvassing during elections for nationalist parties, it was not uncommon to highlight the security threat in Jammu & Kashmir, and even question the sense of nationalism based on religion. Another reflection of all-encompassing adherence to negative peace or singularity of approach, stood out when major nationalist party insinuated green color (often associated with Muslim religion) is anti-national.
Interestingly, negative peace has been the base of the Indian government’s peace strategy, for many years, to address internal conflict in Kashmir (76) and the North Eastern region, though the degree of force differed based on political ideology. There is often scope for the internal conflict in Kashmir to take on an international hue, a fact made possible because both India and Pakistan never addressed their promise to the people of Kashmir and decades went by with each country, blaming the other for the stalemate.
In the recent past, strong attempts have been made against asserting any differing perspectives in the Indian political and social reality. Murders of writers who question the system, is no longer rare, and it is not restricted to any specific region, and culprits rarely get sentenced. The recent uproar against tapping of mobiles of professionals from various fields, emphasize the desire to implement and sustain negative peace.
To gain advantage or assert a specific perspective, as part of the negative peace strategy, it is not uncommon to spread misconceptions to create discrimination. Take for example the statement, that Muslims are planning to take over and their population is increasing rapidly. This has been used in different contexts, inclusive of Kashmir. The sad reality is that academic papers have been written on this distorted fact, claiming that playing the population number game is a proxy war strategy practiced in Kashmir. According to the paper available online titled “Is there a demographic component of the proxy war in the Kashmir valley” indicates that there was a sudden increase in Total Fertilization Rate for Kashmir from 2.73 (2001) to 3.65 (2011) and in live birth increase is 63% in Kashmir, whereas in Jammu the increase only 19% and Ladakh there has been a decline. As for TFR of Hindus, it has gone below the replacement rate of 2.1 as it is 2.02 (77).
This when all other data sources indicate a decline in TFR, in 1981 it was 4.5, in 2009 it declined to 2.2 and it declined further in 2016 to 1.7 (78). In case the claims made regarding proxy war is true, what happened to all the children where did they disappear, how come such change is not reflected in the subsequent demographic details of the state.
At present many states in India are showing a decline in TFR, with it being below 2.1 the rate needed for population replacement; the states where the TFR is higher than the national average of 2.2, include Bihar at 3.3, Uttar Pradesh at 3.1, and Meghalaya at 2.9 (79). Are these an indication of proxy war, northern states trying to take over the southern region? Maybe the present Citizen’s Amendment Bill can be an attempt at proxy war, for religion is the base of ensuring citizenship to the refugees and it is rare for any country to explicitly assert such religious bias.
Along with questionable narratives, the institutionalization of force has been an important part of the negative peace strategy in India. This took an interesting turn when the Central Government decided overnight to do away with Article 370 applicable to Kashmir, Jammu, and Ladakh, a provision that made it possible for people from Jammu & Kashmir to hold on to their special status, have their separate constitution and hope for a plebiscite to determine their destiny.
The Indian government gave a new impetus to negative peace, when overnight it handed over the rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir on governance, to representatives of the Indian parliament, where a Nationalist party is in the majority, ensuring that the removal of Article 370 of the Constitution could be carried out against the will of the people. After that every step taken was to ensure there be peace, even if, it is but an enforced one. When an individual did manage to reach Kashmir, all that could be seen were empty streets, shutters down shops, and army personnel from different battalions prowling the streets, and this lasted for months. Strangely the Central Government saw these silent streets as a sign of peace and kept asserting at top of their voice, “Kashmir is peaceful and normal”.
While the Indian government is busy assuring the nation that everything is fine ‘sab change si’, and people in Kashmir are happy and welcome the Indian government decision, the reality is far from that. The efforts of the Indian government to enforce peace and silence the dissent is a clear example of negative peace being enforced under the guise of ensuring normalcy. To ensure their measures towards democracy are unquestionable - all political leaders, activists, with a different viewpoint regarding scrapping of Article 370, were arrested or detained. To leave no loopholes, adolescent boys and older were detained or arrested as they were perceived to be a threat to peace.
An illustration that people are not enjoying the so-called peace, is the plea for help, by two young teenage girls, according to them "We are not happy, every right has been removed. Our relatives are in jails if we talk against government action, we are under threat of being jailed. The Leader is Lying. They just want the land; they don't care about Kashmiris. We don't know what will happen to us for speaking. We don't know what is happening, I think I will go mad, she will go mad, all of us will go mad” (80).
Now, with statehood being taken away, the scope for people from the outside old state of Jammu and Kashmir, to invest and be part of the local reality exists, the region is going to face the problem of an increased land costs, disputes on land ownership (for there may be many families who have not regularized right or ownership over land), struggle for access to limited government jobs, and scope for small business being disturbed with e-commerce increasing. Will the present political and constitutional change, ensure sustained peace, this is difficult to envision when local people feel they have been trampled over and humiliated.
The silent empty streets became the symbol of peace, and to make things more palatable, the central administration has already identified land for sale for business initiatives, as part of development. Demarcation of land includes 10,000 kanals of land in Jammu and 12,000 Kanals of land in Kashmir, a data bank of land available will be created and those interested in investing could make their choice. It is interesting to note that while Jammu is very large in comparison to Kashmir, more land has been demarcated from Kashmir (81).
There is another aspect that is often ignored by the media, Kashmir valley may be a small part of the entire state or present Union Territory, but it is the most fertile and conducive to tourism. It would be difficult for Indians from the mainland to settle in Ladakh, but of course, it can be suitable for tourism for a short period, for a select crowd. When the Indian government speaks of land in Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh; it is focusing on land in Kashmir
After politically silencing the Kashmiri population and filling the place with army personnel, making it a highly militarized zone, the ruling political leaders shouted out loud how they are marching towards peace and that too in an inclusive manner. If, the present Indian way is the way to peace; then the military industry can be gleeful, they would soon have a vibrant market for their products, that otherwise during times of peace tend to reach their expiry date without seeing any action.
Areas under conflict would need to think about peace, with specific emphasis on understanding the sense, feeling, experience of discrimination. The study (84) points to role of even perceived discrimination increasing risk to violence and also how development and economic growth need to be inclusive and sustainable for peace processes to be viable. Inclusivity needs to part of the entire process, from decision making stage onwards and not as an afterthought at the stage of implementation.
While pathways to peace do offer scope for a more inclusive existence for groups that feel and experience a sense of discrimination. An issue that can be a cause for concern in the future given the growing acceptance and use of technology, is its focus on monitoring for managing risks for conflict or violence, for it could lead to invasive monitoring techniques and in the process the use of force as a preemptive measure to put a lid on any risk of violence. This would strengthen discrimination (pre-emptive strike at individual level with a lot of scope subjective biased interpretation), and such measures are certainly not inclusive. The possibility of such a shift is real given the general acceptance of surveillance and screening for future threats. Under such circumstance, planning for any inclusive strategy would be an uphill task.
Certain nuances of thinking that Heidegger focused on:
- Our essential nature is dependent on our thinking, what holds us, do so, only if, we on our part keep holding on to it.
- Memory is the gathering of thought and the convergence of it, especially what demands to be thought of above all else. It is not only the present but the recollection of thought, as well.
- Thinking is thinking, only when it pursues whatever speaks for a subject. It involves the readiness to listen, which allows us to surmount the boundaries in which customary views are confined, to reach a more open territory.
- A hindrance to thinking, would-be one-sided thinking, for “when man no longer sees the one side as one side, he has lost the sight of other sides”. When we view everything in an identical way, and everything is leveled to one level (ibid (17p)
United Nations and other agencies do carry out activities to initiate, sustain, and maintain peace. Some of the activities are education, research, gender-based programs, dialogue, and mediation to end the conflict, changing perception and attitude of communities towards each other, the participation of women in peace initiatives, sustainable development, networking, addressing human rights, and using non-violent methods for bringing change.
In line with what Heidegger said about thinking, within the context of peace, we have to consider two different aspects; as with the law of thinking which would be universal irrespective of the person involved in the process of thinking, similarly in security/peacebuilding there is universal acceptance of the role of balance of power or deterrence, especially at the international level, which exists often without the direct involvement of its citizens. Can this change?
At the same time, there is another aspect of thinking which is subjective and bases itself on perception, attitude, and capabilities of the man involved in thinking, - this refers to the local context, values, and attitudes of individuals in the conflict area. These realities may form the basis for diverse, cultural, religious, and ethnic identities, which in conflict areas may be central to the conflict.
These differences call upon us to think on peace. For when differences and conflict between groups continue despite focus on the middle path or finding a common ground to build on, as differences get pushed away to be categorized as dark areas difficult to address, and peace rarely finds a firm footing, and this needs to be addressed.
Diversity is a reality of life, but human beings prefer to turn a blind eye to its existence in matters of faith, identities, especially when the differences play a role in the access to and use of resources of the community or nation and exerts influence over systems of governance.
Hence, when focusing on peacebuilding, there is a need to think about peace. As pointed out by Heidegger, thinking is thinking, only when it pursues whatever speaks for a subject, here - peace. It involves a readiness to listen to the other’s memories, understands their everydayness, and thereby as indicated by Heidegger, readiness to listen, allows us to surmount the boundaries in which customary views are confined, and reach a more open territory.
It would be naive to think that within a conflict situation reaching open territory would be easy. But when awareness, interaction, and integration of other’s memories occur it is possible. That’s when the possibility for a middle path strengthens. For, then maybe, each person’s everydayness would include awareness about another’s everydayness, and a possibility of understanding diverse responses to conflict situations.
The discussion initiated by United States Institute of Peace (USIP), “A new Approach to Preventing Extremism in Fragile States”, considers the need for wholistic prevention where all government departments are on one page, and local people conceptualize and plan, instead of being but the implementer of programs that are transplanted from another culture. Extremism can then be held at bay by addressing the sense of injustice, providing better governance, and creating a sense they are being listened to. Otherwise, it would mean conflict takes on a different form and continues to remain active.
While the military was successful in taking back territory from ISIS and dismantling their infrastructure, ISIS, just transformed and began to appear as insurgent groups in different parts of the country and the neighborhood. To cite the report “In none of these conflicts has the United States and its partners have been able to completely contain or mitigate the threat. Instead after each supposed defeat, extremist groups return, having grown increasingly ambitious, innovative and deadly” (86)
V. Technology and evolving common linkages in
We live in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a term coined by Klaus Schwab (87), who pointed out how the new revolution would influence many aspects of our life, bringing positive change, simultaneously creating dark areas where discrepancies would widen between general population and innovators, investors, shareholders and probably high skilled workers who benefit from the change.
Our reality as we knew it, has been changing for some time and we integrated many shifts/makeovers to varying degrees, based on our location, work profile, class affiliation, age, gender, awareness of technology, and the perception of time management. The gradual alteration occurred when the internet became the connecting link between us and inanimate objects around us, whether they helped our functional everyday reality, or they assessed our capacity to be functional.
This paper does not focus on the innovations of the Fourth Industry in diverse fields or the immense benefit of automation, there are many books and articles that deal with the issue. At the same time most writers in the field, including the posts by World Economic Forum, state automation will free humans from repetitive tasks and help them to do things they care for and are creative. This repeated humanitarian goal, will soon lose its shine for:
- No one has an inkling what are supposed to be these creative and activities that all or a majority of humans care for.
- There seems to be a hint there are some activities that can be universally classified as creative, activities all will care for and would feel satisfied and fulfilled. Though no specifications are provided, suggestions are - the field of agriculture, art and care providing services. There is no clarity as to how these activities will be made viable, even within digitally organized options given the fact the number of individuals expected to join as aspirants is a large share of the present and future employee/independent work aspirants.
- A simple illustration would indicate the diversity in the perception of creativity, for a fashion designer being creative would involve focus on pattern, fabric, color, design, and embroidery. A person interested in embroidery, would focus in depth on the variety of stiches used, a person who takes job tasks on daily basis would focus on sewing buttons or sleeves. All tasks are per se repetitive, for example repetition seems obvious in case sewing buttons, but even for the designer the tasks are repetitive, while there is perceived difference in freedom of choice, reality may be a bit different. The button tailor has no option but the options available to the designer at first seems open and free but slowly market demand will come into play and the designer more than anyone else will realize his/her options are curtailed and not as free as it is conceived to be.
- While from the outside, it would seem that sewing a button is not a creative task, but anyone who does the activity knows there is a sense of satisfaction when even a small task is completed. When discarding activities and justifying that act on basis of a repetitive task absent of creativity there is a need to stop and think, for it reduces the number of options available to humans to feel a sense of satisfaction and feel worthy through a sense of independence.
- True, we have seen many ways in which innovation has changed the human way of living, but it is pertinent to remember that the journey was gradual, one directional and systematically reduced involvement of humans or gave us alternative options. But, with digitization, the inherent change that reduces the involvement of human skills and activities, with a focus on speed, accuracy and systematic improvement in scale and mergence to increase reach and scale. There is a difference in what changes electricity or automation without digitization brought about.
- Let’s take an illustration, earlier it was a common sight across India to have small shops where one could get things typed, in fact there were many in front of courts, government offices or other agencies providing public service. This changed with computers taking the place of a typewriter, the infrastructure or way of service provision remained the same, but their numbers were reduced. With e-governance the need for computer centers came down drastically. True many of the earlier computer service providers would have found other viable options. But, when we speak of changes through the Fourth Industry it is not computers replacing the typewriter, it is also about 3D printing taking over many things. Here the change is not in the service delivery, but it could be a change in the manufacture of all infrastructure, interior design products, office stationery that would influence many career options, jobs, training programs, research. There is also the option of offices turning virtual, and bots taking on services that humans provide, this is an emerging change.
- Yes, alternatives can evolve, but it can happen only within a digital world which focus on increasing technological involvement and reducing human involvement. The base skills or knowledge needed to opt for a career change would be viable for a few countries across the globe and a large section of population across countries would be kept out at the entry level.
- Of course, there are alternative work options, but the options by the logic underlying digitization and for the role of Fourth Industry would in any field be limited to the highly skilled and would always be open to further digitization and the reduction of any human role.
- It would mean a select percentage of the population in some countries and a token percentage of population from most countries can hope for a career in a digital world. If you doubt my analysis, let us take a simple example to illustrate the same. At present there are many medical labs or centers that are involved in providing x-ray facilities, blood testing, or eye testing service. Suppose the innovations planned take a positive turn, suppose mobiles become a viable option instead of machines, the process would be decentralized at the level of consumers with an option being centralized for raw data through digital monitoring. Fourth industry is the only industry that gets its raw material free or gets paid for accessing raw data, stealthily or not. The shift in use of technology would take away jobs, infrastructure (impact on real estate?), products used would become redundant, training courses irrelevant, functioning social networks of small groups and common knowledge shared nonexistent. When we speak of change through technology, it is not regarding a few jobs, there is something more to it.
- Another concept that is gaining support as a measure to deal social upheavals brought through digitization is Universal Income. It is seen as a way to ensure support for individuals as they go about life doing what they like in a productive manner. It is strange that this idea has come through as an option, of course there exists social security (it should be a right for all), but a majority of individuals do also hunt for jobs to make their lives more secure. It is rare to come across examples of individuals living on social security alone and leading healthy lives and then having functional productive ways of dealing with time, especially among marginal groups. Of course, individuals from the elite class may have many ways of leading productive lives, but that requires much more money than what any Universal Income can offer.
- There is also the other question, how many of us have skills and talents that can facilitate us to be productive while being unemployed. It is a small percentage of the population, who enjoy being creative against all odds. For the rest as a large percentage of the population, it would mean increased time spent on virtual reality, gaming, virtual sex trade, poker, be a part of raw data for accessing the impact of AI (be it with a chip or through subliminal manipulation (with or without a sensuous tint)), be part of promoters of robotic games, be a member on social-digital groups seeking for meaning in life outside the real world, or be part of extreme groups with or without a political, cultural, or religious agenda.
V.1 Technology, Contextual Reality and
Government, companies, and citizens may want to be part of the digital trail, but there are concerns raised about the security of data, and this has been seen in different instances, in India. For example, large numbers of discarded Aadhar cards (the Indian national digital link) were found by the wayside in Tamil Nadu (Southern State, India) (97). Whether these be forged or original cards, both raise issues of concerns, about the security of data and the system of digital identification as implemented; for this is not a stray incident.
Interestingly the government is trying to make governance more “secure”, or rather achieve its political agenda by going all out for the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) portraying it as the solution for democratic governance, for the process includes centralization and digitization. The process has created chaos, religious riots, and ensured the walls of discrimination are strengthened between people. The passion for centralization and digitization emerges from the basic fear that the Muslim population would have a larger vote bank share than the Hindu majority thus changing the political power play, this fear is often highlighted during the election (98,99).
While technology can bring in change, including transparency, there is a need to consider the local context, for while in an evolved system of governance, where the individual’s rights are largely respected, implementation and impact of digitization can be different. India is populous and a significant section of the population is not aware of their rights in the digital world. It is a country where the right to land and many other basic rights are only on paper and still citizens cast their votes, hoping one day their voices will be heard.
The introduction of robots in manufacturing has been a reality for decades, though its media coverage may be more recent. There has been a slow steady increase in production and the use of robots both in manufacturing and the service industry, with a downturn when political discomfort between China and US affected trade, but the pandemic set the ball rolling again (105).
V.2 Digitization and Our changing Worldhood(s)
- Experience determines what is conveyed to us through our perception, the way we perceive details, and how contents appear to us or how they present themselves to us. Often, we may be focusing on indexical content, for example, to guide someone to a specific location or find a local address, we would speak in terms of its location e.g., left or right of us. A doctor might refer to the texture and color of the infected skin. A researcher would focus on the concepts and their structural relationship when perceiving a researched topic or content. Besides, within our worldhood, we would be having certain set guidelines or ground rules which determine our experience and its assessment; which in turn shape our worldhood. For a flower would be perceived for its beauty by an artist, a botanist would think about its species, chemist might consider the chemical components and its medical or other chemical applications. This “specificity” of knowledge occurs with experience, and the individual can with a fleeting glance invoke many representations within the worldhood. At present, through technology, there is further distancing of our senses within knowledge creation or rather it makes visual reality the crucial or sole influencing factor in our experience of worldhood and even visual reality is based on technology, its capacity, and ability to be specific.
- Within this context, if we were to take the instance of the use of zoom to conduct classes, here the computer screen brings together different geographical spaces to one screen through the designated slots for each student/individual. It is humanly impossible to focus on many slots at the same time, while in a real classroom setting diverse students can come together and merge for a short time and the dynamics that evolve are real, continuous, dynamic, and whole. Whereas on a computer screen, the realities rarely merge, at the best there is merging of specific conversations, for even the visual representation is too fragmented to come together.
- How can these interactions create any lasting representations that can remain through time? In a real classroom setting, social interactions that happen even when class is going on, there is verbal and non-verbal communication, there are expressions of discord, punishment, rebellion, assertions of “I”, sense of belonging, creation of an “us” identity? The representations that evolve in our mind are often an interaction of different senses- touch, visual, auditory, olfactory, and there are often instances to reaffirm or contradict our representations which may be naturally occurring, or are forceful, conflictual, or emerge from search by a critical mind.
- In a virtual setting, there is no scope for any of these happening. The only time when any coming together that happens, is when there is an aberration from the normal expected course of events, whether positive or negative. What would be the implication of these aspects if online platforms become the way of life for work, education, and entertainment is yet to be thought through, but that does not seem to dissuade us from our futuristic plans within the Fourth Industry.
- Experience conceptualism refers to fact that a subject can experience an object x as x along with its characteristics F, only if the individual has the concepts of x and F, and deploys those concepts in his/her experience. This would be central to worldhoods we live in, especially related to work-life where conceptual clarity and being specific would be the rule, and it would be through an experience we reaffirm, modify or adapt the relevant concepts and this process is, often, dynamic. Real life interaction would make the experience, especially sense, imagination, and apperception, to be dynamic and relevant for knowledge to evolve within dynamic and changing reality.With technology these aspects would change, our worldhoods would not evolve with us but rather in terms of AI and not in terms of a dynamic and influx reality as we relate to and its interpretation. The extreme reality would be when brain-machine interaction becomes the only base for communication and interpretation. This would be true, even if, through Internet of Things and other methods live data is made available, for interpretation of digital data will always be in terms of the past. AI always deals with the past or interpreting the future through the frame of the past. But rarely deals with the dynamic reality of humans, where the interpretation of influx reality is dynamic, continuous, occurring at different levels of consciousness, and capable of diversity along with scope for integration despite its diversity.
Value of Worldhood-Knowledge
At present, in the reign of the digital age, there is a tendency to view humans as an open channel through which knowledge will pass through and human need not focus on evolving their mind as they anyway fall way behind their innovation- the intelligent computer in terms of speed, accuracy, and freedom of dimensions. It is sort of Tech-age slavery, where humans are supposed to lay down the mind and Being at the feet of machines and their patented special features, for the goal is to merge with AI and take on its AI characteristics and inadvertently modify human perception, analytical skills, integration and most of all its capacity for unity in synthesis across diversity. The present brain- machine interface, maybe a simplistic approach that can hamper the wealth of human knowledge and consciousness that has evolved through centuries and which no single individual, select groups, or countries have a right over.
Philosophers have focused on the value of knowledge, and as pointed out by Plato, "knowledge must be tied down to truth", and that is the difference between true belief and knowledge. While our cultural and domestic worldhoods may be governed by true belief or justified true belief, our professional worldhoods especially those related to science, directly or indirectly, would be focusing on knowledge (112).
Whether it be knowledge, true belief, or justified belief, all are gained or sharpened through experience; under such situations, if repetitive tasks of white collar work is considered apt for digitization or in extreme instance (as conceptualized by innovators of the future) human beings are considered to act as channels; how will human beings be exposed to experiences and its interpretation, a process that facilitate humans to gain universal concepts, specific or common skills that in turn make it possible for them to have, use, strengthen, pass on information, capacities and pathways to master and have true belief, justified belief and knowledge. In case the assumption is that human beings do not need these activities than the question still remains how do human beings maintain access to diversity in knowledge creation and evolution.
Philosophers have looked at different aspects when focusing on the value of knowledge: accuracy, reliability of the process, the validity/reliability of the source, and openness which refers to receptivity and capacity of the subject to accept, understand, process, integrate and master knowledge the individual is exposed to, in whatever form (ibid).
It is interesting to note that philosophers differentiated knowledge, as testimonial knowledge, intuitive knowledge, and knowledge when achievement occurs. The focus of philosophers has been on the active role of human beings, and that achievement occurs when successful performance is linked to skills and not to luck or any other factor. While Pritahard et al (112 ibid) in their article on the value of knowledge have explored the role of luck in making success possible, for example, an archer hitting her target for the arrows being nudged along by a gust of wind; that according to philosophers is not an achievement.
What tends to get ignored is that the luck factor, here the gust of wind, can be a reason for an individual to increase her/his mastery over archery. For example, an archer misses the target because of a gust of wind, the archer, becoming aware of this interference, may decide to consider it as a probable interference and rethink strategy keeping the influence of the wind in mind. Thereby the person increases his understanding of the issue at hand, probable both “knowledge how” and “knowledge that” about the gust of wind influencing the outcome of skilled archery.
Knowledge-how and Knowledge-that have been an issue of debate between philosophers whether it be to differentiate views based on intellectualism and anti-intellectualism, or to ascertain the added value in, knowledge-how or knowledge that and interchangeability of classifying one event or act or task under knowledge-how or knowledge that. Plato wrote on epistêmê (knowledge) and technê (craft or art) differentiating between them and yet, also added technê is ultimately a matter of epistêmê. Philosophers have a different take, on the extent of similarity between epistêmê and technê, according to John Gould, Plato was vague about the difference between knowledge-how and knowledge-that, and Socrates was not distinguishing between “knowledge how” and “knowledge-that” when asserting virtue is knowledge (ibid).
Is it possible that the present emphasis on knowledge-how and knowledge-that, arises from the way knowledge has evolved? Is it possible at present with technology the distance or differentiation between knowledge-how and knowledge-that has increased? For example, take the activity of fishing, earlier the fishermen used traditional fishing boats with minimal gadgets, what guided them out in the sea were experience, skill, and intuitive knowledge. At present fishing industry is upscale, vibrant, and diversified; there a few people who will have both “knowledge how” and “knowledge that” of the fishing industry as a whole. Even those who use traditional boats, which are not mechanized, depend on testimonial knowledge from mobile information on weather change or on the best location for fishing, and the kind of catch that is available in different locations.
While the present focus is to ignore the value of the body of knowledge that evolved through centuries transferred orally and intuitively and to strengthen specialized technology-based knowledge; a recent disaster in Kerala highlighted the relevance of knowledge we tend to ignore, classifying them as intuitive or justified belief.
Heavy rains that led to a threat of overflowing of eight dams, had the Kerala government open the dam gates almost simultaneously, it was done in the dead of night when all residents were asleep. They woke up hearing the gush of water and some realizing the gravity of the situation when they could not open their front door to check out - the strange sound outside. The night was filled with people screaming for help from flooded houses, but in vain for given the location and infrastructure layout restricted the help Navy could offer to evacuate by air and the disaster management teams with their small rafts struggled with gushing water flow, and could hardly address the problem at hand. It was the fishing community that voluntarily organized themselves and used their fishing boats to save the day.
That day, humanity stood tall for fishermen came with their boats from all sides, and saved around 60,000 people. When nature’s havoc prevented undertaking organized disaster interventions. It was the ordinary fishermen who organized themselves, worked out a strategy, and saved the day for all Keralites. A most striking humane scene was the spontaneous gesture of a fisherman; many women and elderly were unable to get on to the boat, they were struggling against the rising water to reach safety. Watching people struggle to climb onto the boat, the man lay down with his back hunched like a footboard for the vulnerable to walkover onto the boat. He did it with a smile. This act of kindness was remembered by the community who collectively built a nice house for the fisherman, and they handed over the key to him, at a community function (113 Kerala role of fisherfolk in floods).
If the traditional (intuitive and justified knowledge) had been absent, then many lives would have been lost. The state government has taken steps to integrate this knowledge base, by making them part of the rescue team to be trained in the use of technology and be available on call in case of an emergency. But this knowledge base would require continuous evolving, for field experience keeps the “knowledge how” and “knowledge that” both relevant and evolving.
VI)Creating Human-Machine Interface,
Explore the implications
Our association with human technology is diverse, it can range from simple input that makes our web search easy, for example, guiding our digital shopping based on earlier preferences, to the complex reality of Human-Machine Interface. While technology will keep evolving, we need to think through the implications of innovations we adopt, especially whether it could be redefining our human profile.
Interestingly Dr. Stephen Hawking expressed extreme concern about AI adversely affecting our lives, Elon Musk says he intends to create a human-machine interface where the change of human profile is ensured and is targeted for, as well. Elon Musk feels that since, humans will lose out to AI in terms of speed, accuracy, rate of success, and freedom of dimensions; the only scope for human survival is to join up with AI and evolve towards a different identity. His concern probably emerges from the conscious attempts by others to create conscious or self-aware machines (114). Which aims at subsequent progress to make all autonomous systems self-aware and capable of making and addressing any pitfalls that come all the way.
Irrespective of the goals whether to create conscious machines or change our reality and selves through augmentation of our senses or create a different embedded identity for humans; all are fraught with scope for our profile change, though the degree may vary.
Our great fascination for our tech creations can be pinpointed to a few basic characteristics, speed, accuracy, and penchant for success. But, is this the goal of human existence, to compete for speed, accuracy, and success; there is a need to explore the same.
Speed and accuracy
Time is precious and therefore everything has to be achieved within the shortest time. While for a machine, which is incapable of experiencing emotions, the only reality (though never internalized) would be the goal it has been set or iterated to achieve; for human time is relevant, not in itself, but based on contextual reality associated with it, directly or indirectly.
Our speed of carrying out a task would depend on:
- The individual carrying out the task, individuality and individual characteristics both make a difference, for a physical task would make physical stature of the individual important, for a mental task the individual’s interest, conceptual expertise regarding the task at hand, capacity to concentrate, all would have an impact on how and when the task is carried out. It would be rare to find individuals performing identically in all aspects for a task carried out, this may be difficult to achieve even for identical twins.
- The speed of carrying out a task could depend on contextual reality; for example, the same task when done in an emergency as against a normal situation would be carried out at a different pace. Contextual reality will not change the response time of a robot or AI
- Our knowledge-how and knowledge-that regarding the task can increase our speed, based on our knowledge or accuracy of information or personal significance of result aimed at. A sportsperson would keep competing with self to get a better personal achievement but that is linked to the scope for winning, for self, nation, family, etc. We can also focus on speed and accuracy when solving a puzzle, but rarely are we enthusiastic about it if the result does not have a personal meaning.
At present we are fascinated by AI and see it as a singular reality that can make our lives a success and, some of us yearn to ensure AI and their innovators and patents are at the center of all things. The question that needs to be asked is whether we need to be careful about our desire to hand over our worldhoods, our thinking, our experience, and our lifestyles, totally, to AI. For the AI there is only Yes / No which may take a detour through if and else, but there is little scope for maybe, not sure, or undecided, that plays a role in the evolution of our knowledge. Even when AI does not need training data sets, often the focus is on replication or analysis of visual stimuli or patterns, and nothing beyond. Even if AI manages to integrate all our senses, it would never be able to relate to real-life diverse dynamics.
Towards a reduced reality, but an accentuated one?
Life is dynamic, diverse and its dimensions unpredictable, except as probabilities; this is not a world vision that AI or machines can comprehend. To ensure dynamic reality is acceptable to the machines, it is first reduced in terms of entities, specific contextual realities, that focus on specific senses (largely visual, and in case of other senses the result is translated to visual forms or “judgements”), type of movements and the sense or response to specific situation/stimuli is accentuated.
Our responses to the same stimulus can be very diverse, as is the senses we depend on for carrying out a given task or when responding to a stimulus. For e.g., when cooking an individual could focus on time to determine whether ingredients have been cooked as per requirement, others might focus on the stimuli from the gadget used, others wait for the right smell or aroma, and for some, the texture, feel, or the taste of cooked item is important. It is the diversity that makes the human profile rich and with immense scope for evolution.
Would we want to accentuate one of our senses over all else and make it universally relevant based on the task, and if yes, towards what purpose. Our dependence on any one of our senses is personal and task-specific, for example, our sense of smell is irrelevant to learn music. Our dependence on our senses, integration of these varied experiences into one wholistic real life experience forming it as part of our consciousness of self and our environment, is our unique human reality, very different from machine reality.
To ensure a scope to create self-awareness among machines, the definition of consciousness or self-awareness is redefined as awareness about the next task to be carried out or the next step, which is considered to be the capacity to see the self into the future (104). When we seek to redefine ourselves by handing over the interpretation of all our reality to technology, especially when we are seeking for human-machine interface or when handing our active roles to “conscious machines”; it is necessary to be cautious about the fact that we may be opting for a reduced state of reality or awareness, no matter how augmented or accentuated or accurate and prompt it may seem.
Since assumptions-based decisions are a crucial part of the process, isn’t it possible:
- There is a static energy field, it is uniform across the human form including the brain, and any variation in it is reflected as electromagnetic response or stimuli. Measuring these resultant stimuli and its simulation accurately reflect the variation (increase or decrease) in stimulation occurring within the human brain. When we seek to repeat the process outside the human body, is it fair to assume measured stimuli is the only reality to be considered?
- Suppose there is a link between genetic response and that of cultural inheritance (or oblique transmission focused on by Darwin (117) ) which is dynamic and connected and never static. How is it ever possible for such a dynamic relation, to be recreated in a simulation?
- What if there are energy fields or stimuli generated that are not captured by existing measuring tools. Won’t we be missing the point when we capture partial reality and make it a definite reference frame?
Creating Definite Frames
- Creating a common link, this made possible by the assumption that all communications within the brain are through electromagnetic impulses, and since machines can capture, interpret and manipulate these impulses, there is scope for a common frame and through which human-machine interface can become a reality and human beings can be augmented to enhance any sought-after capabilities, skill or awareness.
- To understand the data received, be it within the brain or through the Internet of things, there is a need to have associations with human thinking, action, and movement in congruence with other entities, beings, and as it happens within the given space and time. To reinterpret this information for making it technology savvy, artificial weak intelligence, artificial general intelligence or artificial superintelligence can be used. All three require data to be classified in some form or other, while artificial weak intelligence may require step by step direction or overall guidance, be it through the decision tree, random forest, support vector machine. (118) Even when unsupervised learning is opted for and the process of creating training data sets requires sorting based on similarity and subsequently the dimensionality is reduced as per the need for analysis.
- While statistics have been part of our lives, in interpreting reality or scientific searches of various kinds, it has not included a systematic, comprehensive, almost an expression of singularity in interpreting reality for human beings. With the human-machine interface, there is scope for becoming definitive and for Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning turning an integral part of the human profile, and this definitiveness is an issue of concern for us as a human race.
- There are statements made that machines can be intuitive or AI can imitate human intuitiveness. Is this possible? This does not seem likely. As long the machine depends on machine language and algorithms are dependent on definiteness, whether created through classification methods or creation of training data sets through layered learning and subsequent approximation; there is limited scope for intuitive or phenomenological knowledge becoming part of new technology. Of course, intuitiveness, phenomenology can be reinterpreted as has been done in the case of a priori.
- The limitation regarding intuitive knowledge is its definitiveness given the nature of Machine Learning, the machine understands 0 and 1 or commutation of the sequence of 01, and it indicates machine language is definite. As Kant pointed out human beings think intuitively about and in mathematics. For which he cites the example of 7+3= 10, the number 10 contains neither the digit 7 or 3. And yet we intuitive understand and integrate the addition. This kind of intuitiveness and this kind of process is not a part of machine language or learning. Isn’t intuitive thinking relevant (as is other naturally occurring mental activities such as correcting the error or filling in the gaps etc.), for human survival and evolution?
- Let’s take another example, the role of space in our experience of reality, whether it is a visual reality or in other states of awareness, for us space is rarely something irrelevant or non-existent. Whether it is in our interior decoration, or the building of infrastructure, or space allocation in public or private vehicles, seating arrangements in public spaces, or even the spacing of lines and characters within our written text.
- Space is relevant, though, at times we focus on space intuitively without giving specific attention to it. At the same time, space is not considered relevant in computer programing (XML), it gets maximum attention when there is scope for humans to relate to it. In other instance it is given a definitive form be it through character representation, or enclosing it within quotes as in Python (119).
- As humans, for us space is something that extends beyond us, we miss it most when we sense its absence - when standing in a crowded place, or in a room overcrowded with things. It is only for emotional reasons we compromise on our personal space, or when forced to for survival reasons. Humans can never consider space on the same lines as AI, for space plays a role in the definition of self, life and Being.
Our profile evolves in a dynamic reality, shaped by us, other beings, entities, and space itself; with time playing a role, but it is not devoid of being influenced by the individual’s subjective sense of time. It is within this context that the Fourth Industry affects us and our lives, it has slowly left very little area unaffected. Most countries that have adopted the Fourth Industry, have done it in the manufacturing, service, pharmaceutical, and agricultural sectors. It is far more prevalent in the manufacturing sectors and its influence in agriculture is restricted to some countries, for the present. The impact on the service sector is increasing rapidly, largely facilitated by the reality of the pandemic and our vulnerability.
When we are part of IOT or under surveillance, this process of interaction happens with data collected being transferred into a system, and further interaction with a human may or may not happen.
Here there is communication but it is static for it is based on data already available with AI, it can be the process detection in case of ailments, or communication with a Humanoid (social robots) or virtual partner. While the interaction of health concerns, leads to further movement away from AI, in the case of humanoid or virtual partner it is a permanent static interaction that does not evolve as it would in real-life human interaction.
A reality that has been, part of the manufacturing industry for some time, and that which is getting a hold of the service sector as well. The body of worldhood is digitally captured and transferred to a training data set of AI to make robotics possible. It makes the process faster and accurate, as seen in the case of the manufacturing of cars or other products, but it takes away a worldhood or part of worldhood that exists within the human conceptual frame.
Structuralism focuses on atomized version of knowledge, with a view that all perceptions and even abstract thought is strictly constructed from lower level sensations that are related solely by being associated in space and time. Gestalt (120), with its focus on the whole, pointed out that the psychological whole has a priority over its parts and the structure of the whole define the parts. It is the focus on whole and subsequent focus on details that makes it possible for us to see a circle, even if there are only dashes that are arranged in a circular manner.
When considering the various worldhoods that we are part of, the fundamental principle of Prägnanz (pithiness) with regard to perceptual grouping, which states we tend to experience things as regular, orderly, symmetrical and simple. Koffka said about perceptual grouping, “Of several geometrically possible organizations that one will actually occur which possess the best, simplest and most stable shape”, this is relevant in knowledge creation as well.
Not unlike perceptual grouping, the knowledge creation within worldhoods also seeks for simple, stable, conceptual frameworks. It is this basic human nature, that futurists are at odds with, for they feel that human beings possess the necessary intricate and complex organs to heighten our senses, yet what we sense is very basic and simple. They feel the need to augment our senses, since our natural response is to side step complexity, they try to know our senses, they study the neural responses, recreate them and augment them with AI and then integrate the changed responses within our reality so that we respond to life through our augmented senses.
What is ignored is the possibility of being ‘lost in perfection’; when we seek augmented and perfect sensory experience of our reality there are many simple law of gestalt which may not work and thereby make the experience of simple reality a distant dream, and with it restrict the scope for innovation, thinking out of box and turn the Einstulleng effect difficult to get beyond (121). Einstellung is the development of a mechanized state of mind, or a person’s predisposition to stick to a learned pattern of solving a problem, though better methods of solving the problem exist. Within the context of the Fourth Industry, it could mean sticking to the fastest and accurate route, thereby losing out on diversity, novelty, exploration and dealing with an unknown.
Max Werheimer (122) distinguished two kinds of thinking, productive thinking and reproductive thinking; while productive thinking uses insight (a quick, creative, unplanned response to solutions) to solve a problem, reproductive thinking solves problems based on previous thinking or proceeding algorithmically as a problem solver reproduces a series of steps from memory or by trial and error.
Law of similarity: Within an assortment of objects, elements that are similar will be grouped together (Fig.1). When a group of circles, containing light and dark colored are arranged in a manner that in a vertical row, light and dark circles are kept alternatively. We will see horizontal lines of dark and light circles, even if there are no lines.
Law of Closure: Emphasize that people perceive complete figures, even when the figure is incomplete, they ignore the gaps the figures may contain. We see a triangle in the figure on the right when there is none.
Computers are unfamiliar with this process and it would show syntax error, for completing something or error correction is part of human nature and not that of of computers.
Law of past experience
We categorize visual stimuli based on past experience, under certain circumstances and not based on law of closure. For example, when a person familiar with the English language comes across the letters “L” “I” she will read it as letter L and I and not group them together and seek closure. This is one Law that is applicable to computers as to human beings, but with humans there are many other laws that impact knowledge creation.
Within the worldhood of work, education or human interaction we do create our body of knowledge based on past experience, desire for closure, grouping and conceptual proximity. A cynical application can be seen in the case of gossip, giving prejudicial meaning when there is none, and the same is justified based on past experience. When considering worldhoods, we coin acronyms or symbols to communicate, these often based on broad theoretical understanding which have many gaps but we ignore them and create symbols, for example red ribbon for AIDS or blue (pink) one for cancer.
Insight is crucial to our comprehension of our worldhood and for its evolution, Perkins believed it involved a three process- unconscious leap in thinking, speedier mental processing and an amount of short circuiting that occurs in normal reasoning. The laws of gestalt could be considered part of the normal reasoning process.
Human signature in Knowledge creation
The value of human mind and its capabilities is highlighted when we compare it with knowledge creation through machine language or robotics. Often the focus is on how inferior human beings are to machines, in terms of speed, accuracy and scale. But there is another side to this reality, human characteristics that may be difficult or even impossible for intelligent machines to attain.
· Making Perspective Change Possible
Structuralism is relevant when considering knowledge creation whereby complex ideas emerge from the association of simpler ideas, but for perspective change there is a need for a leap in thinking, that calls for insightful thinking. These out of the box discoveries, can be seen in action as in the discovery of the gravitational force or in the hypothesis of relativity.
Even in the case of disease management theory, it is only by moving out of the concept of addiction that concepts of legalization, use of legalization for controlled use of soft drugs could emerge within the body of knowledge of drug policy. This cannot happen in case the focus is purely on algorithmic or reproductive knowledge creation.
· Subjective reality and Knowledge creation
Emotions are not a hurdle in knowledge creation, but may be the crux for its search and evolution. Both positive and negative bonding can be impetus for our knowledge search, the later can be seen in many cases of nuclear power, where fear and need for control led to a passionate search. At times even in the absence of clear goal, human beings keep passionately searching, something unimaginable if we were only to live life the algorithmic way
Human consciousness and our way of life
Theories of consciousness and attempts to explore consciousness in scientific way, whether with physical matter as the base or non-physical matter, is quite recent. Yet, consciousness has been part of human reality for centuries, with a belief that there exists nonphysical or psychic matter is an animist view that makes it possible for all entities and beings to have psychic matter relevant to experience consciousness. It is this belief that makes it possible for Fourth Industry to have a strong say in human relationship in Japan, China and South Korea (124.).
Collective Intentionality and its dynamics within virtual reality
Collective intentionality, like consciousness has been influenced by fourth industrial revolution, especially through emphasis on swarm intelligence. Outside the world of IOT, collective intentionality, refers to plurality of participants in a group, whereby attitude, intentions, goals, values, facts can be ascribed to individuals as a group or unit. The concept of individuals as a group is in contradiction with two basic claims of collective intentionality - The Irreducibility claim and the Individual ownership claim. According to Irreducibility claim, collective intentionality is no simple summation, aggregate, or distributive pattern of individual intentionality. Individual ownership claim, states collective individuality is had by the participating individuals, and all the intentionality an individual has is his or her own. In real life situations with diverse contextual dynamics there is scope for finer nuances to evolve and get strengthened. This is not the case when this played out in virtual reality and managed by AI, IOT, ML and data science.
When considering collective intentionality, there occurs shared intention, joint attention, shared belief, collective acceptance, collective emotion and common knowledge. With Fourth Industry, it is the Internet that has taken over most of our collective interaction, be it through, social networking or on-line groups. Swarm intelligence is the basis for collective behavior, works within decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial. It uses natural systems, and include ant colonies, bird flocking, hawks hunting, animal herding, bacterial growth, fish schooling and microbial intelligence. While swarm intelligence is very useful in organizing data flow or interaction between uses, unlike collective intentionality in swarm intelligence, the focus on one goal and emphasis on a single stimulus be it odor, movement, vision etc. The agents follow simple rules, and without obvious centralized control structure dictating behavior, through local and certain extent random, interaction between agents lead to the emergence of “intelligent” global behavior, unknown to individual agents. The central issue of concern is this “unknown to individual agents”, while management wise it may be apt, it calls to question the ethical base for such acceptance. Other issues of concern that emerges:
- Absence of common knowledge, for access to information can be selective, though not directly controlled, selectivity can be ensured through access to various platforms,
- Absence of diversity- except when planned for groups would be homogeneous, this happens through swarm intelligence, at the same time when outside the internet. when dealing with different contexts, homogeneity is difficult to ensure as is selective information access.
- Scope for being part of controlled information access and thereby making irreducibility and individual ownership claims irrelevant. This also makes individual ignorance of flow of information and its control a reality, and making them silent victims of manipulation.
IX. Evasive common Frame and way forward
As with gender, our efforts towards positive peace have not been fruitful. Our move towards peaceful society has led to the development of a highly advanced armament industry and a clueless expertise on positive peace. We have sharpened our surveillance skills, set in accurate measure to detect deviations, made segregation and separation a fact of life that can thrive beyond our life time.
Fourth Industry has provided us all the ammunition we need to sharpen and strengthen our search for negative peace, for example the extensive, intricate and accurate surveillance system, evolving artificial intelligence seeking for autonomous system. At the same time this does not bring in peace, but sets-in place walls of separation and a need to integrate fear as a crucial force for self-survival. This process is further strengthened through scope for using swarm intelligence in combination digitally controlled unmanned drones as weapons of war. Screening for any sign or possibility for deviation or conflict will turn our society into an open live prison with no freedom to hope for.
Along with surveillance, Freedom is a right that got set aside except for a few voices asserting its relevance, for IOT has already set itself in a safe groove from where it would be very difficult to dislodge it. While most countries are trying to understand the extent to which surveillance can be made part of governance or everyday reality, countries like China have gone all out for surveillance. China has also set in place institutions for conditioning disgruntled individuals, so that they can be motivated to follow a set path (ref), given the excellent surveillance systems finding deviants in need of conditioning would be very easy.
There is an interesting comparison that can be drawn between health care system, especially detection of diseases, and surveillance for peace initiatives, both function within the premise of minimal tolerance and use technology to ensure the same. Before accepting this at face value, there is a need to consider the possible undercurrents at play.
With minimal tolerance in peace initiatives or other instances, we directly or indirectly seek to do away with diversity, we want to rewrite reality from our premise and override all else, and in case we can’t call all the shots we would like to keep a spatial, emotional, conceptual distance from those who beg to differ. We will soon strengthen our stand to make it static, a state that is willing to break but not bend to accommodate different views.
Isn’t there a similarity in health care, when we plan to detect any possible deviation or difference in advance, when we ensure isolation of any threat, when we seek to clean all defective genes or any possibility of infection, in this way we seek to make ourselves strong against any vulnerability. But, is this the true picture, take for example individuals who are born and brought up in highly sanitized environment, they have sensitive immune systems that increase their vulnerability in comparison to those who have lived through tough environmental realities.
This is not to state there is no need for caution, but to state that our strength comes from diversity and handling tough situations and not living in a highly guarded, sterilized box.
Our association with health has changed with technology, earlier we accepted the uncertainty that emphasized our future health status or survival itself. At most, individuals took out an insurance policy for health or life. This will change, with preventive medicine having a significant, if not greater role, to play in our lives. Health insurance may soon include preventive care and not just treatment and rehabilitation. An interesting advertisement, recently being played out in Kerala media, for popularizing DNA testing, or knowing one’s DNA, speaks of how knowing our genetic vulnerabilities, ensures the choice of the right partner without similar vulnerability thereby protecting future generations.
At present isolation happens when person is tested positive for an infection, with the focus on identifying vulnerability through RNA and DNA tests, differentiation and discrimination can occur at an early stage in life and can be permanent. With technology, there is scope for isolation and discrimination, as the focus is detection, isolation or categorization, and containment. The chances are preventive measures and emphasis on vaccination would be the way of the future, this is not surprising as this is the natural outcome of emphasis on virtual sources of data or dependence on other sources of data that can be transferred into virtual forms of data.
When we view everything in an identical way, we have lost our art of ‘thinking’. That is when as Nietzsche states “The wasteland grows”. What Heidegger has described as when “devastation grows wider”. He elaborates further devastation is more than destruction. Destruction only sweeps under all that has, grown up or build up, so far. But devastation blocks all future growth and prevents all building. Devastation is silent, it establishes and spreads, it blocks and prevents growth. This is what we risk when to hand over our control to AI. It is not that AI takes over, it is just that we let AI take over control and opt for our own devastation. For we may become human beings whom Nietzsche described as “Woe to him who hides wastelands within”.
Our way of life is getting tailormade, contributors as different factors within the Fourth Industry, free availability of raw material made real through digitization, participatory (knowledgeable(?)) surveillance, which when combined with a “nash equilibrium” perspective, ensures singularity in business, research, health care management, negative peace, governance, education, agriculture, construction, manufacture and most of all in our way of life. Thus, we opt for mechanized reality through extended minds (all smart equipment) as our guide for everyday reality.
It is time for us to be aware of our choices and its implications, not only for ourselves as individuals but on our profile Human Being, as well. For the latter is a wealth that belongs to human race, that we really have no right to tamper with. Human race is not meant for a mechanized existence at its optimal best; for diversity, failures, freedom, unpredictability, chaos, impulsiveness, leisure, being slow, being differently abled, being fearful, being fearless, being unproductive, being intuitive, having beliefs (with or without a scientific basis), all are part of us. When we consider these aspects to be burden that slows us down, we may be giving up on all that makes us human. When we seek singularity, with scope for devastation, it is not AI but we ourselves who would be destroying what defines us as-Human being.
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