[Image from pxhere]
My resolution this year is to make myself comfortable with discomfort. That is why, in spite of having given up on religion a long time ago, at the last minute, I decided to enter a church with the rest of the family on New Year’s Eve.
The initial discomfort with the seemingly quaint proceedings gave way to intense curiosity when a priest leading the service opened his sermon. I could hear cynicism in my head as he attempted to explain spirituality to the congregation: There is a thin line that separates what we believe is true and what we don’t. Because the universe is vast, humans seek solace in religious texts.
Now, this is why I don’t like religious texts. Those who swear by them claim they contain all answers.
As opposed to that, scientific thought knows much of what we hold as true is untrue. It insists on continually searching for the truth. Nothing is sacred except facts and a quest for the truth.
Even as I started to write his sermon off in the head, the priest took an altogether unexpected leap from the pulpit to point out that all stories are, well, stories. And that they must be thought of as such. Unless the storyteller uses these narratives to place complex issues in perspective. Because most stories have philosophical underpinnings that attempt to explain many phenomena in lay-terms.
There is a moral responsibility then on the clergy and the laity not to cling to any narrative as an absolute. But to ask instead what contemporary truths they are attempting to answer—this is territory historians, theologists and philosophers tread upon. This lies at intersections and is fascinating territory.
On listening to someone whom I otherwise wouldn’t, I now truly appreciate the diversity in the essays that Haresh Chawla, Arun Maira and K Ramkumar have crafted. While each of them took me on altogether different trajectories, at the end each of their journeys, and on adding the sum of the parts, I have emerged richer.
This is discomfort of the kind I think I will enjoy.
What thoughts are on your mind as the year begins?
The pace of change is accelerating. Uncertainty is growing. Businesses are on tenterhooks. And on the cusp of a new decade, India’s digital economy is yet again poised for a reset. (By Haresh Chawla. Read Time: 12 minutes)
[From left: Joseph Stiglitz, Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee. Image credits: Stiglitz by Fronteiras do Pensamento (CC BY-SA 2.0), Duflo by Centre for Global Development (CC BY 2.0), Banerjee by Financial Times (CC BY 2.0). Images cropped from original.]
Mainstream economic theories do not fit reality. Two new books, ‘Measuring What Counts’ and ‘Good Economics for Hard Times’, provide a counterview: Instead of treating people as data, listen to them, and find answers to their real problems for inclusive, sustainable progress. (By Arun Maira. Read Time: 17 minutes)
There are a complex set of reasons why people leave organisations. Blaming it on your HR department is the easy way out. The smarter way is to understand the root causes and work as a leadership team to fix it. (By K Ramkumar. Read Time: 11 minutes)
What We Are Reading And Watching
(Book) Decision-making is a life-skill. But how do you make the right decision? This book isn’t a new one and Steven Johnson’s fans will be familiar with it beginning 2018. But it continues to be relevant and comes highly recommended.
Steve Jobs’ iPhone 2007 presentation
(Video) This talk is a must watch for anyone with a smartphone. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in 2007, he had imagined it will make life easier by freeing up time for people. The “killer app” in this device was the phone that allows you to place calls. A world where people are addicted to smartphones may sound dystopian to him. (Playtime 51 minutes)
From Our Archives
How cheap bandwidth and smartphones together with micropayents will affect tectonic shifts in telecom, TV and Bollywood, retail, banking and more. (By Haresh Chawla)
Author Nicholas Agar in conversation with NS Ramnath on why unquestioning enthusiasm and a blanket rejection of technological change are equally misguided.