Thousands of years back, India’s great Tamil poet, philosopher, and saint Thiruvalluvar had said: “The wise know what comes next. The unwise lack that wisdom.” India had a tradition of practicing this art, from royal advisors/strategists to sage to people; we had many dedicated practitioners of this domain and their contributions have been documented in our history. There were always some brilliant minds in our society who excelled in this domain, and their insights always helped shaping the crucial decisions related to the national interest.
The ability to prognosticating the future is a skill that Indian and Israeli culture appreciates the most. In his famous book “The Founding Fathers of Zionism”, historian late Benzion Netanyahu has mentioned that “It is one of the abilities that man is endowed with. Foreseeing the future is nothing more than perceiving the meaning of current and ongoing processes, understanding their direction, their weight, and their influence and evaluating the outcomes of the clashes between these very processes among themselves.” And he says that “By properly understanding these matters, one has already touched the edges of future developments.” The idea of political Zionism in many ways can be called the beginning of a systematic prognostication that helped in building modern-day Israel, capable of defending its position. Historian Benzion Netanyahu has mentioned that Herzl viewed this art as the need of the first order because he was sure that “no correct policy is possible without correctly foreseeing the future.” And Jabotinsky considered this ability as a ‘principal part of statesmanship’ too.
Now the question is, do we still practice this art, or can we expect our impulsive smartphone generation to take some time out from the outside influences/distractions and devoting some thinking toward visualizing things on a larger scale? One can argue that some brilliant entrepreneurs/investors cum futurists and philosophers exist in Silicon Valley, and some of them have links to India and Israel, and they often share some big vision for the future. There can be different angles to see this trend, and there is a track record related to the popularity of ideas too!
A quick view of our history tells that ideas that received well and popularized in the beginning often proved a disaster at a later stage. While the ideas that face condemnation and humiliations in their lifetime proved a blessing later and build the foundation for the future. Our post-colonial history is filled with the stories of struggle/arguments between some defenders and some diplomats/lawyers. Diplomats served the agenda of their masters well hence they received huge official honor/prestige while the history of all our defenders got systematically erased from all possible mediums/symbols.
If I take the example of Israel, almost all founding fathers of Zionism, and those who worked to make Zionism a reality, faced massive ridicule, opposition, and humiliation for their ideas and approach, during their lifetime (particularly from some practical diplomats) but later their ideas proved blessings for the modern Jewish state’s standing. When Herzl talked about the need for ‘courage to rule’ and reforms in the people’s character and when Jabotinsky advocated the ideas of having the military capabilities and public opinion emerging as a mean to political offensive, their views were not received well during that phase. But the time has proved that there was a sense of political realism and penetrating insights behind those views.
The ability to foreseeing future events, threats, opportunities, and different patterns related to these have a role in the policy/direction of a nation. For our previous generations practicing this skill was not a choice but was a necessity. We must not forget that it was their foresightedness that has shaped the circumstances in our favor today! Our current generation has stopped practicing this, and like any other art this is also not a privilege, one may lose it. But the question is can we afford to lose this skill? The absence of this skill can develop a ‘vision blindness’ syndrome, and when a community/society or nation turns vision blind, it always pays a cost for that.
The notion of ‘Vision Blindness’ has its roots in the historic experiences of the Jewish community. Emphasizing the necessity to sustain this skill, Historian Benzion Netanyahu has mentioned in his book that “the Jews, which in the distant past produced many personalities who excelled in prognosticating the future, became during the Exile a people that seemed to have virtually blind in this faculty.”He said that “we did not discern the greatest disasters even a short while before they occurred.” This was a period in which one may say that “vision disappeared from the people of Israel.”
New Business Models
Computer technology, the internet, smartphones, Big Data, and AI are some of the most successful business models of our time, and they are leveraging their success to the fullest. A large portion of humanity (approx 4.66 billion people) is either over engaged on tech platforms/products or is over-influenced by their marketing. From terms like revolution and transformation to now Singularity, Superintelligence, Superhuman Intelligence, Intelligence Explosion, Transhumanism and Cyborg, etc., for no other business products in the past, we heard such huge jargons! It is evident that these decorated words develop a kind of Illusion and Hypnosis in our mind and obstruct our ability to think beyond and think out of the box. Do we want the capacity of the human mind to get obstructed and limited by the shadow of a few improvisations? Certainly not! That is neither healthy for the growth of individuals nor the future of humanity.
The time to steal the firewood from under the pot has come! The New Business Models is an approach to coin some new ideas, thinking something new, more productive, and interesting than all current dominating products. Our previous generation has passed the torch of knowledge in our hands, and we must pass it on to the next. The journey of human progress must continue!
The youth of India-Israel and other like-minded nations can join hands in this drive as the responsibility to protect our inner strength, self-power, and prognosticating abilities is in our hands. Thousands of years of history of human creativity, intelligence, and innovation tell that the best of the human mind is yet to come! Many more new business models must come, and there must always be a scope for some fresh air and great ideas!