Implicit in the freedoms we cherish in our democracy is our right to offend. That is the cornerstone of all free thought and its expression. In a country as beautiful and complex as ours, it is our inalienable right to offend that makes us the nation we are. Ofcourse I also recognise the fact that this right attaches to itself many risks, including the risk of being targeted. But as long as these risks are within reasonable, well defined limits, most people will take them in their stride. I am ready to defend my right to offend in any debate or a court of law. But it’s not fine when mobs come to lynch you. Even before the police can start investigations, the crime is invariably politicised. Issues of religion, caste, community, political affiliation are dragged in only to complicate (read obfuscate) the crime and, before you know it, the story dies because some other, even more ugly crime is committed somewhere else and draws away the headlines and your attention. And when that happens, criminals get away. We are today an attention deficit nation because there’s so much happening everywhere, all pretty awful stuff, that it’s impossible for anyone to stay focused.
When we deny ourselves the right to offend, we deny ourselves the possibility of change. That’s how societies become brutal, moribund, disgustingly boring. Is this what you want? If the answer is No and you want to stay a free citizen, insist on your right to offend. If enough people do that, change is not just inevitable. It’s assured. And change is what defines a living culture.
The truth is always whole. When you draw a line, as discretion suggests, you encourage half truths and falsehoods being foisted on others, you subvert your conscience. In some cases it’s not even possible to draw a line. A campaigner against corruption can never stop midway through his campaign even though he knows exactly at which point the truth invites danger, extreme danger. Yet India is a brave nation and there are many common people, ordinary citizens with hardly any resources and no one to protect them who are ready to go out on a limb and say it as it is. They are the ones who keep our democracy burning bright.
There’s nothing wrong about clubs having strict membership rules. After all, their primary purpose is not so much to hang out with like-minded people but to keep unlike-minded folks out. The issue of one quaint club called the Commonwealth pops up every once in a while. With the Booker Prize winner announced on Tuesday, the matter of the prize being opened up to writers outside Commonwealth countries and Ireland has got the anachronism out in the sun again.
Made up of countries once ruled by the British Empire, the Commonwealth’s only identity is that of a club of ex-colonies with Britain as its president for life. (Rwanda and Mozambique, former German and French colonies, joining the Commonwealth are odd exceptions to the rule.) From this year, the Booker allows the citizen of any country writing a novel in English and published by a UK publisher — both kosher club rules — to make a bid. This is good as exclusion isn’t based on history but language and market. The Australian two-time Booker winner Peter Carey dislikes the prize now open to Americans who have their own exclusive Pulitzer — or, by extension, to Indians who have their Sahitya Akademi Awards. But by allowing all English language writers in, the Booker has gained more value by unhitching its pony from that walking dodo that is the Dead Empire’s Club.
Engaging in any conduct can confound moralistic expectations and jolt our perception of what is good and what isn’t as does the topsy-turvy which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate, intimidate, threaten, disparage or vilify any reasonable person in the position of a political playerBy this definition Zam very unlikely to crossed the red-line. Some politicians specialise in finger-pointing antics instead of walking the talk to bring to realisation election promises. A classic example would be Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says Bahasa Malaysia and Urdu will not put food on the table. So the Chinese, being practical as they are, study only to fulfil the requirements, but not to fully master it.The only languages that will put food on the table now are Mandarinthat is why the Chinese are paying full attention to them. In a few more years, Mandarin will perhaps even overtake English as the language of commerce and technology.
So, the pendatang are studying not because they want to cling to China but the realities of life dictate that in order to survive in this dog-eat-dog world, you just have to master the language that will put food on the table.Call it the herd instinct about race on the field of play.. Whatever the reason, birds of the same professional feather flock together. Even if such means compel them to compete with each other to get the biggest market share. Indeed, there are people engaged in one dhandha whose cut-throat competition among each other makes news all the time. And who can be found all jammed together in a talking shop called Parliament.
These days it is probably dangerous to be a foreign investor in China. No, I am not referring to the slowing economic growth or any reports of an increase in crime in Chinese cities. My observation has exclusively to do with the attacks being faced by foreign companies from Chinese government and regulatory authorities.
In the last few months, there have been an alarming increase in the number of investigations against foreign firms. Penalties, sometimes very stiff ones, have also been levied on companies and President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption is having an unexpected and unwelcome side effect on overseas companies who have rushed in to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the world’s biggest consumer market. Fortune’s Scott Cendrowski writes in the magazine’s latest issue that multinationals are an easy target for newly-commissioned regulators looking to prove themselves and “stay relevant”. Whatever it is, the picture emerging from China is not rosy and the economy’s travails are also undermining investor sentiment.
How many of us go through life wondering wistfully why we are not as creative as some others. Is it too late to be creative? I asked Professor Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School what she thought about this. Her view is that if you want to be more creative ask yourself which of the three components is missing. Do you need moredomain expertise or do you need more techniques of creativity that you can use. Or is it that your internal motivation needs to improve.
Dr Amabile spoke at length about how someone can be taught to be more creative.Here is an excerpt:
“There are three components a person needs in order to be creative:
- Domain Expertise: Expertise in the domain involves formal education in a particular area. Learning how to learn in the area is a part of expertise and each of us comes with talents that are partly inborn, partly learned. No matter how talented Mozart might have been as a little boy, if he had not been exposed to a lot of training early on, exposed to a lot of music that he could listen to, he would have never developed what he did develop at such an early age. So, that expertise component is very important.
- Creative Thinking Skills & Styles: The second component is creative thinking skills and creativity styles. Creativity is simply coming up with something that is new and workable. Creativity skills include a set of techniques like brainstorming, using analogies & metaphors that anyone can learn and get better at. They also include being able to persevere when a problem gets difficult. It is a style of working, a style of approaching problems. All of that is partly in-born and partly developed by experience.
- Intrinsic Motivation: The third component is what I primarily focus on in my research and that is intrinsic motivation. It is the drive to do something primarily because it is interesting, enjoyable, personally challenging and satisfying in some way. When people are primarily intrinsically motivated in what they are doing, they are much more likely to be creative than when they are primarily extrinsically motivated. Extrinsic motivation is the motivation to do something because you want to make money, get a good performance review, etc. Those are all reasons external to the work itself.
We are all driven by both intrinsic and extrinsic motives in what we do. If you put people in conditions that lead them to focus on the extrinsic motivators, their intrinsic motivation for what they are doing can actually decline and along with it the creativity can decline. People will be most creative when they are motivated primarily by the interest, enjoyment, satisfaction and personal challenge of the work itself and not by extrinsic motivators.”
The schools can teach the child techniques of creativity. How to improvise can be taught. In deepening the intrinsic motivation of a child the family plays a far more powerful role. That in my view determines how creative a child will be. It is not about techniques, it is largely about motivation,