Wednesday, 12 December 2012
There are no shortcuts
Pritish Nandy in The Times of India
When people run short of ideas, they reach out for other things.
There’s money, the first crutch of all fools. For all those who lack self esteem, the first argument is: If I had enough money, I could have done it. This is untrue. Money can make nothing happen unless you will it. And you can will nothing without a precise premise, a strategy or game plan that you have clearly thought through. In short, an idea. Without the idea, without the intellectual or emotional muscle that goes with that idea, any idle dream based only on the availability of money is always doomed. That’s why angel investors do due diligence. Not only of the idea to invest in but also of the person who will deliver it. Does he or she have the grit, gumption, dedication and leadership? Or the persistence to see the idea through its initial days when all that can go wrong always does, following Murphy’s Law?
The other crutch, very popular in India, is connections. Most people think they can achieve anything if only they had a godfather to see them through. The truth is, much as we may like to believe the opposite, few success stories of modern India have anything to do with godfathers. Except in politics and business, where it has been a tradition to mentor heirs from within the family. So it’s tough to break in. It’s far simpler to go out and make your own road. To do that, the first important step is to stop looking for godfathers. Mentor yourself. The rich uncle will always come to you once you have demonstrated your ability to deliver on your own promise. But if you hang around him hoping he will give you the first break, be sure that he will soon start avoiding you.
The third crutch is fate. We believe so much in it that we spend the best years of our life chasing those who pretend they can predict it. Fortune telling is big business out here and there’s a large contingent of charlatans who make their money telling us how we must live our life, what coloured stones to wear, which God to pray to, and on what days we ought to fast. The same person who is vegetarian five days a week to appease a certain God is also ready to slaughter a hapless animal to please another God on another occasion. We would rather go with what others tell us to do than follow our own heart. We are not ready to think through our own solutions. We need intermediaries to advise us on how to live, how to invest, how to seduce luck. Curiously, the richer people become, the more they depend on fake gurus and fraudulent fortune tellers.
The fourth crutch is new: Technology. We have suddenly found technology as a placebo for everything. Doctors have forgotten how to diagnose. So everyone goes for every stupid test. Robotic surgery is replacing human skill and ingenuity. You can’t make good movies. Go for 3D. Dazzle everyone with SFX and sheer wizardry. Demand a 250 million dollar budget when the greatest films in the world have been made for a pittance. (Pather Panchali was made for Rs 150,000 and Bicycle Thief, $133,000!) We have become so stupid that we can’t even make imaginative porn. So Hugh Hefner now uses 3D to make his centrespread girls look sexy whereas a fully clad Garbo once had the whole world salivating every time she turned around and Mae West, at 83, could get any young man into her pad with a single come hither line.
The purpose of technology, we often forget, is not to replace human ingenuity but to support it. We don’t need a computer to write like Shakespeare. We need to create new Shakespeares. The future lies in technology that can support our skills, not supplant them. Avatar is not the future of movies. Marge Simpson is not the future of sexuality even though she was on the Playboy centrespread. Ever seen Madhubala wet in the rain? Now try it. Rediscover the unforgettable power of sexuality.