Digital World and Transformational Skills

In the year 2000, I wrote my first book to summarize my experience as it pertains to the Global Economy. I stated “if you merely repeat what you have done before and there are others who can do the same, then the lowest cost person will remain employed. To Survive and succeed in this Global Economy, you need to be a System Thinker – figuring out what needs to be done and why and make that happen – and not merely a task oriented person (doing what you are asked to do without questioning)!”

  • This is where I also saw the elements of Vedic Philosophy as the central theme, an essential need for anyone. It was also the beginning of my serious / in-depth study of scriptures like BG, Upanishad and other texts.
  • While I was exposed to a few Geetha lectures by Swami Chinmayananda during my days at MIT (1972 – 77), my understanding was mostly abstract and conceptual. I needed a practice oriented understanding of the principles of Vedic Philosophy.

Since then I have tried to explore this need and the means for survival in my own professional life, with modest success. More than that, I have been able to mentor and train a large body of fellow professionals across the globe. This resulted in the next summary – Transformational Skills – which I published in my second book in 2013 with co-author Prof. Rangan. The Transformational skills (all are interconnected and not sequential or hierarchical) are:

  1. Always develop a common language
    • Words and their meaning go together like Goddess Parvathi and Lord Parameshwara (Kalidasa)
    • Our biggest challenge today is that we are rich in words (information), poor in their meaning and common understanding. 
      • This is increasingly true in the Digital World.
  2. 3D view of core capabilities:
    • Personal: Knowledge, Experience, Interpersonal skills
    • Professional: Science, Engineering and Management
      • Integrating the above is Technology 
      • Digital or IT is NOT “Technology”. It is just one form of Technology
        • A very vivid example of lack in common language.
        • This singular failure across the globe (of the word technology and its meaning) has made all education other than IT / Computer Science appear less relevant or valuable in public perception!
    • Enterprise: Digital World, Physical Technology and Finance / Market Drivers.
  3. Always frame the situation / problem / opportunity as an “Input/Transformation / Output” system. 
    • The whole is always larger than and different from the mere sum of its parts!
    • You are always part of the system, but only a part!
  4. Emphasis on analysis, reasoning, data and inference
    • Jnana (Knowledge and its use)
  5. End to End Innovation: 
    • Solution and its impact matters.
      • Karmanyeva Adikarasthe’ Phaleshu Cha!
      • Intrinsic motivation (deliver value to all concerned) is far more gratifying than Extrinsic motivation (based on near terms needs and benefits).
    • But you can not get there without diligence and commitment for a larger common goal.
    • Nor can you get there without a shared vision and emotional intelligence (6 and 7 below).
  6. Develop and maintain a network for shared vision, goals and efforts.
    • Sarvam Brahma Mayam – Everything (all that is known and unknown) are governed by invisible, omnipresent, invariant, eternal laws of nature which are known only through their effects (Brahman).
    • Thath Thwam Asi – You (or anything you can relate to as belonging to “you” ) and the Universe are integral in each other.
    • Opportunities for collaboration and shared vision are limitless. All constraints in any form (nation, gender, family, self, rich/poor, have/have not, race, religion, intelligent/dumb, etc.) are all self imposed constraints.
  7. Emotional Intelligence.
    • Sarve’ Jhana Sukino’ Bhavanthu – May everyone and indeed everything exist in peace and harmony!

In the year 2011, I “retired” from my full time work with large employers. Since then I have been “Self employed” largely focused on sharing my life lessons with others. I have also been amazed at the blended need for professional work with the lessons from Philosophy. Vedic Philosophy provides this bridge elegantly and makes life more fulfilling. It is this journey that resulted in this blog site – Spirituality in Practice It is also the same journey that fostered my collaboration with IIT – Madras where I am an advisor at . I conducted a 20 week online course on Vedic Philosophy for Professionals, the summary of which might have reached the hands of the editor of PB, his invitation to me and my essay titled “Vedic Philosophy for Knowledge Economy” scheduled to appear in the 2022 annual issue: 

Beyond the direct impact on the life of professionals as described above, Digital World (enabled by DT) is impacting our way of life in many other ways. Recently I was watching a video of a wedding in rural Tamil Nadu, India. This video was sent to me through Whatsapp and I could see it within days after the wedding! The emphasis on reception, dance, etc. all make the wedding not much different from another wedding in SD, CA. or Boston, MA., USA! Students coming from India to the USA today are so well informed and connected that they see no need to change or blend with the people who have lived here for years and generations! These students are also well versed in Hindu prayer songs, dance, arts and culture in vogue in India today. They do not see a need or urge to blend with the local communities. In due course we could end up as a mixture or islands of cultures across the globe and not a melting pot of common humanity?

Temples are being built everywhere and Pujas carried out with many gallons of milk poured over the idol for Abishekam and expensive ornaments donated to decorate the idol while poor go hungry and homeless live not far away from these temples. Religious ceremonies (like worship services in the temple) and social ceremonies (like weddings) are being carried out merely as rituals while very few reflect even for a moment on the meaning of rituals and their connection to Philosophy.

While life is good when situations are favorable, few seem to learn to self-reflect and steer themselves at times of low tide or high tide! Frequent change in the tides and skills required seem to be the nature of the Digital World. An undercurrent of skills for survivability and a philosophic grounding (as noted above) may be the need of the hour for young people, their parents (previous generation) or the future younger generation. Being well off financially without a feeling of good social health and/or an emotional/spiritual health (Gunathvam) needs to be replaced by a life of peace and content no matter what the physical conditions are: Sagunathvam extending into Nirgunathvam.

Digital Technology (DT) enabled social media (Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, ….) may help every one to be connected instantly. But, they also create silos with more  impenetrable differences than the common humanity that connects us all. Medieval behavior of religious fanaticism and terrorism may never be vanquished. But can anyone deny that their spread and globalization would not have been possible without unlimited access to DT enabled tools (Wireless communication and internet propaganda)? Today nations threaten each other with Cyber war and autocrats use these tools to destabilize the Democratic forms of Governments. Can the world ever reach better climate control with only national goals and isolated efforts? Shared vision and emotional intelligence has to spread like wildfire to consume the self-centered nature thriving in the Digital World?

Observing the good of the Digital World (DW) should not be only to extol it as virtuous. Recognizing the ills of the DW should not lead to its rejection or demonizing. It is in this mixture of outcomes the forthcoming annual issue of PB and its central theme ‘Living a Meaningful Life in a Digital World’ may be very relevant for everyone. I hope it is well received and used wisely by many. Let us pray for that.

Above concludes my journey in life thus far vis a vis the Digital World and my introduction to PB.

#Futureofwork #PhilosophyforDigitalWorld

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