Is the World Order Changing? Of course, it is!
Impermanence is the mark of existence, declared Buddha. Nothing remains forever. People born in different times live in a world that is different from what their ancestors were living in. The signs of this change can be felt during one human lifetime itself. The world where I am living in my sixties is not what it was in my childhood. There is so much money around, the pace of life has accelerated, people are connected 24×7 and most things are ordered online, including medicines, vegetables, hot food, and of late, even Irani chai in Hyderabad where I live.
I consider the Buddhist concept of the Law of Dependent Origination – the ever-moving wheel of cause and effect – as the most profound knowledge that I have acquired in my lifetime. This one idea contains in its ambit all the philosophies and sciences of the world. All that exists in this world, including in the unseen world of the mind, cyberspace, and microbes, is filled with innumerable intermediate stages – people are growing and ageing, seeds are becoming plants, crops are providing food, oil is burning in an internal combustion engine driving machinery, water and wind streams are rotating turbines, and so on.
The Law of Dependent Origination is explained differently by Plato, the philosopher of ancient Greece, who observed that there is nothing new under the Sun. It essentially means that things in this world keep changing their forms – becoming, flourishing, decaying, dying, and assuming different forms – but this does not go beyond the surface of the earth, or let us include the 60 km layer of air around it, which we call the atmosphere. The universe, which is vast beyond human comprehension (and Planet Earth is as insignificant as a grain of sand in the desert) remains unaffected by what goes on the Earth – wars, revolutions, technology advancements, and so on – there is nothing new under the Sun!
The mood of India is upbeat these days. We are celebrating the 75th year of being an independent nation and the next 25 years are declared as the Amrit Kaal – our final sprint to become a developed nation. Things are changing for sure. What is this change? When change is universal, what is this fuss about India changing? It is important to understand change as breaking out of the status quo. What has been must go and new forces replace the old drivers. Look at the leaders who are now sitting in the legislatures, the new academicians, businesspeople, and people buying a banana and making the payment by scanning the QR code with the vendor from their mobile phones, three-year-old kids playing video games and listening to digital music of their choice – and you can feel this change. When I watch some leaders invoking primordial identities and jaded ideological issues, a sense of pity rises in my heart looking at these drowning stars in the morning sky.
Some thoughtful people in the Western world have captured the ancient ideas well and have seen things from a boarder perspective. American billionaire Ray Dalio (b. 1949) who founded the investment management fund Bridgewater in 1975, describes a Big Cycle comprising of three entwined cycles: 1) the long-term debt-money-economic cycle, 2) the internal order-disorder cycle, and 3) the external order-disorder cycle. Together, they determine how the world works.
Nothing happens randomly, by this or that leader, systems evolve and create leaders. There is a pattern of how financial stability, internal stability and international stability take form by actions of people and businesses. Millions of conflicts are always happening – in families, communities, company boardrooms, over wealth, power, and values. These are apparently inconsequential like the Brownian motion of gas particles in a container and yet this eventually creates a force vector. Difficult are the times when financial problems occur at the same time as large internal and external conflicts over wealth, power, and values. Storms are built up from these millions of fluttering wings. Something that is happening in our immediate neighbourhood in the South and the West.
Globally, the Ukraine War has already defined the pattern of the new world order. The supremacy of the Western world – which means Western Europe and the United States – has been successfully challenged by Russia, with China as its ally. There will be more such events – even bigger in magnitude and scale. The politics of the oil-rich Middle East region is undergoing a tectonic shift. African people are out of their centuries-old slumber and have realized their value of being the food basket for a growing number of people across the globe.
The economic sanctions imposed by the Western world over Russia have not only effectually failed but also prepared a blueprint of global trade without dollars as the intermediate currency. Once this happens full-scale, a new world order would be in place. It may take a year, or two, or five… but it will happen. The day the BRICS system – an economic grouping of Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa – becomes BRICSS – with Saudi Arabia joining it, a new era will commence in the history of mankind. It may be delayed, but it is inevitable.
Where does India stand in the new world order? Where it already is! The new India must neither be capitalist nor communist. We are the land of the Golden Mean and the most humane people that ever lived on the earth. The Maha Upanishad declares (VI. 71):
अयं बन्धुरयं नेति गणना लघुचेतसाम् ।
उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् ॥
A narrow-minded view sees people differently as their friends or not. For people of noble character, this world is their family.
It is time to emerge out of this spiritual darkness in our minds and regain all that has been lost in the world outside. All we must do is keep our democracy, our institutions, and social harmony intact. What could be a more powerful force than a billion people – talented, hardworking, products of an ancient civilization, religious by nature, compassionate, and with a value-driven mindset?
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam used to say, “Strength respects strength.” People who live grounded in their civilizational values receive cosmic support and flourish as flowers blossom under the sunlight. Our biggest strength is this righteous way of living. The slavery of 1000 years, the societal degradation, and even the bad governance that people of this country have been suffering have the ignorance of this value system as the root cause.
The hostilities in the neighbourhood will die their own death. Our enemies will implode by their own conflicts. The irrefutable law of karma does not spare anyone. People – families, communities, nations – pay for what they do, and what they have allowed themselves to become. In this time of rapidly changing flux, it is important not to lose patience and do some foolhardy things. By vacillating, we will be not only delaying the new world order but also diminishing our role in it.
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