Times require a very dispassionate analysis of the value of what the word means as a process

Till about 20 years ago, the word “disruption” evoked mixed responses at best and a deep sense of disapproval at worst. Gradually the environment began to change and disruption became a word of preferred choice for many. An increasingly large number were trying to use it, in context and out of context, hoping to cover themselves in a “revolutionary” aura. There were occasions when people would come around mouthing and flaunting “disruption.” It was tom-tommed by many that unless there was “disruption” it would be very difficult to improve things.

The point which was totally lost in this melee was that nothing can be debunked lock-stock and barrel. There were thinkers who saw this point and started talking of “selective disruption.” What was not quite clear was how this selection would take place. On what distinguishing trait would something be preserved or debunked? This was particularly the case with technology or more fundamentally, about methods of work.

In this vantage point of perception, one element was missing. The element could be termed “concurrent multilinearity.” Simultaneously, different eras can exist. Their concurrency does not take away the merit of one or the relevance of another. This is especially true for nations such as India, which has in one time-frame multiple eras co-existing. One can have a space launch centre and for carrying certain kinds of provision to that centre, bullock carts could be used. In a wider canvas one could think of a person getting to a jetty on a horse carriage and taking from that jetty a speedboat. Essentially there is nothing contradictory in this. People living in different technological or cultural eras can and do co-exist. This is what the mosaic of life is about. Different identities and paradigms can function together. Of this, India is merely one example.  Examples of various levels of technological growth of communities have been cited above. This can be equally true for extended families. As longevity increases, the lifestyle of a 70-year-old need not really be programmed as a life of a 22-year-old. In between the life of somebody at the age of 46 would be quite a mixture of the two lifestyles.

The senior citizen would not be necessarily living out a smart phone and a youngster may find the mannerisms of a 70-year-old quite outmoded, if not strange.

These are everyday examples, for this no survey is needed. The proposition of the real worth of “disruption” however, is a different one altogether. Times require a dispassionate analysis of the value of “disruption” as a process. They also require considering how significant is a collective push for technological upgrade.

Given the ground conditions, it seems fairly obvious that many behavioural templates or universes of ethnography could be in operational co-existence. Above all, this would have to be done respectfully, if not with utmost understanding.

Under such circumstances to make a fetish of “disruption” as a process appears palpably illogical if not an expendable overkill.

If one enlarges the theatre of action and issues of sustainability become larger, it may even be arguable that in certain cases “disruption of disruption” may itself be a desirable goal.

Consider the energy intensive lifestyles of post-industrial communities: Space heating, space cooling, fuel guzzling vehicles and energy-intensive devices of cooking and more. Together this lifestyle has brought the “advanced” civilisation to a brink. The operational brink in several territories is being operationally averted, only through expropriation of energy resources from developing communities and countries. This kind of a world order cannot be sustainable, in the long run, let alone be desirable.

As things stand, there is an obvious adulation of the way tribal communities have preserved their environment and live life at a reasonable level of simplicity. They still appear contented, have better longevity and better community life.

If the forest cover of this planet is not as much a victim of predatory lifestyles, it is not the least because of the parts of the globe which the tribals inhabit and from where they haven’t been chased away by gun-toting brigades of the avaricious versions of the human race. The celebration should be of tribal stoicism and tenacity and how they have preserved their lifestyles, their culture and their livelihoods. Perhaps the world is ready to turn a full circle.

Whether or how this will take place only time will tell. But one thing which is clear — if there is anything that is clear — “disruption” is not necessarily a positive term. It has to be used selectively and with conscious thought to eliminate the banal elements to human progress and impediments to a larger framework of happiness. Riding disruption as a value is not only unnecessary but can be dangerous.