New Delhi, November 13, 2016 (Alochonaa):
This has been a truly unprecedented week for global democracy with Mr. Trump being elected as the president of the U.S. when few people, apart from Michael Moore, gave him any chance of winning. Like, Brexit, earlier this year, the intelligentsia was overwhelmed with the disruption from a population who saw no use of the global mobility of their passports while they get by on food stamps. While the liberal elite might snigger at the thought of Nigel Farage or Donald Trump, they certainly have a sense of the pulse on the ground. Donald Trump, being the quintessential charismatic salesman, understood the desires of his target audience: the rust belt, Middle American voter in the swing states. Trump also won Wyoming with 70% of the votes cast, along with the traditional red states. Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote by a whisker, while Trump won the presidency by winning a majority in the Electoral College.
I have been digesting the volumes of post-mortem analysis of the Trump victory, which seeks to be an effort into semiotic reading of the events of the week. The Route 128 or Palo Alto tech tribe might be jittery of a man they do not endorse but often, as i have written, the tech industry does not understand the dynamics on the ground with people who have lost jobs overseas and the old way of living with automation of shop floor work. The banker on Wall Street with high frequency algorithmic trades is often disconnected with the margins of cosmopolitanism and that ignorance will cost the tech and finance sectors dearly with potential immigration curbs. The vote against global elites is loud and clear: the economic realities on the ground are far more salient. Realities are embedded in everyday lived experience and are always micro in character. Society is three skipped meals from a revolt, as the old saying goes. More anthropologists should study the impact of tech disruption on brick and mortar communities to gain a thorough understanding of the impending events.
Times of disruption call for a new vocabulary for understanding the present while building empathic and inclusive leadership to re-imagine a future in which subaltern voices shall count. There is a Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, and there is a different politics which might feel that this present politics of dissent is not enough. The internationalist politics of the left has been inadequate to account for the grievances of the inner cities.
The angst against the elites is a phenomenon, not limited to the USA or the UK. Anglicized social elites in the global south are as disconnected to the concerns of their less well-off brethren as inequality is a major driver of social tensions in society. Globalization and economic liberalization since the early 1990’s in India has created a cash rich middle class more in sync with the developments in Silicon Valley than their neighborhoods. Local politics and elections were the mandate of household support staff such as their drivers, maids and security guards as they live their lives in secure gated communities watching CNN on the television, while sipping imported beer.
In India, Bengaluru, the technology capital of India, faced water riots over sharing of resources with the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu shut down the city for days. On the ground, people shared real time experience of a distributional crisis. In India, the parliamentary left has been decimated, in part from Kerala and Tripura and their mantle of anti-globalization politics, along with regional players, including the urban left of center Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The AAP is the harbinger of new urban politics in Delhi, disrupting the traditional binary of the left of center Congress and the ruling right wing Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Political disruptions on similar lines have occurred in a race for city councils in Barcelona, Spain in the recent past as well.
We live in a world which is constantly evolving, and business has to adapt with the local political realities of the day. It is time to integrate PESTLE analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental) into business continuity risk assessments, then listen and cater to the needs of the community, and not just the token corporate social responsibility (CSR) event. The time has come to rethink the lexicon in which we think.
*The Writer is the India Affairs Editor, Alochonaa.
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