Recently I happened to read the highly engrossing work — “The End of Alchemy” by Lord Mervyn King who was the Governor of the Bank of England between 2003 to 2013. More particularly, being at the helm of affairs of one of the most influential Central Banks in the world, he was also at the center-stage of and a proactive participant in dealing with the economic crisis that the world witnessed in 2008. While the piece of work offers a thought-provoking insight into the causes, effects, solutions and possible future preventive steps to forecast, deal with and obviate such economic disasters in future, he uses four concepts extensively throughout the book viz Disequilibrium, Radical Uncertainty, Prisoners Dilemma and Trust. Of these four, the concept that immediately caught my attention was Disequilibrium which he defines to be the absence of a state of balance between the forces acting in a system. In terms of economics it refers to a position that is unsustainable pointing, at some point of time to, a large change in the pattern of spending and production before the economy moves to a new Equilibrium.
Although Lord King also uses the three other concepts extensively and inevitably, a necessary ingredient as they are to any economic discussion, while reading this book my mind sought to expand the concept of Disequilibrium to a broader social context in the context of the behavioral phenomena, somewhat inimical and retrograde, that is manifesting itself in society in recent times. Applying the concept of Disequilibrium to a broader social milieu, Disequilibrium would refer to a loss of Equilibrium/sense of balance which arises when some forces outweigh each other leading to an unstable situation.
At any point of time, diverse, conflicts and competing forces act in any environment, the functioning of which is critically dependent on the manner in which counter-vailing forces strive to arrive at a balance, which we could call an Equilibrium. Mind you the forces at work are diverse and, whether one likes it or not, also comprise of significant negative/inimical components which can have devastating and potentially debilitating effects on society resulting in a societal Disequilibrium, the effects of which can manifest itself in various ways such as social strife, rising crime graphs, increasing caste/colour/region/religion based societal tensions and a general increase in our intolerance levels which get reflected in a heightened social dissonance with resultant effect on family and community living, the consequences of which can have not only a contagion but also a rapidly accelerating effect across generations.
Taking this discussion further, society in countries across the globe, perhaps without exception, is increasingly becoming reflective of a state of Disequilibrium, wherein narrow, parochial and jingoist thought processes seem to rule the roost and where common sense seems to have made way for, need we may say, nonsense, pragmatism replaced by intolerance and long term goals and aims sacrificed at the altar of expediency/short term gain whether in the political, economic or any other sphere of life. Is it not time that we start respecting people for what they are and the values they represent irrespective of their religion or region or country that they come from or their lineage or any other superficial characteristics that they might represent. Let us identify people on the basis of their strengths and capabilities rather than on the basis of their religion, caste, physical characteristics, language or geography that they represent or come from on any such seemingly superficial characteristic. It is time for the politicians, thinkers, bureaucrats, social scientists and people who can be classified as opinion makers to rise above narrow, short term parochial concerns to take public awareness to a new level based on equality, stability and justice to prevent the onset of social anarchy. Indeed our politicians and celebrities who, whether you like it or not, decisively influence societal behavioral patterns and thought processes need to take concrete, proactive, sustained and, if need be radical efforts to channel public thought processes away from such narrow concerns wherein development, not just economic, but also mental, is the sole agenda whereby societal balance, or what we may call Equilibrium is restored. It is time for a radical change in the tenor of our socio-political scenario to shift from narrow and constricted considerations to a wider and broader plane where issues of economic development, gender parity, education, health-care, skill development, intellectual enrichment and the likes dominate thereby paving the way for a fresher way of life and purer ways of thinking.
In writing this piece, the reference is to the general trend, as has been reflected across the globe in recent (not immediate times) and there is no reference to/any particular person, place community, country or any segment of society in any form. The idea is to restore a certain sense of balance in society by achieving a state of Equilibrium.