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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Objectivism: Tribute to Ayn Rand

Citizen Gautam Naik pays tributes to Ayn Rand

In Asaami Asaami, PL has made one statement through the protagonist DB Joshi that no one needs to do anything special to keep this world going. (Ref; He wonders how his Benson Johnson company runs without anyone doing any significant work). In fact this fictional statement is exactly opposite to the entire life and philosophy of PL in person.  This statement can be interpreted as totally sarcastic. Sarcasm of PL is inherited from his role model P G Wodehouse who while being totally elitist in his approach as he depicted castle and lords of Victorian England. But then he was the most scathing critic of that class. In same note PL has been branded to be Middle class icon. Though PL is not ultra critical on this wrongfully maligned community but nevertheless has some master strokes of self deprecating humour. Going back to topic of world surviving on hard work of few, no one in literature has described it as strongly as Ayn Rand and her objectivism philosophy. Her thoughts have had a great impact on me personally. I do not totally agree with Ayn Rand on every aspect and I sense a lot of immaturity in her writing (though I don’t claim to be arm chair philosopher or great reviewer and it’s my personal observation as I stand nobody in comparison to stature of Ayn Rand) and black and white portrayal of characters which in real life which you cannot. As I complete 20 years of my first reading of Fountainhead, especially since its Durga Pooja time, some very fond memories rush back.

Flash back to the Durga pooja vacations in 1993. We in the IIT system, had two major vacations: between semesters in Dec and long 3 months in summer after completion of the  year. Kharagpur was an exception where we had three vacations. We had a week long break in Navaratri time when whole Bengal celebrated Pooja shutdown. I think everything remains same after 20 years. So we the gang of students from Mumbai, Pune and far off places had a chance to go home only then unlike local Kolkata and nearby crowds who could go home on weekends. Our first journey in ‘92 Poojas was an adventure when Geetanjali exp got derailed.  But as we entered second year the journey got bit monotonous as it was of 36 hours. One really needed a good book to kill time especially during the journey back to KGP. Journey to home always was more exciting. Added to that, we had 3 hrs halt at Kalyan as there was no direct train to Kolkata then. Coming to ’93, I experienced personal emotional event when someone exited from life, an event typical for that age. Those were gloomy days. And end semester exams were close. But still then you needed a book to read, and there was one black covered book lying in house maybe bought by my uncle. I had no interest to read that but it was very late to go to buy a book. So just took a chance and packed it. And then it changed my life.
Next 20 odd days which I took to read the book changed a lot of things at that impressionable age. What a set of characters and what a narration!! The central character of Howard Roark, the author unsupported character of incomprehensible Domnic Francon, great character of media baron Gail Wynand and slimy one of Elsworth Toohey. But what scared then most was to be someone like the character of Peter Keating. As in IIT system we were mostly all blue eyed Keatings who had to get into world for lack of real engineering skills or interest except for very few who wanted to.  Suddenly there was new purpose and seriousness to learn basics and do something good. Keating is the one who thrives on others excellence or hard work to survive and take credit and gain worldly returns. Thus i firmly believe, contrary to the imaginary D B Joshi, that it takes few good hardworking men to keep system running. Imagine honest IAS/IPS officers taking on system. Imagine well meaning employees in corrupt governance systems. Imagine few key PMs and techies managing whole project amidst loads of good for nothing and pampered project teams involving QAs, BA s, TLs, MLs and so on. Every organization has those. These people are driven by sense of ownership, excellence and achievement and not by external drivers. Search around you in your work place, you will find them whichever might be your domain etc.  But then do all get recognition, some do. Most of these ‘first handers’ as defined by Ayn Rand go unsung. As an example we all know architect of so called Param but not the real creative minds. We all know NR N but not the other key people at the start of Infosys. If anyone has seen movies like ‘The pirates of silicon valley’ or ‘social network’, fact still gets underlined. Not that all these people were not ‘first handers’, but apart from that you need some special skill sets to get recognized and make it big as beautifully explained by Malcomn Gladwell in Outliers. And mostly world has tendency to worship false heroes. But those driven by objectivism don’t care and they march on.
Twenty years of gone by. Professional and person life has given very great experiences but was always helped by Objectivism.
But then in life one faces many ‘Keatings’, one sees many ‘Roarks’ who toil hard for lack of credit and fair returns except their own self actualization. In fact, motivated by Ayn Rand i have also tried to be ‘Gail Wynand’ the mass motivator. I was in same boat of Howard Roark’s many a times, betrayed by ‘Keatings’ and the master scheme of world. But my objectivism was driven by slightly unfashionable motivation and was slightly intangible in form of the nature of work which I liked in those years. And I had to pay price for that. But ultimately objectivism is what mattered and triumphed in the end as per my own standards and not to be judged by anyone. That is the biggest learning I have got from books of objectivism. And it acts like strength during moments of doubt.
Then read every other book of Ayn Rand. Atlas shrugged is a kind of strike by people who really drive the things against the exploiters who in name of altruism manipulate the excellence. Ayn Rand lived in the time of communism vs capitalism. Also read ‘we the people’, and many non fictions as well.
This really was an inspired writing based on philosophy, politics and world situation then. Hats off to the great Ayn Rand.

Wish to continue objectivism which is now more matured with my own age, next decade and beyond.

Author runs a blog http://nayakgiri.blogspot.com

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