Gandhians With Keyboards

6th January 1980; young, 20 something artist; supremely gifted with a melodious voice; has no connections in the entertainment industry; zilch sugar daddies who can put her in touch with the right people in the recording business. How can this artist unleash her hidden talent on the unsuspecting world? The same situation forwarded to 6th January 2013.  Records her voice, mixes in some music and uploads to Youtube, Soundcloud, etc. and lets the world judge her, not some snooty nosed entertainment executive who acts as the gatekeeper of all things creative.

On a day to day basis, the status quo is getting challenged thanks to the internet and the surrounding technologies.

Traditional strangleholds are getting breached by young kids with unkempt hair, dreamy eyes, and a keyboard who are not part of the elite cabal. Internet and technology are challenging the status quo on a day to day basis and reversing the role of the producer and the consumer, something unprecedented till a couple of years back.

Let us take some examples and see how the internet and technology have brought on a paradigm shift.

India mainstream media till a few years back was an incestuous coterie whose narrative was guided by leftist agenda. Not to say there was no resistance to this, but it was minuscule with a minimal distribution channel. Mainstream media was a pack of mutually back patting buddies who used to invite each other for columns, talk shows, news anchoring, opinion pieces, etc. Outsiders who used to differ in their thoughts from this closed group were not welcome there.

Today, things have taken a radical turn; it is no longer possible for this invite-only group to keep the commoners at bay; they do not control the keys to this game anymore. If you have an opinion that you want to express, open a WordPress account, and start blogging, inseminate your thoughts through Twitter.  These days, social media sets the agenda for mainstream media. Until a few years back, mainstream media could bury inconvenient issues under the carpet and feast on trivialities, but it is no longer possible. Skewed news coverage and personal party affiliations get challenged on Twitter and Facebook daily.  Since the reach of social media is humongous, it is no longer possible for mainstream media to ignore social media’s reach and carry on with their doppelganger acts.

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Now let us move over to consumerism.

A couple of years ago, if you wanted to take advantage of globalization and indulge in retail therapy, you had to be a resident of one of the A-Grade cities. Many goods were available only in shiny big cities that people in smaller towns could only dream of. Today, it is like the geography has shrunk; we can call it the reverse continental drift.

You want to buy a new pair of Diesel jeans and top it off with a UCB t-shirt and shiny new Nike sneakers, go online and shop. The online marketplaces are more than happy to deliver to even the remotest corners of the country. If you are okay with paying import duties, you can get things shipped from overseas in a jiffy.

Are you a shy guy and feel awkward buying condoms in the medical shop with hundreds of eyes prying on you? Order online. Many websites even promise discreet delivery to save you from that awkward moment.

As per me, the most profound impact of the internet has been in the knowledge space.

Knowledge is no longer confined inside elite libraries and institutions.  You do not have to spend megabucks on books and college degrees if your end goal is to seek knowledge. Almost everything is available free in the annals of the internet. You have access to quality education from renowned professors at the tip of your fingers; you no longer have to spend megabucks on an encyclopedia; Wikipedia is the new encyclopedia, and it is free.

If you are a fitness freak and want to try out one of the health programs but do not have the megabucks to spend on a personal trainer, surf the net for a variety of fitness programs. Think your shin splints are caused due to your poor running form, log into youtube, and watch running videos.  Do not have access to a quality swim coach, see Micheal Phelps in slow motion online and try to mimic him in the pool. You have a health/personal issue and do not know whom to ask, post it in one of the online forums, and some good samaritan at the other end of the globe will take pains to help you.

Thinking of traveling the world but do not know where to start, Wikitravel helps you out. Your local tour operator can no longer con you into expensive shitty tours; she no longer has a monopoly over this.

I can go on and on like this, but let me get to the title at this point.

Where does Gandhiji come into picture in the scheme of things?

Gandhiji stood for self-sufficiency and decentralization. That was his mantra, and this is what the internet is doing to the world. It is toppling autocrats from their cushy thrones,  kicking the middle man out and putting power and knowledge into the hands of the common man.

Anyone who knows to code and has an idea can take on the lethargic behemoth conglomerates of this world and come on top of them. The cost of trying out things has come down drastically that it is within everyone’s grasp. You do not need expensive hardware and servers to try out your ideas. Almost everything is available as a service these days; the cloud has put ideas within the grasp of anyone who has the will to do it; this is just the start, and things can only go up from here, and I do not see an end to this.

We have just tasted the icing on the cake, and the cake does not care who bakes it anymore, anyone hungry irrespective of whether she is from Palo Alto or Puttur has a fair shot at it.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay