Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fiction : The day Ajinkya thought of it all

This blogpost is a work of fiction. It's an excerpt from a book I am writing on this theme. 
If you are a reputed book-publisher, contact me at sm@ptuniverse.com

The day Ajinkya thought of it all

Ajinkya Joshi looked outside the PMO's window pensively. He was overwhelmed by emotions, as memories of the past decade and a half flooded his mind, rushing like a series of powerful gusts of storm winds, ready to uproot everything he held dear all his life. It was the 28th of April 2023, when Ajinkya, as the Prime Minister of the broader state of Indian subcontinent, was presiding over a nation that was rooted in a new geo-political reality. The 'broader state of Indian subcontinent', as it was now called, included chunks of other neighbouring nations, some governable, others chaotic. It was the only democratic nation left in Asia.

Ajinkya was barely 45 years old when, four years ago, he was urgently summoned by the National Council of Patriotic Indians (NCPI), from his Finnish hometown. As a brilliant IIT graduate who earned his PhD in Nuclear Physics, he shone in the world of global security establishment. He had not understood fully the reason for the immediate call, but the broader picture was clear to him. Ever since he left the American Nuclear Command Services based at Washington DC in 2016, he had decided never to dwell back into that kind of work ever again. Though India always held a dear place in his heart, he really did not think his family would be able to adjust to the grim socio-political realities of the subcontinent now. But nonetheless, he had returned, much to the cheer of everyone in the NCPI. Much against his wife's and daughter's protests, he had left the secluded underground town of Kristiinankaupunki in Finland. Kristiinankaupunki was one of the few destinations in the world that boasted of completely nuclear-radiation-free lifestyles, still (most others had resigned to the fact that residual radiation was a part of life, and one had to move on nonetheless). Immigration was strictly controlled, and robotic processes ensured only those still un-inflicted could get in. Scandinavia had 21 such locations, interconnected through underground tunnels. There were open areas and cities, of course, but the risk of getting irradiated was entirely the residents'.

The collapse in 2015 of the National Power Grid in India due to an army of cyber-warriors on the rolls of China and Pakistan, the bombing of large parts of Jammu & Kashmir by Osama-controlled Egyptian-Sudaneses mercenaries, the splintering of the erstwhile Pakistani state into ungovernable chunks controlled by tribal ganglords (aided by earlier ISI men), and the memories of what was the USA back then made Ajinkya frozen with nostalgia. That a single lifetime will make him witness so many dramatic events was unthinkable for him just in 2008, when the first signals of what-is-wrong-with-the-world emerged from what they called Wall Street back then.

"A cup of coffee, Mr Prime Minister?", said Ronnie Abraham, the pantryman in Ajinkya's chamber. Memories of how Ronnie was the last of the remaining children from the Christian School in Jammu came alive in Ajinkya's mind. He was barely 17 when everything around him was bombed by the splinter group of what used to be the Pakistani army back then. In retaliation, the nuclear command of the then republic of India's defence forces had let loose a barrage of Agnis and Prithvis across Pakistan and Afghanistan, many of them not nuclear-tipped (but a couple of smaller ones indeed), reaching central Asia as well. No one could do anything, with the third last remaining chunk of the USA army firmly tied down in a grand war with Larger State of China along the (North) Korean peninsula. The Russians were firmly withdrawn into their shell after the sad collapse of democracy (or whatever it was in their nation since 1991) after a mass of frustrated Muscovites, hungry and tired after nearly six years of a tanking economy, had threatened the political establishment of dire consequences. The other two chunks of the USA's defence forces were stuck deep down in Catalonian ranges - the surprising new haven of a resurgent Al Qaeda - and most of the remaining used up in maintaining basic law and order in a now very difficult land - the USA itself. Ajinkya realised with a sense of perilous nostalgia that Osama never got caught after 9/11 and the billions spent chasing him.

For any right thinking human being, these events were just too many to digest. But for the NCPI this was destiny, much as the manner in which they had taken over control of Delhi aided by a mass revolt by the Army in the winters of 2019, when much of the existing political class was asked to relinquish office en masse till things would be set right. The army's disgust had begun an year ago with the arrest of the Chief of Central Defence Services Staff by the Government's Investigating Agency on charges of plotting a revolt against the state (when all he had done was persistently ask troubling questions of patriotism and propriety to the political establishment!) and had erupted with the final revelations of the unbounded wealth horded in Swiss banks, a feat achieved due to a tenth-grader's online adventures from Bhopal - an expert at cyber-espionage! The kid stole all Swiss data and let it loose on Facebook. Indian after horrified Indian started discovering the worth of their local politician, creating pressure-cooker discontent.

Bereft of any significant national-stature political class, with the army (and navy and the air-force) firmly in control of the state's affairs, better sense had prevailed. Leading citizens from various walks of life were summoned (!) to Delhi (and one more undisclosed location) to create the NCPI, the top governing body for the new state of India. Among the first things on its agenda was the search for a leader who exhibited strong future potential keeping in mind the now completely changed realities of the world. Of the 23 individuals of Indian origin shortlisted by the QuantumParam supercomputer based on 42-desired-character-matrix provided by the NCPI and vetted by the Unambiguous-Authority-of-Indian-Identification-and-Corruption-Prevention (UAIIDCP), the successor of the almost eponymous UIDAI which was dissolved unceremoniously by the central government in 2015 when it emerged through its pioneering efforts (although unintended) that more than 30% of NREGA funds were being usurped by 5% of individuals, most of them non-rural!

With a lot of effort, Ajinkya got a hold on his thoughts. He restrained the unchained flow of events that was tiring him out, and decided to get back to the Independence day celebrations. It was precisely 3 years ago, on the 28th of April 2020, that Indian nuclear forces had destroyed whatever resistance they faced in the subcontinent, and had suffered a terrible radioactive fallout. But freedom from fear was more important than anything else, and the choice had been made. The first pan-India 5G enabled survey was an instant hit - 89% Indians had voted in favour  of 'karo ya maro'.

Ever since then, 28th of April 2020 was celebrated as the day India gained independence from the terror of living under constant fear of those who had sworn to destroy her. Of the 7.9 billion humans alive barely a few years ago, just 5.1 billion had survived the multiple nuclear confrontations. Many nations had no means to either counter the inevitable fallout, nor create a medical system capable of handling the crisis. "Chernobyl was such an insignificant joke", Ajinkya sighed in his heart.

The confluence of events that happened in the past decade was truly unbelievable. But the seeds had been sown many decades ago. With the global capitalist economy ravaging the planet like nobody's business, and with the massive collapse of the US housing bubble in 2007, capitalism itself had taken the severest beating ever since Adam Smith had accorded it the respect on the foundation of a philosophy of invisible hand. All that was past, as governments who had otherwise sworn themselves to the much-hyped laisseze faire had shamelessly bailed out white-collar criminals masquerading as corporate chieftains. The debt bill of all advanced nations had become unsustainable, and attempts to print the debt away had caused currency pressures no one had quite imagined. China had persistently refused to appreciate its currency even after the West's pressure, and that put a huge stress on the global trade chain everywhere. Savings rate in Japan and China had soared on hints of a global turmoil. Europe and Japan had also generally lost confidence on themselves due to the adverse demographics and the economies' inability to revitalize themselves again.

Military fallout of these events was inevitable. The world was up for grabs, and all major powers had sensed it around 2014. The militaries had become intransigent realising they were the trump cards in the global game of chess being played, and politicians had continuously lost out on their moral power which was the first condition for ensuring a neutral military that would follow the civil systems command.

How strange! It took centuries to create most of modern humanity. Like dominos, it seemed to fall apart in less than a decade. Truly, man's greed had proven to be his undoing. The complexities of modern mankind had made the system implode on itself. Almost. Ajinkya remembered the famous Nassim Taleb and his "black swan theory" that spoke of precisely such times.

Ajinkya finished his cup of coffee as he prepared to leave for the Union of Nations' summit meet of world leaders. The discussion was "Post-nuclear emerging world order and Prospects for humanity". He remembered, with a sad smile, that an international seminar with almost the same theme was successfully held way back in 2006 also. He hurried to the airport. He knew that the road ahead was pot-holed with landmines of risks unimagined, and unimaginable.


Dr. Rajendra Nahar said...

Lovely futuristic thought 'broader state of Indian subcontinent' is wonderful hopefully more twist and turn politically and social paradigm probably make your novel very popular. Best luck

rohit vyas said...

great post sir
you should write a book sir

ARM_Technobrat said...

Awesome one sir ... Nice futuristic description of the world which made me almost visualize the world of 2023, though the prediction of the following decade is quite scary in it... and good to see the emphasis laid on the date 28th April.. :)... waiting for the book now ...

Manish Vaswani said...

Now, is this what they call it as the far futuristic eagle vision?

Enthusiastic to see the Launch of this book asap..1 issue booked in advance.

Best Luck Sir.

Nitesh Arya said...

Nice storyline..I must say.
The topic is hot and quite spooking.
But sir I sincerely believe the pace should be less (its too much to digest in a short period). Sir I also believe the topic(and its presentation) is way above most of the people can understand.

Hoping to read the whole story soon.