BOOK REVIEW: IMPERIUM by ROBERT HARRIS

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A history text book turned into a fiction would grab attention of any reader. Harris has done a great job in accounting the historical facts and creating a historical fiction – Imperium. Imperium is a book which captures the political and judiciary scenario which prevailed in the Ancient Rome.

IMPERIUM, the title of the book gives us a gist of the situation prevailing in Ancient Rome. Imperium implies OFFICIAL, POLITICAL POWER which is vested by the state in an individual. The greed, the need to achieve the POWER is shown through different characters. Imperium is the fictional biography of Cicero told through first person narrative, Tiro.

The main characters in the book include – Cicero, Tiro, Crassus, Lucius, Sergius Catilina, Verres, Pompey, and Hortensius. The protagonists of the book are Cicero and Tiro. The Antagonists are Verres and Catilina.  The book is divided into two sections- Senator and Praetor.

Imperium takes a form of memoir. Tiro, a shy intelligent, bookish slave writes and narrates the story. He is also known to be the inventor of the shorthand writing or precisely saying a Stenographer. Tiro was assigned with the task of taking down his speech poetry, literary works and his letters. He was praised by everyone because of his flawless accuracy in capturing the narration of his master. On one occasion, he was invited into Pompey’s conference to take down the proceedings of the conference.

But this was not the limit of Tiro’s status ,for he was the slave and confidential secretary of the Roman statesman , the person who reveals himself to us in all his manifold contradictions, an author himself, an ambitious man with brilliancy attached to his crown, his blindness and his vulnerability, it is none other than our protagonist: MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO.

Cicero was a greater orator, a celebrated lawyer and a Roman statesman who had a high ambition of gaining the highest political power, that is, the consulship. The story which is narrated in the eyes of a confidante, Tiro has given a close exposure of the character of Cicero. He recounts Cicero’s ascent into the consulship, politics. He fought against all the insurmountable odds in order to reach his power. The best part of Cicero was that though Tiro was a slave, he was never treated indifferent from other members of the family.

Cicero, unlike the other aristocrats of his time, was a parvenu, who didn’t have a family tradition of imperium to rise to the power. His only strength and spell-bounding power was his oratory skills. It was the oratory skills that raised him to the consulship and this journey is what Harris has used as his narrative.

The interesting part for me is that the book concentrates and briefly explains the major events in Cicero’s life. It starts from the beginning of his training to become an orator. It starts with a brief explanation of his excursion to the East to learn philosophy and oratory from the famous Apollonius Molon in Rhodes and ends at him achieving his desire of becoming consulship.

The prosecution of Verres is described as major turning event. This is a case where Cicero uses his wit and strategy to achieve what he had in his mind. This event was when he had shortened his speech and directly dealt with the victims. This is the case where he shamed the senate body using his oratory skills. This is the case where evidences were given importance than long speeches which would go on for days together.

Though years have passed, his speech made during this case still has an eerie relevance in the present world – “A belief has become established – as harmful to the Republic as it is to yourselves- that these courts, with you senators as the jury, will never convict any man, however guilty, if he has sufficient money.” Not only these words, there are many such speeches, words of Cicero which Tiro has accounted which will engulf the readers mind with questions about its relevance to the present generation.

Cicero character also reflects a grey shade about his character- his insecurity. In the book, the reader might notice this when he once writes to his friend Atticus about how he anxiously wondered what people would be saying about him in a thousand years’ time.

My favourite character in this book was Tiro and Cicero. Tiro, because of the way he has given importance to the structure and beauty of each and every character and describing all the incidents which is of trivial matter. His memory and his writing skills must be appreciated. Cicero for his wit and the way he handles the situation is commendable. He has shown that an orator need not give boring speeches all the time. He has shown that sometimes a sense of sarcasm mixed with humour can grab attention at its best.

The strange relationships highlighted in the book, a reader can look out for are:

Cicero- Tiro, a relationship beyond a master and a slave.

Terentia – Cicero, a relationship of Husband and Wife with love filled with dominance.

Tullis- Cicero, A beautiful bond of Father and a daughter.

Pompey- Cicero, a relationship which looks like a friendship, but is built out of disdain and necessity.

Quintus-Cicero-Lucius, a relationship which celebrates brotherhood and a strong bond with three different characters.

The book has engrossed an idea of the Roman Republic. It also shows the dwindling of Roman Republic to the hands of Despotism. Thus the Roman Empire begins.

Robert Harris, a British Novelist, has captured the Roman republic at its best, including its Political system, Judiciary system, the need of power and its relevance in Today’s world. It’s a must read for all the Historical Fiction admirers. Imperium is also the first book of the trilogy which surrounds the life of Cicero. The sequel book is Lustrum.

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War and Peace

The historic collapse of an almost-historic peace accord.

A mere formality gone wrong?

What could have been an historic peace accord to put an end to a  war that had devastated Colombia for the past 50 years and was touted to be the longest running civil war of Latin America, was voted out by the Colombian people.

The plebiscite was supposed to be just a step to be ticked in the checklist of getting the peace accord in action. A fait accompli. But maybe the selling of the plebiscite as such is what led to its defeat. Why go to vote Yes if the vote is already certain? This may explain the low voter turnout of less than 37%.

Though the ‘No’ camp won by a slight margin, it says a lot about people’s perception about the decision making procedures in the country and its execution.

What was the War about?

The war had started out as a minor tussle between the government and left wing guerrila group FARC- Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. FARC had risen from the remnants of the La Violencia period of agrarian rural warfare that had gripped Colombia in the 1920s. Like the requisite ingredients to blow up a civil war, the Colombian civil war too had a mixture of socio-political and economic factors. But the aim of achieving social justice for the citizens led the communist FARC to adopt to some pretty gruesome means like drug trafficking and child soldiering and they lost their earlier popularity with the masses.

 

US interference cannot be far behind whenever civil disturbances are in order.The Peace Corp set by JFK in 1961 was an effort to contain communism and the volunteers of the Corp were to help the natives in agricultural development, education and health amenities. Instead they started collaborating with the American mafia and led to a spurt in the growth of cocaine and narcotics in Colombia.

But the network and will of the FARC soldiers to keep the fight on, has seen a huge downfall in the recent years. In 2002, the no. of FARC soldiers was near 20,000 but recent studies have shown the no. to have dwindled to 6000-7000 soldiers. Discontent and hope to rejoin the society is high among FARC soldiers who just want to lead ‘normal lives’ again.

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Src: Google Images_President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jiminez

 

What’s the Big ‘DEAL’ about??

The peace talks had started in 2012 in Cuba, between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader and negotiator Timoleon Jiminez. It went back and forth for 4 years, until in 2016, a consensus had been reached. They had finally arrived on a 6 point plan which would have formalized the cease-fire and would have confirmed that the weapons possessed by FARC would be “beyond use”.

According to the 297 page agreement the FARC leaders had agreed to hand over their weapons and to be monitored by UN inspectors. They would have formed a political party which would have an assured 10 seats in the Congress in the 2018 and 2022 elections.

Amnesty was to be granted to those FARC members who confessed of their crimes i.e instead of facing prison, they would engage in social work- helping victims and de-mining war zones, repairing damaged infrastructure etc

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Src: Google Images_People upset over the No vote.

So why did the people vote No?

The ‘No’ wasn’t a denial for the peace accord but for the terms under which it was being finalized. The local phrase in trend to comment on the accord was “swallowing toads”. People felt betrayed by the though that the FARC leaders who committed grave crimes against humanity will not be serving jail time.

Former President Alvaro Uribe, whose father was slain by the FARC, had led the campaign for the “No” vote said that people had wanted justice and not impunity for the FARC leaders. While his military approach to deal with the rebels, was the reason they agreed to the peace talks in the first peace, Uribe feels that the present accord is in major need of corrections to serve the interests of the citizens.

Social media played a huge role in yielding influence. Many have blamed it for being a platform of misinformation spreading stories like the state of Colombia, post the accord, would be much alike Venezuela where the narco-traffickers work hand in hand with the government or that the accord would be the first step in establishing a communist regime in Colombia.

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Women soldiers of FARC feel that gender equality exists more in the guerrilla army than in the Colombian society

Homophobia and gender insensitivity could also be a reason, as many voters were supposedly against the gender provisions made in the accord especially the segments on LGBTQ. A sub-commission on gender and women issues had submitted its suggestions as to how the reintegration of female FARC soldiers into the society, should take place. Their points had found a place in the accord but the strong opinion circulating in the media was that these issues could be tackled under a separate slab and were not as urgent.

A lot also fell on the campaigning style of the 2 camps. The Santos government actually put forth questions that were biased to the accord and placed emotional blackmail of sorts by retorting to statements in ads, that those who vote No are actually supporting the continuation of war.

The No camp could effectively communicate to people, in simple messages about the dangers of the peace accord while the Yes camp could never really portray its benefits. This goes on to show how manipulation works in modern democracy. Under the garb of political assertion of the masses, leaders work the questions in a certain way to get a certain response.

 

The Nobel Twist

The announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize just days after the thrashing of the peace accord is a positive development for Santos. Awarded in recognition of his efforts to bring peace to Colombia, the Nobel does add the much needed strength to his cause. The award is also a tribute to the victims of the conflict and to all parties that cooperated in the peace talks.

The Nobel surely softens the sting of the Uribe camp and implicitly shows the support of the international community to be with the Santos government.

 

What NEXT?

While largely uncertainty looms over the next course of action for the Colombian government, the FARC-EP has maintained its stance on peace-keeping but with FARC leaders thinking that they have already given too many concessions, the possibility of them agreeing for jail team for their members is highly unlikely.

Thought the Santos government is quite unpopular now, Santos still has command over the congress and can still garner up support with the right strategy. The recent meeting of Uribe and Santos after almost 6 years to discuss the changes in the accord is a major step-up in the process.

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Renegotiation under process

Even if the renegotiated peace accord gets voted through by the people, problems for the government wont stop there. There are numerous issues to be confronted even then such as reintegration of the FARC soldiers, some of them children, into the society. To make those  who have only known a life of violence abide by rules and follow societal norms will be a mammoth task.

But lets not jump the gun. The government has to keep aside the haste and arrogance it portrayed the last time and work on an inclusive accord and democratically fair plebiscite.

Swati Sudhakaran is pursuing Masters in Public Policy at Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru

 

Economists vs. Accountants

by Megha Sharma(@megha0111) on 8th October 2016

 

 

Accounting is about following rules and having a monotonous way of solving a problem. Economics is much dynamic in nature which makes economists farsighted and cautious.

Economists and accountants treat costs and profit differently. To understand the quandary of economists and accountants, it is essential to know about the cost, profit, and revenue.

Cost is not just the amount spent to produce something. In fact, it is much more than that. The amount one spends in producing something is what a person gives up to get it. The cost of producing an item does include all those things that a producer must have forgone to produce that item. This is the opportunity cost of producing an item, which cannot be handled loosely.

If a child buys a chocolate for Rs. 10, that Rs. 10 is an opportunity cost as he can no longer use that 10 rupees to buy something else. Or in other words, he lost the opportunity to buy something else from that 10 rupees.

Revenue is the total amount that a producer earns after the sale of the outputs (quantities of the output). The revenue covers the cost of production when a firm makes a profit. After covering the cost of production, the extra revenue is termed as the profit.

So, we define the profit as total revenue minus the total cost.                      That is Profit= Total revenue – Total cost.

Economists divide the total cost into implicit and explicit costs. An explicit cost is a monetary cost. An implicit cost is an opportunity cost incurred by a firm. There is no such implicit cost that accountants take into consideration. They consider only the explicit costs because they see this cost as flowing in and out of the firm.

The accountants mostly have to keep track of the money that flows in and out of the firm. And hence they consider just the explicit costs and ignores the implicit costs.

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This is how an economist and an accountant calculates the total cost. The economist considers both explicit and implicit cost while the accountant focuses only on explicit cost.

Now, since there is a difference in the consideration of costs between the two, there has to be a distinction between the economic  and accounting profit.

The accounting profit includes only the explicit cost. While the economic profit takes into account both implicit and explicit cost. This is the reason why accounting profit is much higher than the economist profit. Economist calculates the profit as the firm’s total revenue minus all the cost including explicit as well as implicit. While an accountant’s profit is a measure of total revenue minus only the explicit cost. And as a result, Accounting profit is much higher than the economic profit.

accounting_profit_vs_economic_profit1363038379660Source: Wikipedia

The following scenario depicts the situation clearly.

Reema, a resident in Bangalore, is planning to open a bakery. She is dubious about her decision because she would have to give up her present job of teaching. She presently earns Rs. 500 per day. She decides to seek suggestions from her two friends Sanjay, who teaches economics and Tanya, a chartered accountant. The response she gets from both of them makes her more daunting and dubious.

When Reema loses the opportunity of earning Rs. 500 per day, Tanya does not consider this amount as a cost of Reema’s bakery business but Sanjay does. This is because an accountant of a firm only considers the monetary value that flows out of a business for the cost. Whereas an economist will definitely count the forgone opportunities as a cost because it will affect the future decisions in the business.

What if Reema’s teaching wages increases from Rs. 500 per day to Rs. 1000 per day? Maybe then she realises that the bakery business is costlier and calls off the business in order to resume her previous job. 

Similarly, the profit that Sanjay will measure for her will be lesser than Tanya’s calculated profit of Reema’s business. it is because Sanjay has also deducted the opportunity cost(the teaching job) that Reema is giving up to start the business while Tanya does not consider it at all. This makes a dilemma for Reema to continue her job or to start a new business.

These are the aspects in which the amount of cost and profit differs when seen through the angles of an economist and an accountant.

Accountants and Economists are mutually exclusives. The latter can explain well the behaviour of a firm considering the future and past consequences while the former are good at following a set of principles to solve a problem. The relationship between the two is complex yet important.

Featured image source: Google images.

Megha Sharma is pursuing M.A in public policy @Mount carmel college in Bangalore.

 

Sports and nationalism in India

by megha sharma(@megha0111) on 5th October 2016



​The views of historians and novelists  on sports and nationalism are worth noticing!


 
George Orwell, a novelist, defines nationalism as the worst enemy of peace. He says, “The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.” 

In his essay, “The Sporting Spirit,” Orwell says that sport can be just as violent as war. The idea of fair play is only a myth. The athletes feel the same hateful and violent feelings as do soldiers in combat. He called the sports as “war minus shooting.” 

Sports act as the glue that binds people together and offers a collective identity at local, national and supra-national levels. It is one of the most emotional forms through which we experience and express our nationalism. The teams or the individual who plays at a national or international level does not represent religion or caste but the region and nationalities. 

E.J. Hobsbawm, a British Marxist historian, in his book, “Inventing Tradition”  mentions the inventions of national tradition. According to him, Sporting pastimes, rituals, ceremony, institutions, costumes, anthems, symbols, plays are a great invention of tradition. Along with the participants, spectators of the sports event are also the symbol of being a part of the nation. Even any individual, who is present in the sports event cheering up, also becomes a symbol of his nation. Sport is important in the emergence of national identity.

On April 2, 2011, when we won the Cricket world cup, the streets of India were flooded. There were strangers embracing and sharing their praising words. It was not a matter of being a Hindu or Muslim, a lower caste or an upper caste. It was an Indian Identity that emerged and transformed a diverse community into united.    Ramchandra Guha, an Indian historian, and writer, in an article in Outlook magazine, said that the institutions that keep us together are those bequests of the British: the civil service, the army, the railways, and cricket. All the linguistic, pluralistic, regional, caste barriers are superseded by the feeling of brotherhood and nationalism. 

The feeling of national identity even resides in the heart of Indians residing in other countries of the world. Indian Diaspora across the world rooting for the Indian team is the identity of a nationalist sentiment. It was clearly seen in the cricket match recently held in Florida. It was the first time when America hosted the international cricket match. Half of the stadium was filled with Indian immigrants. The national flags flying all over the stadium, people cheering the Indian players, praising India in a common voice, depicts the Indian Diaspora’s feeling of being a part of India. Sport not only has the power to influence community identity but the nationalist sentiments also. Sports manage to maintain the links between the Indian Diaspora and Indian culture.

Sports create a shared experience which inculcates a collective consciousness among the people. There is no powerful medium than sports to inspire and bring people together for a common purpose. Other than cricket, sports event like Olympics is of phenomenal importance to create a feeling of nationalism. Recently when summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, every Indian living in any part of India, belonging to any religion or caste realised that they are the part of a single identity “Indian”. The badminton women’s singles final between PV Sindhu and Carolina Marin was being watched by Indians sitting in different corners of the Nation. But they all shared a common thought. Irrespective of different caste, religion or region, they all had a common wish of PV Sindhu winning the finals. It shows how the citizens of our nation who holds different opinions and views for different incidents held the common imagination of winning the Gold medal. This is the strength of sports, which makes our nation united and brings us under a common umbrella.

Benedict Anderson, a historian, political scientist, and polyglot, calls the nation as an imagined community which is limited and sovereign, in his book “Imagined Communities”. The imagined community of millions of people in a nation  appears to be real when a few individuals or a team represent the whole nation. Despite various disparities, there are factors that bring the citizens of our country together, with common views – sports being the most important of all.

Megha sharma is pursuing M.A in public policy @ mount carmel college in Bangalore.

Marred in Marriage

To see the man who vowed to be by your side through thick and thin, turn into a vicious animal driven by power or lust, is any wife’s worst nightmare.

Swati Sudhakaran@TheMindMap

The four letter word that has come to engulf women around the world– Rape. The dreadful blanket it weaves around a woman’s life is suffocating and maleficent.  But the pain and the mental trauma are far worse when the perpetrator of the crime is a known person… one’s own husband.

The sacrosanct tradition of marriage in India is a reflection of the skewed relation of authority shared by the husband and the wife. Though certain things have changed for good measure presently, the norm of the ‘dominant man’still prevails in a lot of cases.  The man calls the shots, both inside and outside the bedroom. The reversal of the ‘power’ equation in marriages these days, is a huge factor for the increasing no. of marital rapes. With the rise in women employment and empowerment, men need the constant reassurance of their status quo and use sex to salvage their insecurities.

“Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape,” states a 2013 amendment to section 375 0f the Indian Penal Code. Since marital rape has not been accounted as a crime, the actual stats are difficult to collect and comprehend. A conundrum is faced in the phrase ” not being under 15 years..” when marriageable age for women itself is 18 years. This shows how out of sync, the law is, with the present times.

The kind of argument, put forth by MPs and Ministers like Ms. Maneka Gandhi, to defend or altogether deny the existence of marital rape, quoting reasons like ,”level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament” does no favours to India’s global persona or to the institution of marriage.

The J.S. Verma committee constituted to look into existing legislations and provide suggestions to counter and curb sexual violence, post the Nirbhaya case of 2012, had recommended criminalizing marital rape. Unfortunately, this had been overlooked by the government.

Many would question the necessity for a Marital Rape law when the Domestic Violence Act (2005) covers sexual abuse.  But the need arises as the Domestic Violence Act is only a civil act which only ensures protection and compensation to the victim and no jail term for the convict. The notion of justice that should be meted out in case of a criminal offence like rape is hence distorted.

 

Cruelty by husbands and relatives under section 498‐A of Indian Penal Code is the major crime committed against women across the country, with around 909,713 cases reported over the last 10 years, or 10 every hour. Though marital rape is not segregated from the other abuses, one cannot be so blind so as to negate their existence (Ahem Ms. Maneka Gandhi)

A 2013 global review by UN Women stated that up to 70% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence, atleast once in their lifetime from an intimate partner,

The problems that lead to marital rapes are abundant and right in front of our eyes, if only we agree to open them. Knowledge of basic etiquettes regarding sexual intimacy is lacking in the Indian cultural space. Men are often not educated on how to emote and express sexual desires without being tagged a pervert or a lust driven monster. Marriage is often treated as a freepass for sex in India, or to compensate for the lack of it previously. The stigma attached to sex before marriage also leads to penting up of sexual frustrations that vent themselves out, post marriage. Also, in a culture where a man’s sexual prowess is highly valued, men are under a great deal of pressure to exert force in the bedroom.

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Ms. Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development, stated that in India, marriage is a sacrament and hence the question of marital rape doesn’t arise.

The total absence of support to women from the natal home is another factor. There have been countless narratives, where the woman has been told by family, friends and even police to ‘adjust’. How does one adjust to brutal shredding of one’s self esteem and respect?

Lack of sexual experience prior to marriage leads women to think that this is the only way their sexual life could be. A sense of agency is a must for women to start acknowledging marital rape as a crime first of all and not acclimatize to it.

One of the major issues with marital rape lies in the difficulty to prove it. It is unlike other cases of rape, where the semen  and signs of external struggle are evidence enough.  Here the semen is of the husband which he could argue was the result of consensual sex. How to prove instances where the wife was asleep or ill or just not in the mood for it? And what if the wife refused to go through with sex, having said yes initially?

It’s time the government transcends the cultural barriers and looks for solutions that maintain the privacy of the marriage and also effectively address the situation.  A mandatory counseling workshop for about-to be married couples should be introduced, post the completion of which only the marriage certificate would be handed to them.

Free marriage counselling including sessions with sex experts should be initiated by the State, post marriage too. If the State grants the legal sanction to two individuals to get married, then the State should also extend the adequate apparatus to look into the well-being of that ‘sacred institution’.

Another important question to be raised is the sustenance of marriage post the rape? How does a marriage survive that? Sensitivity in legal procedures handling marital rape should be present as it is something that affects the entire family.

Sex is an important part of marriage and if the husband senses sexual inactivity from his wife, he should address it instead of forcing himself on her. This again, sadly, comes from the age old notion in India where a woman’s No means a Yes. We required a ‘Pink’ to shove this one down some people’s brains.

In conclusion, as rightly said by civil activist Prof Sujato Bhadra, “We need to do away with the term ‘marital rape’ just like we don’t have something called ‘marital murder’. Rape is rape. Murder is murder”.

 

Swati Sudhakaran is currently pursuing Masters in Public Policy at Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru

 

SAPIENS BY YUVAL NOAH HARRIS- BOOK REVIEW

Image resultAn awardee of the annual Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality in the Humanities Development, Yuval Noah Harari has encapsulated the idea of Evolution of Humankind in his book SAPIENS: A Brief History of Humankind.

Harari, writes in the preface, “I encourage all of us, whatever our beliefs, to question the basic narratives of our world, to connect past developments with present concerns, and not to be afraid of controversial issues.” He tells that we need to question whether justice prevailed during ancient history.

The title of the book SAPIENS enshrines that Homo sapiens were not the only sapiens that existed. There was other kind of Sapiens which coexisted with HOMO – SAPIENS. He talks about 6 different species and how Homo-sapiens dominated them.The book spans around the origin of the Species and a transformation of human from an irrational person to a radical person. It widens your horizon about the history of humankind.

The interesting factor about the book is how Harari has managed to divide the Evolution process into Cognitive Evolution, Agricultural Revolution and Scientific Revolution . The main themes of all the Revolutions speak about how one species started gaining prominence than the other. The trajectory processes involved are captivated in these evolutions.

The narrative used by Harari is very contentious. The chapter encloses a positive aspect of each evolution and then brings in the gloomy side of the evolution. This provocative nature of Harari’s writing invokes the readers mind to think about the history once again. The insights of the author are represented through his vivid language.  The book not only speaks about the historic nature of human evolution, but also enclosures biological aspect in creating human species.

The part which fascinated me was that of AGRICULTURE REVOLTUION and subsequent unit – UNIFICATION OF HUMAN MANKIND. The provocative writing in this chapter made me think about the history of Agricultural Revolution. It made me question whether it was a boon to the humankind or bane or an opening to a new era of chaotic society. The farming and the permanent settlement of people resulted in domestication of animals and plants. These abandoned the culture of hunter gatherers. He also speaks about the victims of Agricultural Revolution as the animals who became submissive to Homo sapiens. It created a conundrum in me, when Harari said, “We did not domesticate wheat, but the wheat domesticated us.”

The Agriculture Revolution was an advantage to the humankind rather than the human itself. It benefited the evolution process by increasing the DNA of human species, but the individuals suffered as they had to adapt to a new lifestyle. The shift into Agricultural Revolution created a sense of attachment to my house and separation from the neighbours which had an impact on the psychological ingrain of human.

The concept of the imagined order and everything is just an imagination provokes one’s thought. The idea of co-operation was due to imagined order. “The human imagination” as Harari has pointed out “was building astounding networks of mass cooperation unlike any other ever seen on Earth”.   He explains how the Code of Hammurabi and the Declaration of American Independence has served an example for the idea of co-operation. The concepts of myths, religion and empires are all embedded into the imagined order.

The book further conceptualises about different tools devised by Humans to work in the realm of co-operation. How language, trust, transforming their memory into a form of writing, culture were the artificial instincts to operate in co-operation. The gender issues prevailed in those days, where women were considered to produce baby and look after the household chores whereas men worked in the field to substantiate his family.

Money, religion and empire played as great unifiers as well as divisors. Money, for example, brought together many people to trade objects but it ultimately discriminated with people who couldn’t afford those things. Religion led to co-operation of people, but different sets of communities started to follow other religion which became divisive.

Hence, the discrepancy between the evolution success and the individual suffering is an important lesson to draw from the Agricultural Revolution. He ends the book by saying that the Era of Homo sapiens will end and new sapiens will be created.

The main flaw in this book according to me was that he implicitly said that Agricultural Revolution was the reason to the chaos or distortions which is established in today’s world. But it makes us think if there was no Agriculture wouldn’t we be in a state of foragers or hunter gathers without any development? This question of ambiguity of what would have happened is not answered by Harari. The main positive aspect of the book is that Harari has managed to contemplate all the aspects of evolution in one single book. The writing is very persuasive, provocative and thought invoking whether everything including you is imaginary.

Well, It is a must read to all those who are keen in researching and dwelling deep into the aspects of the evolution of Mankind. And At the end of the book, you will gain a thought and it leads you to question things which have happened in the history.