A Critical Review of Sapiens- Yuval Noah Harari

The first thing that comes to my mind is that the book is magnificent. It gets you intrigue about the evolution of mankind. It has explored the way in which history and biology have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be a “human”. The thing I liked the most about Harari is the manner in which he has emphatically opened his views, we fall in unison with his views.

The premise of the story begins with 3 types of Revolution- The Cognitive Revolution (70,000 Years ago), The Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago) and The Scientific Revolution (500 years ago).

The first part of the book talks about how the universe was evolved. We’ve belonged to a family called ape. Human first evolved in East Africa about 2.5 years ago. The main argument about the first part is that how sapiens became the cause of extinction of other human species such as Neatherthals. Cognitive Revolution is basically a new way of thinking and communicating. Cognitive Revolution made sapiens to think about religions, myths, legends, and fantasies. Human brain was bigger than the size of the body. The dominant member of the family was the male which can be seen in most of the societies today. There existed coalitions, similar to today’s form of government.

The Cognitive Revolution forces us to think that Sapiens were living in a dual reality which Harari points out that on one side there were objective reality like rivers, trees, etc and on the other there were the imagined reality like gods, nations and co-operation. And the imagined reality overpowered us.

The Part-II of the book talks about the Agriculture Revolution. The shifts from having plucked wild figs and hunting sheep to farming are what Agricultural Revolution is all about. Sapiens devoted all their time to farming. Harari points out that 90% of the calories that we have today was domesticated in 9500 BC- 8500 BC like wheat, grains and the like. The fact that we didn’t domesticated wheat, wheat domesticated us is what really fascinates me. Human brain developed gradually for example they had an idea about what were the seeds to be produced. Harari points out that the Agricultural Revolution was the biggest mistake. But according to me it Agricultural Revolution is a great leap to humanity. Although it has brought many ailments like arthritis, slipped-disc, hernia etc but without the advent of Agricultural Revolution we couldn’t have survived because we can’t depend upon the environment as there’ll be a point where species will become extinct. The Sapiens population spread thinly over vast territories. Harari points out that increase in evolution lead to increase in human sufferings. The compelling fact about this part is that how imagined communities shaped our desires. The hierarchy system prevailed in the society. Harari also talks about the way that how in the Hindu mythology Lord Purusa created Sun, Moon, Brahmins, kshatriya, Vaishaya and Shudras with his body parts which is interesting to know.

In Part-III, in the discussion of the unification of mankind, Harari argues that political and economic interdependence increased. Empires grew and trade intensified. Barter System was established. He argues that how money, empires and religion drove us apart. Somehow I felt that he diversified from his topic in the end of the chapter.

In Part –IV of the book, the most fascinating part for me was how Harari saw Scientific Revolution as a progress of enormous power that humankind had obtained. I really liked the way he told about Modern Science, where we accept the fact that we don’t know everything. We aim to obtain new knowledge and acquire new theories about power to develop new technology. He talks about Imperial Capitalism – how credit lead to discoveries which lead to colonies lead to profits which lead to trust which further lead to more credit which is really interesting fact to know. Harari points out that how Industrial Revolution (manufacturing process) brought about global warming. He says that Industrial Revolution gave immense powers. Harari argues about the “imagined communities” which still prevails in the form of nations, empires and churches. Harari pointed that “States uses their power to kill their own citizen” is what muddles me. At the end he concludes by saying how modern technology has left us dependent and how will it overpower us in the coming years. We have mastered our surroundings, increased our food production build cities and stuffs. But with this we have invited a lot of sufferings. Had it not been happened what would be our situation? Is what comes to my mind, which  Harari fails to provide us.

India -Israel Relationship over the years!

“I” for “I” is India with Israel, and “I” for “I” is India with Israel.

As soon as the quote was commented, there were tons of articles being published about the relationship India has with Israel. Recently on 4th July,’17 Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi visited his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and other dignitaries.

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu welcoming India’s PM Narendra Modi

Looking back at the history India-Israel relationship developed in 1992 and since then their bilateral relations between them blossomed at the economic, military, agricultural and political levels.

Relation between Jurusalem(capital of Israel) and New Delhi(capital of India) were no always warm. While both countries gained Independence within month of each other, India in 1947 and Israel in 1948 – India as a leader of NAM maintained closed relations to Arab world and Soviet Union, Israel linked ties with the U.S. and Western Europe. The state of Israel was fully recognized on 17th September’1950.

In 1953, Israel was granted permission to open a consulate in Mumbai. Nehru government did not want to pursue full diplomatic relations with them, as India supported Palestine cause(Israel-Palestine conflict began in 20th century on the issues such as mutual recognition , border securities and the like) and would estranged the relations with Arab world.

India publically kept a distance from Israel until late 1980’s but in the coming years, there was in fact a great deal of bilateral activities between the two countries. India fully established its diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 only after Palestine President Yaser Arafat on board. There were two reasons for this-

  • The first was state of Israel and Arafat’s Palestine Liberation organization recognized each other for the first time.
  • The other was that there was a pressure from US AS India needed a global interface for its economy after the economic liberalization of 1991 as well as for the defense needs after the supplier USSR collapsed. It was America who asked India to accommodate Israel in its foreign policy.

Ariel Sharon became the first Prime Minister to visit India in 2003 wherein The Delhi Statement of Co-operation was signed. India–Israel co-operation increased drastically in 2014, since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Israel exported $662 million worth of Israeli weapons and defense items to India as Israel was considered to be the second largest defense supplier to India. During his visit recently, they announced partnership between these two countries and 7 agreements signed including  water management, agriculture, space, technology and agreed to create a Technology Innovation Fund worth $40 million for research and Development in industrial  sector.

Modi also issued OVERSEAS CITIZEN OF INDIA CARDS to the Indian origin who has done compulsory military service in Israel. The cards ease the difficulty of finding employment opportunities and other facilities.

The three components of India’s co-operation with Israel is of Water, Agriculture and Defense.

In terms of Water and Agriculture, Israel has a foremost technology in areas such as Rain Harvesting, use of oceanic water and using this for irrigation in dry areas. Israel is now a water surplus state and has established the water desalination technique. India is characterized by disruptive monsoon and deteriorating agriculture sector, the use of salt water from Israel is of immense importance. But the fact that India fails to benefit from is that – first the desalination plants requires a massive amount of water and then there is the misuse of desalination plant discharge which creates a havoc in the coastal areas.

In terms of Defense, the rise of Islamic Extremist Terrorists in both the nations has generated a strong alliance between them. India recently launched a military satellite for Israel through Indian Space Research Organization.

What we fail to understand is that India is treated to constant prate on how every single purchase from Israel will become a decisive factor or a key factor. Israel doesn’t produce complete military system, it’s a supplier and maker of parts and is expertise in small and medium range. It is an extremely complex process and India has no knowledge and experience in this field. This is the reason Israel refuses to share source-codes for any product that has to be integrated with Russian system (we cannot forget that Russia is the largest supplier of defense to India) for operational security reasons.

The way forward is – in the arena of methodological approach to population control and implicit methods of warfare (discussing the issue instead of a war) are important for India. In the Agricultural sphere, Israel should co-operate with India and find ways of overcoming irrigational and agricultural techniques. In the area of water, India should solve problems including land, electricity, fishing and farming.

The story of India- Israel relationship is blooming. Let’s hope that Mr. Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel can enliven to its full potential.