faculty speak

The Red Queen Effect

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The mankind has suddenly woken up to a new reality and it’s the harshest of all he ever faced – ‘Will he wake-up in the days to come?’  The world has to – both literally and figuratively – because if this jolt does not wake him up, he will be sleeping forever and the feeling – though not experienced by yours truly as yet – would be the last he would live through. The world is staring at its first pandemic after a long hiatus by the deadly viruses and pathogens. But as they say – extraordinary situations calls for extraordinary solutions, and if there was a time for any far-fetched extra ordinary solution the time is upon us – it’s here and now. It will test our resolve and commitment towards our own species. It will test our level of selfishness, our ability to sacrifice, our cravings for desires, our readiness to combat, our determination to stay undeterred in these testing times.

Nature has, once again, shown its might and in one fell swoop its mettle too. The so called mightiest is scurrying for cover and he has nowhere to hide. But he is trying his level best to stay afloat and more importantly stay alive. And after ages he is realizing the import of staying home and eating home cooked food. He is not running after creatures (non-veg source) who runs away from him, he is staying put, in fact ironically for a change running away from them. A micro-organism (Coronavirus surprisingly anagram to Carnivorous) has brought the most powerful to his knees, so much so that – they were able to put a lid to his motor mouth. He now wears a mask not to hide but to keep quiet. He is trying every astronomical attire known to him to keep this microling at its bay. He is shaken to his core and he is scared beyond his own imagination. And we all have known that he has the most fertile imagination of them all, but it is this that is becoming his undoing. They say – ‘those who live by the sword, die by the sword’. Sounds familiar.

The world is coming to its senses but they needed a horrendous jolt, so the nature struck in its own inimitable manner when least expected. People are finding solace in their home, loving their parents again (KJo is smiling), want home cooked food, if home – do not want to leave and if not, are craving or looking forward to it. Mankind, for a change, is living in NOW, he wants to breathe-free and clean which he took for granted. For the first time, he is not thinking of ‘a few dollars more’ he wants to live and he is giving a thought to the futility of his hoardings cause he is about to get felled by the tiniest and the newest of his arch enemy. Time is upon him that he realized ‘life is precious and money is not so’. He is worried, he is petrified, and he is thinking of something he never paid attention to – though he walks towards it every moment – death. For the nights would be dark and full of terror (GoT was right). Paradoxically, he suddenly wishes to live a full life – he wants to love and respect his partner, he wish to be with his children, he wants to take care of his parents, he is looking out for his friends, near and dear ones and at times not-so-dear-ones too. Strangely, he wants to go back in time. A virus which is extra ready to snatch him away from society is making him social and at the same time sobering him up.

It’s another humbling experience for mankind and we should realize that if we leap 1000 steps ahead of nature, nature is not a sleeping rabbit to the human kind as tortoise – it will zip past us in a jiffy and we will never know what hit us, we will not even live to tell the tale. My two-bit of unsolicited advice (no one asked and for sure no one would heed, but then when it has stopped anyone of us in doling it out) – Slow Down. Even if we collectively do not make even one new discovery or invention for another year – the sky would not fall. Why don’t we just taste the fruits of what we have achieved? We just made humans work more inhuman hours and brought on him insane expectations, the more we progressed, advanced and made breakthroughs in the world of automated technology, we are working more and long hours. Our efficiencies and productivity is nothing to write home about, it’s so marginal that the trade-offs are not in today’s favor. We need to take a deep breathe (yeah preferably with N95 on) and introspect as we ran and ran to reach nowhere – reminds me of the red queen effect (the phenomenon’s name is derived from a statement that the Red Queen made to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass in her explanation of the nature of Looking-Glass Land: “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”) China is waking up to this and we hope the others will follow suit. Lastly, if we do not collectively hear this loud and clear wake-up call we will not be missing the bus but catching it pronto to our maker’s abode. Any takers?

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

Dr Jitendra Sharma
Professor
Operations Management