The Information Age is essentially an era driven by networks. In the physical realm, it began of course with the laying of railways lines on land and telegraph cables both overland and under the sea in the 19th century. Then, with the coming of electricity, radio, flight, rocketry and finally computers, the 20th century saw the complete saturation of our planet and its surrounding space by networks of unimaginable sophistication and complexity. It never ceases to amaze me that today one is able to stand or sail in the most remote corners of the world and hold in one’s hand a device capable of acquiring information from anywhere on the planet and giving access to nearly the entire sum of accumulated human knowledge. If he were around, William Blake would have managed a wry smile to see us hold infinity in our palm in this fashion. Such is the power and all-pervasiveness of networks in our times. However, to harness the full potential of physical and electronic networks and convert the information into practical wisdom and wealth requires one more crucial ingredient. That crucial capability is provided by human networks.
Today, the creation of wealth and knowledge, the basis of the enduring strength of nations and civilisations in our time, is essentially a collaborative activity. The solitary genius in the mould of a Newton or an Einstein is more or less extinct. The sheer breadth and complexity of our systems across the entire spectrum of human activity require the creation and sustenance of both formal and informal networks of authority and influence. Whether it is government or business, academics or professionals, whether it is the world of sports or the creative arts, networks have become extremely important, to serve as repositories of accumulated wisdom and as crucibles of opportunity.
In spite of securing admission to the IIMs at Ahmedabad and Calcutta, I never studied business management. Therefore, I have never been part of alumni associations of management schools that form the backbone of some of the most successful networks that operate today. However, the two alumni associations that I can lay claim to—St Stephen’s and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy—have been enriching experiences. As a government minister, I have been gratified to encounter many Stephanian contemporaries in the upper reaches of our bureaucracy. I remember meeting an alumnus from Fletcher after 30 years in a different country. Though we hadn’t met in 30 years, there was an instant connect. These alumni networks help connect with a diverse bunch of individuals, who may later be your mentors, friends or even colleagues.
The alumni association of a college also drives interaction between the current students, faculty and the alumni. Besides, the diverse and deep-rooted knowledge of the alumni can be leveraged to build the capabilities of the institution and so benefit the current students. For me, it is an absolute pleasure interacting with the newer generation of students of my many alma maters. These interactions remind me that our lives can be lived not just as isolated islands, but as hives of creativity and vitality linked by networks. In the era of the World Wide Web, we are all connected, but some connections are closer than others—none closer than those of our alumni networks.
(The author is MoS, HRD ministry)
With his excessive praise of networking (Our Key Collaborations), Shashi Tharoor is unabashedly patronising the culture of clubbiness which helps the elite with social connections and discriminates against more accomplished commoners with no such access. This is great advice, but only for the ruling class and aspiring CEOs (and also wheeler-dealers and fixers). PS: Except for their sheer cockiness, I don’t know what these Doon School-St Stephen’s type ‘pedigreed’ ministers have done to improve governance in this country.
The NRI, invited by Integrity Singh to 'collaborate' in the loot.
In his excessive praise of networking Tharur also is unabashedly patronizing the culture of clubbiness which perpetually helps the elite with social connections at high places and discriminates against many highly accomplished commoners with no such access. This is a great advice for the ruling class and the aspiring CEOs, and also for the wheeler dealers and fixers who thrive on power-broking. But if networking was all that one focuses on to reach high places, who would have done all the hard work for measuring one's performance after reaching there? Or will the supportive network rig the performance appraisal as well?
Networking creates coteries and clubby environment, raises barriers for those who do not belong to the club and in the name of exclusiveness often nurtures the incompetent solely because of club membership.
Except for exhibiting sheer cockiness I don't know what all the Doon School- St Stephens pedigreed ministers since Rajeev Gandhi's regime did to improve governance of the country.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT