These prophetic words of Dickens apply to our times as much as it described the times of the French revolution of the closing years of 18th century.
A misty morning , 8 am on the 1st January 2009, Deira, Dubai
The dawn of the New Year 2009 was quite cloudy and gloomy in Dubai both physically and metaphorically. I walked out for breakfast and even at 8 am the sun had not started shining.
All these thoughts about gloom come to me because I am very anxious about the times we live in against the background of the global financial crisis. As someone who has been looking after finances, mostly of others, it disturbs me considerably to learn of new scams coming up everyday all over the globe. The world has enough of situations to be worried over which affects millions of human lives as in the cases of Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Congo, Palestine and others. All these tend to make me think more philosophical.
Let me not dwell into the reasons of the global meltdown. But some of its aftermaths make me shudder about the nightmares that may follow.
Look at the following three stories from different parts of the world:
1. The $50 billion Bernard Madoff investment scandal from Wall Street has emerged as one of the largest swindling of public money in recent times. It has sent shock waves, uprooting a few Swiss banks besides making paupers of many high net worth individuals. (How could someone who was a financial mogul for three decades suddenly turn penniless?)
2. Adolf Merckle, 74, a German tycoon and world’s 94th richest man who lost millions on VW shares saw his empire falling wrote a final note and stepped in front of a train during this week. (At his age, he was surely more matured and wiser than most of us and obviously may not have wiped off those pennies required to see through his remaining years. What may have caused him to call it a day?)
3. One of India's biggest-ever corporate scandals took a sensational new turn this week when the chairman of Satyam, the IT services giant, admitted that he had orchestrated a $1billion fraud and resigned. (Obviously he seems to have been led by greed. Why didn’t he step down from riding the tiger much earlier and try to fight it out?)
In Dubai, reports abound about thousands of expatriates losing jobs and about luxurious cars being left at airport premises ostensibly by people leaving the country for good and who could not repay the loans taken to buy these cars.
All these happen at a time when war clouds drift over the India –Pak border and the Gaza strip burns. Cholera and famine dance around the poor populace of Zimbabwe. Millions flee their homes amidst the ongoing war between the Government and the rebel forces of Congo.
We pass through momentous times of our lives irrespective of our age. I believe that those of us who are fortunate to be born much after the WW II and have escaped the agonies of other localized wars have to know that these economic question marks before us are the battles we have to weather.
Mankind, all through history has proved that it possesses the indomitable spirit to live on and the great resilience to bounce back from adversities. In the 21st century we are a different community than what we were 4 million years ago when our ancestors first appeared on this planet. Millennia of experiences and collective wisdom enable us to choose the best way ahead and sanity is still present among most of us. Hence the present crisis, gripping the world at large, too shall be a passing phase and we shall enter another era which shall indeed be more promising, peaceful and bereft of agonies and pain.
Let me wish all readers a peaceful year ahead full of renewed hope and enthusiasm.
Dubai, 7th January 2009.