jaggi I


Quo vadis? is a Latin phrase meaning “Where are you going?” or “Whither goest thou?”

The modern usage of the phrase refers to a Christian tradition regarding Saint Peter. According to the apocryphal Acts of Peter (Vercelli Acts XXXV[1]), Peter is fleeing from likely crucifixion in Rome at the hands of the government, and along the road outside the city he meets a risen Jesus. Peter asks Jesus “Quo vadis?“, to which He replies, “Romam vado iterum crucifigi.” (“I am going to Rome to be crucified again”). Peter thereby gains the courage to continue his ministry and returns to the city, to eventually be martyred by being crucified upside-down. The phrase also occurs a few times in the  Bible, notably in John 13:36 when Peter asks Jesus the same question, to which he responds, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me.” The above words have inspired Jaggi to ask this question, when the civilization is standing on cross roads.







Strange how we continue to “look before and after and pine for what is not”. The generals prepare their armies, technologically, to fight the “last war” more efficiently – a war that will never be fought in the same way again. The government and ministers have their heads buried like ‘ostriches in the sand’ – they are too busy in trying to fire-fight or gain petty political advantage, to realize that the world around them has changed – is changing ir-retrievably and forever. Did the rulers of the day feel the same way when the printing press was introduced into European Society, by Gutenberg way back in circa 1439? Did they grasp the impact that the printed word would have – did they even understand the genie that had been unleashed? I am not sure that they did.

So it is today – do we understand the ‘meaning of a net-worked’ society? Just to recap historically and give it perspective in time -

  1. AGRARIAN SOCIETY-10,000 B.C.to1800 A.D – Centralized institutions of tribal leadership and monarchy. Knowledge and power with select few of Church and nobility.

  2. INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY – 1800 A.D. to 2000 A.D. and continuing in a modified form. Capitalistic financial and social institutions shrouded in regulations, secrecy and intellectual property rights.

  3. KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY – 1963 A.D (ARPANET) and continuing – open access to Internet and knowledge base (including propaganda material of competing political ideologies). Still restricted to those privileged sections of society having personal computers/mobile devices and access to the Internet.

  4. NETWORKED SOCIETY – 2005 A.D and evolving. Almost all citizens have access to Internet and intelligent applications through personal laptops or mobile computing platforms.

The Networked society is showing collective intelligence as in “swarm starling or bee swarm” behavior patterns. There is no single leader yet the bee or starling swarm displays collective intelligence. So do the “Netizens” of today.

So how do established institutions deal with it – ‘crush it with a mighty display of unrestricted force and might or deal with it intelligently’. The’ toothpaste is out of the tube’ – to put it metaphorically – it is here to stay. How to deal with it requires acumen, sagacity and commitment of an enlightened leadership whether in governance or the armed forces or other institutions of civilized behavior.  Knowledge and intelligence has always been “power” – now it is getting distributed. Why not understand and accept the change and develop new institutions for the age of empowerment in the era of networked intelligence.

I invite the readers to contribute their thoughts on the subject for surely a collective intelligence available within the fraternity of the “Guftagu” readership will throw up so many answers.






As I was going through Jaggi’s piece, my mind’s eye went back to an old song in which Nutan appears to be in a similar situation, and Balraj Sahni gives her some sagacious suggestions. Please click on the following link, if you have four minutes to spare, and then share your view with us in the space below.



  1. Dhiraj says:

    Very interesting and I really enjoyed the thoughts in this piece … networked society, collective intelligence … et al

    To add on ……
    Before the Internet it was okay to assume ‘knowledge is power’.

    It was power because until then, because beyond essential education, people knew very little about the real world. Few people had access to information and facts outside their immediate environment and whatever did become known took days or even months to transgress state borders. So essentially it was power because it was hard to get it, understand it and apply it.

    With Internet, knowledge has been commoditised. Thanks to search engines like Google it is indexed, searchable and available to all.

    So ‘knowledge’ loses its power – and the new (maybe not be so new !!) beacon of power is ‘wisdom’.

    Wisdom is said to be combination of knowledge, intelligence and experience. In a sense knowledge and intelligence are subsets of Wisdom. Wisdom is a virtue which helps us to take decisions and get the best results – whether it is in a business environment, a battle field or in a personal setting.

    Wisdom grows as one experiences and understands the profound depths of the real world with their knowledge and intelligence. The more intelligent also learn from experience of others and hone intuitive skills to get ahead and stay ahead of the curve.

    And, it is this composite combination in right proportions applied at right moments that makes wisdom rare and thence ‘power’.

    Parting Wisdom from T.S.Eliot …… “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

    • JS Oberoi says:

      Dear Dhiraj,
      You have said it – “Wisdom” is what its all about. We may not be able to employ the “top down” approach in our institutions but each one of us can apply it in our lives and maybe the “collective intelligence of the swarm” will lead us to a wiser society. Nevertheless as Brig Surinder has put it “Que Sera Sera ……… what will be will be.
      Jaggi Oberoi

  2. Dear Jaggi,

    What a thought provoking topic!

    Collective intelligence not-withstanding some things dont change:

    Despite the net, a good teacher is still indispensable.A clever man like Chidambaram still hoodwinks others,and to top it all, Wikipedia itself is not trustworthy

    Perhaps the only answer to Quo Vadis is “Que sara sara…..


  3. Ghansham Singh Ahluwalia says:

    I think the general public is suffereing due to the selfish and corrupt polititians who have become engrossed in making money and thrown the country into caos and rudderless.How to clean the society?
    A group of intelligent and dedicated people should stand up and guide the people towards reall progress of mankind,and rid the country of corrupt polititians.
    Govt should make stringent Laws against those found corrupt,and they should be put behind bars for life.
    UNO has not been of much help to countries like India,which have a huge population and its own problems which they are not able to understand,so we have to find our own leaders.What we really need is a strong and honest leader.
    Ghansham Singh Ahluwalia

    • Col V P Kapoor says:

      I think that the society has become so selfish that even blood relations do not matter.We all know that we will not carry with us when we leave this earthly world, yet we amass wealth by all unfair means,for whom?
      The country has two big evils,CORRUPTION and BAD GOVERNANCE. Even Aam Admi Party will go the way other political parties are heading.Every one wants his share in the pie.
      If we are seriously thinking of the future of INDIANS and INDIA let us all pledge , at least three things:

      1 Cap the population at 100 crores.

      2 Work honestly in all spheres.

      3 Make the country a nation.

      V P Kapoor

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