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Introduction

by Hon'ble Vice Chancellor
Dr. Sanjay V. Deshmukh University of Mumbai

Communication & Civilization is a tribute to Mankind’s eternal existential quest

 

Mammals predate mankind by millions of years and hence it is understandable that they were the first organism to engage in visible communication and it can be scientifically assumed that mankind learned primary communication through pet calls. The humankind footprint despite being the least on planet developed on a pace unlike any other species. Evolving from the primitive pet cries, mankind gradually develops the understanding of gestures and expressive body language. After centuries of using the animal cries and sign as a mode of communication, the primitive man felt the need to record whatever it saw and started stroking on walls with the help of easily available stones, charcoal etc. Later the primitive man drew or replicated things around him on cave and rock structures. It took about 20,000 years for Homo sapiens to move from the first cave paintings to the first petro glyphs, which are dated to around 10,000BC. The Homo sapiens till this time were just replicating what they saw, but with the advent of pictographs they started relating symbols with objects and then they developed ideograms which were symbols representation ideas leading to  the cuneiform scripts which were an advancement of the ideograms. The cuneiform writing system was in use for more than 35 centuries, through several stages of evolution, from the 34th century BC down to the 1st century AD. It was completely replaced by alphabetic writing with a parallel development of different language and phonetics in different places of the world, they started writing manuscripts on dry Palm leafs during the 15th century BC or the Bronze Age. The palm leaves served as the paper of the ancient world in parts of Asia. And possibly much earlier, they were used to record actual and mythical narratives in  South Asia. During the Bronze Age the Egyptians too developed an understanding the supernatural powers, myths, god, etc and developed their hieroglyphic scripts to decorate the walls of their place of worship. During this era the Greeks invented the phonetics which comprised of the study of sounds of human speech which helped tremendously helped in developing contemporary languages

 

The organized procedure of persevering scriptures and writings led to the setting up of libraries which were thus the first steps towards granting written scriptures the right to be a part of civil institution like judiciary, administration, granaries, securities etc. The library offered a sanctum to teachers and readers to document and preserve scriptures. This played a vital role in the evolution of communications and rendering the evolution of early intelligent civilization. The greatest of thing which accelerated development and growth of human communication was the invention of paper in China.  With the availability of processed paper the Chinese thought to move beyond physical writing to printing which led to further swiftness availability & duplication of literature. The earliest form of printing was woodblock printing, with existing examples from China dating to before 220 A.D. This immovable type of printing press improvised to the movable type of printing which was invented in China around 1040 AD. This led to the most remarkable inventions in the history of humankind. Initiating the beginning of the end of dark ages thousands of miles across in Europe In the 11th century the eastern civilization was far more advanced than the western civilization in many sense especially in communication as they could print thus accelerating the availability of literature thus have better institutions, universities and  trading. It is to study this very ancient but evolved civilization Marco polo travelled to China to know more about the opulent eastern nation. With his able return to Europe he not only brought glorious tales and stories about the rich civilization but also information about the communication tools China had, the movable clay types. Taking inspiration from the printing culture in China possibly from Polo’s chronicles and to get respite from the prevalent  high cost of printing, Gutenberg from Germany thought of creating a printing press which would make printing easy and cheap. The availability of bible amongst masses led to landmark changes in the society thus initiating Renaissance which defines the present global world order. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence was felt in literature, philosophy, art, music, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry.

 

The advent of Renaissance changed the power structure in Europe forever and for good. The English civil war and the French revolution were one of the most notable victories of the common against aristocracy with both the movement being fuelled by thinkers like John Locke and Voltaire respectively. In later period the spirit of Renaissance moved out of Europe where American settlers revolted against British colonial rulers taking cue from the thoughts purported by thinkers like Thomas Paine. The American declaration of independence and its civil rights doctrine form the modern basis of democratic pillars of modern society. All these revolutions where equally fought with the might of pen as it was with swords which was a notable contribution of communication tools not available prior to Gutenberg. But the rise of Europe soon led to the downfall of other ancient/medieval civilization in other continents   notably in Indian Subcontinent and Eastern Asia.

 

The English empire started its colonial pursuits much later to other European counterparts but due to its supremacy in civil administration and might in communication technologies like Telegraph, it became the empire where the “Sun never set”. In the colonial pursuits of the British Empire, saw the rise of eastern renaissance in Bengal province which had a great impact on the Indian culture and in a way also initiated the beginning of the end of colonial rulers in India. Thus replicating what the occurrence of the Europeans Renaissance where the commoners/weak took on the mighty with the availability of knowledge at their disposal. Though, this didn't usher the Re-emergence of eastern civilizations as the Industrial revolution stuck through in Europe. The industrial revolution brought about a new phase in the history of mankind which since thousands of years was dwelling on its agrarian society.  As this revolution took place in Europe much of its benefits were also claimed by its colonial powers that used the increased output from mechanized devices for progress and conquest.  The mechanization helped as much as in the development of weaponry and infrastructure as it did in emergence of communication device. It’s hence no surprise that till the mid 1950’s most of the communication device inventions and patents (telegraph, Phone, Radio, Television) happened in western civilization. Barring Japan, this improvised on the western model of growth and had its own electronic renaissance. However as mankind has always done which is, to turn its greatest inventions for the worst of purposes. The glimpse of such occurrences were seen in the later part of Marat’s writing(French revolution)  and later taking a methodical approach in Nazi Germany and during cultural revolution(China).  

 

With the turn of the Second World War, the rise of United States became evident and which had a crucial impact in the field of communication. This was possible due to the research culture and availability of global migrant talent pool that came to its shore. Though companies like IBM, Bell labs and Xerox had left their footprints, it was the advent of Apple and Microsoft which brought technology to home users. The advent of Internet, mobile telephony brought about a second renaissance which made communication and availability of information easier/cheaper for the masses.  Though Internet made new empires and changed lifestyle, it was the acceptance of social media that brought a new meaning in the lives of the end users. Initially labeled as a novice tool its real impact became visible with the election of Barak Obama (2007) and later in the Middle Eastern upheaval (2011) thus earning social media the importance it rightly deserved. The emergence of new communication inventions always have had a grand impact on our civilization and with passing of time, its impact has been quicker than ever before. In near future, technology would become more intuitive and imbibed with our physical form making true much of what we have seen or read in science fiction. Mankind has an insatiable appetite to learn from nature be it pet calls in pre historic times to radar & sonar technology in contemporary era. Only time can tell how our desire to find contemporaries in the universe shall ever get full-filled as it has remained a very crucial part of human Psyche since Roswell in 1940’s. However our greatest search may not lie in the environment and nor in outer space but very much in our mind and conscience.  Our perfect evolution will happen only when our sub conscious instantaneously connects with others in the sphere and Information is churned into knowledge finally reaching the point of absolute wisdom.  It’s at this point that we shall revert back to the ancient wisdom teachings of thinkers forming a synergy with the past and the contemporary.    

 

The present book authored by my good friend and guide Jayraj along with Amit is actually the story of mankind across time. Of man's hunger for knowledge. How man gathered, organized and harnessed information to grow and evolve. The journey from stone tablets to phone tablets has been a fascinating one, a heroic adventure in time, with its own twists, turns and character. When one looks at man's travails through time, he does appear to be a truculent creature, with a consistent record of having waged a war just about every year, over a span of at least 3,000 years. Communication has come a long way since we howled like animals or scratched cave walls to express ourselves. It took an Ice Age to reach a stage wherein we could imprint our expression into clay tablets and further thousands of years before we could evolve modern phonetics. However, it was only after the evolution of phonetics that our intellectual evolution expanded at a faster pace. But the limitations faced in physical writings and literature duplication remained an impediment to the growth and fair distribution of knowledge. This would begin to change with the invention of Chinese wooden blocks and later with movable type printing which would accelerate the spread of literature.

 

In this masterpiece Jayraj and Amit have followed a timeline module through which the content of the book proceeds ahead. This provides clarity to new readers especially those who are unware of the occurrences mentioned. The book aims to provide sophisticated information and analysis is most simple form as possible. My humble analysis of the enormous amount of research that has gone in bringing these pearls of wisdom on the platter of youth in India which is looking towards education not only as a source of livelihood security but as a means that would align it with global developments and help them stand on their own feet thus making India proud. I congratulate Jayraj and Amit for their unique contribution and thank them for their continued efforts in nation building and Looking at the wealth of knowledge the book exudes I would be interested to read the next edition.