Friday, June 21, 2013

Colregs Rule 7 - interpretation differences owing to the Indian and the European outlooks

         Talking about the difference between the Indian mentality and the Western European mentality, one difference is observable about the way the two dispose themselves to the use of technology. Infact , one highlighting case, in my opinion , is about the way an average Indian mind reads COLREGS Rule 7.

 Rule 7 (c) reads: Assumption shall not be made on scanty information, especially scanty radar information.

 An average Indian derives from the reading that 'Assumptions are forbidden', whereas the rule simply warns us about the wrong assumptions, how a wrong assumption may happen, and the limitations of the technology. Infact in the same Colregs Rule 7(a), there is a guidance on what to assume , when it says 'when there is a doubt that a risk exist, it shall be deemed to exist'. The expression 'deemed' is an analogous expression to saying ''make an assumption''.
    Even in the cultural outlook , this difference towards assumption can be noticed. In it's own theory, Assumption is a human necessity to deal with the uncertainties. There is no country, no culture where assumptions are not made, or which has overcome the human need of making assumption in order to proceed on the work.
  The difference, classically, is about the way people from different countries, languages and thereof the large paradigm called as the Culture, make their 'Assumptions'. In India, people being generally lesser disposed to sciences and technology, like to exhilarate at the success of Sciences. They rather see sciences/technology as a Magic wand of 21st century. When there is a new product, they give the expression of amazement, as if all their sorrows will now be eradicated for ever; and when there is a technical snag, they give the expression of disappointment as if 'everything has failed, all of their hopes and their dreams of finding a redemption from sorrows and miseries'.
    The newspapers, the media, and the movies (sci-fi, or drama) will bear testimony of this attitude. People loath computers, mobile phones, internet and all that for how much pornography it has brought about. Some people talk about banning these products, which otherwise could have been about teaching human users and the society about the social values to prevent the abuse of technology.
   Against this, the Cultural outlook of the western europe is about bringing public awareness on the limitations and capacities of the new product or the new technology. European outlook goes with an assumption that people are going to embrace the new product naturally and quickly. So the newspapers, media and the laws focus on warnings, cautions, the limitations. One can compare the kind and amount of technological services which start from the europe and which are made available in the europe, with that in India. Many technology services have found business over there, but not in India because the Indians are not geared to work with them.
        The style of writing of rule 7 of Colregs confirms to the cultural outlook of the western people, while the discussion in Indian seafarer's forum on the Facebook just signal about the Indian outlook. In truth, since a Radar does not show us a photo snap of what's ahead of your ship but only gives a profile view of suspected objects , the users are required to work each with his own 'assumption' of what that profile could be.
    The european cultural logic on Assumption, the handling of the uncertainties, pervades in other walks of life as well, and the consequent difference between the two geographies shows up in the economics and diplomacy.