One good thing I like about this ‘e-commerce sites’ (that’s how they were referred to in their early years and we at this age are much more familiar with that term, thanks to PayPal!) apart from the cocky yet interesting TV commercials they release every now and then (Remember ‘Bilkul Pakka’ of Fipkart, ‘Aur Dikhao’ of Amazon and ‘Bachate Raho’ of Snapdeal…?) is elimination of the middleman! ‘Convenience (and value!) of the middleman’ could surely be a topic of debate, no doubt, particularly with majority of them having not only their presence in the ‘market’ but actually dominating it in flesh and blood (Read: Rupee and Paisa). The best of the negotiators who can give a run for ‘life’ even to a veteran politician (I know the original idiom has ‘money’ in it, but isn’t that life for a politician?), this sector of society has always been the key element of any transaction for the better or the worse.
The history of middleman goes over ages and centuries and could be tracked down to the emergence of self-proclaimed Priests, Prophets and all other religious leaders who declared to be the Messenger of GOD and assumed the authority of deciding the Code of Conduct of their society in general and their devotees in particular as they only had a channel to communicate with the Creator. This trend became central and overpowering just after first settlement of human civilization witnessed its manifestation. This simply had the underlying thread of insecurity of losing something that was ‘hard-earned’, in the figure of speech. Ages gone and human is still standing on the verge of insecurity of losing what he has and to make some provisions for the future that is not so sure, and manages to find a new middleman every day that is cleverer to its predecessor in every way. The greatest irony of the human life lies in the fact that the almost invincible human submits to its own desires and surrenders to a ‘superior’ human who supposedly knows to deal it in a better (profitable...?) way.
Now the question arise is who is a middleman and how to identify it? There was a joke around in our school days that was regarded as wittiest for its intent, content as well as presentation. It was like –
At a World Conference, the heads of States of all countries were boasting about their technical know-how. So they all decided that to prove their boasts, each country should show an engineering feat to the world.
In a few days, the U.S.A made a hollow tube of fiberglass, a millimeter in diameter. It was then sent to the Russia. They put a conducting wire in the tube. The Japanese, to prove their superiority, bored a hole through the wore. Finally, it was sent to China. It came back without any apparent change.
"Well, what have you done?" asked everybody."
Look here," said the Chinese, putting the wire under a microscope. Clearly visible were the words "Made in China"!
It’s a different story that the joke of that time is the reality of the present and China had really made it big (pollution?) by grabbing every opportunity to manufacture anything and everything (including population?) for any market on the face of earth under the sky, don’t even bring the topic of quality, durability or something, ‘use and throw’ is the mantra of surging market you economy-ignorant fool!
Anyway, so to cut the long story short and make some sense of the Chinese joke (that explains why it evaporated so fast), middleman is an entity that neither cultivates/manufactures/produces anything nor makes any significant contribution to the human evolution or sustainability of environment but practices its negotiation skills to make a deal look like win-win situation and benefits the most in the process. Does that mean all the middlemen or negotiators are bad and should be abandoned…?
Well, there are two distinct types of middleman and not both are bad. One respectable and required type of middleman is the legal, ethical and moral representative of a party (not political, mind you!) that assumes the responsibility to do justice to the situation. Arbitrator or Counselor belongs to this category who serves as the common platform to two parties to have a justifiable and dignified negotiation over the matters of common good. Politicians used to play this role in the earlier times when politics itself was meant for social reform and inclusive development.
As the economy of any society or civilization starts booming; another type of middleman shows its existence and spreads like a wildfire and gobbles down everything that crosses its path. These are known as the ‘Commission Agents’, the other, not so respectable category of middleman. It’s not that all the commission agents are frauds or cheats but when a majority prevails it is taken as the pattern in a democracy, isn’t it? So what’s with the middleman or agents that has brought up this discussion? Well, any trade, business, livelihood and profession must be respectable as long as it is based on some fundamental principles and values of humanity and societal values. However once it reveals its ill-intentions under the skin even a Sadhu becomes a Shaitan. I could see such commission agents all around choking the life for their paltry and momentary profits who could be the saviors of the society, otherwise.
Politicians are working as agents of capitalists who are the slaves of the wealth; Doctors are practicing as agents of Pharmaceutical giants, who are interested in keeping the society diseased all the time; Promoters and developers are working as agents of land mafias, who have forgotten the real worth of their mother-land; Food Markets are the agents of middleman buying produce from farmers at peanuts and selling it for a fortune, who should be thankful that it has the hold of food-grains, the only thing that can feed the body; Media and legislative systems are acting as agents of all kinds of ‘Celebrities’, who should think of the masses that made them the celebrity, the status they are exploiting.
The list could be stretched almost unendingly but it won’t be necessary as I have made my point, I guess. Although there is no direct or apparent trigger to this write-up so to say, the recent incidences of abuse of their position by the persons of authority or the jewelers’ strike in progress can take the blame!
And, if you don’t like this point of view towards a commission agent that has very ‘appropriate’ slang name in the vernacular and national language; I would recommend that you learn it from Anil Kapoor in his characteristic tone; Awaargi is preferred wherein he addresses Avatar Gill with this special name!
By the way, Eco-friendly way of living needs no middleman, ever! Way to go…