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Archive for the ‘National Pride’ Category

I had the opportunity last week, to attend the inauguration of TWAS 2010. TWAS is a science academy whose members comprise of 800 scientists from 40 countries. This year’s general meeting of TWAS was hosted in Hyderabad and inaugurated by Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. My thatha (Grandfather’s brother), about whom I have written in this blog was awarded the Indian Science Prize, the highest  and most prestigious national recognition given to a scientist in India for a major contribution to any branch of science, engineering and medicine. It was a proud moment for all of us. At 90 he is still going strong and is helping establish the “CR Rao Advanced Institute of Mathematics, Statistics & Computer Science “in Hyderabad University

Thatha with Award from PM

 400 scientists from 40 countries participated in this conference. Prime minister gave a very insightful speech. He recounted his experience of working with the founder of TWAS, Abdus Salam, a Nobel Prize winning physicist from Pakistan. He quoted Sir Winston Churchill who said “Empires of the future would be the empires of the mind”. Since there is a limitation of infrastructure in the developing world, collaboration among all the countries is essential. Science has the capacity to solve most of the pressing problems of our times. We need to put science in a pedestal. Our pedagogical method of teaching emphasizes memory over enquiry and this is not good for scientific progress.

 What I found most interesting in his speech was his mention of open source research platform. He said that the main drawback with scientific research is that the intellectual property rights make it very difficult for sharing and using research findings. Our government is promoting a open source forum where scientists can share their research findings which can be freely reused by other scientists.

I did a quick search on the net and came across “Council of Scientific and Industrial Research” which is using this model to collaboratively develop low cost drugs for diseases. You can read more about their work at “Open Source Drug Discovery Foundation”. I am not sure if this was the forum that the Prime Minister was referring to in his speech.

Some other interesting tit bits from the conference

The chief minister of AP in his speech proudly proclaimed that Hyderabad is a major IT hub with big companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Cognizant having their presence here. I was gratified to hear Cognizant being uttered in the same breath as Microsoft and Oracle

I was sitting next to a Microbiologist from Tunesia. She wanted to know what the Indian nod signified. The way we nod our head to say “yes” is very different from how the rest of the world does it. She actually shook her head and asked me what this means.

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As the largest democracy gears up for its 60th independence day, today, the mood is very upswing in the country. India is the 2nd largest growing economy in the world and predictions are being made on when it would become the largest economy. BBC is airing a month long season on India and Pakistan, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the two countries. Even Orkut, the popular digital networking site is flaunting the tri-colours.

 

I for one am happy and proud that India is going places. I have enjoyed my journeys to other parts of the world, yet, there is no where else I would want to live. India may not be heaven on earth but it is home all the same.

Today I bring to you a thought provoking article written more than 15 years back by Adam Osborne, who invented the first micro computer BUS called S-100. I was surprised to note he was born and bought up in my neibhouring town!!

 I was raised in Tamil Nadu in South India, in the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi, of an English father and a Polish mother.  Both were dedicated followers of Sri Ramana Maharishi.  Therefore as a child growing up in the small town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamilnadu,  I was fluent in Tamil and was surrounded by Indians who were proud of their nationality and heritage, and believed they had a lot to teach us Europeans. 

I still speak enough Tamil to get by, and feel that my roots are indeed in India.  I must be only professed “vellackaaren” (=3Dwhite) Tamilian in America.  After all, how could anyone, even an English boy, grown up in Tiruvannamalai, in the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi, not acquire a pride in his roots?  It is therefore with some misgivings that today I find myself dealing with Indians, many of who do not feel proud of their Indianness.  Indian Americans represent the most affluent minority in America, ahead of Jewish  Americans and Japanese Americans.  This is a statistic and not an opinion. 

Indians swarm all over the Silicon valley, where they are an integral part of most product development teams: be they teams developing new semiconductor chips, software packages or computers.  Indians are recognized throughout America as technically superior.  No Indian in America has to explain his educational background, or apologize for his technical training. And yet, as a group, though Indian Americans are quick to acknowledge their caste, religion or family, they lack national pride. 

I have frequently talked to Indians of their lack of national pride, with telling results. Invariably, after making this assertion from the lecture podium, I find myself surrounded by Indians: Engineers, Scientists, doctors, even lawyers, all asserting the correctness of my observations, “You are correct,” they will assert. “I am not proud that I am an Indian.”   

Is the reasons India’s colonial heritage?  Who knows?  But whatever the reason, it is a pity. Since the day Indians learn pride, India will rapidly move out of its third world status to become one of the world’s industrial powers. I will return to India, to preach Indian pride: not pride in being a Hindu, or practicing Islam or being a Parsee, or a Sikh: not pride in being a Tamilian, or a Telugu, or a Punjabi, or a Marwari; not pride in being a Brahmin rather than a lesser caste.  

 These are all divisive differences that India would be better off without. But I will preach that Indians must learn to be proud of being Indians just as Singapore nationals are proud of their nationality, irrespective of their race or their religion.  Then there will be no more shoddy Indian products, since every worker will generate output with the stamp of a proud man on it.  With self-evident quality that screams out: “That is the work of an Indian!”  And corruption will decline. For, although bribes are solicited by greedy, dishonest men, as well as by men who do not earn enough to feed themselves and their families, and even though these root causes of corruption transcend the bases of lack of Indian pride of which I speak, nevertheless a proud man will pause, more than a man without pride, before extending his hand to receive a bribe. And a proud Indian will try harder to be responsible for products and services that others will praise. 

AND IT IS IN THAT PRAISE THAT INDIA’S FUTURE INDUSTRIAL GREATNESS LIES 

As we celebrate this day, it is my hope that every Indian feels pride for his country; A country which continues to be a democracy against all odds, a country which is more diverse than whole of European union, yet stands united in its values and humanity.

And if you are looking for more reasons to feel proud about India, refer to this site

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