Thursday 21 March 2013

ॐ वीरेश्वराय विद्महे विवेकानन्दाय धीमहि । तन्नो वीर: प्रचोदयात् ।

Arise! Awake!! Stop not till the goal is reached!


Do you hear a stentorian voice beseeching you 'ARISE, AWAKE'

This is the voice, which this nation awaited for long...

This is the voice, which awakened this nation from its long slumber.

Who is it that electrified this nation with this powerful voice?

A youth, who died young to remain the ideal for the youths for all times to come.  

That eternal youth who gave this call was none other than the patriotic Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda.

In His life are revealed all the intellectual struggle, all the doubts, all the burning faith, all the unfolding process of spiritual illumination.

As a man and as a Vedantist he manifested the manliness that is sanctity, and the sanctity that is manliness; he manifested the patriotism that proceeds from the vision of the Dharma and the universality that comes when God is seen in everything; and through the true insight of divine wisdom, he lived a life of both intense activity and Supreme Realization.

The Swami Vivekananda gave not only a gospel to the world at large, but also to its own children, the Charter of the Hindu Faith.

Swamiji gave Self-confidence to His people, Self-respect to His nation and Self-esteem to His Dharma!

Come one, come all... Let us in this year of 150th Birth Anniversary, read, write, talk, think Swami Vivekananda and work to realise His vision of Jagadguru Bharat!!


 Join the year long 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda :  Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari

11th January in Swami Vivekananda Life

11 January :
11 Jan 1895 : Swamiji writes To G.G. Narasimhachariar from Chicago : ...the Hindus must back their talk with real work; if they cannot they do not deserve anything; that is all....Work on, be lions; and the Lord will bless you. I shall work incessantly until I die, and even after death I shall work for the good of the world. Truth is infinitely more weighty than untruth; so is goodness. If you possess these, they will make their way by sheer gravity. ...It is the force of character, of purity, and of truth — of personality. So long as I have these things, you can feel easy; no one will be able to injure a hair of my head. If they try, they will fail, saith the Lord. . . . Enough of books and theories. It is the life that is the highest and the only way to stir the hearts of people; it carries the personal magnetism. . . . The Lord is giving me a deeper and deeper insight every day. Work, work, work. . . . Truce to foolish talk; talk of the Lord. Life is too short to be spent in talking about frauds and cranks. You must always remember that every nation must save itself; so must every man; do not look to others for help. ....
11 Jan 1896 : Swamiji in NY : Lecture - Morn - "Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms"...Eve - "The control of psychic Prana"

Join the year long 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda : 

Samartha Bharat Parva : Stand on your own feet

Let us follow Swamiji's these words for completing our mission of Jagadguru Bharat! Samartha Bharat!!

 Within you lies indomitable power. Only thinking, "I am nothing, I am nothing", you have become powerless. Why, you alone! The whole race has become so. Go round the world once, and you will find how vigorously the life - current of other nations is flowing. And what are you doing? Even after learning so much, you go about the doors of others, crying, "Give me employment". Trampled under others' feet doing slavery for  others, are you men any more? You are not worth a pin's head! In this fertile country with abundant water - supply, where nature produces wealth and harvest a thousand times more than in others, you have no food for your stomach, no clothes to cover your body! In this country of abundance, the produce of which has been the cause of the spread of civilisation in other countries, you are reduced to such straits! Your condition is even worse than that of a dog. And you glory in your Vedas and Vedanta! A nation that cannot provide for its simple food and clothing, which always depends on others for its subsistence -- what is there for it to vaunt about? Throw your religious observances overboard for the present and be first prepared for the struggle for existence. People of foreign countries are turning out such golden results from the raw materials produced in your country, and you, like asses of burden, are only carrying their load. The people of foreign countries import Indian raw goods, manufacture various commodities by bringing their intelligence to bear upon them, and become great; whereas you have locked up your intelligence, thrown away your inherited wealth to others, and roam about crying piteously for food.

Laziness, meanness, and hypocrisy have covered the whole length and breadth of the country. Can an intelligent man look on all this and remain quiet? Does it not bring tears to the eyes? Madras, Bombay, Punjab, Bengal -- whichever way I look, I see no signs of life. You are thinking yourselves highly educated. What nonsense have you learnt? Getting by heart the thoughts of others in a foreign language, and stuffing your brain with them and taking some university degrees, you consider yourselves educated! Fie upon you! Is this education? What is the goal of your education? Either a clerkship, or being a roguish lawyer, or at the most a Deputy Magistracy, which is another form of clerkship -- isn't that all? Open your eyes and see what a piteous cry for food is rising in the land of Bharata, proverbial for its wealth! Will your education fulfill this want? Never.

With the help of Western science set yourselves to dig the earth and produce food - stuffs -- not by means of mean servitude of others -- but by discovering new avenues to production, by your own exertions aided by Western science. Therefore I teach the people of this country to be full of activities, so as to be able to produce food and clothing for themselves. For want of food and clothing and plunged in anxiety for it, the country has come to ruin -- what are you doing to remedy this? Throw aside your scriptures in the Ganga and teach the people first the means of procuring their food and clothing, and then you will find time to read to them the scriptures. If their material wants are not removed by the rousing of intense activity, none will listen to words of spirituality. Therefore I say, first rouse the inherent power of the Atman within you, then, rousing the faith of the general people in that power as much as you can, teach them first of all to make provision for food, and then teach them religion. There is no time to sit idle -- who knows when death will overtake one?

Tear off the folds from your eyes and you will see the whole world lighted by the rays of the midday sun. If you cannot procure money, go to foreign countries, working your passage as a Lascar. Take Indian cloth, towels, bamboo - work, and other indigenous products, and peddle in the streets of Europe and America; you will find how greatly Indian products are appreciated in foreign markets even now. In America I found, some Mohammedans of the Hooghly district had grown rich by peddling Indian commodities in this way. Have you even less intelligence than they?

Onward! Upon ages of struggle a character is built. Be not discouraged. One word of truth can never be lost; for ages it may be hidden under rubbish, but it will show itself sooner or later. Truth is indestructible, virtue is indestructible, purity is indestructible. Give me a genuine man; I do not want masses of converts. My son, hold fast! Do not care for anybody to help you.

 Join the year long 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda :  Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari

10th January in Swami Vivekananda Life

10 January
10 Jan 1895 : In Lincoln Evening News under the title 'The Listener' it appeared - Swami Vivekananda, the Brahman high priest now living in this country can trace his family record for more than 20 centuries.... Very interesting, isn't it? ...
Tell now, what exactly it means?
10 Jan 1896 : Swamiji in NY -Morning Lecture 'Freedom' Evening - 'The Ideal of Karma Yoga'
In 'Freedom' he says : What is Karma-Yoga? The knowledge of the secret of work. We see that the whole universe is working. For what? For salvation, for liberty; from the atom to the highest being, working for the one end, liberty for the mind, for the body, for the spirit. All things are always trying to get freedom, flying away from bondage. The sun, the moon, the earth, the planets, all are trying to fly away from bondage. The centrifugal and the centripetal forces of nature are indeed typical of our universe. Instead of being knocked about in this universe, and after long delay and thrashing, getting to know things as they are, we learn from Karma-Yoga the secret of work, the method of work, the organising power of work.

Join the year long 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda : 

Samartha Bharat Parva : Innovation, Compassion, Passion

First, feel from the heart. ... through the heart comes inspiration. It is the heart that is of most importance. It is through the heart that the Lord is seen. It is feeling that works, that moves with speed infinitely superior to that of electricity or anything else. Do you feel? -that is the question. ...Swamiji ask this question who wish to be a reformer..

Innovation, Compassion & Passion.... Dr R A Mashelkar

And finally, what are the three qualities I would like to see you imbibe because that is something that has stood me in good stead. And it is again Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram- three things which are connected to your body. One is innovation, the mind, the brain. The second is passion; passion in the belly and third is compassion.-compassion in the heart.

Many nations, many societies, many individuals may be very passionate, they may be very innovative but if they have no compassion, they are missing something. I think that the future citizens of India have to imbibe these three qualities. And particularly compassion is very important for this country for the simple reason that we have to create an ‘inclusive’ society, not an ‘exclusive’ society. We talk about 8%, 9% growth. It has to be “inclusive growth”; it has to be innovation led inclusive growth, which ‘includes’ all those unfortunate ‘excluded’ – all those poor, those deprived, those have nots.

 When I look at all of you, I see unbelievable potential. I think the big challenge that we have is how do we unleash the potential of a billion plus in India. I like to look at not national laboratories but nation as a laboratory, India as a laboratory.

I will tell you an interesting experiment that we have done. Do you think research and technology and innovation can happen only in CDRI, in ITRC, in NBRI, in CIMAP, University of Lucknow and Sanjay Gandhi Research Institute etc. etc. only? No! Each one of us can be innovative.

Therefore, in the year 2000 we created, what is called a National Innovation Foundation- for whom? For grass root innovators which include artisans, farmers, school dropouts and so on. The movement is led by an exceptional leader and a human being, Anil Gupta from Indian Institute of Management, Ahemdabad whom I call a modern Gandhi. He does Shodha Yatras in villages, walking 15-20-25 kilometers in a day, seeing what villagers have innovated. National Innovation Foundation holds national competition for grass root innovators. In the first year when we had the competition, we just had five thousand entries across the country. Year before last, one lac entries came, out of which we picked up the top 30 and gave them awards. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, while he was the President, gave the last two national awards. We are hoping that this year our current President will give the awards.

And believe me, out of these awardees, there were so many illiterates. We have seen one 8th standard drop out schoolboy create a robot, one of the most complex robots. In fact Dr. Kalam himself was surprised at what he saw.

So, that is a tremendous potential each one of us has got. It’s only a question of discovering it. It is like Hanuman, who did not know what powers he had until Jambawant pointed out those powers to him. So, can you imagine if 1.2 billion Hanumans express themselves what a great nation this will be, what a great India we will create?  Many young friends, that is our challenge. Let us rise and create that great India where 1.2 billion people will rise to their potential, then exceed their potential, and then give India the rightful place in the comity of nations, which is right up there.

 Join the year long 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda :  Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari

9th January in Swami Vivekananda Life

9 January

9 Jan 1893 : Swamiji in Pondicherry

9 Jan 1896 : Swamiji in Chicago - A newspaper report says : Swami Vivekananda is said to be a wonderful combination of Religious orthodoxy and social radicalism, western scholarship and eastern spiritual wisdom.

Infinite faith and strength are the only conditions of success.

Join the year long 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda : 

Samartha Bharat Parva : Talent, Technology, Tolerance

I do not see into the future; nor do I care to see. But one vision I see dear as life before me: that the ancient Mother has awakened once more, sitting on Her throne rejuvenated, more glorious than ever. Proclaim Her to all the world with the voice of peace and benediction..... SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

Talent, Technology & Tolerance : Dr R A Mashelkar

What are the three things on the basis of which we can carve out our future for us in the 21st century?  You will always find me quoting three things by the way. It’s like Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram!  In my judgment, they are three Ts– Talent, Technology and Tolerance. Talent – this is in evidence here. What India is going to leverage is this talent -Indian talent. If you know you look at different countries, they grew because of different things at different points of time in their history. For example, the United States of America – it was roads and railways, Britain – it was textiles, Denmark – milk and milk products, Sweden – it was timber and timber products, Middle East – it was oil. And if you ask me what is the “oil” for India in the 21st century, I will say IT and when you would say Oh! IT means Information Technology. No, I am sorry, IT means “Indian Talent”- all of you. That’s what is going to make the 21st century India’s century.

Then, of course, Technology is absolutely transformational.  I am not just talking about what we did in space, defense, atomic energy, etc. but technology which can make a difference in the lives of the people, technology that is inclusive, technology that cares for the under privileged.

How do we smartly use that technology? Look at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), for example. On one hand, if you go to Hinjewadi in Pune, you will find there, very proudly, the fourth fastest super computer in the world.  It is developed by 80 young kids. I visited them recently.

This achievement has taken place at the top of the ladder. For the bottom of the ladder, that means for those millions of poor and illiterate Indians, TCS has developed computer based functional literacy (CBFL), which can make illiterate women read a newspaper within 6 to 8 weeks at a cost of just 100 rupees. Entire Medak district in Andhra Pradesh has become literate by this. More than one lac people have become literate in six different states – in six different languages.  It has been used in South Africa – with the same astonishing results.

If we all launch a National Mission by using computer based functional literacy, this entire country can become literate less than five years, not 20 years. And can you imagine what difference it will make to create that “enlightened democracy” that I was talking about. So, when I talked about the talent first and then technology, this technology is not for making those super computers, which can simulate nuclear explosions, or which can do the most complex fluid dynamic calculations.  But I am talking about a technology that makes a difference at the bottom of the pyramid- inclusive technology.

And the last is “tolerance”. What is tolerance? Tolerance for failure, tolerance for risk taking, tolerance for ambiguity. Today we talk about Silicon Valleys success with great admiration, but this success is not just because of the talent and technology that they have but because of the tolerance that they have. Venture capital flourished there, risk taking comes naturally there.  Venture capital has assumed the meaning of “adventure” capital there.

Somehow, we have become an intolerant  society as far as risk taking and as far as the failure is concerned. Is there a success without failure? Have you seen a small child walking without falling? No. But somehow or the other, we are not tolerant to failure.

I keep on going back to cricket.  When Ajit Wadekar won the test series in early seventies against England, the streets in Bombay had lined up but just a few years later,  when he came back after losing the series, there was stone throwing!  Is it fair? Tolerance, I think is going to be an essential part, -tolerance for all the religions, castes, creeds, socially deprived, economically deprived. So, I believe that the new India that you have to build is on this  solid fulcrum of talent, technology and tolerance.

Tolerance for ambiguity is very critical by the way. If you see the real story behind Microsoft, somewhere there is a romantic story about the tolerance for ambiguity. Bill Gates recently got an honorary doctorate from Harvard and he narrated an experience. He declared himself as the most successful dropout from Harvard University. Then he said, in his early days, when the hardware manufacturing was started by a company in Albuquerque, he phoned them up and offered to supply them the software, half expecting that they would keep the phone down because he was just a student, who was calling. But they did not. They asked him to come after a month. Bill Gates says. ‘Thank God! They said come back after a month because I had not actually developed the software’, when I had called them.  So, you see plenty of  ambiguity here.  It is in terms of what Bill Gates did because he offered the software which he was yet to develop. And ambiguity in terms of the company in Albuquerane in accepting the offer by an undergraduate student -  they did not keep the phone down because he was a student. The rest is history, the rest is Microsoft, the greatest software company, which made Bill Gates the richest man in the world. So, I believe that talent, technology and tolerance are the key to success.   

 Join the year long 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda :  Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari

8th January in Swami Vivekananda Life

8 Jan 1893 : At Pondicherry
8 Jan 1895 : At Chicago
8 Jan 1896 : At NY - Lectures: Morning - "A study of the Sankhya philosophy" Evening: "The 
 Atman - Its bondage and freedom"
Swamiji says in 'The Atman....' - According to the Advaita philosophy, there is only one thing real in the universe, which it calls Brahman; everything else is unreal, manifested and manufactured out of Brahman by the power of Maya. To reach back to that Brahman is our goal. We are, each one of us, that Brahman, that Reality, plus this Maya. If we can get rid of this Maya or ignorance, then we become what we really are....The alpha and omega of Vedanta philosophy is to "give up the world," giving up the unreal and taking the real. ....

Samartha Bharat Parva : Have Positive Mindset

Swamiji said : 'Children of those ancient Aryans, through the grace of the Lord may you have the same pride, may that faith in your ancestors come into your blood, may it become a part and parcel of your lives, may it work towards the salvation of the World!'
On Creating Positive Mindsets : Dr R A Mashelkar

I remember about eight or nine years ago, there was a big turmoil going on in Delhi University and the Teachers’ Association had invited me for a keynote presentation at some symposia.  I remember some distinguished individual introduced me and after the introduction he said  “---- and as we  know,  we are all in coma and Dr. Mashelkar will address us and tell us what to do” 

Now, I had to think fast about my response in the time it took in walking up to the mike. I said, “Gentlemen, I have so far never addressed an assembly of people in coma. But maybe, the gentlemen didn’t mean coma. He meant comma. And what is a comma? You write a sentence, you come to the middle of the sentence and you put a comma. That’s a pause.  That’s a time for you to reflect. You have not written the rest of the sentence. You write the rest of the sentence in a way that the next sentence follows, the paras follows, the pages follows, and the chapter gets completed. And may be it becomes a golden chapter, if you just interpret the coma and comma differently.

Do you know that the entire conference that was going to be a wash-out for the next two days, people being so negative, because of the negative environment they themselves had created, became a very positive conference! People still talk about it.

So, I would say that positivism and looking at things positively, doesn’t take much. There is no need to be dangerously optimistic but if you don’t look at the positive aspects of life in particular way, things wouldn’t happen that will take you upward and forward.

 I learnt many things from many people and one of the aspects of positivism came in a very different form from Sunil Gavaskar.  Nandu Natekar, who is a great badminton player had invited me and Sunil Gavaskar to his home for dinner. Nandu had achieved something in Badminton, Sunil something in Cricket and I had something, a little bit though, in Science. We were talking about our own experiences, sharing our views on how do you reach the top and stay there and so on. Sunil told us something very important. I asked him, “you are an opening batsman, you get on to a pitch whose condition you don’t know, you don’t know the bounce of the ball, nothing much but then how do you manage to bat. Sunil said” Many a times I missed the ball completely.  When a batsman misses the ball he looks like a fool on the television camera with millions of people watching. At that time he is a defeated person.” Sunil then said what I used to do then, was this.  “When I took stance for the next ball, I used my unbelievable ability to completely wipe out the memory of the previous ball and take the next ball as the first ball of my innings”

Someone has said “I only think of the future because that is where one is going to spend the rest of my life” It is that philosophy that makes it possible. Because in life there are successes and there are failures. When there are failures, you don’t go into the dumps and when there are successes, you don’t fly sky high.  You have to learn to take them all in your stride. This also is the part of the positivism. I spoke about positivism in my convocation address at Delhi University a few years back. Those of you, who were interested in this convocation address, may go to Google, put my name and word “positivism” and that convocation address will appear. In fact, Mr. Arun Shourie told me that he liked that lecture so much that he personally gave a copy to many senior  ministers.

7th January in Swami Vivekananda Life

7 Jan 1893 - Swamiji reached Pondicherry by train.

7 Jan 1895 : Swamiji in New York

Bhakti-Yoga is the path of systematised devotion for the attainment of union with the Absolute. It is the easiest and surest path to religion or realisation. ..Says Swamiji

Samartha Bharat Parva : Dr R A Mashelkar

Changing Institutional Mindset

Dr Mashelakar says : I was the Director of National Chemical Laboratory from 1989 to 1995.  It is a great Laboratory and is one of the finest in chemistry. We were supposed to do research and development, develop technologies and transfer them to industry, partner with them, make commercial production happen in Indian industry based on new indigenously developed technology and so on.

There are so many great achievements that National Chemical Laboratory has had in catalysis, in polymers and whole range of other areas. I had a very interesting challenge, when I took over the Directorship of National Chemical Laboratory in 1989. Any time we at NCL had done something ahead of the rest of the world and I went to Indian Industry, they would always ask me, “but have they done it” That was the Indian Industry’s mindset. Have they done it means- has Japan done it? Has U.S. done it? Has Europe done it? If they have not done it, how can we do it?

So, I had a very interesting challenge.  I asked myself a simple question. What was I selling? The answer was that I was selling knowledge. Then I asked myself what is my market? My market is global. So, in 1989 I made a statement that National Chemical Laboratory would be “International Chemical Laboratory”. What did it mean? It meant that my market would not be limited to India.  It would be U.S., Europe, all over the globe. 

This was audacious. I was almost saying that I would develop something and sell it to Pfizer in U.S., sell it to General Electric in US and so on. There were many doubting Thomases, who told me that the size of the budgets of Pfizer and General Electric, were bigger than India’s R&D budget.  I remember telling them that it was not the size of the budget but the size of the idea that mattered. 

Size of the idea- thinking big is what matters. The beauty of the flight of imagination is that it has no limit to the height you can reach, there is no limit on the fuel that you can load, and there is no limit to the distance that you can land, excepting the limit that you set for yourself. Limitless –that is the key word. And we said we would pick on some challenges and we picked on General Electric. They were leaders in polycarbonate plastics and had 40% world market share. I said let us create something, which they had not thought of.  Their budgets were bigger than India’s R&D Budgets, by the way. But I was trying to prove a theory that it was not the size of the budget but the size of the idea that mattered.

We got a breakthrough on what is called as solid state poly-condensation of polycarbonates. I am not going into the technical details, the important thing was that we had changed the paradigm by doing a reaction that was conventionally done in the molten phase to a solid phase, with lot of attendant advantages on the quality, cost, etc.  Normally, if it had a breakthrough like this, we could have published – and then it would have been common knowledge.  In the new paradigm, we didn’t say publish or perish but patent, publish and prosper. Why patent? Because if I am selling something to General Electric, I cannot go to them and say I have copied it from you. They will kick me out. I have to be ahead of them. Not only that, it has to be protected by the patent in their country, otherwise they will not buy it for the fear of infringement.

At that time it was a paradigm shift because we did not have a single U.S. patent in National Chemical Laboratory in 39 years after its establishment in 1950.  We went in for aggressive patenting because it became a compulsion and without patenting we could not be able to sell knowledge to multinationals.

When we got a breakthrough in solid-state polycondensation of polycarbonate, we filed a US patent.  And we were all delighted, when it was granted.  That breakthrough was actually like putting a stake on General Electric’s territory.  Impressed by this, the General Electric shook hands with us – became our knowledge partners.  It was an incredible journey afterwards.

One day Jack Welch the CEO of General Electric said, “If they are so good then why are we not there?” And they set up the Jack Welch R&D centre in Bangalore and once they set it up, there were several others who came.  And today we talk about India as a Global R&D hub with more than 300 companies having set up their R&D centres, and not small, by the way, but with 2000, 3000, 4000 scientists working in them making India a knowledge production hub.

But it all began with that little spark at the National Chemical Laboratory.  What did it prove?  
The same young Indians who were only doing copying-and glorious word for that was “reverse engineering”, by the way, started doing “forward engineering”. And the same set of people were able to actually deliver something which was ahead of the rest of the world.  What is the central point I am trying to make?  It is that by changing your mindset, you can do it. The basic mind is the same, the intellect is the same.   it’s the positive mindset that has changed.  This mindset now says “I can do it – I will do it” -  and that makes a difference.

Join the year long 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda : 
Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari

6th January in Swami Vivekananda Life

6 Jan 1893 : Swamiji reaches Madurai.
6 Jan 1894 : Swamiji speaks on ISHTA in NY. He spoke : The word Ishta is derived from the root Ish, to desire, choose. The ideal of all religions, all sects, is the same — the attaining of liberty and cessation of misery. Wherever you find religion, you find this ideal working in one form or other. 

.....This theory of Ishta, therefore, means allowing a man to choose his own religion. One man should not force another to worship what he worships......This is the theory of Ishta. It is the only way to make religion meet practically the necessities of different constitutions, to avoid quarrelling with others, and to make real practical progress in spiritual life.
 6 Jan 1901 : Swamiji visits Advaita Ashrama.

Join the year long 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda : 
Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari

Samartha Bharat Parva : Dr R A Mashelkar

Dr Mashelkar, the great visionary whose whole thoughts are for Samartha Bharat gives lot of importance to the Gurus in his life.

 Let me start with my journey of my life. Journey of my life has been challenging- to put it simply. So many great people have influenced my life and given me interesting lessons in my life and I would like to remember and recognise them. May be some of you must have also met such individuals in your life, who inspired you.

I start with my greatest guru - my mother. I was born in a very poor family and my father died when I was six. We moved to Mumbai and my mother did menial work to bring me up. Two meals a day was a tough challenge. I studied under street lights and I walked barefoot until, I think, I was 12. I remember when I passed the 7th standard and I wanted to go into the 8th standard, our   poverty was such that even to secure 21 rupees for secondary school admission became a big challenge. We had to borrow from a lady, who was a housemaid in Chaupati in Mumbai. That was the tough life I had.

In fact, I remember, my passing the SSC Examination – i.e. 11th Standard. Those days it used to be not 10th standard or 12th standard but 11th  standard.  I stood 11th among one 1,35,000 but I was about to leave higher education and find a job.  What helped me was the scholarship by Sir Dorab Tata Trust. It was just 60 rupees per month and would you believe that 60 rupees per month from Tatas  added so much value to my life  that I have been able to stand here today before you to speak to you.

I am on the Board of Tatas now and it is very interesting that the same Bombay House where one used to go to collect that 60 Rupees per month now one goes and sits there as a Director on the Board of Tata Motors. The turn that these 40 years has taken is very interesting. It has all been possible because of the chance I got to do higher studies at the insistence of my mother.  She gave me values of my life.  She was one of the noblest parents I have met in my life.

So, my greatest guru was my mother. My second great guru was Principal Bhave, about whom I made a mention earlier.  He taught us Physics.  Because it was a poor school, I remember, it had to innovate to convey to the young students the message of Science. 

I still remember one of the interesting experiences when, on a Friday afternoon, Principal Bhave took us out into the sun to demonstrate to us as to how to find the focal length of a convex lens.  He had a piece of paper here, a convex lens here and he moved it up and down and there was a point when there was a sharp focus and a bright spot on the paper. He showed the distance between paper and the lens and said that this distance was the focal length. But then the paper started burning.  For some reason, he then turned to me, and said, “Mashelkar, if you focus your energies like this, you can burn anything in the world. 

My young friends, from this I got two lessons- first the philosophy of my life that if we focus, we can achieve anything. And the second about the power of science.  It  was so powerful.  I thought to myself why don’t I become a scientist. It left an indelible mark in my mind.

By the way, if you think carefully about that story, it also tells you about the new model for the society and for the nation. What is the experiment? You have the lens. And what does the lens do? It takes the parallel rays of the sun and then lets them converge.  And what is the property of parallel lines? Parallel lines never meet. Parallel rays never meet but the lens actually makes them meet. I call it “convex lens” leadership by the way – leadership that brings people together.

In fact I was a visiting Professor at the Harvard MIT HST School last year and there I gave a talk.  And I talked about how to bring the world together – we need a convex lens leadership.

Unfortunately, in our country, rather than finding a ‘convex lens leadership’, we find a ‘concave lens leadership’!  And what does a concave lens do? The parallel lines go even further apart.  Rather than societies coming together, they try to divide them further – on the basis of caste, on the basis of religion, and so on.  Our elections have been reduced to caste based voting in many places. Sounds familiar- isn’t it? So there are deep lessons in that afternoon’s experiment.  We all must strive for and insist on ‘convex lens leadership’, where we become one society – one India.

The third teacher who made a huge difference for me was Professor M.M. Sharma.  He had returned from Cambridge at the young age of 28.  He took up the position of a Professor in University Department of Chemical Technology. He was incredible. I was among the top rankers in Chemical Engineering. I had a number of offers of scholarships from the United States of America and Canada for doing research for my doctorate degree. I had always done things which were different, by the way. I thought where could I get a better Guru for me and decided not to go abroad and worked in University and did my Ph.D under young Prof. Sharma, a man with enormous value systems. All his research was ‘idea based’.  With barely Rs.10,000 per year as contingency grant, i.e. less than 1000 rupees per month, we did research that was published in top international journals.  He has remained a teacher.  Just now, it was mentioned that I am the third Engineer to have got the fellowship of Royal Society in the 20th century. Prof. Sharma was the first by the way.  Ours is a rather  unique combination of Guru and Shishya both getting Fellowships of Royal Society!

And the fourth one, and I want to mention about him in order to set the mood and tone for what I am going to say subsequently, was Professor CNR Rao, who came in my life  little late.  Prof. Rao  is the most celebrated scientist in the country. The interesting thing is that he is approaching the age of 75 now and he still works 25 hours a day! Not 24 but 25.  And that too day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year. He is really my role model and an icon. Except the Nobel Prize, he has received all the major awards.  I am sure he will get that too, and sooner rather than later.

What he did for me was very interesting and there is a lesson for you to take home. Anytime I got any honour and  I went to him expecting him to appreciate and applaud. You know the only word he would use would be- Not Bad! I became a Fellow of Royal Society FRS, It’s a big honour. In fact, I remember receiving a letter from another FRS, who said `only two greater things can happen to you in life now, One is Nobel prize and other is death. One is certain and the other is uncertain’.

When I went to Professor CNR Rao and told him that I received FRS, he said Not Bad! Then I became Foreign Associate of U.S. National Academy of Science. It was established in 1868. In 140 years or so, only seven Indians have got this honour. Sometimes you get a Nobel Prize first and that honour later, like Sir Harry Kroto, who got the Nobel Prize first and five years after that he got this honour.

I thought surely now Professor CNR Rao would be impressed. So, I went and told him look, I got this honour. He said,’ Not bad’. I was really frustrated. So I asked him directly what will make him satisfied. Then he defined for me what is called a limitless ladder of excellence. He said, “there are no limits to the ladder of excellence”.  You should continue to climb on this ladder of excellence for ever and ever.  Your best is yet to come.

Join the year long 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda : 
Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari

Tuesday 19 March 2013

5th January in Swami Vivekananda Life

Samartha Bharat Parva - Mind and vs Mindset

Have deliberation and analyse, and when the result agrees with reason and conduces to the good of one and all, accept it and live up to it. - Swamiji

Mind and Mindset

This Shaping Young Minds Programme is a great idea. And why do I say it’s a great idea?  When we look at the 21st century, many people say that it is going to be the century of knowledge, but people who think more deeply about it say it is going to be the century of mind.

Just think about it. Can you imagine that with the demographic advantage that India has, with 55% of its population being less than 25 years old, you are talking actually in terms of something like 600 million odd young minds shaping the destiny of this country.

There was never any doubt about the quality of the Indian mind.  Today, we talk about the digital economy. Digital economy would not be there, if binary digits were not there. And what are binary digits? It is zero and one. And who discovered the zero? It was an Indian mind. So, I think India and Indian mind can rightfully take the credit for laying the foundation of the digital economy.

Do you know what is Olympics of mind? These are competitions among young scientists -science Olympiads, where we send the contingent of young students. Year before last, I remember the statistics exactly, we sent 19 young people to represent us in science Olympiads. Can you guess as to how many came back with medals? 19 out of 19 came back with a medal !  That shows the power of Indian mind.

I think we should re-look at this theme of “Shaping Young Minds Programme” and what I am going to propose is something very fundamentally difficult. There is a fundamental difference between the mind and the mind set. Mind represents the intellect, mind allows you to do smart observations, smart analysis, smart synthesis etc. but it is the mind set, which determines your attitude and your approach to life. In India, there is this huge battle between the Indian mind and the Indian mind set. The Indian mind is taking us into the 21st century, and there is no question about that, it is the Indian mind set which is drawing us back into the 14th, 15th, 16th century ……. you name it!

Mind Vs Mindset

Let me illustrate this battle of Indian mind Vs Indian mind set.  Today, everybody talks about global village as a great idea but who talked about global village first ? Who said Vasudhaiv Kutumakam? It was an Indian mind. In Maharashtra, Dnyaneshwar is held very highly as a great saint philosopher. He said ‘He Vishwachi Maze Ghar’ i.e this entire world is my home. So, our great minds talked about a global village long time ago. They were actually 21st century minds but what is our mind set today?

We say that we are all one family. But do you know that when one Japanese and one Japanese come together, how many Japanese do they become? You would say two. No! They become eleven. They form such a great team. Somebody was joking the other day when he asked, ‘you know when one Indian and one Indian come together, do you know how many Indians they become?’ Not two but zero! They neutralize each other! They do not form a team.  That is because of the Indian mind set.

So, my basic premise is that it is not so much shaping the Indian minds, it is shaping the Indian mind set and we should start looking at the issue of both mind as well as mind set. Not only how will we have clever minds, more intelligent minds, more observant minds, more analytical minds, better minds who synthesize in a clever way but also mind sets that are positive mind sets, constructive, forward looking, mutually reinforcing mindsets that will make it possible for us to shape the 21st century India.

Let me give you another example.  We say Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishno Gurur Devo Maheshwarah, Gurur Sakshaat Parabrahma Tasmay Shri Gurave Namah about our teachers. So we taught to look at our teachers as Gods and so on.  Isn’t it?  I had presented a little story about my own Guru in my school, Principal Bhave, in the Presidential address at the Science Congress in the year 2000. Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the then Prime Minister.  He inaugurated the congress.  During lunch, where some Nobel Laureates were also present, a question was raised as to why such great teachers don’t exist today. And I still remember Atalji saying Mashelkarji aapko pata hai aisa kyon nahin hota? Is ka kaaran yeh hai ki samaj mein aaj unko pratishtha nahin hai. He said, the research we do not produce Bhaves any more is because the society does not respect and value them. So, here the Indian mind says Gurur Sakshaat Parabrahma and the Indian mind set does exactly what our erstwhile Prime Minister is saying no respect and value for the teacher in the society, so how do we reconcile with this great battle of Indian mind vs Indian mindset? That is going to be the big challenge.  I just gave two examples.  I could give many more.

My young friends, while we are building those great minds of the 21st century, we also need to build the mind sets of the 21st century. So, I would simply propose that we don’t have the symposium theme on shaping young minds but we have the symposium theme — “Shaping Young Mind and Mind Sets just to emphasize this challenge..

4th January in Swami Vivekananda Life

4 Jan 1886 : Narendra went to Panchabati in Dakshineswar and practiced austerities.
4 Jan 1898 : Swamiji at Jodhpur - Very beautifully he gives new year wishes to Sister Christine : Dear Christina, a happy New Year. May it find you younger in heart, stronger in body, and purer in spirit.

Samarth Bharat Parva : Spirit Of Neighbourly Love – Providing Support To Burmese Refugees

Work for work's sake. There are some who are really the salt of the earth in every country and who work for work's sake, who do not care for name, or fame, or even to go to heaven. They work just because good will come of it. There are others who do good to the poor and help mankind from still higher motives, because they believe in doing good and love good. 
-   Swami Vivekananda

A group of students at IIT Delhi are showing us all the right way to treat guests, especially neighbours who are now homeless and in dire straits. They have done us proud by upholding the cultural values of our nation, and their dedication to the cause is admirable, as Palak Bhatia finds out on meeting them.

India is decidedly a country that is known for its hospitality all around the globe. ‘Atithi devoh bhavah’ (the guest is God) is a concept deeply rooted within our culture and for generations, we have strived to consider our guests as divine. This exquisite feeling shines through the efforts of the members of SIFE IIT Delhi, a student arm of the international organization SIFE, which is working towards creating sustainable economic opportunities for the needy.

Burma has been facing political and armed conflict between the military regime, political opponents, and ethnic groups that has resulted in the displacement of over 3.5 million people. Being an immediate neighbor, India has become home to a large portion of this displaced population. In fact, nearly 10,000 refugees reside in West Delhi today, something that a major portion of the citizens are unaware of. The uncountable challenges plaguing these people every day are quite overwhelming. Lack of legal protection, lack of work permits, discrimination, lack of education, abject living conditions, poor health conditions – unite this with the discomfort of being away from their homelands and familiar landscapes.

SIFE IIT Delhi, a student body of 26 members at IIT Delhi, has dedicated itself to the upliftment of these refugees and is helping them to gain a foothold in society. Their association with these people since November 2010 has enabled the students to appreciate the constant struggles they face and to develop a heartfelt relationship with them. Meeting a SIFE member is quite an eye-opener; their true commitment to the Burmese refugees’ cause is apparent immediately. They have brought forth Project Aarambh, a venture to initiate the refugees in the economic sphere and enable them to develop sustainable means of income using their current skills.

Weaving Hope is a venture that promotes the handicraft and weaving talents of the community. Due to a lack of knowledge of market scenarios, consumer demand, language barrier and societal exclusion, their skills have been unrecognized until now and SIFE IITD is striving hard to bring their talents to public light and create a market for the products. These goods, which boast of original Burmese culture, are created by women units within their community and marketed by the students. They organize corporate stalls to facilitate the sales of these handbags, laptop bags, purses, woolens, coats, and shawls. They have even sought professional support for improving skills, operations and scalability by collaborating with DASTKAR, a national organization, for the same.

Placement Cell is another arm that works towards providing a platform for the people looking for a job. The cell works as a two-way forum, an interface between the people and the factories and shops which have job vacancies. It ensures that the refugees get a just and sustainable pay for their services, while the employers get sincerity and hard work in return. They also conduct training sessions and workshops for them to improve their skills, find the right job and blend into the new work culture of today.

Food Project is yet another effort to provide them with a means of employment. Burmese dishes are unique in flavor and creation. Realizing that their only customers were the community members, SIFE realized that bringing their local cuisine into the open had a huge potential for creating sustainable enterprises. Through their food project, SIFE IITD has been organizing Burmese food stalls and catering opportunities in order to impart the essential exposure to their culinary skills, along with the much needed income to the cooks.

SIFE IITD also tries to forward their cause during Rendezvous, their annual college fest, when thousands of IITians and visitors get a chance to try out the Burmese dishes and handicrafts in an exclusive stall. Having tested some of their delicacies myself during the last year’s fest and witnessing the enormous success of their efforts, I could not help remarking upon the toils of the enthusiastic members, who happily invite visitors and treat the refugees with respect and love. Many college outreach programs such as the one in St. Stephen’s College and community initiatives such as Health Camps have also been organized.

But the most important objective of all is to enable the refugees to blend into the Indian society and sensitize the Indian community to welcome them with open arms. They are aware of the political, social and cultural dilemmas in helping a foreign refugee community – and their efforts are only meant to make the lives of these refugees a little more humane and meaningful. I salute the spirit of the SIFE IITD members, as well as the Burmese refugees, who are working hard to make their place in the world.

Palak Bhatia is a freelance writer with several mainstream publications and an online shopping website. She also acts as a travel guide for an online travel information website.

This is daily Vivek Katha of 3rd  January 2013

Join the year long 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda : 

Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari

3rd January in Swami Vivekananda Life

3 Jan 1886 : Narendra told the Master : Everyone has been blessed with realization. Let me, too, have something. When all have got it, why should I alone be left out?
'What to you want?', asked the Master.
'I wished to get immersed in samadhi for 3 or 4 day at a stretch, breaking it only for food.'
The Master said : You are a fool. There is a higher state than that even. Come here after making some provision for your family and you shall get a higher state than even Samadhi.

Samarth Bharat Parva : Sualkuchi – Weaving “Responsible” Dreams

Let new India arise out of peasants cottage, grasping the plough, out of huts, cobbler and sweeper. 
- Swami Vivekananda

As our hearts and prayers go out to the unfortunate people in Assam facing the brunt of turbulent times, we take a look at one of the state’s indigenous arts that is both beautiful and innovative. Meena Vaidyanathan visits Sualkuchi, a weavers’ village where silk is made differently and humanely, and discovers little-known facets of the Assamese way of life that leaves her with a new-found respect for the hardy and self-sufficient people.

What do you call silk that is made without boiling live silkworm pupae? Responsible silk? Non-violent (Ahimsa) silk? Whatever you want to name it – it is gorgeous and it is weaved in one small district of Assam called Sualkuchi. As I discover more of Assam, I get more intrigued and mesmerised. A state with 22 million population of which a large number of households have a loom where they weave their own cloth. But almost all of the silk weaving is done in Sualkuchi. When I set off one fine morning to spend a day with the weavers to understand their life a little better, I didn’t realise it would lead to this unending thirst to learn more.

Assam is the home of several types of silks, the most prominent being Muga, the gold-hued silk found exclusively in this state. Other silks include Pat and Eri or Endi, of which all silks except Pat is non-mulberry silk. The worms mainly feed on castor leaves and only the open ended cocoons are used for turning into silk.

As I walked into a traditional loom, I saw a mid-aged woman deftly moving her feet and hands in a coordinated manner to weave a beautiful design into the sari. The designs, determined by a very digital-looking cardboard rectangle, looked so obscure that it was hard to believe that the simple punched holes would give rise to the most amazing patterns in silk. Miri, as the lady was called, told me that she, like most other weavers in the region, came from a place called Mangaldoi and lived in rented huts in Sualkuchi. She took about 6-8 days, depending on the complexity of the design, to weave one sari, and earned about Rs. 100 a day! I also learnt that nearly 60% of the women weavers who brought to life the silks made in Assam lived outside of the district.

The owner of the loom told me that the weavers get a 2-hour break during the day where they feed their families lunch and also get time for a nap. I didn’t quite trust him, but most of the women I spoke to seemed to echo his lines, which made me believe that the lives of these weavers was perhaps a shade better than many contracted weavers in other parts of India. Perhaps the reason has been that the much of the weaving is done through a network of co-operatives.

To a large number of the weavers, not just in Sualkuchi but all over Assam, this cottage industry had been a way of life rather than mere source of living. Which perhaps explains the fact that weaving in Assam isn’t restricted to certain communities or tribes alone but spread across caste and class lines. I heard a wonderful story where Momai Tamuli Barbarua, a minister of king Pratap Singha, made it compulsory for every adult able bodied female in Assam to spin a certain quantity of yarn every evening! I was also told that in a marriage proposal, proficiency of the would-be bride in Bowa-kata,i.e.,skill in spinning and weaving is ranked way above her skills in cooking! It is still customary among the Assamese, that on the occasion of Bihu, a grown-up girl makes presents of self-woven Bihuan (Phulam Gamosa) to her near and dear ones as a token of love and respect. It was fascinating to learn that women not just dominated in weaving the silks but in districts of Goalpara, where a lot of silkworm rearing is done, it’s the Rabha women who take the lead.

Which Miri also did with fine finesse. The Muga silk she was weaving had a golden sheen that she told me grows more lustrous with each wash. This was used, together with zari, to weave fabrics for royalty. Today, the zari has been replaced by multicoloured cotton threads. The designs woven into these fabrics are drawn from the flora of Assam and, as in other parts of India, are symbolic of the different tribes and ethnic groups of the area. One speciality of this region is the bamboo weft designs, eight in number, which are used as variations in weaving patterns.

I learnt that as many as twelve types of looms are said to be in use in the state which may be broadly grouped into the Throw Shuttle Loom, Lion Loom, Pit Loom and Fly Shuttle Loom. The first one is found in almost every Assamese household while the second one is in common use among the hill tribes. Migrant weavers from Bangladesh mostly use Pit Loom. The Fly Shuttle loom which is a recent introduction is an improved type of frame which considerably increases the output of the weavers. Of the more than 17 lakh people in Assam involved in the handloom sector, silk production and weaving provides employment to over 54,000 families in Assam.

As demand and popularity rises, I also saw many looms using cheaper silk yarn sourced from states like Karnataka that are coloured to weave the designs into the muga and pat silks. This brings down the cost of production and therefore results in an increase in sales of relatively cheaper priced silk sarees and mekhalas. I tried to cloak my disappointment with this by acknowledging the fact that lower priced sarees, even if they weren’t all locally sourced, would increase the popularity of this fine piece of art, which in turn can only help the lovely women of Assam gain more employment.

As I walked towards the market from the village where I spent the day, I realized there were more than 80 stores in that narrow lane alone. And there were many such lanes in Sualkuchi, where the saree stores competed for space with the zillion Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh temples. I bought a silk saree, very similar to the one Miri was weaving and as I walked back to my car, I couldn’t help smiling at the thought of the many dreams she was weaving in the designs every day!