G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Monday, December 01, 2008

Wall Street Journal recommends Tukaram, Sane-guruji, and Vinoba Bhave

Hemant Karkare: "A terrorist has no religion."

Mr. Nandan M. Nilekani says: "...Do you want to pursue a path which will bring us to a great future, or do we go down the path of more and more divisiveness. I mean all this Hindu Vs Christian, Hindu Vs Muslim, Bihari Vs Bombay. I call these the vertical divides (gestures), you know, this religion and caste. We should go beyond this and look at horizontal aspirations..." (Asian Age November 26, 2008)

Sounds good.

I wonder if his book has any 'ideas' on how to 'go beyond' because it is perhaps many times more difficult than creating a Fortune 500 company?

Mr. Nilekani also says:"...You know, leaving apart his (Narendra Modi's) Hindutva and all that triumphalism and Gujarat riots and all that..."

Leaving apart Gujarat riots and all that?!!! Read a related post here.

DANIEL HENNINGER says in WSJ: “…What really went missing through the subprime mortgage years were the three Rs: responsibility, restraint and remorse. They are the ballast that stabilizes two better-known Rs from the world of free markets: risk and reward.

Responsibility and restraint are moral sentiments. Remorse is a product of conscience. None of these grow on trees. Each must be learned, taught, passed down…”

Note WSJ is talking about responsibility, restraint and remorse.

"According to John Bird, founder of the Big Issue magazine: “In the 21st century, it’s no longer right or sexy to be a greedy bastard.”

His pithily expressed thesis is that the crisis in conventional business has given impetus to social enterprises, which combine the pursuit of profit with the quest to do good." (FT, Jonathan Guthrie, November 26 2008)

As I have said on this blog often: Shouldn’t we be teaching ‘responsibility and restraint’ and 'the pursuit of profit with the quest to do good' in our schools and colleges? Maybe they will help us tackle violence unleashed by the vertical divides created by religion, caste and language.

Maharashtra’s school education needs to incorporate Tukaram तुकाराम, Sane-guruji साने-गुरूजी and Vinoba Bhave विनोबा भावे a lot more. Our times need these guys more than ever.

Instead, I see more and more focus on examination oriented science and mathematics.

Some of India's thought-leaders don’t mind this because they need armies of these “technical” graduates to staff their organizations. They routinely complain about the “employability” factor but rarely about “wholesomeness” of education.

Teaching science as a fun thing also will never compensate abject lack of place for soft skills and moral values in our curricula.

“…But the ideal of science as lingering childhood has given way to one of timeless adolescence. Richard Feynman and James Watson are the poster boys for this kind of scientist, who bathes in the fountain of perpetual fun. The triumph of that cultural ideal coincided with the heightened recognition of a deeply serious role for science in affairs of state. The legend of Feynman originated during his time at Los Alamos, which he described as a delightful time of cracking safes and seducing girls in bars. Surely he was joking, and the blackness of the humor is made evident by juxtaposing his antics with disturbing images from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Eniwetok, of tens of thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles poised to destroy life on Earth, and hundreds of thousands of scientists and engineers laboring every workday to increase the power and precision of those weapons. The popular contemporary understanding that doing science is about fun has an aura of whimsical self-indulgence and offers comic relief and distraction from realities of this kind… “

(students of IIT's in 2007 were up against Dow Chemical. Good start. Now they should refuse to join any US or European or Indian defense contractors)

“…. We no longer expect scientists to display qualities of personal integrity beyond what we would demand of lawyers, businesspeople or store clerks. Their involvement with war and their willing subordination to the expectations of profit-driven industry seem to support this doctrine of equivalence, and the modern intermingling of academic research with entrepreneurship exemplifies the decline of an ideal of disinterested truth…”

(In India scientists enjoy far more credibility than lawyers, businesspeople or store clerks. I wonder why. Remnants of Brahmanism? For me, the most celebrated Indian scientist Dr A P J Abdul Kalam's personal integrity is no more or no less than any other President of India before him.)

“…Anyone who has witnessed capitalism from outside the economics textbooks knows that business life depends deeply on personal relationships of trust. The same is true of science, and Shapin has taught us as much as anyone about what this means in practice. Trust is rarely absolute, and in business and science as in most human affairs it is important also to develop a nuanced sense of when and how to withhold trust. For an outsider, it is difficult to know how seriously to take the scientists' avowals of intention to do good in the world. Even the most idealistic of biotech researchers are destined to become dependent on medical corporations to test their products and bring them to market. "Big Pharma" and its ilk have acquired, I think justly, a bad reputation, and any residual altruism on the part of the scientists will be the first victim of their involvement. They profess to be humanitarians, but if we measure that claim against the actual consequences of high-tech science-based medicine, our admiration must surely fade…”

“…In the same way, if we look beyond parables of geese and gold, we must doubt that basic science is the indispensable engine of technological change, the prime mover for economic prosperity. This is a legend, one that is repeated like a mantra by advocates of science in search of resources, but which is not well supported by historical and economic research. Universities and corporate labs alike must now justify their budgets by claiming economic payoff. In pursuit of research money, scientists have propagated dubious scientific claims, such as single-gene causation of all kinds of human traits and maladies. Those who found companies, not surprisingly, like to emphasize the symbiosis of good science and profit-making enterprise…”

(Theodore M. Porter’s review of The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation by Steven Shapin)

Artist: Rea Gardner The New Yorker 10 November 1945