Dr. Baldev Raj, FTWAS, FNAE, FNA, FASc, FNASc.HM,IIM,HF,Blns.NDT,HF,ISTN
Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore
President, International Council of Academies of Engineering & Technological Sciences
Member, German Academy of Sciences; JC Bose Fellow, DST
Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT, Gandhinagar
I consider it a privilege and honour to deliver the 12th convocation address at Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA), Bangalore to the students, faculty, management, parents, distinguished invitees and members of media. On this solemn occasion, I wish the outgoing students success and ethical living thus bringing honour and pride to the parents, teachers, families, S-VYASA and the country.
YOGA originated, evolved, was practiced and perfected over thousands of years in India. It is indeed a fulfilling milestone that YOGA has worldwide acceptance. 21st June has been declared as International Yoga Day by 187 out of 193 countries in the World. It is a significant achievement of India.
When Indian Institute of Science (IISc) was conceived by Jamshetji Tata; the position of Director was offered to Swami Vivekananda who did not accept the position. It was, to my mind, a colossal loss for India but who am I to comment as Vivekananda would have thought and done the very best for the newly formed institute, beyond any doubt in the mind of anyone. IISc has become one of the excellent Scientific Institutions in the country for academics research and technologies.
Dr. H R Nagendra, an alumni of IISc and the Chancellor of Sri Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana University is committed to harness Yoga, Science, Spirituality, Traditional Wealth of Knowledge for Growth of India and Quality of life. His dream and vision is synchronization and integration of Yoga, Naturopathy, Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy techniques and treatments. In addition, encouraging research to support Indian methods of healthcare and wellness using well established scientific measurements, characterization and analysis tools, techniques and methodologies.
NIAS, born out of the vision of beautiful mind of JRD Tata, has a mandate to grow true leaders and harness synergy of the capabilities of disciplines; social sciences, humanities, culture and heritage, science and technologies, strengthening the polices and provide policy alternatives to solve national and global challenges. NIAS provides an excellent synergy to work with S-VYASA for realizing the objectives of both the institutes; I welcome the collaboration with Prof. H R Nagendra, Chancellor of the University and our colleagues in two institutes, who are also familiar with strengths and synergy. We need to work together on eminent challenges in search of solutions. Similarly, at Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), in addition to my assignments, I pursued experimental physics with investigations on heart, brain, body, blood, etc. using electromagnetic and acoustic methods based on innovative sensors, instrumentation and modeling to provide new insights and diagnosis methodologies. IGCAR has expertise to be a synergy collaborator. I invite you to work in synergy and on sustained basis between S-VYASA, NIAS and IGCAR to emerge as leaders and deliver disruptive innovations to our society and the world for holistic health care, at affordable cost and with least pain and suffering.
Consciousness studies is one of the areas that is gaining attention of best of the minds. A year back “Science” magazine qualified consciousness as one of the major questions that sciences will be exploring in the coming 50 years. While we know that on one side, our behaviors , attitudes, and body functions are governed by neural activity and the related neurochemical, muscle and joint mechanisms, on the other, there are times when people defy the medical parameters and invoke deeper subliminal aspects of their being through stronger will power, positive orientation, sense of purpose, ability to create meaning, etc.
With both psychological and physiological aspects intertwined in the understanding and existence of consciousness, disciplines are coming together to analyse the intricacies of the final frontier of human knowledge – consciousness. Thus the study of consciousness has become a frontier of knowledge that requires rigourous empirical research along with personal commitment and a passion for self-enquiry.
It is in this context of a transdisciplinary approach to consciousness that we also bring in the importance of Yoga. Since several centuries ‘yoga’ has been considered as one of the pathways to realizing the deeper aspects of oneself, or understanding the mystery behind the existence of the universe, or even getting an insight into what stuff the reality is made of. Starting from the doyen of Yoga-science, Rishi Patanjali, several traditional and modern teachers have theorized about yoga in multiple ways.
Classical philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita defines yoga both as abidance (deep concentration) on unitary consciousness – samaadau achala buddhih yogah, and as excellence in one’s work – karmasu kaushalam yogah. We see a philosophy that combines pragmatics and human excellence. To be excelling in one’s profession or any activity it is equally important to be grounded in an unperturbed space of mental calm and consciousness, and at the same time to give one’s best. Or put it differently, one whose identity is defined not by smaller reasons but by larger goals and higher standards of excellence; such a person will also be able to touch the mysterious planes of consciousness.
To take another example – Patanjali has two important theories in his magnum opus “Yogasutras” – one is his definition of a ‘posture’ – sthiram sukham aasanam – one’s posture should be comfortable as well as stable. Another is his definition for yoga – chittavritti nirodhah – yoga as a restraint upon thoughts. Both these perspectives once again indicate to us the dynamic nature of human self and consciousness – that which is stable and grounded, and yet that which is beyond limited thoughts of the ego-self. A harmony between physical and psychological existences.
It is heartening that today natural sciences, cognitive sciences, contemplative sciences along with neuroscience and neuropsychology are engaged in fathoming the deeper aspect of our existence, namely consciousness, and challenging the unknown and that is unraveling the secrets to understanding the existence of life. Such an endeavor, for sure in years to come, shall reveal to us the possibilities of our own mind and consciousness which will also lead to better individual health, social wellbeing and the peaceful existence of the humanity. At NIAS, we are pursuing frontiers of consciousness in a comprehensive way.
The institute of learning builds character and provides knowledge and a way of dealing with the challenges ahead of students to meet the realities of life and also preparing them to realize paradigm changes of value and substance. At best, it can provide a road map. It is not even a territory map. It does not give details about potholes, boulders, rainstorms and hail storms or even earthquakes. Thus, in addition to the knowledge base, it is the character and spirit of the students to meet challenges, which takes the students through the journey, with a purpose to do good to mankind. You are fortunate that you have got such an opportunity to study and experience finer and vital aspects of life in S-VYASA.
While we say, we are in knowledge society. Fact remains that we have excess of information and even knowledge. India has always believed in sagacious wisdom and indepth insights of cosmos, nature, human and other species to find solutions based on minimal elements but maximum clarity with imagination. Considering the challenges; one needs better comprehension and efforts as compared to the past, and yet not to be overawed with too much data, information and knowledge and in the process lose the essence of the challenges. A much common and easy to understand example is spending hours on TV channels and websites; with the end result to get fatigued and addicted.
To the virtue of imagination, Albert Einstein has mentioned that imagination is better than knowledge. I may say that knowledge with spiritual motivation and human love and sensitivity, as advocated by Swami Vivekananda are key to realize the joy and full potential of life on this beautiful planet. It requires incisive capabilities and character exemplified by Swami Vivekananda and being imparted by S-VYASA to realize bliss with successes for the good of mankind and the earth planet.
Science, by different individuals and in different times, has been pursued on the foundation of human intellect, to be curious and ask good and relevant questions followed by persistence and imagination to answer with best of the abilities. The matter does not end; one must be ready to make sacrifices for paradigm change ideas and concepts. Observations, experiments, modeling verifications and deductions are some of the tools in the hands of the seekers of truth in science. All these are improving to a large measure, specifically during the last more than 100 years Narendra Nath Dutta, later known as Swami Vivekananda, a child prodigy, transformed in the hands of Sri Ramakrishna; his Guru arguably has been most successful to connect and correlate internal and external experiences in an unique and convincing manner to the east and west for realizing noble out comes in service of the society. He was truly comprehensive, national and global at the same time, modern and yet well rooted in vedic knowledge and traditions.
It is clear that Swami Vivekananda philosophy and insights hold becon to find solutions to the unparallel challenges of sustainability, inequalities of justice, education, opportunities, gender, etc. Irrationalities of individuals and nations and threatening storms of chaos and crimes amidst unparallel wealth generation, advances in sciences and knowledge and experiences with mechanisms in resolving conflicts of interests are some of the parameters of our current society. We have a topology shown by Swami Vivekananda: esteem and conviction in internal and external worlds; a synergy of spirituality and science. India can leapfrog to numerouno as the synergy is uniquely possible with strengths of India and opportunity window of 50 years, ahead of India.
Another noble son of India Rabindra Nath Tagore challenged and enriched domains of education, gender esteem, participations of women in societal roles beyond homes, bridging the cultures of east and appreciation of science, with his abundant abilities of human and nature sensitivities and gift with expressions in poems, stories, novels and letters. I wish to mention his unique approach to address gender equality and clear success. He visualized and created, based on his deep understanding, powerful and meaningful women role models, in all strata of society, in his literature. His eminence and structured approaches touched the conscious of the society and became a reason of inspiration and confidence to address gender inequalities of Bengali and even women from other parts of the country (as some of these themes were successful movies and novels translated in other languages). He was a pioneer of co-education. He was so convinced with the characters and convictions in the characters that he admitted women for holistic education in Santiniketan school.
Vivekananda, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, M V Visveswaraya, Albert Einstein and many other beautiful minds of the time were different in the focus, approaches and convictions and yet common in self-respect, esteem for the work of others and commitment to well being of the society, by contributing not only quality of life in their times but indeed for eternity. This self respect and capacity to listen and learn from others, is essential to solve the challenges facing India and mankind, much more, as compared to the times of these luminaries.
Science and YOGA can be understood and rationalized. However, it is difficult to rationalize the decisions of the representative authorities of a country or a body of the countries. I give below a few examples:
It is estimated that five permanent seat members of UN Security Council; USA, UK, France, China and Russia spend approx. $1 trillion on reshaping and rebooting nuclear weapons.
Extinction of biospecies, at an alarming rate; one may attribute to ignorance, foolishness, greed, cruelty, insensitivity, non accountability and may be all the factors and more. It is important to know that in comparison to total existence of life on the planet, mankind in its modern form had its existence on earth for a miniscule and indeed insignificant short span of time. However, modern man, steadily, has self assumed responsibility or irresponsibility of supposed eminence on the planet. To me, our balance sheet of virtues and damages, does not inspire confidence to sustainable earth planet.
In the light of examples above; it is easy to be a pessimist but the truth is that there have always been individuals of extraordinary abilities and performance, who turn the tide in favour of life and quality of life, on the planet. Thus, I advocate optimism.
Indian Past is, to say the least, is glorious, inspiring and revealing with respect to insights and outcomes. Harappan (~2000BC) is one among the youngest of old civilizations; other being Egyptian and Mesopotamia. At its peak, Mohanjadaro is estimated to be the largest with about million square kilometers, 35 towns and well thought out governance technologies and systems. Manuscripts treasure of about 10,000 books in 12th to 18th century are continuum in the journey of knowledge pursuit and eminence.
Accepted eminence of India in mathematics and astronomy (Brahamagupta, Bhaskara-I, Nilakanta, Aryabhatta, etc.) medicine (Caraka and Susruta etc.) and metal master specialists related to zinc, iron and steel, bronzes, etc. is well documented and provides an inspiration for all the generations upto now and shall remain iconic contributions and inspirations for many generations to come.
I would like to address, avoidable intermixing of Myths, Mythologies, Science, technology etc. We need to index, study and interpret our glorious ancient history in the current context with evidence based approaches. One need not give hierarchical importance or be emotional and impulsive for gaining pride and in defence of a given historical fiction or reality. The self esteem, and experience needed to have research based historian perspectives, are meaningful for say mythology and technology, as these serve different purposes: moral, religion, and relevance of learning in the past for the current and future. There are texts in Sanskrit as well as vernacular, which help us understand Indigenous skills in the fields of agriculture, horticulture and health sciences. Unfortunately, we have lost the ability to read, interpret and revive them, as we have lost the memory of our very first script till it was re-introduced to us in the 19th century. The texts containing this wisdom are often ignored but yet exist the manuscripts in libraries and archives. These need to be read carefully before as rejecting or accepting. However, an amazing body of literature on the veterinary sciences, called Gajasaastra, Hayasaastra, Gosaastra, etc., which discuss the treatment of elephants, horses and cattle, is so impressive that it cannot be ignored. But to understand these texts, we have to develop a distinct scholarship, as this cannot be handled by the one who knows the language of the text but not the methodology of ascertaining the fact, nor by the one who is skilled in the modern methodology but not the language of the text. Bridging this gap should be our immediate and important pursuit.
There are some claims, which need to be examined with an open mind. Prof. Settar a historian of eminence would like to offer the fields of Vasthu and Jotisha, as examples. Both of them are deep-rooted in our present life, but the relevance of both is questioned and yet celebrated. There are also texts which expound these sciences, but the interpretation of these texts are more in the hands of the traditional pandits who mix spirituality and superstition with them. Attempts are made to introduce chairs in the universities to give them an academic recognition. It is better to accept this challenge rather than reject it outright, and find out the substance in the claim made on their behalf.
The claims made on behalf of Yoga and Yajna deserve the same kind of consideration. The Yoga is universally accepted and its influence is spreading. S-VYASA deserves all appreciation and support for a careful study of texts and by conducting experiments. The claims made on behalf of the Yajna are to be examined separately. The spiritual efficacy attached to it is one thing and its ability to cleanse the atmospheric pollution is another. The first could only be an act of faith and the second could be experimented. The modern mind would certainly be interested to know whether the atmospheric pollution of our cities could be cleansed as the Yajna is claimed to have cleansed comparatively less polluted ashramite atmosphere in the good old days.
India has also a rich tradition of demonstrated excellence in music, literature, culture, philosophy and diverse domains of science and technology. While, the stand alone historical records of music, art, literature serve the desired purposes; it is essential to have comprehensives, comparative and more important correlation studies in domains of science and technology in context of similar developments in contemporary civilizations, to have true learnings and insights.
In music, we have traditions of excellence; Tansen in the past to the very recent Bismillah Khan, Bhimsen Joshi, Ravi Shankar, M S Subbulakshmi, etc. In literature, the traditional excellence is depicted by Kalidas, Kabir, Tulsi, Meerabhai, Tagore, Mahadevi Varma, Munshi Pream Chand, etc. These names are illustrative and not meant to be exhaustive. These statements with illustrative names are meant to show that, we do have, in India, eminence in all the domains of culture, science, etc. in all time periods. Technologies could not be grown and nourished, in 18th to mid 20th century due to rigid and constrained policies suitable for British Empire but not for citizens of India. Raja Rammohan Roy in early 19th century, with a deep conviction, sowed the seeds, to rejuvenate enquiry and explorations at a time when British were broadly and intrinsically interested in surveys and data collections, essentials for their governance, with a few exception of good deeds to establish institutes of teaching and learning.
A major breakthrough, in Indian science, was achieved through sparkling imagination of Mahendra Lal Sarkar when he, amidst all the challenges, along with Father Lafont instituted a change of mind set mechanism through initiative of Cultivation of Science. Science, to explore across the boundaries of disciplines for good of public life, was the driving force for Mahendra Lal Sarkar. C V Raman, MN Saha, J C Bose, Satyan Bose etc. are a few outstanding examples of this exemplary effort. The Institute of Cultivation of Science continuous to sustain and grow excellence. We continue to have luminaries like Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai, Visveswaraya, Jamsetji Tata, JRD Tata, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindra Nath Tagore and eminence continues to be nurtured and grown in India. I would like to dwell on current subject of significant important and but evading solution. This relates to interplay of sustainability and growth.
The human-dominated planet earth ecosystem, which is inclusive of all biological systems and other non-livings, is increasingly being driven by technology and social behaviors; however, it is sustained by natural life- support systems and vitalized by individuals of high merit by bringing in paradigm changes amidst challenges. The concept of ecological engineering is emerging as a dominant interdisciplinary pursuit to guide science, technology and innovative approaches towards green and sustainable technologies in the 21st Century.
Evaluation of effective and comprehensive technologies which are intertwined with social–economic–nature ecosystem, is complex, multidimensional and lacks robust approaches. There are systematic but sometimes hidden ecological contexts and contents. Currently, most of the technologies are oriented to mono-objective, namely, open loops of material flow, and rigid products and technological processes. Only when technologies are placed in the perspective of an ecosystem and policies are focused on the concept of mutually beneficial coexistence of nature and society, an effective solution can be achieved and a goal of sustainable development realized. Ecological engineering can be considered as the bridge between ‘‘society- economics’’ and nature-based cosmos. Inter-discipline of engineering, ecology, and management respecting balance with nature resources and health leads to superiority and sustainability of technology. This approach, to my knowledge is a robust approach for integrating engineering, technology and ecology. Though the approach in a qualitative manner, at this stage has a vast appeal, it has potency to evolve into an accepted and quantitative approach (based on weightage of controlling parameters). Further useful models for desired sustainable technologies can be built. It is clearly a desired direction which needs to be pursued with the help of domain specialists, environment experts and social scientists.
We, human beings inhabit the Earth by occupying self-designated superior hierarchy in biological community. The progress in science and technology without a balance with ecological considerations has resulted in loss of culture, biodiversity, degradation of the earth and even the universe. This approach has also resulted in building new and hybrid ecosystems which many a times are adverse to the chain of species, evolved over millions of years. These new ecosystems can be visualized as interconnected subsystems defined by parameters such as economic growth, cultures of societies, creativity, sustainability, etc. In this clearly highly non-linear inter-connected system, it is true that activities of human species have resulted in a huge disconnect with nature (ecowealth). The basic concept of the ecosystem, for ecological research in places where people were either not in residence, or had relatively modest effect on the habitat, was that such systems were composed of organisms and the physical environment with which these interacted. Plants, animals, and microbes constitute one side of the equation, and air, soil, water, temperature, light, etc the other. When these components interact, they constitute an ecosystem. Within ecosystems human being now plays a predominant role which rather than having a sobering influence disturbs the delicate balance of biological system evolved so far and eventually raising a concern of getting engineered in a chaotic fashion.
It is an inescapable reality for human beings to seek “balance” and “sustainability” in the practice of technology within the ecosystem boundary, as human beings are coming to realize that the more the invasion of the nature, the more would be the environmental problems, and that sometimes, these will threaten to engulf our achievements meant to improve the quality of life on this earth. The penalities for economics and more importantly for loss of biodiversity and quality of life can be either immense or irrepairrable.
It is important to realize that sustainable development calls for paradigm changes in our current modes of production, consumption, decision-making, and of course, in engineering management. Ecological engineering-based engineering management practices could be a beneficial attempt to make such effective changes with a systematic approach.
In the 21st century, “Sustainable development’’ has become more than ever important concept in the context of economics and environmental intertwined policies. In December 1997, the Kyoto Protocol aimed at addressing global warming and the deterioration of the ecosystem. In July 2010, countries signed and ratified the Protocol. It is generally argued and accepted that the reason that “sustainability” is important is because the needs of the present are to be met without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs. The sustainability should also push rather than thwart the drivers of continuously improving the quality of life of all living species on this planet. Sustainability in human dominated ecosystems requires attention to three overlapping realms. An illustration of three pillars of sustainability is given in Figure 1. The inter-linkages and interdependencies are clear, but complex and engineering management many a times does not take into account societal and natural wealth considerations. It also ignores cultural strengths and traditions of marginal economical groups, which are vital links in the chain of sustainability .It can be argued that such sustainable technologies are possible with proper merit based opportunities, national policies, international commitments with clear guidance on issues such as gender equality, child labour, drugs trade, low carbon technologies, sustainable energy, water, agriculture, etc and commitment of professionals in a cohesive and effective way towards developing sustainable technologies in an expeditious manner with clear time lines and promising measurable results.
Sustainability of technologies based on three aspects, i.e. natural wealth, human created wealth and cultural and intellectual excellence with ethics and equity are a robust and achievable goal. In simple words, ecological, social and economic sustainability is a challenging proposal to the current generation of professionals. Ecological sustainability is fundamental; it is about ethics and the right directions for social and economic sustainability. Social institutions, communities, culture and quality of life are integral parts of social sustainability. This is often ignored, but it is argued that this vital link needs to be incorporated in decision making and implementation of technologies. These social features are the ways in which people organize and respond to satisfy their material and psychological needs. Economic sustainability refers specifically to the ability to derive a livelihood and to have the financial resources to participate as individuals, households, and institutions in the work of the society. These three features of sustainability, namely ecological, social, and economic components in judicious combination have to be in place for an ecological-social system to be resilient and adaptive, and hence to be able to persist through interlinked changes to be brought about by relevant bureaucrats, politicians, economists and social workers. The public has to be convinced to pay the cost and bear the pains of hardships, and of deriving satisfaction arising out of these changes for realizing sustainability. The countries, on their parts, should forge international treaties to realize commerce based on sustainable technologies.
Key to improving the quality of life on the earth through sustainable development is delivering synergy between the three drivers, i.e. economy, society and ecology. The term ‘sustainable development’ recognizes that economic growth, social welfare and environmental issues are linked and must be addressed together, rather than in a fragmented way in which it is pursued and practiced currently. It can be mentioned that quantum and urgency of challenge demands right actions of individuals and combined actions of right minds of organizations and countries, and at a pace which is at least an order of magnitude more than the current measure of commitments and results.
In the 21st century, it is an inescapable context and trend for humans to seek a balanced mix of nature wealth – economy and societal drivers for attaining “sustainability” in the practice of materials, technologies and energy while continuing to improve the quality of life on this planet with higher ethics and equity. Currently, a disturbing feature amidst population of 7 billion plus human beings is vivid signatures of fatigue and even failures which need to be corrected with clear results to generate confidence and pave clear pathways towards sustainability. These requirements demand new approaches, innovations, materials and technologies. I have depicted in Figure 2 that academicians and intellectuals in all domains should take the steering wheel to guide the society for balancing the progress with ethics and sustainability.
Gandhi is being recognized, worldwide, as an unique environmentalist with deep insights to realize sustainability with quality of life. Gandhi has stated that “the Earth provides enough to satisfy everyman’s needs, but not for anybody’s greed”. He provides an ethical dimension and meaning to sustainability with his vowed commitment to dignity of not only human beings but all the species.
Gandhi showed a deep understanding, much ahead of his times that in case human beings exploit nature beyond limits, the challenges may become painful and difficult to be addressed. He visualized that progress of mankind is possible only in harmony and conformity with nature.
In the current context, challenges of sustainably, growth, quality of life on the planet, and addressing inequalities, in synergy with advances in science and technology and digital world connectivity, Gandhi provides a ‘Mantra’ and ‘Direction’ to clear the inadequacies on the earth planet and charter a path to realize quality of life with soul of spirituality and body of science, technology and social sciences.
India is the largest and vibrant democracy of about 1.3 billion citizens. The country has a widest imaginable spectrum of languages, religions, cultures, income groups and political ideologies. The country must achieve high economic growth (approx. 10 percent of GDP growth every year) in the coming twenty years on a sustained basis and commit not only sustaining high growth rates but even enhancing these growth rates. This commitment poses many challenges and offers even larger opportunities. India and the world believe in the vision of India as being one among the three largest economies by 2025. This vision necessitates synergy among the actions and effective implementation strategies in an expeditious manner. Energy is the key driver, which along with education, healthcare, water, food and other related infrastructure would enable achievement of the goals. In a diverse democracy, achieving this offers higher levels of, thus become an opportunity of great fun and matters of immense satisfaction. The ingredients for success in this demanding endeavor are conviction, determination, capacity, capability and commitment with ethics, selectivity and sensitivity of government with private participation. India needs to combine the strengths of her heritage with modern outlook and experience of the west in a judicious manner. She needs enhancing the capacity and commitments of all the stakeholders. In this context, it is appropriate to recall a few unique Indians whose work for the country.
George Greenstein argues that much of modern science and technology in India owes its origin to this one man; Bhabha. He was scientist, an administrator and management guru with elegance, deep appreciation of arts and astonishing ability to choose and motivate persons for the purposes of realizing his dreams of India. Vikram Sarabhai had in abundance many a good abilities of Homi Bhabha combined with his deep commitment to human sensitivities and aspirations. These two men of eminence combined with their worthy contemporaries like C V Raman, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, M N Saha, Mahanalobis, M Visvesvaraya, Satish Dhawan etc. and their worthy successors are responsible for building Indian strength in modern science and technology with mechanisms to scale the capacities and capabilities towards meeting the challenges related to improving quality of life in India.
We find that India is divided between optimism and disillusionment. History is demonstrative of the fact that enlightened human beings can remove disillusionment with their capacity, capability, commitment, approaches and selfless service. The nations and the world bodies require leadership of intellectuals, social scientists, scholars and believers in voice of democracy to guide the systems and societies where politicians and bureaucrats combine their sensitivity to large masses with intellectuals and professionals to have high synergy for enhancing quality of life for deprived citizens of this planet in a systematic and demonstrative manner. A single individual with his passion, commitment and hard work can bring about a lot of improvements and quality changes for the betterment of his fellow human beings, contributing to the development of the society and the country. Education holds a vital and essential key to shape the minds. Being a vast and much discussed subject. I wish to capture an important well known but neglected fact of child education in unstructured habitats.
We are today enlightened with scientific facts that child care and growth from a very early age is central to shaping the human mind and body. Prof. Malavika Kapur, a renowned child psychologist, view all children as equally creative, imaginative and intelligent no matter what background they come from. Unfortunately the elitist schools fail to be child centred and child friendly. Having the right environment alone is not enough. Having the right attitude to childhood among the parents and teachers alike is essential. She gives an account of her work with children from disadvantaged background, in a number of books and reports authored by her. She took it as a challenge to prove otherwise, She has taken the opinion that ‘untouchables are unteachable’. She has not attempted or followed traditional instructional methods. Children were simply given time, space and material to play as they wished and teacher being catalysts. Teacher were friendly, non threatening and appreciative. Prof. Malavika Kapur advocates for change in one-way instructional methods adopted by teachers to genuinely child centred methods by change of heart and rigid attitudes of the teachers. She further advises that there is a need to bridge the gap between education and developmental child psychology to be able to provide quality of education to all children, privileged or disadvantaged. She is inspired by Prof. Yash Pal who advises the teachers to “Learn from Children What to Teach Them”.
You should realize that you are an asset to the nation and have been specially prepared to perform at the highest level of ethics and efficiency to deliver better quality of life to India and indeed the world. India has made rapid strides in science and Technology to earn respect, dignity and eminence from even the most enlightened professionals and eminent organizations all over the world. The remarkable achievements of India in education, industry, nuclear energy, space, and defence to name a few are the foundation bedrocks on which we are building to deliver future successes, which would earn India a distinction of one of the most developed countries with robust economy. This must be achieved in less than two decades to provide equity and quality of life to even the last citizen in India. The later part requires work of social scientists, spiritual leaders, institutes of justice, enlightened yet bold media, etc. and the men and women of substance, which work in complementary manner to science and technology to change current India to right India.
I would like you to think carefully on the following suggestions. Once, you are convinced, sustained conviction in these principles shall enrich your life, the country and the world.
Buddha, a prince, philosopher, saint and teacher mentored the professionals in an excellent manner with his advice “We are what we think we are. All that we are, arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world”. I advise you to have a conviction in your strengths, build your capacity and capability to make outstanding contributions in your chosen pursuits with ethics, sensitivity and selectivity and make the country proud with your achievements.
Deep learning and unlearning, both are needed in judicious proportions to realize creativity, innovations, discoveries and inventions. The above mentioned context is for individuals. However, it is also important that eco – system (environment) in the organization and indeed the country should also have the motivation to sow seeds of such pursuits. Leadership capacity and maturity to encourage sowing and nourishing of these seeds, with tolerance for meritorious failures, is equally important component for realizing disruptive breakthroughs, of importance to mankind. The pursuits with commitment to an idea or concept, with the best person, requires rigour and sustenance because true laws of nature are sublime and hidden in nature till these are revealed by correlations and visualizations.
Through the span of recorded history; persons have arisen now and again, who by their ability, conviction of application and inspiration, have enriched science and removed myths and fallacies based on theories and evidence. They have thus left an everlasting impact on the quality of life. Such persons were luminaries and exemplories and have left for us, a legacy to follow and build.
Holistic approach to education which puts emphasis on learning, building skill sets, appreciation of ethics, sensitivity to all stakeholders in society and wealth generation, is key to India progressing to a developed nation. Healthcare has to be holistic and cost effective to meet the needs of a country like India, which has large population of poor persons along with growing middle class and rich population striving for best healthcare to international standards. India, through imagination and innovations have demonstrated good healthcare models such as Aravind Eye Hospital, Sankara Eye Hospital and Narayana Hrudayalaya Heart Hospital, to name a few. Our rigour and commitment to holistic healthcare combining traditional knowledge base of prevention and mitigation, diagnostic and treatment with modern system can be a unique solution, not only for India, but the world. This approach, to be successful requires a vast spectrum of basic research development, clinical trials technologies and business models with right policies and implementation strategies. M. S Valiathan; a Cardio Surgeon, in recent times, has established a new discipline of Ayurvedic Biology. He is unique in his abilities as being at the cutting edge of medicine and also responsible for writing Caraka Samhita, the legacy of Caraka, to rejuvenate Indian knowledge for healthcare and sciences. We need to purse these efforts of holistic healthcare based on science and evidence based traditional rich knowledge base, not only in India but the worldwide.
I owe Tipping Points in my life to my parents especially mother, teachers, mentors and particularly NIT, Raipur; Indian Institute of Science and Department of Atomic Energy. Equality important is my experience of childhood; being born in a upper middle class business family, losing a father at the age of 11 years and being brought up in a large family with ethical and strong upbringing by my mother and grandmother which not only motivated me but also inspired me and with sensitivities and building capacity for the purpose. As an a Distinguished Alumni of Indian Institute of Science, I would like to recall true story of Swami Vivekananda and his influence on Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata to start and enable Indian Institute of Science (narrate the story). This remarkable story of the institute is especially important to me as IISc has shaped me and introduced me to the beauty of worthy research pursuits and meaning and purpose in life.
We know excellence of Indian Institute of Science of 2015. A good thought converted to action and implemented in the hands of worthy persons can make a mega difference for the well being and capacity of the country. This illustration, is again an example to demonstrate that synergy of great but diverse minds, driven by the purpose to improve the quality of life, can achieve something mega and sustainable of lasting value. Can you be an example of substance and value to the country?
Science has developed at an ever increasing pace since the beginning of the 20th century. The gap between the advanced and the developing countries first widened and today, it is being bridged. Today, Japan, Korea, China and India have demonstrated that the gap can be closed and even can be surpassed in select niche areas of Science & Technology. This approach has been by adopting vigorous measures and by harnessing utmost efforts for development of Science & Technology. It is absolute essential for a country like India, with its tradition of scholarship, original thinking, and great cultural and spiritual heritage, to participate fully in the march of science and technology, inter twined with social sciences, for harnessing India’s great enterprise towards making India which is secure–internal and external, mitigates inequalities and provides right opportunities to the citizens for realizing their abilities. India must respect and protect nature as it grows in stature and importance in the self-esteem of the nations. The emerging India, when blossomed, should be an exemplary country, built on the foundations of philosophy and deeds of Swami Vivekananda. My dear friends in C-VYASA; you all can become the engine of this transformation which is in primed state to gain velocity and momentum. This is also an opportune and right time for you to take considered actions as:
India is amidst an unparallel opportunity during the next fifty years. Our actions, policies and implementation strategies with outcomes shall decide our place in the commuties of the nations and quality of life in India.
This unique unparallel position is an intermix of opportunities and challenges as given below:
India, as a nation, should discover glue, bonds, strengths, purpose and commitment for the entire country to emerge as a nation of our aspirations. Can challenges of equity, healthcare, energy, food, education, infrastructure, growth with sustainability, in the hands of our leadership coupled with inspiring and transparent participative governance become the glue and bond, for India of our aspirations? I strongly believe and advocate so.
Acknowledgement and Declaration: I have deep appreciation and gratitude for the discussion and inputs received from Prof. Malavika Kapur, Prof. S Settar and Prof. Sangeetha Menon of NIAS, Bangalore, I have also used contents, in this manuscript from my earlier articles in particular “Directed and Systematic Approaches Towards Sustainability in the 21st Century”, for E-Newsletter, Issue 6, 1 June 2013, Indian National Academy of Engineering and earlier convection addresses and speeches to students in India and worldwide.