Monday, January 04, 2010

उल्टा गब्बर गाववालों को डांटे !

Or, how captain of thieves lectures to the looted townsfolk !

This is our prime-minister's (MMS) message :

Terming as "unfortunate" regression in some sectors of Indian science due to red tape and political interference, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday asked scientists to engage with government to liberate it from shackles of "bureaucratism and in-house favouritism".

Hello, "some sectors of Indian science"? The truth is that this phenomenon pervades the entire Indian science, industry and innovation sector. The political class, with the help of the beureaucrats, are looting the innovators, hard-working people. The entire structure is based to make money, so hire those scientists who pay ministers, allow more research funds to those who will share the cut with ministers, and so on. (All know certain cases where appointments were made when money was paid to various places, don't we?) This structure does not allow for clean scientists to survive and go on to make discoveries (and share it with government and 'babu's as a part of copyrights/ patents etc.)

1) Now the onus is on us to "engage with the government"? What is "government" here, the beureaucrats and ministers (and their cronies). What does "engagement" mean, sleep with them or pamper their whims? The "government" is not going to cede power, the PM has to empower a (large) body of scientists, taken broadly from all universities and institutes, to create a new structure. Indian Academy of Sciences is the oldest such body, and he and his government should the first step in inviting the body... The formation is the most crucial step here, if not done properly, it would not make any impact whatsoever: it has to be politically impartial, neutral to gender/ caste/ regional/ subject-field biases.

Holding that time has come to give a "new boost" to science and technology, he asked Indian scientists working abroad to return to the country to convert the "brain drain" to "brain gain".

Why should anyone come back? What guarantee that the structure is never formed? Individuals need incentives to do work, and assurance that when political power shifts, the above step does not get lost.

2) So, the formation and successive framework has to be carried out after a prolonged debate with opposition parties, esp. the major opposition (BJP in particular). This engagement is crucial, this will bring necessary neutrality.

The Prime Minister appealed to scientific institutions to introspect and to propose mechanisms for greater autonomy, including from the government, which could help to improve standards.

Sorry, MMS, this time the onus (of introspection) is squarely on the political class. Take permission from the Italian madam, or the Prince, and start broader reforms, more akeen to the financial reforms you had initiated in 1991. For that, the political class needs to rescind their powers and will to make wanten money from every possible decision.

Noting that the government has declared 2010-2020 as a "decade of innovation", he said, "We cannot continue with business as usual as we need new solutions in many areas to achieve the goals of inclusive and sustainable growth."

He pitched for a strong outward orientation of the innovation eco-system to stimulate innovation to find indigenous solutions for local problems.

Such declaration, esp. by weak governments like India, do not carry much meaning. Tokenism of this kind has hurt us all this while. What is this obfuscation "outward orientation of the innovation eco-system"?

4) To make innovation happen, government has to provide incentives: simple banking/ funding possibilities, easy access to patenting and copy-rights, crucially simpler access to information (using internet). Given recent silly internet banning of "sex" and related material, we can safely forget about information exchange, the most key aspect of innovation and research.

MMS is only making an empty speech, good on words (and he may even understand significance of those), but empty on actions...

Friday, January 01, 2010

Siddhartha : 2010

I am reading Siddhartha, iconic novel by Herman Hesse. You can find a copy at Project Gutenberg. I believe 2010 will be the year of awakening for me, I have to discover myself, reinvent my cause and start moving forward.


When Siddhartha left the grove, where the Buddha, the perfected one, stayed behind, where Govinda stayed behind, then he felt that in this grove his past life also stayed behind and parted from him. He pondered about this sensation, which filled him completely, as he was slowly walking along. He pondered deeply, like diving into a deep water he let himself sink down to the ground of the sensation, down to the place where the causes lie, because to identify the causes, so it seemed to him, is the very essence of thinking, and by this alone sensations turn into realizations and are not lost, but become entities and start to emit like rays of light what is inside of them.

Slowly walking along, Siddhartha pondered. He realized that he was no youth any more, but had turned into a man. He realized that one thing had left him, as a snake is left by its old skin, that one thing no longer existed in him, which had accompanied him throughout his youth and used to be a part of him: the wish to have teachers and to listen to teachings. He had also left the last teacher who had appeared on his path, even him, the highest and wisest teacher, the most holy one, Buddha, he had left him, had to part with him, was not able to accept his teachings.

Slower, he walked along in his thoughts and asked himself: "But what is this, what you have sought to learn from teachings and from teachers, and what they, who have taught you much, were still unable to teach you?" And he found: "It was the self, the purpose and essence of which I sought to learn. It was the self, I wanted to free myself from, which I sought to overcome. But I was not able to overcome it, could only deceive it, could only flee from it, only hide from it. Truly, no thing in this world has kept my thoughts thus busy, as this my very own self, this mystery of me being alive, of me being one and being separated and isolated from all others, of me being Siddhartha! And there is no thing in this world I know less about than about me, about Siddhartha!"

Having been pondering while slowly walking along, he now stopped as these thoughts caught hold of him, and right away another thought sprang forth from these, a new thought, which was: "That I know nothing about myself, that Siddhartha has remained thus alien and unknown to me, stems from one cause, a single cause: I was afraid of myself, I was fleeing from myself! I searched Atman, I searched Brahman, I was willing to to dissect my self and peel off all of its layers, to find the core of all peels in its unknown interior, the Atman, life, the divine part, the ultimate part. But I have lost myself in the process."

Siddhartha opened his eyes and looked around, a smile filled his face and a feeling of awakening from long dreams flowed through him from his head down to his toes. And it was not long before he walked again, walked quickly like a man who knows what he has got to do.

"Oh," he thought, taking a deep breath, "now I would not let Siddhartha escape from me again! No longer, I want to begin my thoughts and my life with Atman and with the suffering of the world. I do not want to kill and dissect myself any longer, to find a secret behind the ruins. Neither Yoga-Veda shall teach me any more, nor Atharva-Veda, nor the ascetics, nor any kind of teachings. I want to learn from myself, want to be my student, want to get to know myself, the secret of Siddhartha."

He looked around, as if he was seeing the world for the first time. Beautiful was the world, colourful was the world, strange and mysterious was the world! Here was blue, here was yellow, here was green, the sky and the river flowed, the forest and the mountains were rigid, all of it was beautiful, all of it was mysterious and magical, and in its midst was he, Siddhartha, the awakening one, on the path to himself. All of this, all this yellow and blue, river and forest, entered Siddhartha for the first time through the eyes, was no longer a spell of Mara, was no longer the veil of Maya, was no longer a pointless and coincidental diversity of mere appearances, despicable to the deeply thinking Brahman, who scorns diversity, who seeks unity. Blue was blue, river was river, and if also in the blue and the river, in Siddhartha, the singular and divine lived hidden, so it was still that very divinity's way and purpose, to be here yellow, here blue, there sky, there forest, and here Siddhartha. The purpose and the essential properties were not somewhere behind the things, they were in them, in everything.

"How deaf and stupid have I been!" he thought, walking swiftly along. "When someone reads a text, wants to discover its meaning, he will not scorn the symbols and letters and call them deceptions, coincidence, and worthless hull, but he will read them, he will study and love them, letter by letter. But I, who wanted to read the book of the world and the book of my own being, I have, for the sake of a meaning I had anticipated before I read, scorned the symbols and letters, I called the visible world a deception, called my eyes and my tongue coincidental and worthless forms without substance. No, this is over, I have awakened, I have indeed awakened and have not been born before this very day."

In thinking this thoughts, Siddhartha stopped once again, suddenly, as if there was a snake lying in front of him on the path.

Because suddenly, he had also become aware of this: He, who was indeed like someone who had just woken up or like a new-born baby, he had to start his life anew and start again at the very beginning. When he had left in this very morning from the grove Jetavana, the grove of that exalted one, already awakening, already on the path towards himself, he he had every intention, regarded as natural and took for granted, that he, after years as an ascetic, would return to his home and his father. But now, only in this moment, when he stopped as if a snake was lying on his path, he also awoke to this realization: "But I am no longer the one I was, I am no ascetic any more, I am not a priest any more, I am no Brahman any more. Whatever should I do at home and at my father's place? Study? Make offerings? Practise meditation? But all this is over, all of this is no longer alongside my path."