Sunday, August 09, 2015

things we lose in desperation

Have you observed how we respond to many of the events around us? Our ability of taking things out of context and beating them to death is quite uncanny. We have an infatuation with spitting out our opinions hurriedly. I wonder when do we all take the "No Spitting" boards seriously.

A few weeks ago, some of us were chanting Narayan Narayan so much that for a moment a few thought Narad Muni made an entry in bollywood along with his Veena (For Narayan's sake, think about the instrument here and not the Kapoor or Malik). There were posts on twitter, Facebook. There indeed were a couple of open letters too (how can we do without them?). This Narayan happened to be Mr. Narayan Murthy. And it all started when he said, "Folks, the reality is that there is no such contribution from India in the last 60 years”.

It was a small incident. Because only a few proactively came out in open, with their respective hashtags. Plus no news channel made it sensational by calling in expert's panel. Yet protests happened. I think it's worth giving a thought to it anyway. It is not about Mr. Narayan Murthy or his lecture. But it's more about what are likely to miss in a weird desperation to react. Mr. Murthy’s lecture is merely an example here.

So here is the man who built the Indian IT industry from nothing to where it is today (which btw is more than 7% GDP of India). In early 90s, the founder of the IT company I work for, used to find traveling to Mumbai to send an email more economical than doing it from Pune. And there was this gang, much before 1990, who believed in their IT dreams, in most unfavorable conditions and pulled off this seemingly impossible feat. Who is Mr. Murthy? He is undoubtedly one of those visionaries who brought us here.

So what is the point? Do we blindly listen to all what he says? Of course not. But there are always two ways of raising the voice. One is a profound way which requires a little effort and then there is an easy way which is mostly convenient but often shallow and sad. It’s not about denying the facts. It’s about missing the point. Remember how Satyamev Jayate team talked about the gaps in society and worked on fixing those? Have you heard how Dr. Kalam creating the vision of India in his lectures while underlining the need of addressing the basic problems? They created hope not hatred. They inspired, not discouraged! Now look at what happens many times when we raise voice or criticize?

Here is what I am going to do. While some of us may continue to debate on the one line mentioned above, let me bring out other interesting things from the same lecture of Mr. Murthy. Hope our adrenaline rush to feel proud or get offended, won’t miss out on these..

First... the title of the speech.Yes. it was not what many posts about this lecture had. It was

"How can you, the graduates of IISc, contribute towards a better India and a better world?"Getting the point?

"Science is about unravelling nature and engineering is about using those discoveries and inventions to make life better for human beings."
Makes sense. Right?

"IISc has produced students who have gone on to earn laurels in the most competitive places in the world. Your research is well cited Therefore, IISc deserves to lead in the transformation of India by using the power of science and engineering."
Yes. The lecture was for IISC students if anyone hasn’t figured it out yet.

"This is an issue that the elders of our society – academicians, politicians, bureaucrats and corporate leaders – must debate deeply, and act urgently if we have to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren."

Hmm. Let me not add my interpretations or explanations here. I encourage you to go thru full lecture and make your own notes. Hope following amazing lines would encourage you even more.

"The first requirement is to develop an independent, inquisitive and problem solving mindset."

"Basic concepts will have to stay with you throughout your life. You should apply them as often as you can, update them with contemporary advances, and use them in your work to understand new ideas and solve new problems."

"He (The Professional) has high aspirations. He believes in the adage: A plausible impossibility is better than a convincing possibility."

"People smile not because you are intelligent, powerful or wealthy but because you care for them and you will use all of your competencies to make their lives better."

It is really not about this lecture alone. Point is, we are living in a wonderful time where many visionaries are sharing the globe along with us. Not all of them are perfect but I have no credentials to criticize them but there is so much to learn from them. And I am sure we have ability of doing that.

"What is learning? To me, it is the ability to extract generic inferences from specific instances, and use them to solve new and unstructured problems. After all, education is about learning to learn."
It's up to us now. There is often going to be a buffet around us. We pick something that adds value to us, helps us make better contribution. Mr. Murthy or anyone for that matter, they all did whatever they could. They may do even more or they may not. But what about us? Why don't we focus on that? Shouldn't we?