Mahadevan's Monologues

If we had the vision and feeling of ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. – George Eliot

Friday, April 27, 2007


Just two days back, Economic Times had an article on a recent Neurological Study made in US. According to the findings of this study, our craving or yearning for a pleasant experience emanates from one channel of the brain. This craving can be unlimited in its intensity. Actual experience emanates from another channel of the brain and unlike the craving the actual experience has limited capacity. That is the reason very often we find that there is a wide chasm between our desire to have and our ability to experience and this results in unfulfilled desires. Sigmund Freud and the School of Psycho-analysis trace almost all our psychological problems to unfulfilled and suppressed desires. A few thousands years back, Krishna attributed every ill in this world to desires and explained how unfulfilled desires lead to frustration, anger and lack of discrimination. If the ability to have a pleasant experience is limited, the only way to bring the yearnings and experience together is to make the desires or cravings come down to the level of ability to experience. Spiritual leaders of almost all the religions had talked about and continue to talk shunning desires - a strange link between Metaphysics and the Physical sciences.

If our desires and yearnings become less intense, do we cease to be creative? Will the world be deprived of visionaries? Would we become complacent and laid back attitude become our leitmotif? The answer is an emphatic no. If we are conscious of the fact that yearnings and experience belong to two different channels of the brain with different degrees of intensity, it would become easier to sublimate and not suppress our desires. Suppression, like the Recycle bin, store the desires in a remote corner of the memory with disastrous conseaquences. Sublimation finds expression elsewhere.

All of sudden, the crude Tamil proverb ‘Kazhuthai Kamam katthiye theerum’ ( the libido of the ass finds expression in its brailing ) seems to be meaningful indeed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Will Durant, the celebrated Historian and Philosopher, once made a classic distinction between a Scientist and a Philosopher. “A Scientist”, says Will Durant, “is one who knows more and more about less and less things and a Philosopher, less and less about more and more things”. From the plethora of information that we gather, through the Internet, thanks to the powerful search engines, many of us need to be classified as Philosophers with a few exceptions, who would qualify to be scientists. A visit to some of the Blogs would bear me out.

Through out the whole of last century, with the possible exception of the last one or two decades, the Indian Administrative Service cadre officers, who all fall undoubtedly under the umbrella of Durant’s ‘Philosopher’, had been at the helm of affairs in Administration and with the placing of Public Sector at the ‘commanding height of economy’, they were also guiding the destiny of a large number of our corporations. Only a few great scientists like Homi Babha, Vikhram Sarabhai , Prof. M.G.K.Menon and M.S.Swaminathan were heading Institutions. In the Financial Sector, perhaps Dr.I.G.Patel and Dr.Manmohan Singh, highly trained economists of International repute, had headed Reserve Bank of India. Thus, with the exception of a few institutions, Defence Services and judiciary, almost everywhere, Philosophers were the guiding force. If we look at the genesis of these generalist officers, we would find that many of them had offered History or Literature as the optional paper in their IAS examinations. Only a few can boast that they opted for Mathematics. And yet, many of them being sharp and the quality of training imparted to them being of the highest quality,' whatever they touched, they adorned'. Like the 'Aasthana Vidvans of All India Radio', they were ideal for stop gap arrangement, till a truely professional one was located. At the same time, if a qualified Scientist or technocrat is given an opportunity in his/her area of specialization, to innovate and to improve upon, he/she certainly can also do wonders. E.Sridharan of Konkan Railway and Delhi Metro has displayed many engineering marvels. A travel through Konkan Railway would bear testimony to this – an example of a ‘Scientist’ scoring over a ‘Philosopher’. It would be of some relevance to mention that T.N.Seshan and E.Sridharan were college mates at the Intrmediate level, and whereas one became a successful technocrat, the other, an highly acclaimed government official.

Since the last two decades of 20th century, technocrats, particularly in the software sector, have been demonstrating what specialized skills can deliver. The top four Companies in the software sector, employ more people than the two financial sector giants - State Bank of India & LIC. They have conquered and assimilated alien culture, understood the intricacies of the economy at the international level and perfected the art of comprehending the commercial needs and delivering in time to customers around the Globe. Reliance ceased to be a mere textile manufacturer and is today one of the world leaders in Petroleum products and organic chemicals, and Mukesh Ambani being a Chemical Engineer from an institute of repute in Mumbai, has no less significant contribution in this.
At the same time, we also see the emergence of Philosophers again in a different disguise. Like the top notch ICS/IAS Officers of yester years, MBAs today lead the corporate world. Many of the IIM alumni have an engineering degree from one of the IITs, or BITS Pilani/Regional engineering Colleges as their first degree and generally being outstanding students, switching over from designing a product to designing a delivery system comes to them naturally, with a wealth of case studies as their main support systems. They gain domain knowledge in their areas of operations and display excellence in realizing their objectives – Philosophers in scientific pursuits, perhaps. What more, apart from employing the MBAs, many corporate pursue retired Senior Public Sector and Government Officials to head their various units. This morning’s newspapers say that the present Finance Secretary, who would be retiring by the end of this month, has already been sounded by Hyundai Motors to enter its precinct as its President, immediately thereafter. The quest for the 'know it all' continues.

Plato in his Ideal Republic wanted Kings to be Philosophers or Philosophers to become Kings. Today we have Philosophers heading the corporate and some of our Ministers, if not Monarchs, are Philosophers in the sense Will Durant described them.
Though I belong to the breed of 'less and less about more and more things', I always feel that in this country, expertise in any field is less accepted than the generalised gloss over.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Hipgrandma has tagged me and here are my answers to the questions:

Three things I like to do

To read a collection of well written essays, even while munching crisp ribbon pakoda or omappodi, with soft instrumental music in the background.

To go for a long walk, with a well chosen friend in a pleasant climate.

To visit old friends or elderly relatives and renew/ensure continuity of contacts.

Three things I hate to do

To stand in a long queue for paperwork.

To participate in rituals in a huge crowd and be conspicuous.

To flatter the undeserving or punish the innocent.

Three people whom I would like to meet

Swami Vivekananda


George Bernard Shaw

Three things I long to have

Ability to recall and forget any event.

Clean environment

The writing style of an A.G.Gardiner or a Lytton Strachy and the subtle humour of R.K. Narayan.

Tthings that make me glad

Honest and pleasant people at the helm of affairs everywhere

Friendly relations with our neighbours ( applies to families and the country as a whole).

To read R.K.Lakshman’s fresh cartoon in the morning

Three things that make me sad:

To see an old man or woman, living alone, not being supported by family.

When a well intentioned act is misunderstood by the beneficiaries..

When a good and well to do family, is reduced to poverty because of circumstances.

Three things I like to dream about

The triumph of Truth everywhere ( Satyameva Jayathe coming to Reality).

Scientists finding cure to every dreadful disease

Best citizen in every locality representing us in our legislatures and Parliament

Three things that need to be stopped

Corporal punishment in schools ( still widely prevalent in many schools).

Exploitation of women in the flesh trade, mainly by other women

Criminals, religious extremists, pseudo secularists and castists entering politics

Three people I like to tag

I find it rather embarrassing to tag fellow bloggers, though I am willing to submit myself whenever I am tagged.