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Monday, 15 August 2005
Topic: Developed India - HOW ?

My Dear Citizens of India,

On the eve of the 59th Independence Day, I extend to you my best wishes for your happiness and prosperity. My greetings to all our people at home and abroad. Let us resolve, on this occasion, to remember with gratitude, the selfless and devoted services of our Armed Forces who are guarding our frontiers on the land, over the sea, and in the air. We are also grateful to the Paramilitary and Police Forces for preserving our internal security and maintaining law and order.

I met 137 freedom fighters from 27 States and Union Territories on 9th August 2005 at Rashtrapati Bhavan. I saw their enthusiasm even at their ripe age, to bring back the nationalism as a living movement. Today our country is free, because the freedom fighters gave their best to the nation in their prime of youth. Honouring the freedom fighters is honouring the independent nation and its spirit of nationalism. We must thank them with respect and make their lives happy.

Nature's Fury and its Management

While we are celebrating 59th anniversary of our hard earned political independence, we have to remember the sufferings of our people affected by the recent rain and flood in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Orissa. The city of Mumbai and other areas in Maharashtra bore the brunt of nature?s fury. The people of these areas are meeting the challenge with courage and fortitude. The Prime Minister had visited some of the affected areas. I spoke to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra while he was visiting various places affected by the floods and I also shared my concern with other Chief Ministers. Maharashtra needs help at this critical juncture to mitigate the sufferings arising out of loss of life and properties inflicted by the fury of rain and flood. All the States need to express their solidarity with the people of Maharashtra in their time of distress and suffering, and collectively help in removing the pain of the people. Mumbai needs an urgent reconstruction to face unexpected heavy rain, as it happened this year.

Rainfall and Floods: Rainfall and floods are annual features in many parts of the country. Instead of thinking on interlinking of rivers only at times of flood and drought, it is time that we implement this programme with a great sense of urgency. We need to make an effort to overcome various hurdles in our way to the implementation of this major project. I feel that it has the promise of freeing the country from the endless cycle of floods and droughts. Also, as a measure for preventing flooding of the streets in the cities due to heavy sustained downpour, I would suggest the Ministry of Urban Development at the Centre and the State governments to mount a programme to rebuild and modernize the infrastructure and storm-water drainage systems including construction of under ground water silos to store the excess water. This water can be treated, processed and used at the time of shortage as practiced in many other countries. Fortunately India has adequate technology and expertise in making underground tunnels for metro rail system. This technology can be used for constructing underground water storage system.

Earthquake Forecasting: Another natural phenomenon that affects and causes damages of high magnitude without pre-warning in many parts of our country is the earthquake. To prevent heavy damage to the people and property, we need to accelerate research for forecasting earthquakes. Research work on earthquake forecasting is being done in many countries. We in India should have an integrated research team consisting of experts drawn from academia, meteorology and Space Departments for creating earthquake forecast modeling using pre-earthquake and post-earthquake data collected from various earthquake occurrences in our country. This can be validated periodically with the proven forecasting data available from other countries.

Earth Systems Science: Many of the countries in the world have experienced successive calamities driven by the nature. Till recently, the researchers world over had been pursuing research in unconnected ways, in Climate, Earthquake, Ocean Sciences and Earth Sciences, without realizing the latent but tight coupling between these areas. This new realization has prompted many countries to pursue the interdisciplinary area of research which is now known as Earth Systems Science. It is in fact fast emerging as an area of convergence between Earth, Climate, Ocean, Environment, Instrumentation and Computer Sciences. I strongly suggest that India should mount a programme in this emerging area of Earth Systems Science. This will call for a dedicated, cohesive and seamless integration between researchers in multiple areas and in multiple organisations. Further, Earth Systems Science doesn?t obey political or geographical borders. It is truly a science and its intensive results would make our planet safe and prosperous.

Unlike research in strategic areas, wherein the nations have to maintain superiority over other nations, Earth Systems Science is the ultimate realization of the human kind to collaborate since no nation is safe if its neighbours are not. Nature?s fury knows no borders.

Dear citizens, on 26th January 2005, I have discussed with you on the potential for employment generation in eight areas. I am happy that a number of actions are evolving.

Energy Independence

Today on this 59th Independence Day, I would like to discuss with all of you another important area that is "Energy Security" as a transition to total "Energy Independence".Energy is the lifeline of modern societies. But today, India has 17% of the world?s population, and just 0.8% of the world?s known oil and natural gas resources. We might expand the use of our coal reserves for some time and that too at a cost and with environmental challenges. The climate of the globe as a whole is changing. Our water resources are also diminishing at a faster rate. As it is said, energy and water demand will soon surely be a defining characteristic of our people's life in the 21st Century.

Energy Security rests on two principles. The first, to use the least amount of energy to provide services and cut down energy losses. The second, to secure access to all sources of energy including coal, oil and gas supplies worldwide, till the end of the fossil fuel era which is fast approaching. Simultaneously we should access technologies to provide a diverse supply of reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy.

As you all know, our annual requirement of oil is 114 million tonnes. Significant part of this is consumed in the Transportation Sector. We produce only about 25 % of our total requirement. The presently known resources and future exploration of oil and gas may give mixed results. The import cost today of oil and natural gas is over Rs. 120,000 crores. Oil and gas prices are escalating; the barrel cost of oil has doubled within a year. This situation has to be combated.

Energy Security, which means ensuring that our country can supply lifeline energy to all its citizens, at affordable costs at all times, is thus a very important and significant need and is an essential step forward. But it must be considered as a transition strategy, to enable us to achieve our real goal that is - Energy Independence or an economy which will function well with total freedom from oil, gas or coal imports. Is it possible?

Hence, Energy Independence has to be our nation?s first and highest priority. We must be determined to achieve this within the next 25 years i.e by the year 2030. This one major, 25-year national mission must be formulated, funds guaranteed, and the leadership entrusted without delay as public-private partnerships to our younger generation, now in their 30?s, as their lifetime mission in a renewed drive for nation-building.

Goals and Policies

Now friends, I would now like to discuss with you some goals, strategies and policies for a major national mission to attain Energy Independence.

Energy Consumption Pattern in India in 2005: We have to critically look at the need for Energy Independence in different ways in its two major sectors: Electric power generation and Transportation. At present, we have an installed capacity of about

121,000 MW of electricity, which is 3% of world capacity. We also depend on oil to the extent of 114 million tonnes every year, 75% of which is imported, and used almost entirely in the Transportation Sector. Forecasts of our Energy requirements by 2030, when our population may touch 1.4 billion people, indicate that demand from power sector will increase from the existing 120,000 MW to about 400,000 MW. This assumes an energy growth rate of 5% per annum.

Electric Power Generation Sector: Electric power generation in India now accesses four basic energy sources: Fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal; Hydroelectricity; Nuclear power; and Renewable energy sources such as bio-fuels, solar, biomass, wind and ocean.

Fortunately for us, 89% of energy used for power generation today is indigeneous, from coal (56%), hydroelectricity (25%), nuclear power (3%) and Renewable (5%). Solar energy segment contributes just 0.2% of our energy production.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 10:31 AM MEST
Updated: Monday, 15 August 2005 11:11 AM MEST
Topic: Developed India - HOW ?
Energy Independence in Electric Power Generation

Thus it would be seen that only 11% of electric power generation is dependent on oil and natural gas which is mostly imported at enormous cost. Only 1% of oil is (about 2-3 million tonnes of oil) being used every year for producing electricity. However, power generation to the extent of 10% is dependent on high cost gas supplies. We are making efforts to access natural gas from other countries.

Now I shall discuss another fossil fuel, coal. Even though India has abundant quantities of coal, it is constrained to regional locations, high ash content, affecting the thermal efficiency of our power plants, and also there are environmental concerns. Thus, a movement towards Energy Independence would demand accelerated work in operationalizing the production of energy from the coal sector through integrated gasification and combined cycle route. In 2030, the total energy requirement would be 400,000 MW. At that time, the power generated from coal-based power plants would increase from the existing 67,000 MW to 200,000 MW. This would demand significant build-up of thermal power stations and large scale expansion of coal fields.


Changing Structure of Energy Sources:

The strategic goals for Energy Independence by 2030 would thus call for a shift in the structure of energy sources. Firstly, fossil fuel imports need to be minimized and secure access to be ensured. Maximum hydro and nuclear power potential should be tapped. The most significant aspect, however would be that the power generated through renewable energy technologies may target 20 to 25% against the present 5%. It would be evident that for true Energy Independence, a major shift in the structure of energy sources from fossil to renewable energy sources is mandated.


Solar farms

Solar energy in particular requires unique, massive applications in the agricultural sector, where farmers need electricity exclusively in the daytime. This could be the primary demand driver for solar energy. Our farmers demand for electric power today is significantly high to make solar energy economical in large scale.

Shortages of water, both for drinking and farming operations, can be met by large scale seawater desalination and pumping inland using solar energy, supplemented by bio-fuels wherever necessary.

The current high capital costs of solar power stations can be reduced by grid-locked 100 MW sized Very Large Scale Solar Photovoltaic (VLSPV) or Solar Thermal Power Stations. In the very near future, breakthroughs in nanotechnologies promise significant increase in solar cell efficiencies from current 15% values to over 50% levels. These would in turn reduce the cost of solar energy production. Our science laboratories should mount a R&D Programme for developing high efficiency CNT based Photo Voltaic Cells.

We thus need to embark on a major national programme in solar energy systems and technologies, for both large, centralized applications as well as small, decentralized requirements concurrently, for applications in both rural and urban areas.


Nuclear Energy

Nuclear power generation has been given a thrust by the use of uranium based fuel. However there would be a requirement for a ten fold increase in nuclear power generation even to attain a reasonable degree of energy self sufficiency for our country. Therefore it is essential to pursue the development of nuclear power using Thorium, reserves of which are higher in the country. Technology development has to be accelerated for Thorium based reactors since the raw material for Thorium is abundantly available in our country. Also, Nuclear Fusion research needs to be progressed with international cooperation to keep that option for meeting the large power requirement, at a time when fossil fuels get depleted.


Power through Municipal Waste

In the Power generation Sector of the energy economy, we need to fully use the technologies now available for generating power from municipal waste. Today, two plants are operational in India, each plant generating 6.5 MW of electric power. Studies indicate that as much as 5800 MW of power can be generated by setting up 900 electric power plants spread over in different parts of the country which can be fueled by municipal waste. The electric power generation and creation of clean environment are the twin advantages.


Power System Loss Reduction:

Apart from generating power and running power stations efficiently without interruption, it is equally essential to transmit and distribute the power with minimum loss. The loss of power in transmission and distribution in our country is currently in the region of 30-40% for a variety of reasons. Of about one thousand billion units of electrical energy produced annually, only 600 billion units reach the consumer. This is the result of transmission loss and unaccounted loss. We need to take urgent action to bring down this loss to 15% from 30-40% by close monitoring of the losses, improving efficiency, and increasing the power factor through modern technology. By this one action alone we will be able to avoid the need for additional investment of around Rs. 70,000 crores for establishing additional generating capacity.


Transportation Sector

The Transportation Sector is the fastest growing energy consumer. It now consumes nearly 112 million tonnes of oil annually, and is critically important our nation?s economy and security. The complete substitution of oil imports for the Transportation Sectors is the biggest and toughest challenge for India.

Use of biofuels:

We have nearly 60 million hectares of wasteland, of which 30 million hectares are available for energy plantations like "Jatropha". Once grown, the crop has a life of 50 years. Each acre will produce about 2 tonnes of bio-diesel at about Rs. 20 per litre. Biodiesel is carbon neutral and many valuable by-products flow from this agro-industry. Intensive research is needed to burn bio-fuel in internal combustion engines with high efficiency, and this needs to be a urgent R&D programme. India has a potential to

produce nearly 60 million tones of bio-fuel annually, thus making a significant and important contribution to the goal of Energy Independence. Indian Railways has already taken a significant step of running two passenger locomotives (Thanjavur to Nagore section) and six trains of diesel multiple units (Tiruchirapalli to Lalgudi, Dindigul and Karur sections) with a 5% blend of bio-fuel sourced from its in-house esterification plants. In addition, they have planted 75 lakh Jatropha saplings in Railway land which is expected to give yields from the current year onwards. This is a pioneering example for many other organisations to follow. Similarly many States in our country have energy plantations. What is needed is a full economic chain from farming, harvesting, extraction to esterification, blending and marketing. Apart from employment generation, bio-fuel has a significant potential to lead our country towards energy independence.

The other critical options are development of electric vehicles; hydrogen based vehicles, electrification of Railways and urban mass transportation.



By 2020 the nation should achieve comprehensive energy security through enhancement of our oil and gas exploration and production worldwide. By the year 2030, India should achieve energy independence through solar power and other forms of renewable energy; maximize the utilization of hydro and nuclear power and enhance the bio-fuel production through large scale energy plantations like Jatropha.

We need to evolve a comprehensive renewable energy policy for energy independence within a year. This should address all issues relating to generation of energy through wind, solar, geothermal, bio-mass and ocean. The nation should also work towards establishment of thorium based reactors. Research and technology development of Thorium based reactors is one of the immediate requirements for realizing self-reliance in nuclear power generation and long term energy security for the nation.

We should operationalize a 500 MW capacity power plant using integrated gasification and combined cycle route within the next three years from the existing pilot plant stage.

Bio-fuel research should be extended in collaboration with R&D Laboratories, academic institutions and automobile industry to make it a yfull fledged fuely for the fleet running in the country in a time bound manner. This should lead to a mission mode integrated programme encompassing various ministries and industries. Also there is a need to formulate a comprehensive Bio-Fuel policy from research, development, production to marketing.

Energy security leading to Energy independence is certainly possible and is within the capability of the nation. India has knowledge, natural resources; what we need is planned integrated missions to achieve the target in a time bound manner. Let us all work for self-sufficient environment friendly energy independence for the nation.


May God Bless you all.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 10:28 AM MEST
Monday, 8 August 2005
Uncovering the Situation of PhD Students in Germany
Topic: GraduateGateway

You're sitting at your computer wondering if you are going mad. Your supervisor seems indifferent that your last month's work has brought you into a research cul-de-sac, and your funding is just about to dry up.
One of the banes of doctoral work, compared to undergraduate studies, is the fact that at best your progress can be judged arbitrarily. How likely is it, then, that the judgement of that progress (or lack of it) is fair?

Graduate Student organisations offer advice and support on these issues. One such group is THESIS, a national network of German PhD students and postdocs, that offers both support for its members and engages in national debates on educational reform. The perception of what is acceptable in doctoral education tends to be based on personal experiences and those of immediate peers. This was the predicament that faced THESIS when they decided to work to improve the situation of PhD candidates in Germany. They soon found, explains THESIS chairperson Christopher Mues, who is also a PhD student in mathematics, that with the lack of a comprehensive, up-to-date national survey on the country's PhD students, "it was difficult to propose improvements when we didn't have real data on the current situation." So THESIS decided to undertake the survey themselves.

The THESIS online survey was launched in the summer of 2004 and ran for 3 months. Almost 10,000 people--10% of the PhD candidates in the country--completed the questionnaire, which both solicited census-type data and explored issues ranging from students' motivations in doing a PhD, to supervision experiences, funding situations, and what should be changed. Respondents came from the whole range of disciplines: 57% had a natural science, mathematics, or engineering background, with the remainder drawn from social sciences (5%), language and cultural studies (16.3%), economics (9.2%), and law (4.5 %). The results were published last month in DUZ, an independent German university magazine.

Why a PhD?
When asked for their motivations for doing a PhD, more than 85% of respondents expressed a genuine interest in their research theme. Another 14% claimed to have undertaken a PhD because they believed that no interesting jobs were available to them straight after an undergraduate degree. Given the tight job market that has existed for the past few years, Mues was pleasantly surprised with this result. "I wouldn't have predicted that a scientific interest scored so high, and that economic factors played [only] a minor role," he says.

PhD Status and Research Setting
In Germany the official status of a doctoral student covers a wide range. According to the results of the survey, 74.9% of PhD candidates--almost all of them working at research universities or institutes--have employment contracts that include social security contributions. The remaining science trainees either receive individual funding in the form of a stipend (12.8%), which normally includes no social insurance, or are classified as "external PhD candidates" (12.3%); that is, they are registered with a university but have no formal position there.

Funding Your Doctorate

Income Source % of Respondents using Source*
Fixed positions at Universities or Research Institutes 51.4
Third Party Funding (external grants) 28.2
Stipends 23.0
Employment in university projects outside PhD work 9.5
Employment outside university 15.5
Support from relatives 17.9
Personal Savings 11.8
Unemployment benefit, social welfare 2.7
Other sources 4.4
Table 1: Income sources used throughout a PhD. *More that one funding source was often applicable to respondents' situation; therefore, the total is greater that 100%.

Table 1 shows the distribution of funding sources among survey respondents. Note that many respondents received funding from more than one source; hence, the total adds up to more than 100%. Although the majority of PhD candidates surveyed have secured research funding for their project, over 25% need to work outside their PhD programme. Nearly 18% receive financial support from relatives, and 11.8% rely on their own savings. Still, more than 85% of respondents listed funding for their research project as their most important source of income; the remaining 14% are dependent on other sources (Figure 1). Interestingly, a small number--0.2%--depend on unemployment or social welfare payments as their most important source of income.

Figure 1: The most important income source during a PhD.

"Although at the superficial level the funding situation doesn't look that bad," says Mues, "there are other factors to be considered." Like the fact that many of the respondents needed more than one source of income, suggesting that funding sources are not adequate. What also concerns him is that even students with a PhD research position at a university or research institute – which most perceive as a secure situation for doctoral candidates--are vulnerable. Twenty-five percent of these PhD candidates have to interrupt their PhD work, and more than 58% of this number did so (according to the survey results) because they had too many other departmental duties--i.e., teaching and supervision--suggesting that the financial security of these positions may come at a high price.

Almost two thirds of respondents are fully (24%), or partly (40%) satisfied with the level of supervision they are receiving, and only 4.4% are totally unsatisfied with their supervision. More than 50% say that their supervisor makes sufficient time for them and can offer specific research help. But respondents felt somewhat less positive about the quality of the supervision itself (Figure 2): 31% felt that their supervisor failed to motivate them to overcome obstacles in their work, and 42% wished their supervisor would insist on a progress report. Even more disturbing, the data show a perceived lack of knowledge on the part of the supervisor (19%) and indifference (18%) about whether the candidate is capable of coping with the demands of their research or not.

Figure 2: Most common criticisms of PhD supervisor (%).

Mues acknowledges that data on supervision seem contradictory. The reason, he thinks, is that rating supervision "is very subjective, and often PhD students have low expectations to begin with." The many comments of the respondents lead him to believe that "when supervision is in place, it tends to be good, but the problem is there is no regulation of supervision. If it is not working, major problems can arise".

Attending conferences
The THESIS survey highlighted a lack of opportunity to participate in conferences – particularly international ones – with over 65% of respondents having never attended an international conference. Candidates in more structured PhD programmes--such as a "Research Training Group" appear to be the most integrated in the wider scientific community. Research Training Group (Graduiertenkollegs) is an initiative of the German Research Foundation (DFG), where funding is given to set up a group of 15-25 doctoral students which are supervised in a centre of excellence.

Making a Wish-List
The main concern of most survey participants was the development of their career. Respondents mentioned better career opportunities for postdocs, including fewer temporary contracts and more tenure track opportunities; this was widely considered the most important issue. 75% mentioned improvement of employment conditions for PhD candidates--e.g., having social insurance in their contracts--and 65.5% said that PhD salaries should be increased. Over half the respondents would like to see better structured PhD programs, with 55% wishing to take part in taught courses and 58% desiring to be a part of a research training group.

Looking ahead
THESIS has assembled a list of recommendations based on the survey results. In their eyes, the most pressing issues are these: work for a [funded] PhD project should be undertaken within a limited time frame (ideally 3 years), and funding for that project should cover this entire period and include social insurance. They would also like to see a form of joint supervision (e.g., a professor and a more junior faculty member working together), moving away from the traditional model of one supervisor. They would also like to minimise duties unrelated to the doctorate, maximise access to supervisors with an adequate knowledge of the thesis subject, and add transferable skills as an inherent part of doctoral education.
Mues hopes the survey will add fuel to the national debate on reforming doctoral education. Already, it has gained considerable attention from education and research experts. Professor M?ller-B?ling of the Center for Higher Education Development comments, "I think that the THESIS-survey came exactly at the right moment. It gives valuable hints at a number of aspects related to the organisation and quality assurance of doctoral programmes."

Barbara Stark, a programme director at the DFG, highlights that improvements in doctoral education have been on the agenda for many years. She referred to the DFG's programme for Research Training Groups, the various graduate schools established by federal states, and the PhD-Programmes set up by universities. "These are all initiatives to improve the important period of qualification of up-and-coming researchers," she says.

Carsten Dose who works at the German Science Council also believes that these various initiatives have had an effect. There has been considerable progress over the past number of years, he feels, and he sees the next step as enlisting "more support at the university and department level. Money is an issue, but support from academic staff is more important."

All the experts agree that there should be a move away from an exclusive supervisor role. As M?ller-B?ling puts it, "a [future] structural framework has to secure academic quality and provide supervision on a less individual but more co-operative basis." Dose feels that "the 'apprenticeship' model still prevalent in German doctoral education has serious shortcomings," and would like to see graduate programmes available for all doctoral students. Stark stresses that "transparent structures" should be in place for all aspects of doctoral education

These survey results are likely to resonate for some time to come before any definitive outcome is achieved, especially within the context of the Bologna Process, which is looking at creating a single European Education Area. At a crucial time in the history of German graduate education, the survey is drawing attention to problems affecting a whole generation of researchers--problems that Germany cannot afford to ignore. Stark puts it thus: "an excellent doctoral education should not be left to chance."

(Permission to use all tables and figures was kindly provided by THESIS.)

Posted by isaheidelberg at 8:40 PM MEST
Updated: Monday, 8 August 2005 8:58 PM MEST
Friday, 5 August 2005
How to Be a Good Graduate Student
Topic: GraduateGateway
Marie desJardins

Posted by isaheidelberg at 5:17 PM MEST
How to Succeed in Graduate School: Part II of II
Topic: GraduateGateway
Part II of II

Posted by isaheidelberg at 5:14 PM MEST
How to Succeed in Graduate School: A Guide for Students and Advisors Part I of II
Topic: GraduateGateway
How to Succeed in Graduate School:
A Guide for Students and Advisors
Part I of II

By Marie desJardins

Go to

Posted by isaheidelberg at 5:10 PM MEST
Saturday, 30 July 2005
Argumentative tradition is India?s strength : : Amartya Sen
Topic: Developed India - HOW ?
From ::: The Hindu, Monday 1 August 2005,

Public reasoning is essential to democracy and it has to be protected "It would be as absurd to ignore the argumentative tradition in Indian cultures as it would be viewing it through the narrow prism of Hindu religiosity"

TALKING POINT: West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi (left) in conversation with Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen in Kolkata on Sunday. _ PHOTO: PTI
KOLKATA: "Silence is a powerful enemy of social justice... the argumentative heritage is an important asset which we will be wise to invoke and utilise," Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said here on Sunday.

Prof. Sen was speaking on "Ancient argument and modern democracy" on the eve of the release of his new book "The argumentative Indian: writings on Indian history, culture and identity" by the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, in New Delhi on Monday.

"Argumentative tradition can be a strong friend of the underdog," Prof. Sen observed. Since India has a long such tradition it makes it easier to connect public discourse with democracy and "makes it easier for India to be both democratic and secular," he said. "Democratic claims on a political order have to be judged in the context of its protecting public reasoning."

"Public reasoning is essential to democracy. It is intimately connected with public discussion and interactive reasoning - traditions which exist all over the world," the economist said arguing against the theory that democracy was a quintessential western concept. "There are two ways to see democracy - one, the narrow view that interprets democracy in terms of voting and majority rule and the second, more broader view which sees it in terms of public reasoning."

He also had a strong word against Hindutva activists "with their down-sized view of Hinduism, who liked to invoke the Vedas but did not pay attention to the contents."

"It would be as absurd to ignore the argumentative tradition in Indian cultures as it would be viewing it through the narrow prism of Hindu religiosity" as Hindutva activists were doing, Prof. Sen noted. "They take Ram to be divine but in much of the Ramayana Ram is treated as an epic hero."

Prof. Sen said his book dwelt on the long history of the argumentative tradition in the country, its profound contemporary relevance and the connection of the tradition with democracy. "The argumentative tradition has made a profound contribution to many features of modern India..."

Earlier, the West Bengal Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhatacharjee, who said he had read the book remarked: "Amartya has tried to prove that Indian society from the ancient period never succumbed to totalitarianism and despotism and how our society has advanced through dialogue, debate and argument."

Posted by isaheidelberg at 12:01 AM MEST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005 12:41 AM MEST
Amartya Sen and the thousand faces of poverty
Topic: Developed India - HOW ?

By Charo Quesada

What is poverty? How is it measured? Who are the poor? Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winner for Economics, has devoted his life to such basic questions about development.

Defining and measuring poverty and calculating the percentage of poor people in a country or a region is not just a matter of numbers and averages. In 1998, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded Amartya Sen the Nobel Prize for Economics “for having restored an ethical dimension to the discussion of vital economic problems.” Sen had delved beyond mathematical theory, approaching economics with an innovative social vision that was more real and more human. Years of hard work had helped him bring to light the many facets of poverty.

According to Sen, poverty is a complex, multifaceted world that requires a clear analysis in all of its many dimensions. “Human beings are thoroughly diverse,” the professor recently explained during a meeting of the Network of Policymakers for Poverty Reduction, an Inter-American Development Bank initiative. “You cannot draw a poverty line and then apply it across the board to everyone the same way, without taking into account personal characteristics and circumstances.”

There are geographical, biological and social factors that amplify or reduce the impact of income on each individual. The poor generally lack a number of elements, such as education, access to land, health and longevity, justice, family and community support, credit and other productive resources, a voice in institutions, and access to opportunity.

According to Sen, being poor does not mean living below an imaginary poverty line, such as an income of two dollars a day or less. It means having an income level that does not allow an individual to cover certain basic necessities, taking into account the circumstances and social requirements of the environment. Furthermore, many of the factors are interconnected.

Sen has found examples to illustrate his theory in the world of women, where he has done pioneering work, along with his studies on famines and freedoms, and on the economics of poverty. A woman with more education, he explains, tends to have a better paid job, better control over her fertility, and better health indicators for herself and her children. For years, Sen has preached that the image of women as heroines relegated to self-sacrifice for home and family has not helped them at all.

“There are systematic disparities in the freedoms that men and women enjoy in different societies,” says Sen, “and these disparities are often not reducible to differences in income and resources.” There are many other areas with gender disparities, such as the division of labor in the household, the extent of education received, and the liberties that the different members of the same household are permitted to enjoy. How people must look in order to be accepted in society–the clothes they wear and their physical traits–limits their economic options, a phenomenon Sen refers to as “social shame.”

Rather than measuring poverty by income level, Sen recommends calculating how much an individual can achieve with that income, taking into account that such achievements will vary from one individual to another and from one place to another.

Otherwise, how could we explain the existence of pockets of poverty in rich countries among middle-income people? In the inner cities of the United States, because of inadequate services the quality of life (measured in terms of life expectancy, infant mortality, health, education, and safety) of people who earn acceptable incomes and live in a rich society is comparable—and sometimes even inferior—to that of many poor countries in the rest of the world.

Sen was born in India’s West Bengal state, and has used his country and China as a laboratory to study the economics of development. He is currently a professor at Harvard University and Master at Trinity College at Cambridge University. Based on his extensive experience in development and poverty reduction, he had devised a large repertoire of theories and teachings that he believes also apply to Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to Sen, poverty analysis should focus on an individual’s potential to function rather than the results the individual obtains from functioning.

Another of Sen’s achievements has been to sweeten the development pill. In the stroke of a pen, Sen did away with the blood, sweat and tears approach that had been pushed on underdeveloped countries as the only way for them to achieve progress. The old theory of sacrifice has given way to that of individual success, which Sen subscribes to, provided that there is a framework of social support and genuine democracy. This was the explanation Sen gave for the profound financial and social crisis that swept across Asia in 1998. Efforts there had focused on production and individual success, but without a network of social support or the freedoms necessary for a democracy to thrive.

Sen believes that inequality, like poverty, is a multifaceted problem. And in the course of a conversation laden with social commentary, the issue of globalization inevitably comes up. The protests against it, says Sen, have invigorated a very necessary debate on its impact. In his view, globalization can be neither rejected outright nor accepted without serious criticism. First, we have to see what percentage of the world is benefiting from it. Because it’s one thing if education is 90 percent for the wealthy and 10 percent for the poor, and something very different if the proportion is 70/30 or 60/40.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 12:01 AM MEST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005 12:37 AM MEST
Friday, 29 July 2005
Ignited Minds ~ Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Topic: Developed India - HOW ?
Getting the forces together

(Excerpted from Ignited Minds, authored by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam)

Determine that things can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way. —Abraham Lincoln

THE vision of a developed India can be realised only if we recognise that wealth generation and wealth protection are two sides of the same coin. A nation’s wealth represents the sweat and hard work of its people. The famous Tamil poet Andal, who was regarded as one of the thirteen Vaishnavite Alwars, in her famous work Tiruppavai invokes the blessing of God to provide in plenty neengatha selvam (stable wealth) to the land. This is possible only with an integrated approach towards development. Granted planners look individually at the activities of various ministries and approve their action plans. However, if these proposals were to be looked at not in isolation but in the context of multiple-use planning, the benefits would multiply. Thus a technology, product or a service resulting out of a particular programme of a department/ministry should be mandated to be available to other departments/ministries at the stage of plan approvals. This would provide the needed integration at the planning stage. A similar approach needs to the put in place at other downstream activities. An integrated mission approach would permit interweaving of measures to generate wealth with similar steps for wealth protection. This is the hallmark of a developed country and hence the key to a developed India.

Another aspect of a developed country is global competitiveness of its industry. It is not only catering to the home market but also aiming for a large market outside it. Hence, its contribution to GDP is also very large. This is a prerequisite for India too in its development. Indian industry has to show the same competitiveness and innovation so that we can have our own multinationals.

Universal literacy and access to education for all is another fundamental requirement for a nation to be truly developed. Education would result in the creation of a large base of people who excel in various fields as well, an invaluable resource for any country.

At present, however, there is a high degree of asymmetry in the educational system. While there are many who aspire to higher education, quality institutions to impart this are few. This creates a large mismatch of demand and supply in quality manpower and is starkly evident in emerging sunrise areas such as information technology, biotechnology, environmental engineering and manufacturing technology. The economic liberalisation taking place will only intensify such demand in coming years. Moreover higher education has also to be made more relevant to industry and society, an aspect in which it is inadequate at present.

One solution lies in fostering institutions with expertise to industry and society. Some of the institutions which have excelled this far could provide templates for the new ones. Lastly, the solution should be implemented in a mission mode — only the mission objectives should be paramount and all else subservient to these objectives.

To develop to the desired level, industry also needs to recognise the importance of forward and backward linkages. Which linkages with bridging institutions such as think tanks, technical/consultancy services, other firms involved in similar activities as well as customers constitute the forward linkage, partnership with universities, R&D labs and technology-providing institutions would form the backward linkage. Investment in higher education is therefore crucial for forming this backward linkage which would serve as a springboard for Indian industry to make the jump to becoming a global player. We should not hesitate to take a fast decision for establishing twenty more IITs and medical institutions; whether they are promoted by Indian or foreign groups does not matter as long as the bottom line remains excellence.

On 15 October 2000 a website designed for me by friends in the Ponn Group was launched by the Infosys Chairman, N.R. Narayana Murthy, in the presence of Prof N. Balakrishnan of the IISc. Some of my friends asked me to post a few questions on the website. My questions were three. First: ‘India has been a developing country for more than half a century. What would you as young boys and girls like to do to make it a developed India?’ The second question was, ‘When can I sing a song of India?’ and the third , do we love anything foreign in spite of our capabilities in many fields, whereas other countries celebrate their own success?’ My only stipulation was that the answer should come from youth aged under twenty.

More than a hundred answers and suggestions were received from within the country and abroad. Five of these answers are relevant here.

One young man from Chandigarh responded, ‘I will become a teacher (rather, a professor of engineering) since I am good in, as well as enjoy, teaching and I believe that one of the best ways in which to serve one’s nation is to be either a professor or a soldier...’ A girl wrote from Pondicherry, ‘A single flower makes no garland. I will... work for a garland leading to unity of minds, as this is needed for transforming India into a developed country.’ A twenty-year-old youth from Goa responded, ‘Like an electron ceaselessly moving in its orbit, I will work ceaselessly for my country, now onwards.

With reference to the second point I had raised, a young man from Atlanta wrote: ‘When India becomes capable of imposing sanctions against any country, if they are needed, then I will sing a song of India.’ What the young man meant was that economic strength brings prosperity accompanied by national strength. The fifth answer is actually something that 30 per cent of the respondents said: the need for greater transparency in various facets of our life. One crucial fact often overlooked is that India has a population of 700 million people below the age of thirty-five. These are 700 million people with the inclination, the ability and the enthusiasm to take the nation to greatness. It is a very big force for change indeed.

How can one ignite the young minds? How can one attract and involve the young in the task of nation building? Only a united vision launched with renewed vigour will bring the young force into action.

The subject of transparency and values brings to my mind Gandhiji. I happened to meet in Delhi his granddaughter, Sumitra Kulkarni. I asked her, ‘Sumitraji, is there a particular incident (in respect of honesty in public life) that you always remember from your grandfather’s life?

She narrated to me this story. ‘Every day, as you all would have heard, Mahatma Gandhi had a prayer meeting at a fixed time in the evening. After the prayers there would be a collection of voluntary gifts for the welfare of harijans and others. The devotees of Gandhiji used to collect whatever was given by the people of all sections and this collection was counted by a few members suggested by Gandhiji. The amount so collected would be informed to Gandhiji before dinner. The next day, a man from the bank would come to collect the money for deposit.

‘Once the man reported that there was a shortage of few paise in the money handed over to him and the amount informed to Gandhiji the previous night. Gandhiji, on hearing this, was so upset that he went on fast saying that this is a poor man’s donation and we have no business to lose any of it.’ This episode is a unique example of transparency in public life. Well, in the same country we are witnessing the best and the worst. We should all, particularly the young generation, launch a movement for a transparent India, just as our fathers fought for our freedom. Transparency is a cornerstone of development.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 4:37 PM MEST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005 12:44 AM MEST
Address by President Abdul Kalam * DEVELOPED INDIA
Topic: Developed India - HOW ?
Address by President Abdul Kalam in the Central Hall of Parliament after being sworn in as the President of India

July 25, 2002
Parliament of India

Respected Shri Narayananji, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Speaker of Lok sabha, Members of the Union Council of Ministers, Governors, Chief Ministers, Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, Members of Parliament, Excellencies, friends and children -- my greetings to all of you.

When I see in front of me, the distinguished dignitaries including a number of senior diplomats representing their countries and other eminent personalities, a beautiful Thiagarajaswamigal's Keerthana in Sri Raga echoes from my heart: "Endaro Mahaanubhavalu andhariggi vandanamulu," which means, "I salute all the great noble hearted human beings."

I thank the members of Parliament and State Legislatures for having elected me. The endorsement I have received from the nation, giving me the responsibility to realise our shared dream of India with prosperity, harmony and strength is really overwhelming. Ten illustrious personages have adorned this office of the President and contributed to the nation building with their outstanding personal qualities.

I salute them all. While I assume the office of the President of Republic of India with humility and gratefully recognising the immense trust, the people of the country and the political system have resposed in me, I promise to endeavour to fulfill the aspirations of our people.

Indian civilisational heritage is built on universal spirit. India always stood for friendship and extends warm hands to the whole world. We have made significant achievements in the last 50 years in food production, health sector, higher education, media and mass communication, industrial infrastructure, information technology, science and technology and defence. Our nation is endowed with natural resources, vibrant people and traditional value system. In spite of these resources, a number of our people are below the poverty line, undernourished and lack primary education itself. Our aim is to empower them to be poverty free, healthy and literate. A country needs to have the characteristics as defined in Thirukkural, composed over 2,000 years ago:
"Pini inmai Selvam Vilaivinbam Emam, aniyenba Nattirkiv vainthu."

That is, "The important elements that constitute a nation are: being disease free; wealth; high productivity; harmonious living and strong defence." All our efforts should be focused towards building these five elements at various levels in a coherent and in an integrated manner. I am convinced that our nation with a strong, vibrant and billion plus population can contribute to realise these elements.

Today our country is facing challenges such as cross-border terrorism, certain internal conflicts and unemployment. To face these challenges, there must be a vision to ensure focused action of one billion citizens of this great country with varied capabilities.

What can be that vision? It can be none other than transforming India into a developed nation. Can the government alone achieve this vision? Now, we need a movement in the country. This is the time to ignite the minds of the people for this movement. We will work for it. We cannot emerge as a developed nation if we do not learn to transact with speed. I recall the saintly poet Kabir's wisdom to us: "Kaal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab". that means, "What you want to do tomorrow do it today, and what you want to do today do it now."

This vision of developed nation needs to be achieved with Parliamentary democracy, which is the core of our governance system. The basic structure of our Constitution has stood the test of time. I am confident that it will continue to be responsive to the demands of changing situations. The first and foremost task is to respect and uphold the Constitutional processes, in the best interest of our people and our nation, without fear or favour and with fairness and firmness.

India is a Union of States based on the framework of co-operative federalism. Within the co-operative framework, there is also a requirement to develop competitive strengths for the States so that they can excel at the national level and the global level. Competitiveness helps in ensuring economic and managerial efficiency and to be creative to meet new challenges. These are essential to survive and prosper in a fast changing world of today. In addition, in order to strengthen democratic processes and institution, we should all truly strive for substantive decentralisation.

I wish to emphasise my unflinching commitment to the principle of secularism, which is the cornerstone of our nationhood and which is the key feature of our civilisational strength. During the last one year I met a number of spiritual leaders of all religions. They all echoed one message, that is, unity of minds and hearts of our peple will happen and we will see the golden age of our country, very soon. I would like to endeavour to work for bringing about unity of minds among the divergent traditions of our country.

Along with speedy development aimed at elimination of poverty and unemployment, national security has to be recognised by every Indian as a national priority. Indeed, making India strong and self reliant -- economically, socially and militarily -- is our foremost duty to our motherland and to ourselves and to our future generations.

When the child is empowered by the parents, at various phases of growth, the child transforms into a responsible citizen. When the teacher is empowered with knowledge and experience, good young human beings with value systems take shape. When individual or a team is empowered with technology, transformation to higher potential for achievement is assured. When the leader of any institution empowers his or her people, leaders are born who can change the nation in multiple areas. When the women are empowered, society with stability gets assured. When the politcal leaders of the nation empower the people through visionary policies, the prosperity of the nation is certain. The medium for transformation to developed India is the empowerment at various levels with power of knowledge. A roadmap of realising this vision of developed India is in front of us.

At this juncture, I recall a beautiful though of Dr G G Swell, an eminent leader from the North East: "We must have a mental infrastructure. Mental infrastructure means sincerity of purpose, of vision, or purity of heart and mind."

When I travel across our nation, when I hear the sound of waves of the three seas around the shores of my country, when I experience the breeze of wind from the mighty Himalayas, when I see the bio-diversity of North-East and our islands and when I feel the warmth from the western desert, I hear the voice of the youth: "When can I sing the song of India?" What can be the answer? I have so far interacted with over 50,000 school children during the past one year. I would like to share with you my answer to the urge of these children. If youth have to sing the song of India, India should become a developed country which is free from poverty, illiteracy and unemployment and is buoyant with economic prosperity, national security and internal harmony.

To create this transformation we all have to resolve ourselves to work and sweat for the national development. I would like to share the song of youth, which I normally recite with the school children, here at this juncture. I am very happy to see the children present here representing the future generation. Through them I would like to convey the song of youth to all children of our country and the people.

As a young citizen of India, armed with technology, knowledge and love for my nation, I realise, small aim is a crime.

I will work and sweat for a great vision, the vision of transforming India into a developed nation, powered by economic strength with value system.

I am one of the citizens of billion; Only the vision will ignite the billion souls.

It has entered into me; The ignited soul compared to any resource is the most powerful resource on the earth, above the earth under the earth.

I will keep the lamp of knowledge burning to achieve the vision - Developed India.

If we work and sweat for the great vision with ignited minds, the transformation leading to birth of vibrant developed India will happen. This song, when sung in our own beautiful languages will unite our minds for action.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 4:30 PM MEST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005 12:52 AM MEST
Indians are the fifth happiest - World Happiness Survey

London: Would you believe it, Bangladesh is the happiest nation in the world! The United States, on the other hand, is a sad story: it ranks only 46th in the World Happiness Survey.

That's way behind India, the fifth happiest place in the world, and others including Ghana and Latvia, Croatia and Estonia. Research led by London School of Economics professors into the link between personal spending power and the perceived quality of life has conclusively proved that money can buy everything but happiness.

The study revealed that people in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, derive far more happiness from their small incomes than, for example, the British (32nd on the list) do from their relatively large bank balances.

In fact, people in most rich countries including Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, Japan and others are much more unhappier than their poorer counterparts in countries like the Dominican Republic and Armenia. Most unfortunate, however, are Russians and people in some other parts of the former Soviet Union. They are neither rich nor happy, indicates the World Happiness Survey.

Slovenia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria and Moldova follow the United States in the list to bring up the rear.The study shows that although the British have twice as much money to spend in real terms compared with 40 years ago, their perceived quality of life has not improved.

Earlier surveys revealed that many Britons thought money could bring happiness. The new study shows that such a link still exists in poor countries because a small increase in income can mean large improvements in lifestyle.

However, beyond a certain income-level that direct relationship breaks down. According to the research, happiness in rich countries now is far more dependent on close personal relationships, good health and job satisfaction.

People in Britain are generally less happy than they were ten years ago. Two-thirds would rather see the environment improved than have more economic growth and personal spending money, said Robert Worcester, visiting professor of government at the LSE and co-author of the study. The researchers have concluded that although Britons are rich compared with most other countries, many suffer from an emotional poverty caused by consumerism and the breakdown of family life.

We are being seduced by an economic juggernaut and our personal needs are not being met, said Nic Marks, a social sciences researcher at Surrey University who also worked on the report.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 2:43 PM MEST
Western Values And Eastern Challenges
Topic: culture:Western/Indian ?
Western Values And Eastern Challenges

- NR Narayana Murthy

As it is said in the Vedas: Man can live individually, but can survive only collectively. Hence, our challenge is to form a progressive community by balancing the interests of the individual and that of the society. To meet this we need to develop a value system where people accept modest sacrifices for the common good.

A value system is the protocol for behaviour that enhances the trust, confidence and commitment of members of the community. It goes beyond the domain of legality - It is about decent and desirable behaviour. Further, it includes putting the community interests ahead of your own. Thus, our collective survival and progress is predicated on sound values.

There are two pillars of the cultural value system - loyalty to family and loyalty to community. One should not be in isolation to the other, because, successful societies are those which combine both harmoniously. It is in this context that I will discuss the role of Western values in contemporary Indian society.

As an Indian, I am proud to be part of a culture, which has deep-rooted family values. We have tremendous loyalty to the family. For instance, parents make enormous sacrifices for their children. They support them until they can stand on their own feet. On the other side, children consider it their duty to take care of aged parents. We believe: "Mathru devo bhava, pithru devo bhava" (Mother is God and Father is God). Further, brothers and sisters sacrifice for each other. In fact, the eldest brother or sister is respected by all the other siblings.

As for marriage, it is held to be a sacred union - husband and wife are bonded, most often, for life. In joint families, the entire family works towards the welfare of the family. There is so much love and affection in our family life. This is the essence of Indian values and one of our key strengths.

Our families act as a critical support mechanism for us. In fact, the credit to the success of Infosys goes, as much to the founders as to their families, for supporting them through the tough times. Unfortunately, our attitude towards family life is not reflected in our attitude towards community behaviour. From littering the streets to corruption to breaking of contractual obligations, we are apathetic towards the common good.

The primary difference between the West and us is that, there, people have a much better societal orientation. In the West - the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand - individuals understand that they have to be responsible towards their community. They care more for the society than we do. Further, they generally sacrifice more for the society than us. Quality of life is enhanced because of this.This is where we need to learn form the West.

Consider some of the lessons that we Indians can learn from the West:

* Respect for the public good - In the West, there is respect for the public good. For instance, parks free of litter, clean streets, public toilets free of graffiti - all these are instances of care for the public good.

On the contrary, in India, we keep our houses clean and water our gardens everyday but, when we go to a park, we do not think twice before littering the place.
* Attitude to corruption - This is because of the individual's responsible behaviour towards the community as a whole. On the contrary, in India, corruption, tax evasion, cheating and bribery have eaten into our vitals. For instance, contractors bribe officials, and construct low-quality roads and bridges.

Corruption, as we see in India, is another example of putting the interest of oneself, and at best that of one's family, above that of the society.

Society is relatively corruption free in the West. It is very difficult to bribe a police officer into avoiding a speeding ticket. The result is that society loses in the form of substandard defence equipment and infrastructure, and low-quality recruitment, just to name a few impediments. Unfortunately, this behaviour is condoned by almost everyone.
* Public apathy - Apathy in solving community matters has held us back from making progress, which is otherwise within our reach. We see serious problems around us but do not try to solve them. We behave as if the problems do not exist or are somebody else's. On the other hand, in the West, people solve societal problems proactively.

There are several examples of our apathetic attitude.

(i) For instance, all of us are aware of the problem of drought in India. More than 40 years ago, Dr KL Rao - an irrigation expert, suggested creation of a water grid connecting all the rivers in North and South India, to solve this problem. Unfortunately, nothing has been done about this.

(ii) The story of power shortage in Bangalore is another instance. In 1983, it was decided to build a thermal power plant to meet Bangalore's power requirements. Unfortunately, we have still not started it.

(iii) The Milan subway in Bombay is in a deplorable state for the past 40 years, and no action has been taken.

To quote another example, considering the constant travel required in the software industry; five years ago, I had suggested a 240-page passport. This would eliminate frequent visits to the passport office. In fact, we are ready to pay for it. However, I am yet to hear from the ministry of external affairs on this. We, Indians, would do well to remember Thomas Hunter's words: Idleness travels very slowly, and poverty soon overtakes it.

What could be the reason for this? We were ruled by foreigners for over thousand years. Thus, we have always believed that public issues belonged to some foreign ruler and that we have no role in solving them. Moreover, we have lost the will to proactively solve our own problems and have got used to just executing someone else's orders.

Borrowing Aristotle's words: "We are what we repeatedly do." Thus, having done this over the years, the decision-makers in our society are not trained for solving problems. Our decision-makers look to somebody else to take decisions. Unfortunately, there is nobody to look up to, and this is the tragedy.

Our intellectual arrogance has also not helped our society. I have travelled extensively, and in my experience, have not come across another society where people are as contemptuous of better societies as we are, with as little progress as we have achieved. Remember that arrogance breeds hypocrisy.

No other society gloats so much about the past as we do, with as little current accomplishment. Friends, this is not a new phenomenon, but at least a thousand years old. For instance, Al Barouni, the famous Arabic logician and traveller of the 10th century, who spent about 30 years in India from 997 AD to around 1027 AD, referred to this trait of Indians.

According to him, during his visit, most Indian pundits considered it below their dignity even to hold arguments with him. In fact, on a few occasions when a pundit was willing to listen to him, and found his arguments to be very sound, he invariably asked Barouni: which Indian pundit taught these smart things!

The most important attribute of a progressive society is respect for others who have accomplished more than they themselves have, and learn from them. Contrary to this, our leaders make us believe that other societies do not know anything!

At the same time, everyday, in the newspapers, you will find numerous claims from our leaders that ours is the greatest nation. This has to stop. These people would do well to remember Thomas Carlyle's words: The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none."

If we have to progress, we have to change this attitude, listen to people who have performed better than us, learn from them and perform better than them. Infosys is a good example of such an attitude.

We continue to rationalise our failures. No other society has mastered this art as well as we have. Obviously, this is an excuse to justify our incompetence, corruption, and apathy. This attitude has to change. As Sir Josiah Stamp has said: "It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities."

Another interesting attribute, which we Indians can learn from the West, is their accountability. Irrespective of your position, in the West, you are held accountable for what you do. However, in India, the more 'important' you are, the less answerable you are.

For instance, a senior politician once declared that he 'forget' to file his tax returns for 10 consecutive years - and he got away with it. To quote another instance, there are over 100 loss-making public sector units in India. Nevertheless, I have not seen action taken for bad performance against top managers in these organisations.

In the West, each person is proud about his or her labour that raises honest sweat. On the other hand, in India, we tend to overlook the significance of those who are not in professional jobs. We have a mindset that reveres only supposedly intellectual work. For instance, I have seen many engineers, fresh from college, who only want to do cutting-edge work and not work that is of relevance to business and the country.

However, be it an organisation or society, there are different people performing different roles. For success, all these people are required to discharge their duties. This includes everyone from the CEO to the person who serves tea - every role is important. Hence, we need a mindset that reveres everyone who puts in honest work.

Indians become intimate even without being friendly. They ask favors of strangers without any hesitation. For instance, the other day, while I was travelling from Bangalore to Mantralayam, I met a fellow traveller on the train. Hardly five minutes into the conversation, he requested me to speak to his MD about removing him from the bottom 10 per cent list in his company, earmarked for disciplinary action.

I was reminded of what Rudyard Kipling once said: A westerner can be friendly without being intimate while an easterner tends to be intimate without being friendly.

Yet another lesson to be learnt from the West, is about their professionalism in dealings. The common good being more important than personal equations, people do not let personal relations interfere with their professional dealings. For instance, they don't hesitate to chastise a colleague, even if he is a personal friend, for incompetent work.

In India, I have seen that we tend to view even work interactions from a personal perspective. Further, we are the most 'thin-skinned' society in the world - we see insults where none is meant. This may be because we were not free for most of the last thousand years.

Further, we seem to extend this lack of professionalism to our sense of punctuality. We do not seem to respect the other person's time. The Indian Standard Time somehow seems to be always running late. Moreover, deadlines are typically not met. How many public projects are completed on time?

The disheartening aspect is that we have accepted this as the norm rather than an exception. Meritocracy by definition means that we cannot let personal prejudices affect our evaluation of an individual's performance. As we increasingly start to benchmark ourselves with global standards, we have to embrace meritocracy.

In the West, right from a very young age, parents teach their children to be independent in thinking. Thus, they grow up to be strong, confident individuals. In India, we still suffer from feudal thinking. I have seen people, who are otherwise bright, refusing to show independence and preferring to be told what to do by their boss. We need to overcome this attitude if we have to succeed globally.

The Western value system teaches respect to contractual obligation. In the West, contractual obligations are seldom dishonoured. This is important - enforceablity of legal rights and contracts is the most important factor in the enhancement of credibility of our people and nation.

In India, we consider our marriage vows as sacred. We are willing to sacrifice in order to respect our marriage vows. However, we do not extend this to the public domain. For instance, India had an unfavourable contract with Enron. Instead of punishing the people responsible for negotiating this, we reneged on the contract - this was much before we came to know about the illegal activities at Enron.

To quote another instance, I had given recommendations to several students for the national scholarship for higher studies in US universities. Most of them did not return to India even though contractually they were obliged to spend five years after their degree in India.

In fact, according to a professor at a reputed US university, the maximum default rate for student loans is among Indians - all of these students pass out in flying colours and land lucrative jobs, yet they refuse to pay back their loans. Thus, their action has made it difficult for the students after them, from India, to obtain loans.

Further, we Indians do not display intellectual honesty. For example, our political leaders use mobile phones to tell journalists on the other side that they do not believe in technology! If we want our youngsters to progress, such hypocrisy must be stopped.

We are all aware of our rights as citizens. Nevertheless, we often fail to acknowledge the duty that accompanies every right. To borrow Dwight Eisenhower's words: "People that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."

Our duty is towards the community as a whole, as much as it is towards our families. We have to remember that fundamental social problems grow out of a lack of commitment to the common good. To quote Henry Beecher: Culture is that which helps us to work for the betterment of all.

Hence, friends, I do believe that we can make our society even better by assimilating these Western values into our own culture - we will be stronger for it. Most of our behaviour comes from greed, lack of self-confidence, lack of confidence in the nation, and lack of respect for the society.

To borrow Gandhi's words: There is enough in this world for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed. Let us work towards a society where we would do unto others what we would have others do unto us. Let us all be responsible citizens who make our country a great place to live.

In the words of Winston Churchill, "Responsibility is the price of greatness." We have to extend our family values beyond the boundaries of our home. Let us work towards maximum welfare of the maximum people - "Samasta janaanaam sukhino bhavantu".

Finally, let us of this generation, conduct ourselves as great citizens rather than just good people so that we can serve as good examples for our younger generation.

Thank you.

(Excerpts from a lecture delivered by NR Narayana Murthy, Chairmain of Infosys Technologies Ltd., at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management, New Delhi, India on October 1st, 2002

Posted by isaheidelberg at 2:39 PM MEST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005 12:48 AM MEST
Indians Succeed. India Fails?
- Mohammed A. Thameemudeen & Nikita Singh

Rich NRIs and India's Who's Who had a jamboree recently at the Pravasiya Bharathi Divas. The PM announced 'Dual Citizenship' with eighteen hundred bureaucratic clauses. Aishwarya Rai and Simran swooned to the tune of fifteen hundred NRIs who participated in the conference.

Everyone made the familiar noises. Indian Americans complained about the bureaucracy. Politicians complained that the Chinese Diaspora invests more than the Indian Diaspora.

Not a soul complained on why thousands of people are quitting India every year. Or wondered about the welfare of the indentured Gulf workers. Or about the millions of 'body-shopped' Indian IT employees throughout the world.

Everybody had sumptuous lunches for three days and went home.


Prakash left for Fiji in 1978. He was plain irritated with the bank entrance examinations and the odds of making it. He got a first class in his B.Com at the Delhi University and was an average student. There was extreme paucity of jobs and everyone was queuing up for jobs in the State Bank of Bikaner!

Prakash approached a Delhi-based travel agent who forged a few documents for him. And he went to Fiji when he was 25.

Today Prakash runs a travel agency in Fiji. His travel agency gets customers for a forty-day tour of India and Sri Lanka. This packaged tour takes his customers to twenty major cities and hundreds of people love it. Prakash has built a two-bedroom home & has three children who study in neighboring Australia.

Prakash's story is full of grit and hard work. He worked 16-hour days doing menial jobs for 6 years, before he could open a small tailoring shop. Then he added other small businesses and had a fortune of $200,000 by 1998. Just as things were looking up, the Fijian Government seized everything and made him a near pauper.

Prakash is slowly building his business again and is confident of building a retirement kitty.


George is 27 and has an elderly mother to look after in Chennai. He has a penchant for writing and has penned a few hundred poems.

His journalistic instinct took him to study and work as a reporter for a leading Tamil newspaper. Tamil's No. 1 selling newspaper pays a glorious sum of Rs 3,000 as starting salary to its employees like George. Even 'Call Taxi' drivers of Chennai make about Rs 5,000 per month.

'Writer and Poverty' are inseparable like 'Thunder and Lightning' says a Tamil proverb. George took it to heart and tried his best to work through the journalistic ladders in Tamilnadu. He traveled to unknown villages to create original news. And he wrote well to merit a pay increase of Rs. 500 after 18 months.

George tried his best to remain in Chennai and improve his finances. He even switched jobs, to a leading Tamil TV News channel for a glimpse of the comfortable life. The TV Channel increased his salary by 200% - but it did not pay him for three consecutive months!!

That was the last straw and George said to hell with Chennai and India. He applied to numerous newspapers in South East Asia where one of them recognized his persistence. Today he shares a small apartment in Singapore and works as a reporter for The Straits Times.

George intends to get his Chennai-based mother to his own apartment during 2003.


Sumitra had a typical arranged marriage in Cochin. Her husband Ravi worked in typical Kerala style - as a Gulf based worker.

Ravi worked as a foreman in a leading petroleum company. Sumitra taught Hindi in a local school to supplement their incomes. They were in fact doing fairly well and even made plans to buy a compact car in Qatar.

Fate struck a raw deal and Ravi's right leg got caught in a gruesome accident. His petroleum MNC counted the costs of paying up and decided to invoke an abstruse negligence clause. It blamed Ravi for negligence and sued him for damaging the expensive Cretoe Pro tool set!

Ravi lost his right leg and yet he got no help from the local Indian Embassy. It was then that Sumitra took a brave decision of remaining in Qatar and fighting the court case. She invoked the wrath of God and worked inhuman hours to pay for the legal expenses. She taught in two schools simultaneously and corrected the examination papers of 7 neighboring schools.

Sumitra's battle lasted three long years before the MNC decided to pay up. She is now 31 and is pregnant with her first baby.


Prakash, George and Sumitra happened to be in Delhi for their own reasons. They decided to stop by at the Pravasiya Bharathi Divas, where I met them last week.

You will never hear about these three people in the media. They are amongst the 20 million NRIs who live in 110 countries. These people are part of India's middle-class that is disgusted with Indian businesses, Indian politicians and Indian bureaucracy. They have simple aims like most middle-class families. They want to create a simple and happy family, support their parents and possibly build a bank balance for their retirement.

Indian society directly seems to militate against these simple middle-class aims. The middle-class in turn is calling it quits. Millions of middle-class Indians who have the brains to create a prosperous India is quitting in droves. 240,000 Indians left for US in the three years of 1999-2001. A few thousands have returned after the dotcom bust. Some of them are seen drinking coffee at Saravana Bhavan in Chennai and comparing it to Starbucks! However a vast majority continues to live in USA to fulfill their American dreams.

A million Indians left for foreign opportunities in 2001, and this number is accelerating every year. Though it might seem like a small speck out of the 1000 million strong Indian population, the migration of the Indian middle-class reflects deep unhappiness with India.

All the politicians congratulated themselves at the Pravasiya Bharathi Divas. They also praised Rajat Gupta, Sir Naipaul & Pandit Ravi Shankar, before going for lunch.

However nobody seemed to wonder why people go abroad. It is not as if everybody studies in IIT and dreams of an MS in the US, as soon as he/she is 15 years old.

Countless people leave because India fails them. They succeed as individuals because of their own hard work and resolve in 110 countries.

Indians succeed in 110 countries. But India fails?

Posted by isaheidelberg at 2:36 PM MEST
God & science ~ Preliminary Remarks
Topic: GOD & Science
God and Science

Author: Jacques Maritain

Preliminary Remarks

In the realm of culture science now holds sway over human civilization. But at the same time science has, in the realm of the mind, entered a period of deep and fecund trouble and self-examination. Scientists have to face the problem of over-specialization, and a general condition of permanent crisis which stems from an extraordinarily fast swarming of discoveries and theoretical renewals, and perhaps from the very approach peculiar to modern science. They have, in general, got rid of the idea that it is up to science to organize human life and society, and to supersede ethics and religion by providing men with the standards and values on which their destiny depends. Finally -- and this is the point with which I am especially concerned in this essay -- the cast of mind of scientists regarding religion and philosophy, as it appeared in the majority of them a century ago, has now profoundly changed.

There are, no doubt, atheists among scientists, as there are in any other catogory of people; but atheism is not regarded by them as required by science. The old notion of a basic opposition between science and religion is progressively passing away. No conflict between them is possible, Robert Williken declared. In many scientists there is an urge either toward more or less vague religiosity or toward definite religious faith; and there in an urge, too, toward philosophical unification of knowledge. But the latter urge still remains, more often than not, imbued with a kind of intellectual ambiguity.

No wonder, then, that the subject with which we are dealing -- what is the relation of modern science to man's knowledge of God -- demands a rather delicate, sometime complicated, analysis. In order to clear the ground, I shall begin with a few observations concerning the characteristic approach and way of knowledge peculiar to science as it has developed since post-Renaissance and post-Cartesian times, and become in our day, through an effort of reflection upon its own procedures, more and more explicitly aware of itself.

I don't disregard the differences in nature which separate physics from other sciences like biology or anthropology for instance. Yet physics is the queen of modern sciences, which, even when they cannot be perfectly mathematized, tend to resemble physics to one degree or another. So it is that for the sake of brevity I shall, while speaking of modern science, have modern physics especially in view.

Modern science has progressively "freed" or separated itself from philosophy (more specifically from the philosophy of nature) thanks to mathematics -- that is to say by becoming a particular type of knowledge whose data are facts drawn by our senses or instruments from the world of nature, but whose intelligibility is mathematical intelligibility. As a result, the primary characteristic of the approach to reality peculiar to science may therefore be described in the following way: that which can be observed and measured, and the ways through which observation and measurement are to be achieved, and the more or less unified mathematical reconstruction of such data, these things alone have a meaning for the scientist as such.

The field of knowledge particular to science is therefore limited to experience (as Kant understood the word). And when the basic notions that science uses derive from concepts traditionally used by common sense and philosophy, such as the notions of nature, matter, or causality, these basic notions are recast and restricted by science, so as to apply only to the field of experience and observable phenomena, understood and expressed in a certain set of mathematical signs. Thus it is that physicists may construct the concept of antimatter, for example, which has a meaning for them, but neither for the layman nor for the philosopher.

The expression "science of phenomena" is currently employed to designate our modern sciences. Such an expression is valid only if we realize, on the one hand, that the phenomena in questin are (especially as far as physics is concerned) mathematized phenomena, and, on the other hand, that they are not an object separate from, but an aspect of that reality in se which is Nature. Let us say that science is a genuine, though oblique, knowledge of nature; it attains reality, but in its phenomenal aspect (in other words, in the aspect of reality which is definable through observation and measurement), and by the instrumentality of entities, especially mathematical entities, which may be "real" and relate to what Aristotelian realism called "quantity" as an accident of material substance, or may be purely ideal entities (entia rationis) and mere symbols grounded on data of observation and measurement.

Such ideal entities are the price paid for a tremendous privilege, namely the mathematical reconstruction of the data of experience. I observed a moment ago that modern science has freed itself from philosophy thanks to mathematics. At first mathematics were used by the sciences of nature in the framework of sense experience only. It has happened, however, that for more than a century mathematics themselves, starting with non-Euclidian geometries, have been breaking loose, more definitely and more completely than before, from the world of experience, and insisting on the possibility of developing -- in the realm of merely logical or ideal being (ens rationis) -- an infinite multiplicity of demonstrably consistent systems based on freely chosen and utterly opposed "axioms" or postulates. Consequently the science of phenomena (particularly physics) became able to pick out among varioius possible mathematical languages or conceptualizations, which make sense only to the mathematician, and deal with entities existing only within the mind, the one most appropriate to a given set of phenomena (while other sets of phenomena may be made mathematically intelligible through quite another conceptualization). So it is that from the point of view of common sense everything in the world capsizes in the highest and most comprehensive theories of contemporary physics as in Chagall's pictures. Modern science of phenomena has its feet on earth and uses its hands to gather not only correctly observed and measured facts, but also a great many notions and explanations which offer our minds real entities; yet it has its head in a mathematical heaven, populated with various crowds or signs and merely ideal, even not intuitively thinkable entities.

These ideal entities constructed by the mind are symbols which enable science to manipulate the world while knowing it as unknown, for then, in those higher regions where creative imagination is more at work than classical inductin, science is only intent on translating the multifarious observable aspects of the world into coherent systems of signs.

The fact remains that the prime incentive of the scientist is the urge to know reality. Belief in the existence of the mysterious reality of the universe precedes scientific inquiry in the scientist's mind; and a longing (possibly more or less repressed) to attain this reality in its inner depths is naturally latent in him.

But as a scientist his knowledge is limited to a mathematical (or quasi-mathematical) understanding and reconstruction of the observable and measurable aspects of nature taken in their inexhaustible detail.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 2:27 PM MEST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005 1:38 AM MEST
God & science ~ Critical question
Topic: GOD & Science
The crucial question

The crucial question for our age of culture is, thus, whether reality can be approached and known, not only "phenomenally" by science, but also "ontologically" by philosophy.

This question is still more crucial for the common man than for the scientist. For the impact of the habits of thinking prevalent in an industrial civilization, in which manipulation of the world through science and technique plays the chief part, results in a loss of the sense of being in the minds of a large number of people, who are not scientists but grant rational value to facts and figures only. Whereas exclusive scientists know at least what science is and what its limitations are, the people of whom I an speaking have no experience of science, and they believe all the more naively that science is the only valid rational approach to reality, nay more, that science has all the rational answers which human life can need.

Consequently, any rational knowledge of God's existence -- either prephilosophical (by the simple natural use of reason) or philosophical (by the use of reason trained in philosophical disciplines) -- is a dead letter as far an they are concerned.

Persons whose intellect has shrunk in this way may adhere to some religious creed and have a religious belief in God -- either as a gift of divine grace, or as a response to irrational needs or as a result of their adjustment to a given environment. But they are atheists as far as reason in concerned.

Such a situation is utterly abnormal. Religious faith is above reason, but normally presupposed the rational conviction of God's existence.

At this point we must lay stress on the nature of philosophy an contradistinguished from sciences, and insist that philosophy is an autonomous discipline, which has its own instruments; so that it is not enough to add to scientific knowledge even a most intelligent philosophical reflection; the proper philosophical training and proper philosophical equipment are necesary.

Let us say that whereas science, or phenomenal knowledge, offers us, with wonderful richness paid for by revolutionary changes, coded maps of what matter and nature are as to the multifarious observable and measurable interactions which occur in them, -- philosophy makes us grasp, with greater stability paid for by limitation to essentials, what things are in the intrinsic reality of their being. Though carrying common sense and the natural language to an essentially higher level, philosophy is in continuity with them, and is based on the perceptive (not only constructive) power of the intellect as well as on sense experience. In other words, being is the primary object of philosophy, as it in of human reason; and all notions worked out by philosophy are intelligible in terms of being not of observation and measurement.

As a result, we have to realize that in the very universe of experience philosophy (the philosophy of nature) deals with aspects and explanations in which science is not interested. Thus matter (that is, material substances) is composed in the eyes of old but still valid Aristotelian hylomorphism, of two elemental pure and indetermined potentiality (materia prima), and determinative form or entelechy (which, in man, is spiritual soul); whereas for science matter (or mass, that is, a given set of measurable data expressed in mathematical equations) is composed of certain particles, most of them impermanent, scrutinized by nuclear physics. And it is up to philosophy to try to bring into some sort of unity our knowledge of nature, not by making science's explanations parts of its own explanations, but by interpreting them in its own light, whether it sorts out what pertains to real though phenomenal entities from what pertains to ideal entities in scientific explanatory theories, or points out the philosophical truths (sometimes to be improved and readjusted) which have some connection with these theories, and especially with all the treasure of facts and factual assertions which is mustered and continually increased by science.

Now being is not limited to the field of sense experience; it goes beyond. And the basic concepts of reason which deal with being as such, even though they apply first to the realm of experience, can apply too -- in an "analogical" manner -- to realities which transcend experience. As a result philosophy (this time I don't mean the philosophy of nature, I mean metaphysics) can attain to realities which escape sense experience and sense verification, in other words which belong to the spiritual or "supra-sensible" order.

Let us remember at this point that philosophy is but a superior stage in the natural use of reason, at the level of a knowledge which is not only knowledge but wisdom, and which (in contradistinction to common sense) is critically elaborated and completely articulated. Prior to philosophy, the natural use of reason is natural in an additional sense (in the sense of untrained and merely spontaneous); with philosophy it is perfected by reflectivity, fully mature, and capable of explicit demonstration, aware of its own validity.

It is by virtue of the very nature of human reason -- either untrained or philosophically perfected -- that the concept of cause and the principle of causality can lead us beyond the field of experience. As Dr. Ivy has rightly pointed out, if the child uses the principle of causality in asking why things exist, he does so not by reason of the transitory peculiarities of "childish mentality," but on the contrary, because he is awakening to genuine intellectual life.

There is, thus, a pre-philosophical, simply natural knowledge of God's existence. It can be described as starting from the primordial intuition of existence, and immediately perceiving that Being-with-nothingess, or things which could possibly not be -- my own being, which is liable to death -- necessarily presuppose Being-without-nothingness, that is, absolute or self-subsisting Being, which causes and activates all beings. This pre-philosophical knowledge can also be described as a spontaneous application of the principle: no artifact is possible without a maker.

And there is, in the realm of metaphysical wisdom, a philosophical knowledge of God's existence, which is able fully to justify itself and uses ways of arguing that proceed with full rational rigor.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 2:26 PM MEST
Updated: Monday, 15 August 2005 11:13 AM MEST
God & science ~ The philosophical proofs of God's existence
Topic: GOD & Science

The "five ways" of Thomas Aquinas are the classical example of the philosophical approach to God of which I just spoke. It seems relevant to give at this point some idea of them, at least of the first and the last two.

The first way proceeds from Motion or Change, There is no fact more obvious here below than the fact of change, through which a thing becomes what it was not. But one thing can give to itself what it does not have, at least in potency, and potency cannot pass to actuation by itself alone. Everywhere where there is motion or change (even if it is self-motion as in living beings), there is something else which is causing, the change. Now if the cause in question is itself subject to change, then it in moved or activated by another agent. But it is impossible to regress from agent to agent without end; if there were not a First Agent, the reason for the action of all others would never be posited in existence. So it is necessary to stop at a Prime Cause, itself uncaused, absolutely exempt from any change for it is absolutely perfect.

In the same manner the second way, which proceeds from Efficient Causes at work in the world, and the third way, which proceeds from Contingency and Necessity in things, lead to a Prime Cause without which all other causes would neither be nor act, and which exists with absolute necessity, in the infinite transcendence of the very esse subsisting by itself.

The fourth way proceeds from the Degrees which are in things. It is a fact that there are degrees of value or perfection in things. But on the one hand wherever there are degrees it is necessary that there exist, somewhere, a supreme degree; and on the other hand one thing is good and another is better, but there can always be another still better, so that there is no supreme degree in the possible degrees of goodness or beauty, or finally being, of which things are capable. Goodness, beauty, being are not in their fulness in any one of the things we touch and see. The supreme degree of goodness of beauty, of being, exists elsewhere in a Prime Being which causes all that there is of goodness, beauty and being in things, a First Cause which does not have goodness, beauty and being, but is self-subsisting Being, Goodness and Beauty.

The fifth way proceeds from the intrinsic Order and purposeful Governance of the world. The very fact that in the material universe things are engaged in a system of stable relations and that a certain order among them exists and endures shows that they do not result from chance. A purpose in at work in that republic of natures which is the world. But such purpose cannot proceed from the things which compose the world of matter, and which are devoid of understanding. This purpose or intention must exist in an intellect on which things depend in their very essence and natural activities. Thus in the last analysis it is necessary to recognize the existence of a transcendent Intelligence, the existing of which is its very intellection, and which is the Cause of all beings.

I just summarized these ways to God in my own language and in the briefest possible fashion, leaving aside all particular examples, accidental to the demonstration, which were part of the imagery provided to Thomas Aquinas by the physics of his time.

The ways in question pertain to the philosophical order. The notion of cause has here its full ontological import, which connotes productivity in being, in contradistinction to the mere relationships between phenomena which science considers and in which a given phenomenon is a dependent variable of another. Futhermore, we are led by rational argumentation to a Prime Cause which in absolutely and infinitely transcendent, and which the very concept of cause, like that of being, of goodness, of intelligence, etc., attain only "by analogy" or in the mirror of things: what they mean in God has a proportion with respect to God similar to the proportion which what they mean in things has with respect to things; but we don't grasp it in itself. God exists as no other being exists, He is good as no other being is good, He knows and loves as no other being does...

It must be noted that considered in their very substance the "five ways' of Thomas Aquinas stand fast against any criticism. Modern philosophy has been in this connection the victim of a tragic misunderstanding. Descartes believed that from the sole idea of an infinitely, perfect being the existence of this being necessarily followed (the so-called "ontological argument"). Kant rightly stated that such "proof" was no proof at all. But he also stated -- quite mistakenly -- that all other proofs of God's existence implied the validity of the ontological argument and rested on it; as a result, no valid proof was possible. And Kant's successors followed on Kant's heels. Yet it is crystal clear that Thomas Aquinas' five ways do not start from the idea of an infinitely perfect being; they proceed in the opposite manner; they start from certain facts, quite general and quite undeniable; and from these facts they infer the necessary existence of a First Cause -- which is infinitely perfect. Infinite perfection is at the end, not at the beginning of the demonstration.

Finally let us add that there are other ways, too, than the classical five ways. I myself have proposed a "sixth way." As a matter of fact there are for men as many ways of knowing that God exists as there are steps he may take on the earth or paths to his own heart. For all our perishable treasures of being and beauty are besieged on all sides by the immensity and eternity of the One Who Is.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 2:22 PM MEST
Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005 2:25 PM MEST
God & science ~ Sciences as witnessing to God's existence
Topic: GOD & Science

Among all these approaches to God, one particularly significant for the man of our present civilization is provided by science itself. The sciences of phenomena -- though they remain enclosed in the field of experience -- bear testimony to the existence of God in a double manner. Here, as I previously noted, it is not a question of what science itself tells us, but of the very existence and possibility of science.

In the first place: if nature were not intelligible there would be no science. Nature is not perfectly and absolutely intelligible; and the sciences do not try to come to grips with nature's intelligibility taken in itself (that's the job of philosophy). They rather reach for it in an oblique fashion, dealing with it only insofar as it is steeped in, and masked by, the observable and measurable data of the world of experience, and can be translated into mathematical intelligibility. Yet the intelligibility of nature is the very ground of those relational constancies which are the "laws" -- including that category of laws which deal only with probabilities -- to which science seen phenomna submitted; and it is the very ground, in particular, of the highest explanatory systems, with all the symbols, ideal entities, and code languages they employ (and with all that in them which is still incomplete, arbitrary, and puzzlingly lacking in harmony) that science constructs on observation and measurement.

Now how would things be intelligible if they did not proceed from an intelligence? In the last analysis a Prime Intelligence must exist, which is itself Intellection and Intelligibility in pure act, and which is the first principle of the intelligibility and essences of things, and causes order to exist in them, as well as an infinitely complex network of regular relationships, whose fundamental mysterious unity our reason dreams of rediscovering in its own way.

Such an approach to God's to existence is a variant of Thomas Aquinas' fifth way. Its impact was secretly present in Einstein's famous saying: "God does not play dice," which, no doubt, used the word God in a merely figurative sense, and meant only: "nature does not result from a throw of the dice," yet by the very fact implicitly postulated the existence of the divine Intellect.

But science offers us a second philosophical approach, which, this time, relates to man's intellect. The sciences of phenomena, and the manner in which they contrive ways of knowing and mastering nature -- ceaselessly inveigling it into more and more precise observations and measurements, and finally catching it in sets of more and more perfectly systematized signs -- give evidence, in a particularly striking manner, of the power that human intelligence puts to work in the very universe of sense experience. Now the intelligence of man -- imperfect as it is, and obliged to use an irreducible multiplicity of types and perspectives of knowledge -- is a spiritual activity which can neither proceed from matter nor be self-subsisting, and therefore limitless and all-knowing. It has a higher source, a certain participation in which it is. In other words, it necessarily requires the existence of a Prime, transcendent and absolutely perfect Intellige, which is pure Intellection in act and whose being is its very Intellection.

This second approach is a variant of Thomas Aquinas' fourth way.

To conclude, let us remark that our knowledge of the created world naturally reverberates in the very reverence and awe with which our reason knows the Creator, and on the very notion, deficient as it is and will ever be, that we have of His ways.

By the very fact that science enlarges our horizons with respect to this world, and makes us know better -- though in an oblique way -- that created reality which is the mirror in which God's perfections are analogically known, science helps our minds to pay tribute to God's grandeur.

A number of the most basic notions and explanatory theories of modern science, especially of modern physics, recoil from being translated into natural languages or from being represented in terms of the imagination. Nevertheless a certain picture of the world emerge from modern science; and this picture (unification of matter and energy, physical indeterminism, a space-time continuum which implies that space and time are not empty pre-existing forms but come to existence with things and through things; gravitational fields which by reason of the curvation of space exempt gravitation from requiring any particular force, and outwit ether and attraction; a cosmos of electrons and stars in which the stars are the heavenly laboratories of elements, a universe which is finite but whose limits cannot be attained, and which dynamically evolves toward higher forms of individuation and concentration... ) constitutes a kind of framework or imagery more suited to many positions of a sound philosophy of nature than that which was provided by Newtonian science.

Furthermore, at the core of this imagery there are a few fundamental concepts which, inherent in modern science and essential to it, have a direct impact on our philosophical view of nature.

In the first place I shall mention all the complex regularities (presupposed by statistical laws themselves), and the mixture of organization and chance, resulting in a kind of elusive, imperfectly knowable and still more striking order, that matter reveals in the world of microphysics. It make our idea of the order of nature exceedingly more refined and more astonishing. And it makes us look at the author of this order with still more admiration and natural reverence. In the Book of Job Behemoth and Leviathan were called to witness to divine omnipotence. One single atom may be called to witness too, as well as the hippopotamus and the crocodile. If the heavens declare the glory of God, so does the world of micro-particles and micro-waves.

In the second place comes the notion of evolution evolution of the whole universe of matter, and, in particular, evolution of living organisms. Like certain most general tenets of science, evolution is less a demonstrated conclusion than a kind of primary concept which has such power in making phenomena decipherable that once expressed it became almost impossible for the scientific mind to do without it. Now if it is true that in opposition to the imobile archetypes and ever-recurrent cycles of Pagan antiquity Christianity taught men to conceive history both an irreversible and as running in a definite direction, then it may be said that by integrating in science the dimension of time and history, the idea of evolution has given to our knowledge of nature a certain affinity with what the Christian view of things is on a quite different plane. In any case, the genesis of elements and the various phases of the history of the heavens, and, in the realm of life, the historical development of an immense diversity of evolutive branches ("phyla"), all this, if it is understood in the proper philosophical perspective, presupposes the transcendent God as the prime cause of evolution, -- preserving in existence created things and the impetus present in them, moving them from above so that superior forms may emerge from inferior ones, and, when man is to appear at the peak of the series of vertebrates, intervening in a special way and creating ex nihilo the spiritual and immortal soul of the first man and of every individual of the new species. Thus evolution correctly understood offers us a spectacle whose greatness and universality make the activating omnipresence of God only more tellingly sensed by our minds.

I do not believe, moreover, that science fosters a particularly optimistic view of nature. Every progress in evolution is dearly paid for; miscarried attempts, merciless struggle everywhere. The more detailed our knowledge of nature becomes, the more we see, together with the element of generosity and progression which radiates from being, the law of degradation, the powers of destruction and death, the implacable voracity which are also inherent in the world of matter. And when it comes to man, surrounded and invaded as he is by a host of warping forces, psychology and anthropology are but an account of the fact that, while being essentially superior to all of them, he is the most unfortunate of animals. So it is that when its vision of the world is enlightened by science, the intellect which religious faith perfects realizes still better that nature, however good in its own order, does not suffice, and that if the deepest hopes of mankind are not destined to turn to mockery, it is because a God-given energy better than nature is at work in us.

Maritain, Jacques. The Degrees of Knowledge. New translation, New York: Scribner, 1959.

Schauder, Karlheinz. Weltbild und Religion bei Albert Einstein, in Frankfurter Hefte, June 1959. (Quotation taken from p. 426).

George, Andre. Autobiographie scientifique de Max Planck. Paris: Albin Michel, 1960. (Quotations taken from pp. 14, 122, 215, 217).

Heisenberg, Werner. Physics and Philosophy. New York: Harper, 1958.

Oppenheimer, Robert. "The Mystery of Matter," in Adventures of the Mind. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1959.

The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John Glover Monsma, by forty American scientists (with an Epilogue by Dr. Andrew Ivy). New York: Putnam, 1958.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 2:20 PM MEST
Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005 2:24 PM MEST
Topic: GOD & Science
But even outside quantum considerations, scientific knowledge is only approximate. Although many different methods of reasoning are used in science, one method that is often considered characteristic is induction, which is often expressed as an extrapolation from limited observations to make statements about a far more general case. But induction is far more than hand waving.

Those of you who recall high school geometry may remember the mathematical rule of induction, which states that any proposition that can be proved to be true for the integer 1, and, when assumed to be true for N, can be proved to be true for N+1, is true for all integers. Its rigorous truth depends on the homogeneity of the integers, and a faith that each integer is going to be just like the last, except that it is larger by one.

The logical induction that is used in science is similar, in that it depends on a certain amount of faith in the homogeneity of whatever is being investigated. Sometimes, such a faith is completely unwarranted, and inductive reasoning is inappropriate, and can be dead wrong. But, even under the best of conditions, where we have high confidence in an assumption of uniformity, and where we might all agree to give induction the benefit of the doubt, there is still a difference. While mathematical induction leaves us highly confident that we know how our proposition will behave with numbers we would encounter only after counting for millenia, inductive reasoning leaves us with somewhat less confidence, depending on how much observation has been done.

Let's take an example. I have here two empty cans, and some quarters. One of the quarters has, at some point in its travels, been painted red. Most of the paint has worn off, but you can still see the color in the low points on both sides. I take two quarters, one of them the red one, and drop one into each can, and then mix up the cans.

Now, we take one of the cans, and ask the question "Does this can contain a red quarter?" We answer the question by doing an experiment, we shake the can, draw out a quarter and look at it, and return it to the can.

There were two possible outcomes -- we could have drawn a red quarter, or a plain quarter (as it happens, we drew a _____ quarter.)

Now we have an answer -- the can in question contains (0 or 1) red quarter.

We haven't done any induction yet. This is more akin to the Cat In The Hat's "Calculatus Eliminatus." But let's complicate things a bit, by adding another plain quarter to each can, mixing them up once again, and performing the same experiment.

[If it had / Since it did] come out red, we [would] know the answer -- it does contain a red quarter.

But when our experiment comes up with a plain quarter, things aren't so simple. We know our can contains a plain quarter -- but we already knew that both cans contain at least one plain quarter. Have we learned anything?

If you answer "no," then consider this: Suppose we repeat the experiment several times and still keep coming up with a plain quarter -- have we learned anything? Suppose I keep at it for the rest of the day, and I still keep coming up with plain quarters?

By then, you might begin to think that what we have here is a can with only two plain quarters in it, and the red quarter must be in the other can. But when did you come to that conclusion? How many experiments did it take? Which one was the critical experiment? Or did they all contribute to the conclusion?

Well, they all contributed, including that first draw that came up with a plain quarter.

How so? Well, lets consider the possibilities:

1/2 1/2
Universe of possibilities: P R P P

draw 1 P 1/4
2 R 1/4
3 P 1/4
4 P 1/4

So, if we see a plain quarter, we know that possibility #2 did not happen. Our new universe is made up of possibilities 1, 3, and 4, and the probability that we have a can with a red quarter in it has gone down from 1/2 to 1/3:

1/3 1/3 1/3
P R gave P P P gave P P P gave P

draw 1 P 1/6
2 R 1/6
3 P 1/6
4 P 1/6
5 P 1/6
6 P 1/6

After the second round of drawing, we know that possibilty #2 did not happen, and our new universe is made up of possibilities 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6, and the probability that our can has a red quarter has gone down once again, to 1/5, while the probability that we have all plain quarters is 4/5.

We can continue this as many times as we want, and the probability of a can with two plain quarters will continue to go up, and the probability of a can with a red quarter will continue to go down.

We can also spice things up by adding more plain quarters. The principle remains the same: every draw that comes up with a plain quarter reduces the probability that the can we are holding contains a red quarter, and increases the probability that our can has only plain quarters.

When does it all end? When to we call a halt and conclude that we have a can with all plain quarters? Well, you tell me. The probabilities for the more simple case (two quarters per can) are as follows, with increasing numbers of experiments, all coming up with plain quarters:

X Probability of can with 2 plain quarters after X experiments
-- ----------------------
0 1/2 0.500
1 2/3 0.666
2 4/5 0.800
3 8/9 0.888
4 16/17 0.941
5 32/33 0.970
6 64/65 0.985
7 128/129 0.992
8 256/257 0.996

The cutoff for a significant result in science is often placed at 95% confidence, so perhaps we could quit after 5 experiments. But perhaps we want the results to be very significant, at 99%, so we should do at least 7 experiments. It depends on how important the results are to us, and how important it is that our conclusion be correct. For a bar bet carrying even 50:50 odds, one experiment may be plenty for a winning long-run betting strategy. On the other hand, if the red quarter is radioactive, and is going to spend a lot of time in our pocket, we may want to know where it is with extreme confidence. In that case, we may want to do 20 or 30 runs.

Is this really the kind of problem that comes up in science? Yes it is. When I taught undergraduate genetics, this kind of thing came up all the time. A woman's brother has died from a genetic disorder that is carried on the X chromosome and shows complete penetrance in males. She has another brother with no sign of the disorder. She has given birth herself to one normal son. What is the chance that, if she has another son, he wll be affected by the disorder? The situation is analogous to our problem with the quarters. From her family history, we know that her mother must have carried the disorder on one (and only one) of her X chromosomes. This means our woman's probability of being a carrier is 1/2. But the fact that she has had one normal son alters that probability, just as drawing one plain quarter did in the previous problem. The new probability that she carries the disorder is 1/3, so the chances of her second son being affected is 1/3 X 1/2 = 1/6.

This kind of mathematical treatment of what is essentially an inductive problem is called Baysian probability. It differs from the general case of induction in one important aspect: to do the calculations, you must know an initial probability. That is, besides knowing how probable it is to draw a red quarter, given that you have one red one and one plain one in your can, you must have some idea, before you draw any quarters, how probable it is that your can actually does contains a red quarter. If you don't know, you can make an estimate, or even a guess. In that case, you can report your results by saying something like, "If red quarters are present in the population at an average frequency of q, then the probability of one being in this can containing N quarters, after X number of experiments have revealed nothing but plain quarters, is p."

If you have no basis at all for a guess, then you are in the territory of classical induction, and all you can really say is that, with every plain quarter you draw from a can with a large number of quarters, or every normal son born to a woman for whom we have no family history, the probability becomes less and less that any quarter in the can is red, or that either of her chromosomes carries a defective gene.

Another essential characteristic of science is that it must make a critical assumption about the very nature of the universe. Since science is based on experimentation and observation, it must assume that the universe is not out to trick us, and that it will not lie to us; indeed, we assume that it cannot lie to us. The biochemist Jaques Monod had a name for this assumption -- the postulate of objectivity. Note that this says nothing about human observers being objective. What it refers to is the universe itself. If the universe has an axe to grind, an agenda, a set of chosen people, a story we are supposed to believe even if it is not evident to our senses, an elite priesthood to which it will reveal itself, and to no others, then science is impossible.

Some of the old-time creationists had a wonderfully naive story called the Omphalos argument. Omphalos is greek for navel, or belly button. Did Adam have one? Sure, said the creationists, since God wanted to create the world as a going concern. Adam was created as an adult human being, complete with a navel (which was never employed as the attachment site for an umbilical cord, since Adam had no mother, and no birth.) If Adam was created in the shade of a tree, did that tree have rings? Yes, even though the tree was created ex nihilo and had no growth seasons. Furthermore, the grassy bank contained layers of sediment that were never laid down by seasonal floods, and may even have contained, in deeper layers, fossils of creatures that never lived.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 12:01 AM MEST
Topic: GOD & Science
But even outside quantum considerations, scientific knowledge is only approximate. Although many different methods of reasoning are used in science, one method that is often considered characteristic is induction, which is often expressed as an extrapolation from limited observations to make statements about a far more general case. But induction is far more than hand waving.

Those of you who recall high school geometry may remember the mathematical rule of induction, which states that any proposition that can be proved to be true for the integer 1, and, when assumed to be true for N, can be proved to be true for N+1, is true for all integers. Its rigorous truth depends on the homogeneity of the integers, and a faith that each integer is going to be just like the last, except that it is larger by one.

The logical induction that is used in science is similar, in that it depends on a certain amount of faith in the homogeneity of whatever is being investigated. Sometimes, such a faith is completely unwarranted, and inductive reasoning is inappropriate, and can be dead wrong. But, even under the best of conditions, where we have high confidence in an assumption of uniformity, and where we might all agree to give induction the benefit of the doubt, there is still a difference. While mathematical induction leaves us highly confident that we know how our proposition will behave with numbers we would encounter only after counting for millenia, inductive reasoning leaves us with somewhat less confidence, depending on how much observation has been done.

Let's take an example. I have here two empty cans, and some quarters. One of the quarters has, at some point in its travels, been painted red. Most of the paint has worn off, but you can still see the color in the low points on both sides. I take two quarters, one of them the red one, and drop one into each can, and then mix up the cans.

Now, we take one of the cans, and ask the question "Does this can contain a red quarter?" We answer the question by doing an experiment, we shake the can, draw out a quarter and look at it, and return it to the can.

There were two possible outcomes -- we could have drawn a red quarter, or a plain quarter (as it happens, we drew a _____ quarter.)

Now we have an answer -- the can in question contains (0 or 1) red quarter.

We haven't done any induction yet. This is more akin to the Cat In The Hat's "Calculatus Eliminatus." But let's complicate things a bit, by adding another plain quarter to each can, mixing them up once again, and performing the same experiment.

[If it had / Since it did] come out red, we [would] know the answer -- it does contain a red quarter.

But when our experiment comes up with a plain quarter, things aren't so simple. We know our can contains a plain quarter -- but we already knew that both cans contain at least one plain quarter. Have we learned anything?

If you answer "no," then consider this: Suppose we repeat the experiment several times and still keep coming up with a plain quarter -- have we learned anything? Suppose I keep at it for the rest of the day, and I still keep coming up with plain quarters?

If you have no basis at all for a guess, then you are in the territory of classical induction, and all you can really say is that, with every plain quarter you draw from a can with a large number of quarters, or every normal son born to a woman for whom we have no family history, the probability becomes less and less that any quarter in the can is red, or that either of her chromosomes carries a defective gene.

Another essential characteristic of science is that it must make a critical assumption about the very nature of the universe. Since science is based on experimentation and observation, it must assume that the universe is not out to trick us, and that it will not lie to us; indeed, we assume that it cannot lie to us. The biochemist Jaques Monod had a name for this assumption -- the postulate of objectivity. Note that this says nothing about human observers being objective. What it refers to is the universe itself. If the universe has an axe to grind, an agenda, a set of chosen people, a story we are supposed to believe even if it is not evident to our senses, an elite priesthood to which it will reveal itself, and to no others, then science is impossible.

Some of the old-time creationists had a wonderfully naive story called the Omphalos argument. Omphalos is greek for navel, or belly button. Did Adam have one? Sure, said the creationists, since God wanted to create the world as a going concern. Adam was created as an adult human being, complete with a navel (which was never employed as the attachment site for an umbilical cord, since Adam had no mother, and no birth.) If Adam was created in the shade of a tree, did that tree have rings? Yes, even though the tree was created ex nihilo and had no growth seasons. Furthermore, the grassy bank contained layers of sediment that were never laid down by seasonal floods, and may even have contained, in deeper layers, fossils of creatures that never lived.

You can see how the science of natural history, under such conditions, becomes a joke. So too with laboratory science. Did the contents of the test tube turn blue because protein in the sample underwent the same reaction as in the controls, and so the blue color is evidence of the presence of a certain amount of protein? Or did the All Powerful Creator and Sustainer of the Universe have some other reason to want me to think that there was protien in the sample?

There is a Warner Brothers cartoon with Wiley Coyote, once again out to do mayhem to the road runner, in which Wiley tries to do a controlled experiment. He has a rope tied to a tree overhanging the road, and he ties a stick of dynamite to the other end and swings it out into the road. He tries longer and shorter fuse lengths, until the dynamite explodes just as it reaches the center of the road. When the road runner comes along, the rope and dynamite, with the same length of fuse that worked perfectly in the test runs, swings out over the road, over to the far side, and then back into Wiley Coyote's face before it blows up. Sorry, Wiley. In a universe beholden to an intelligent creator, be that creator God or Friz Freleng, the postulate of objectivity is a bad bet, and science, with its controlled experiments, is a crock of nonsense.

When scientists abandon the postulate of objectivity, they are led into the most bizzare contradictions. One of my favorites is from Sir John Eccles, a neurophysiologist who wrote a book on metaphysics with Karl Popper. Eccles at one point insists that life is too complex to have arisen by any process except one dependent on divine guidance and design. Only a few pages away in the same book, he criticizes the search for extra-terrestrial life, since those who believe life could exist elsewhere in the universe must simply be unaware of the extreme low probabilities associated with the origins of life. Priceless. Life is so unlikely that it must have originated by an act of God. But, at the same time, it is so improbable that even God must have been able to do it only once. I'm certain that the theologians were happy to hear that that sticky problem had been laid to rest.

In our universe, unlike that of Wiley Coyote and John Eccles, the postulate of objectivity seems to be a good bet. More than a postulate, it is a founding working hypothesis for science. An hypothesis is never tested alone -- testing can only be done on a cluster of hypotheses. That's how Baysean analysis works. There, we were testing not only the hypothesis that the can has no red quarter, but that our drawing of a quarter out of the can is a random event, and if the red quarter is there, we have an equal chance of getting it. If either hypothesis fails, then all bets are off.

So, if the postulate of objectivity, the postulate that no God is going to interfere in our experiments, is actually a hypothesis, then it is one that is part of the experimental protocol of every experiment that has ever been done. Unless there are, hidden away somewhere, experimental results that cannot be explained by any material hypothesis, results that defy interpretation by the known laws of physics or the generalizations of chemistry and biology and the rest of science, unless some strong evidence for a miracle of Biblical proportions is forthcoming; unless some paranormal event worthy of James Randi's unclaimed prize, now risen to over a half million dollars, is about to be announced to the world, then the objectivity of the universe is one of the most tested, and most highly confirmed theories in science. I dare say, the hypothesis that God does not exist, or that, if he does exist, he does not interfere in the daily affairs of the world, is better confirmed than is the hypothesis that the world is round.

You believers are sitting out there snickering up your sleeves. "There he goes," you say, "thinking that science can eliminate God." But please note that I have made no such claim. I have told you that I am a scientist, and that I believe in science, and that I believe that there is no better path to highly probable human knowledge. I have shown why I hold a belief in God to be incompatible with the process of science, and why I believe that, as a hypothisis for understanding the physical world, the God hypothesis is worthless.

However: Please note, you religious believers, that Baysian analysis can never touch your belief in God. As long as you begin with a probability of one that your God exists, possessing whatever powers you want to imagine him to have, then there is nothing that can ever touch that belief. It doesn't matter how many experiments have been done in which water didn't turn into wine, the dead didn't rise, and nobody walked on water. Since God can do anything, he can make the world look like he doesn't exist. He can make physical, chemical, and biological experiments all turn out to be compatible with a godless, material, random interpretation of the universe. He can make Adam have a belly button, and life look like an inevitable product of mindless matter. And the scientists can draw out plain old material quarters as many times as they wish, but they will still not have reduced by so much as a hairbreadth your initial belief that the probability that the Almighty red quarter is actually in there is actually one.

Fine. Be that way. But don't tell me that you can make such thinking consistent with the practice of science.

Posted by isaheidelberg at 12:01 AM MEST

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