Monday, November 27, 2006

Barrels of whine ...

It's sad when someone in a position of power decides to berate his/her society for celebrating the 'wrong' sorts of people and things. It's not clear why Prof. C.N.R. Rao has chosen this form of protest:

When we see what has happened in the last few years to cities such as Bangalore, my worries become real. Bangalore is slowly losing its soul. We see large numbers of young people busily moving around, making money from BPO, IT, and other service sectors, but there is hardly any concern about other matters. There is still a chance for us to develop a country of a different kind.


  1. gaddeswarup said...

    Interestingly, just below the article, there is an advertisement about how to double your salary. There is also a discussion of this article in Krishworld. Suddenly, I find some rethinking on growth, free markets, role of ecomists and current American education in economics etc in several sites like Mark Thoma's. I feel CNR Rao comments may be in the same direction, perhaps expressed a bit lazily.

  2. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    Thanks for the link. I have sent a rejoinder to The Hindu -- if they don't publish it, I'll post it on my blog.

  3. Anant said...

    I had a look at the article and seriously,
    I do not find anything particularly
    objectionable, except that it could have
    been stated differently. I think CNR is
    not the only one who is worried about
    the state of affairs. How can the country's
    publicly funded Institutes carry on in the
    present climate of
    large private sector salaries?
    All said and done, the private sector
    is also in a state of
    deep disequilibrium
    and all the goodies may vanish if
    the nth derivative of the
    stock marked changes sign. I don't
    see how it is possible to produce
    enough trained manner power for the
    needs of manufacturing and industry,
    industrial R&D if this trend of all
    the youth going into 'soft'careers
    continues. I would rather say that
    his call for promoting role models
    in other spheres of life, e.g.,
    science is important. Furthermore,
    I think that a person in power stating
    these things is a good thing. Also,
    just because he is in a position of
    power, it is an advisory post and
    it is good for the public to know
    what the thinking of such persons is.
    And finally, he also has a democratic
    right to express his opinion, which
    is not forfeited just because he is
    in power. What is said is not a
    criticism of the policy of his
    Government, but more that of the
    prevailing 'value system'. Comments?


  4. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    anant - I frankly think younger people have a better appreciation of pan-Indian culture and values (as opposed to narrow regional/casteist orthodoxies) than the older generation. There is much more to Indian arts than carnatic music and bharatanatyam, and the other (especially the non-Brahminical) art forms, regional crafts, fabrics, etc are only now getting exposure and appreciation (and, importantly, a paying market) among city audiences, mostly among younger people. And there is much in the "older value system" that I strongly dislike, including (especially!) in the scientific establishment that CNR belongs to. Things have changed in Indian academia in the last 20 years, mostly for the better. So I disagree with everything he says. Moreover, it is risible for CNR of all people to say "One is not asking for monetary support..."

  5. Anant said...


    Thanks for your comment. I was looking
    at this issue only through the text of
    the article in the Hindu, making no
    assumptions of where the author stands
    on any other issue. I think it would not
    be fair to do it any other way. Let
    me quote from this article:

    ``One is not asking for monetary support here, but moral support, and a commitment of society to all spheres of creative activity so that a balanced future for the country is assured.''

    In particular, I will also quote
    the sentence that follows this

    `` As a country with great traditions as well as cultural and philosophical content, we cannot forget this aspect.''

    It may very well be that the author
    does mean Carnatic music and
    Bharatanatyam as you suggest, but
    this is not explicitly mentioned.
    So I will not presume what the author
    could have meant, and it would not
    be fair to do so.

    I must confess that I missed the
    sentence about the monetary support!