Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My ache to be mirrored...It's all coming back.

Everybody has the ability do anything they want. In fact, I always felt, if i put my heart into anything I do, I fare well. Whatever I do or have done, can be done by any one and much beyond too. The reason I am what I am now, is not because of any body else, but because of my own self. As they say, I got in my own way. These are the 10 commandments of my life now, and which I want to change for good.

Myself- 2008 Myself- 2010
1. Very procrastinating 1. Very very procrastinating
2. Taking minimal things personally 2. Taking things way too personally
3. Trying to change others (as if I am perfect! ) 3. Trying to change others (thinking I am perfect!)
4. Never letting fear run my Life 4. Letting fear run the major part of my Life
5. Never was envious of others 5. Being envious sometimes
6. Giving advice when they want something else 6. Giving advice when they want something else
and if possible rub it in by pointing out their mistakes
7. Saying yes when I want to say No 7. Saying a BIG Yes when I want to say No
8. Getting so angry that I make things worse 8. Getting very angry that I make things irreversible
9. Never playing it safe, always take risks 9. What is safety? Life is full of risks!
10. Trying to take care of everybody 10. Trying to take care of everybody and do more

1. There is always a confusion between urgency and priority. Procrastination is something that we all deal with, in our lives. I have always procrastinated. If you ask me why I procrastinate? I can come up with few answers (Oh yes, I can always justify my stand with the given assumptions I have about that subject, and you bet I do it often.) I tend to attend to "comfort" tasks which are most convenient, interesting, or within reach. Priority is sacrificed for convenience. For instance, writing this blog post, when I am supposed to be writing a paper.
2. Well, we all take many things personally. As the sentence suggests "personally" is purely subjective and "personal". Just think of incidents where you felt you were emotionally punched. These incidents have nothing to do with actual facts. They’re all about your translations and how you perceived it. You feel you don't get credit for what you do. Not all you do will be liked by everyone. Just go by this.... swswswsw ( “Some will. Some won’t. So what? Someone’s waiting!”) and of course not every one is as jobless as you.
3 & 6. Ha.. This one's my favorite. I will tell you why. I presume we all, including the person who is reading this, feel that our sense of right and wrong, is right and wrong. We think we know the best and the worst of life and can improve others life with our advices. But in reality, its not so. Simply because, we all face different situations and different people. So still, why do we try to change others? Hmmm, one intuitive reason could be because we want them that way. Then that's being selfish. And also there is this self-justifying factor, "I-dont-try-to-change-people's mind. I just give them my point of view on the subject , and they can choose whether to accept it or not". I have been trying to accept people as they are, but I should say I haven't fulfilled that to the extent I want to.
4. Fear is what that puts me in the backseat even now. If you ask me fear of what?, I have no answer.
5. Envy.. Well, as long as it is healthy and does not affect me, I don't mind envying others. I try to emulate them and it is good in a way.
7. This has been my second most biggest problem. I cant say no for shit. Only because, I do not want to hear no from others, and I feel empathetic when people ask me something. But I should seriously start changing this habit of mine.
8. Anger.Many have spoken about this in the past. I need not add any more to it. The word summarizes what I want to say.
9. This one is actually under my control now. I can stop it if I want to. One of the few things I can say with confidence that I can do. But however there are people who still believe I cant. You have two sides to a coin.
10. This is by far my biggest problem. I think I am here to take care of others whoever needs me. However, I am not. I need to take care of myself first. And by that, I do not mean I should be selfish and take care of my own stuff. I need to have a superposition of my priorities and my crave to help others in need. I feel that after listening and caring about the needs of others, I need a break from all this. But what works even better is to have the world reciprocate by listening and caring about me in the same way. Mirror Neurons are special nerve cells in our cerebral cortex that fire when we watch another person do something, imagine ourselves doing the same thing or when we actually do the same thing. They are what are behind the phenomenon of yawning when others yawn. They are also thought to be behind imitation, learning and empathy. My observation which is borne out by my socializing practice with this murky world is that each time I conform psychologically and emotionally to others needs, (haha :P) I get a reciprocal hunger to have it be returned . That is my ache to be mirrored.

Ps:- This little retrospect of myself was to give myself a dose of what and how I behave with the society. This was in pure intention to criticize my own self and not to hurt anybody else who might relate to this in any form or manner.
PPs:- There is a Ted Talk by famous neuro-scientist, V S Ramachandran on mirror neurons. Pretty awesome!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Taxanomy of alto relievo

The other day I was thinking about justice, and was trying to understand the meaning of justice, a heinous task that i have forced myself to engage for quite some time now. Why is something just to me, unjust to someone else. The conceptions of justice varies with people in the same efficacious sense as with me. I do not have a tad of doubt in doing things that I presume is just to me. So how did this notion of right/wrong come into me?
To start with, I was wondering where to start? How did I start learning things? How did I learn to differentiate just and unjust (to me)? How do I form opinions about any topic in this life ? Why should I have opinions about anything and everything in this life?
A simple answer would be because I am a human and "I think". For any educated and trained mind A is A. We all think of our thoughts and notions as sui generis and truly unique. But little we realize the difference between objective truth and subjective truth. Perhaps a difficult philosophical question would be to ask yourself, "Am I a rationalist?". I am sure most of us, who claim ourselves to be radical would have asked that question and would have come to a conclusion that "Yes I am one, and a pretty good one at that.." with aplomb. But sadly, that is not the truth, or to be specific, that is not the objective truth. Its simply because, while asserting that question, you make a dubious assumption that "my set of axioms/assumptions (need to) concern only me". A rationalist is a generic term and for all of us to fall into that category we must have had same set of assumptions. And yet, it is as clear as water, that there are different rationalists in their own way.
Simply put, we all start with a null set "U", then as years go by we all have our own taste of life, we start adding elements to that set, based on experience, observations, reasoning which form the objective subset of "U". There is also a subjective subset associated with this set, which comes from the feelings, emotions and reactions to any given situation. Rationality in the sense of subjectivity is driven by the motive of acheiving your goals in an optimal manner. i.e what is good to you, is good to you alone and need not be good to others. Whereas objective truth is something that's always "1" even if you bring in human feelings and emotions. I have tried to be objective in my thinking from the moment I learned the meaning of the word objectivity.
Justice, objectivity, subjectivity, rationalism..... How are these things interconnected? What do you think is rational justice?
I have had this take on rationalism all the while but never got an opportunity to realise what i felt about it until yesterday. It was a normal sunday afternoon siesta. I just got up from my sleep and came out of my bed to the hall, where I saw deepak (my room mate) with a friend of his, Chao Ying, a girl from china and Raj, Nanyang Heights room mate . One of the advantages of studying in an international university is the acquaintance of different people, and cultures from all over the world. After getting introduced, we all sat down over a cup of tea and started picking out topics from air to have a light-hearted banter.
Ying said, " Raj sits next to Fahd (who is from Pakistan) and I just went and put an imaginary line between them, stating this is the border between and India and Pakistan :D "
I said, " Yeah, and China has to make that decision :P "
We all laughed over it. It was just a topic of discussion for us, over a coffee. But there is more meaning to that than this.
"We are told in our schools that we are always right on the face of war, it's "they" who caused problems first", said Chao Ying.
"That is so damn true", I said.
This is the idea of rational justice that is being propagated through out this world. Its all relative (even in thinking), Einstein was right about relativity theory (laughs). If I rack my brains to find one such situation where India or any country for that matter, have accepted their mistake, unless its so obvious, during the face of war, then probably the world would have been a better place to live in. We were taught about how bad the communal riots were, and so Mahatma Gandhi had to separate Hindustan into India and Pakistan. If one thing that i have learned from my social text books, they are that the historians lie, your parents lie, everybody lies, but they all cover it up saying its for a specific greater good." Greater good", is the good of their kin and friends. Good, here is with no doubt the subjective good, where in, its good for few sect of people, and bad for others.
The division of humans based on ideologies and notions is far more a menacing problem than the division based on religions. This is because, these trained minds, with different ideologies were the pioneers in finding different religions/sects/caste. The other few trained rationalists who call themselves the heads of the society used it for their advantage, and its the common man who is facing the repercussions of such a brutal division. Religion, which is considered a primary cause for many man-made calamaties of the nature, follows a set of rules, which changes as and when the ruler changes. There are also people who do not believe in religion and yet beign rationalists are cause of such dreadful events. Its because of the fact that, they close their minds to all those other sets that describe the reasons of actions. One of the evasive replies I get from my friends who like to believe in religion and god is, we are better off following a doctrine of principles, where in the real truth is hidden, and its hard to think of the consequences of public knowing the real truth, for which case the apparent truth is seen as a solution, which gives them the desired mental peace. The other non-god followers, do not want to open up to new "sets" of thinking , simply because they do not seem to see the picture from their systematic gathering of observations. Reason is universal to those people. The rules of my definition of being radical are purely objective and algebraic. 1+4 = 5 always, no matter what. That is objective truth.
We are all living in the illusion of this deliberative rationality, where in we assume we are rational in our thoughts, and justice is universal. But the bare naked truth is we are not considering the totality of all sets that ascertain our system of reasoning. Will opening up your minds to all probabilities and possibilities be a solution? No not yet, there again comes the problem of your definition of "all the sets and assumptions".
Thus, I have shared my purely objective (" you can choose to differ") thought about rationalism and justice that seems to be a pivotal problem in this world along with the minacious problems such as religion, terrorism and God. (No offense to anybody for including God here, because I feel, that is, one of the problems that is affecting human kind in a bigger way than any of us can imagine). Rational Justice is not universal. We all Lie. We should question the existence of every possible and impossible idea, and from there starts the process of learning. These are the hidden truths, that I see in the alto relievo of the sculpture life, and you too have one. We form a taxanomical classification.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Times" are changing! Life with music, love, dance and friendships- Part 1

Disclaimer: The characters and situations in this post are purely imaginary except a few losers, who happen to be my friends. Any resemblance to any movie or story, is purely because i am not that adept at concealing plagiarism. The idea is based on three things- my dreams (which are ubiquitous), chats with 3 good friends (namely 1)Amit Vijay-a 3 horned devil popularly called chathan, who always plays with "time",as he has so much time to play with. The biggest PJ Churner i have ever met, a pertinent rabble-rouser using his blog posts 2) Hari Vishnu- a goofy-eyed kid, million-horned head (his hair is so spiky), the second biggest PJ-churning machine, the worst PJs that blow your heads off, and urges you to just grab his neck and strangle him. 3)R Anand- famously known as the HOD (Head of the Department, which department? huh...well... dunno), but for me he is the Harmony of Dissonance, or say Host-On-Demand , never says no to me, when i ask him anything stupid), and the little science knowledge i have. This has been in the draft for past 2 months. It was just an incident that happened to me. But "times" change, whether you do something about it or not. So its out with a big-bang now. It seems that I have provided more than enough nails in my-post-after-a-dark-slumber coffin and you may be wondering if its worth sticking with the rest of this post. This is time zero guys :D (No chauvinism intended). EVERYBODY STARTS HERE.

Wed Apr 8, 2009 11.30 Hrs

Hari: Dude, we will go man. We will go for that show on Friday. I won't feel like working cos its a Friday.

Naren: (In deep thought retrospecting the events in his life) : What? (waking from his long Slumber)

hmmm... Lets see.. I have so much work to do. I dint start anything. Have to submit a paper at least by may. Besides its not certain that we will get the tickets. will we?

Hari: Sunday will be more crowded, and saturday no mood, so we will go on friday dude.

Naren: (Again walking outta a parallel universe (not literally), pondering over life and love (holy crap!), quantum mechanics and protoplasm!) haan... ok... we will see.. just see the photo i have put as wallpaper in my mobile. (:P... and hari u are never going to tell anybody what i showed you that day... )

5 minutes later....

Planet Mirth ( Planet Earth's twin-planet in one of the infinite parallel universes)

Senior Physicist at IQRO (Inter-universe Quantum Research Organization) Anand Rikakla A.k.a Rik: "Try to contact planet earth through the special communication lines. We are in urgent need of Mr Naren Darey, Singapore, Earth, Also contact two other people, Chathan Vijay, TN, India, Earth, and Hari Virus, Singapore, Earth..... No NO, its not a virus that will harm our beings, it only attacks the homo sapiens"

After one-third of a second in Mirth......Less time will elapse for someone who accelerates to very high speeds or spends some time in a strong gravitational field.

An operator at the entrance of the Einstein-Rosen Bridge: " Mr Naren Darey has been informed, but we are not able to contact the other two"

Anand Rikakla: "Ok ask him to cross the bridge and come over to this side."

Naren is passing through the bridge to the parallel universe (literally- now ). It has always been an irritating feeling for him passing through the bridge. The heart is made to stop for 1.613 seconds, the brain is aware of what is going on because of what it sees, in that short time when the blood is receding away from your head, but the involuntary reaction is disabled. Your body gets squeezed between the mouth of the worm hole and goes through its throat to reach the other mouth. You come out of the other mouth with your leg first. He was always amazed by the duality. Humans are born with their heads out first in his querulous planet. He laughed at his own sense of finding analogies.

Naren: " What's the matter Rik? where are the others? Virus and Chathan?"

Rik: "They both were contacted, but they are hibernating after their tiring last trip to this universe, but now the matter is worse, if we wake them up, they will get affected by Quantic-rejuvenescence where-in they will become one year old kids, in other parallel universes. So we cant wake them up"

Naren:" Yeah i know.... The earth would be better off... (chuckles).. ok whats up?"

Rik: "There is a new development here, a person named "The Singularity" has developed the machine we dreaded. The ITSM- Incredible Time Space Machine"

Naren always laughed over that name, which has an adjective preceding the name already. Time machine is no new term to people on earth. People have been pondering over how to create one since time immemorial. But only few knew that there were parallel universes with people who have far better understanding about time, space and life.

Naren: "Oh Thats great, call him over, I sure wouldn't mind a cuppa coffee with him! (hoping that he likes coffee the same way Rik does, because, coffee is not something these people need , they get energy directly by tuning their bodies to solar energy. In short they are walking solar panels with hands, brains and legs similar to humans)"

Rik: "Yeah, only that its a she, and we don't know in which dimension she is present, or where the time machine is. (Naren flinched over his chauvinistic comment) Our advanced Electromagnetic Quanta Sensor (EQS) failed to map her to specific co-ordinates, in fact it is mapping her position to multiple co-ordinates in many universes, and that too not just ten or twenty, but to trillion co-ordinates. It is highly impossible to cheat the EQS system. In short, she is omnipotent, pervasive and invisible. Even if we try to search all these co-ordinates which spans over many universes, dimensions and space locations, its highly likely that she would have achieved what she wants by then. We have a probability of one to trillion at hand."

Huh... omnipotent, invisible, alas, not these words again thought Naren. Ok wait. How does he know what she wants?

Naren: " Ok , she is not being mapped fine, she does not seem to be an eminent threat, does she?"

Rik: " The singularity? You forgot what it means? She calls herself that, besides she just contacted us . She is going to do exactly what that means. She is going to destroy this whole multi-verses with her brains, with her ITSM."

How is that possible? How can some one destroy a multi-verse with a time machine? Leave alone the maniac's idea, she must be in a 4 dimensional space-time co-ordinates that is within an universe,at the time, when she tries, so its scientifically not possible, even with the ITSM.
Ok "At that time" is not exactly at that time. I get it . Holy Smokes... ITSM, Time and Space, Singularity. She is very brilliant to have invented an ITSM in the first place.,he thought .And now this.....

Ok for the folks at earth.
To get this cleared, you guys have to understand the time machine concept. Its pretty simple and yet complicated. There are two key points, one, time machine is not just time travel it is space travel too. Two, at this point say that if we do ever build a time machine then the laws of physics definitely do not allow us to travel back to a time before the time machine was built. This is because constructing a time machine involves linking different times together within space-time. So the earliest time that is linked in this way will be the moment of the time machine’s creation. All times before this would have been lost forever and no longer ‘available’. This rules out any possibility of us ever being able to go back to prehistoric times.

ITSM can do both!!!
I got a mail from a friend here, on Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 11:26 AM to attend this dance drama by Temple of Fine arts, Singapore from 10th to 12th April based on the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. I considered the invite with sheer veneration. It did prick my curiosity. I do not know much about dance except probably when i move my feet for Dappan Koothu.

Well this is what happened...until now.

Acknowledgment: Hari, Amit Vijay, R Anand and the numerous sci-fi dreams i get every day :).
Reference: Many books on quantum mechanics, black holes, worm holes and Time travel
Ps:- Love and Life is all about..... BULL SHIT... who cares!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Rupee room dance with dollars

After watching an yet another disappointing but convincing performance by Indian cricketers against New Zealand, i set out to meet my sister. We went to the Vivo City to have dinner and probably watch a movie. Fortunately we did not get any movie tickets, besides she was leaving to Macau, China today, so she preferred to get back home asap. Meanwhile i get a call from my friends back in NTU about a bhangra night at a pub called Rupee room in Clarke quay. So we all met up at clarke quay MRT and went to this place at around 10.30 in the night. There were 5 guys and 4 girls, although the whole pub was inordinately filled with Indians.

Rupee room was modern with dim but classy lighting, the inside is lined with booths that encourage groups of friends to congregate and mingle. All the booths were reserved and we jus sat down at a table. Although there isn’t a formal dance floor sectioned off, there was a place at the centre where we can dance. We were a bit early and we started of the 'bhangra' in quite a style.

I thought of drinking. but ended up having sprite and fruit punch as always. All the others had nice shots of tequila and vodla. As the night progressed and when more alcohol started running through people's body, any standing place became an arena for you to get up and move your legs to the Indian beats, provided by a DJ.

I just remember dancing my ass off for like four straight hours. At one point of time there was not a single person sitting, and the room was full of people dancing and jumping around. It was kickass fun. People were all so pumped up.

Finally we came back an hour back, 4 am in the morning. It was an evening worth sharing. Thanks to the company, coupled with alcohol and a dance floor, I guess we nailed the right combo...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Been-Tan Millionaires!

It has been ages since I stepped onto this domain. I apparently was dwelling in happiness in the 10th dimension and the decision to jump on to this dimension was a tautological choice to make for the fastidious-me. Finally that was not the case nonetheless...I found the one that genuinely pokes my intellect and arouses my characteristic choler, apart from the I-sketch-for-my-happiness sketches that i make once in 3.14159 fortnights, or the random chords i play in my amazing guitar...and so i am back!
First, I was in a fix as to whether i should spend the weekend with my friends in Bintan, a cool island in Indonesia, or with the computer with which i am narrating this to you. Well i am glad i chose the former.
I thought this trip would be no different, it was just to arouse my inner self to the harsh realities of a PhD student's life, for instance, reminding yourself that you still are as vibrant as ever and the transformation into a fully grown nerd is only in its beginning stages. Nevertheless as they say fun is a state of mind, and we were all so keen on bringing that state of mind.
We were all so pumped up that few of us did not sleep the previous night, and were ready to catch the first bus out of NTU, to go the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal from where we were supposed to catch a ferry boat to Bintan. We left NTU with a rocking, upbeat mood never seen in the history of tourers in singapore. (Ref: Picture)

It is a 1 hr 30 min ferry ride from Singapore to the east coast of Bintan called as Tanjung Pinang. It was an awesome ride for the three reasons, one, it was really an awesome ride, two i decided to rampage the nuances of smoking (guys not kidding around this time, you can ask hari to confirm) and three, not to forget the tittle-tattle of my good friend hari. Within few minutes into the sea, i forgot about my PhD work and synched with the people around me. The place was India-look-alike, with the only people knowing english being the Immigration. They too preferred to swim in their own territory, even with my hard trials to showcast my newly learnt and adapted singapore culture (The culture being, people here are so humble, that they say sorry, if you ask them to excuse you and throw a smile at everybody) . Thanks to our friends Hari and Amrith, we had booked a hostel called Nostalgia Yasin Bunglaow. We were picked up by a 8-seater van at the ferry terminal, and went on an hour ride to this place.
The place was very desolate which added to the fun-factor. There were very few inhabitants in and around that place. And the beach was an amazing art by the harbinger of resplendence, nature. After a heavy and satisfying lunch, being the glutton i am, we started off with water snorkeling. They took us in a van to a nearby beach from where we were taken on a roller-coaster ride to an island called the White sand Island in the most expeditious way possible. We had taken our snorkeling gear, which consisted of a snorkel, a pair of fins, and a life jacket. Once we put our gear on, we just jumped into the water and went deep into the ocean to glimpse the beautiful coral reefs. I was so amazed to see those beauties up close although i was a bit irritated with my own noise of inhalaion and exhalation through the mouth. After we got tired of plundering the under water world, we went to flex our muscles with an all-amateur beach volley-ball game.
In the evening we made plans to go to the main land Bintan but finally decided against it considering the time constraints, and went to Tanjung Pinang city. It did make me feel like in kerala, especially calicut, as pointed out by hari in his blog. We were previliged to go to the Ramayana Mall and Bintan Mall, the former being an out and out discount sale shop and the latter, a large grocery shop.
We then went back to our sister resort and had dinner there, which was made by a great cook and an ever obedient server who had the patience to bring us everything we asked for. Then the boys got into drinking, the only amazing thing to quote about that was hari being normal after 3 shots of tequila and a large of vodka, although he could not finish the latter. I had decided to remain in the smoky world and had quite a number of cigarettes, unlike myself. We just walked back to our resort which reminded me of the good old days with my friends in NITC.
I was woken up the next day by the door banging of my then room mate Manish. Me and Ravi stayed in one room (which had 2 separate beds) totally lost in our own dream worlds (No Pun there, not the least).
The next day was full of water sports like kayaking, banana boat and flying fish. It would be an insult to the kayak, if i don't mention the kayaking experience we had. Prasanna and me went on a kayak very far into the sea, only to realize the high tide which was slowly receding capsized our kayak. But then, we had the masters of kayaking, hari and ravi around us (luckily) who came to our rescue. I just remember trying to get on to the kayak for ages but in vain. We had to push it and bring it along. The boat propelled flying fish and banana boat are two things that you would want to do if you are the adventurous types. It kept us panting for more. Finally we finished with all our water sports and went to the room to get freshened up for lunch. This time around, most of them tried Indonesian food except me, since i do not like the smell very much. I was happy with a mere fried rice, called Nasi Goreng there. After a heavy lunch coupled with the euphonious sound of water hitting the shore, i was totally sleepy. Dragged along by others, we went and pillaged the souvenir shop. That was when we realized we were millionaires, (one Singapore dollar is around 7500 Indonesian Rupiah) and that we got tanned. After a marvelous weekend, i took 2 vows while coming back. One that i will not stop my blogging because that's what makes me who i am, and two (a cliched one) my lips will not hold anything that has the smell of tobacco from now on. Indeterministic quantum mechanics forces us to address the question of whether the actions of an individual carrying out experiments(like trying out cigarettes) can truly be excluded from the world studied by physics,(wth has smoking got to do with physics?). Well it appears that reality may be thought of as having two levels. The one you see and the one you don't with the hitch of wanting it to be the one you want to see :) To hell with my bull shit, is what you say, I am back to my PhD work now...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My sketches

There is a common illusion picture with two hands back to back.. i thought i would draw the one hand that inspires me in a way to continue studying, although in vain!..

How many of us still say 'I love you mum' everyday, to the only woman who cares for us day-in and day-out? Although there are umpteen number of people who say that to a girl we met few years back....

You want to call it love!... I want to call it Friendship.. after all a soul mate is a friend who walks you thru thick and thin being a friend without being asked for, and ur enemy without being a separate entity... :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

PhD conferment of Abdul Kalam by NTU Singapore

NTU honours Dr Abdul Kalam, President of India, 2002-2007, with the conferment of the Degree of Doctor of Engineering (Honoris Causa) on 26th August, 2008. The honorary degree is conferred in recognition of Dr Kalam's life-long achievements in the service of India, his international reputation in science and technology and his contributions to the improvement of India-Singapore relations.

A report on The Straits Times, Singapore local newspaper

This is the speech Dr. Abdul Kalam made on that day. Please go through it if you guys have time.

Dr Kalam's Acceptance Speech at
the Conferment of Honorary Degree of Doctor of Engineering
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

21st Century University Vision
I am indeed delighted to be in the internationally reputed Nanyang Technological University (NTU) which, in a research intensive academic environment, is nurturing students from across the globe in diverse disciplinary strengths as well as entrepreneurial and leadership skills for the 21st century. My greetings to the students, faculty members, alumni, staff and distinguished guests assembled here. I consider it a great honour to me for conferring the Honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering conferred by the prestigious Nanyang Technological University (NTU). While I am with you, I wish to share a few experiences - my personal experience during my education, my personal observations on integrative approaches that have enriched the world, the creativity that is needed for the challenging problems confronting humanity and my thoughts on a 21st Century University Vision.
My first encounter with Integrated Learning environment
Since I am in the midst of students being prepared for techno-managerial expertise, I would like to give my experience with a teacher who taught me system design, system integration and system management in an integrated learning environment in the classroom.
While I was studying Aeronautical Engineering in Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), Chennai, (1954-57), during the third year of my course when I was a student, I was assigned a project with five other colleagues, to design a low-level attack aircraft. I was given the responsibility of system design and system integration by integrating the team members. Also, I was responsible for aerodynamic and structural design of the project. The other five members of my team took up the design of propulsion, control, guidance, avionics and instrumentation of the aircraft. My design teacher Prof. Srinivasan, the then Director of MIT, was our guide. After four months, he reviewed the project and declared my work to be gloomy and disappointing. He didn’t lend an ear to my difficulties in bringing together data-base from multiple designers. I asked for a month’s time to complete the task, since I had to get the inputs from other five of my other colleagues without which I cannot complete the system design. Prof. Srinivasan told me "Look, young man (this is in 1954), today is Friday afternoon. I give you three days time, by Monday morning if I don’t get the configuration design, your scholarship will be terminated." I had a jolt in my life, as scholarship was my lifeline, without which I cannot continue with my studies. There was no other way out, but to finish the task. My team felt the need for working together round the clock. We didn’t sleep that night and a few nights, working on the drawing board skipping our dinner. On Saturday, I took just an hour’s break. On Sunday morning, when I was near completion, I felt someone’s presence in my laboratory. It was Prof. Srinivasan studying my progress and the design. After looking at my work, he patted and hugged me affectionately. He had words of appreciation (he said): "I knew I was putting you under stress and asking you to meet a difficult deadline. You have done a great job in system design”.
Through this review mechanism of Prof Srinivasan, I was injected the necessity of understanding the value of time by each team member and brought out the best from the system design team. I realized that if something is at stake, the human minds get ignited and the working capacity gets enhanced manifold. That’s what exactly happened. The message is : whatever be their specialization, the students should be trained to systems approach and projects, which will prepare them for new products, innovation and undertaking higher organizational responsibilities. A Teacher has to be a coach like Prof. Srinivasan. I am confident that the success of NTU is based on the foundation of its faculty and research tasks.
Integrative approaches transform the world
In all the projects that I have dealt with during my professional career, the time during my Presidency of my country, and even now, I have been coming across again and again how networking of individuals, disciplines, organizations, states and countries lead to innovative results and missions. We have been witnessing how complex missions demand synergising diverse disciplines and groups across the world to take up new avenues of research, be it improving the quality of life, exploration of the unknown or bringing peace and preventing conflicts. We are enjoying the fruits of technology expanding physical travel and connectivity beyond any realm of imagination in the past centuries. While the humanity can be proud of this kind of non linear growth of technology and expertise in many fields impacting the world at large, are we up to the challenges that confront us today? Take any issue - be it energy independence or environment protection or understanding the atmosphere or exploration of outer space or increasing outreach of science or equitable distribution of prosperity and wealth or dealing with deadly diseases or weaning people away from drugs or combating terrorism or preserving the family ties, they all require the creativity of best of minds from any part of the world. The question is we have to ask ourselves is whether the universities provide adequate breeding ground for such minds?
Creative mind
Inventions and discoveries have emanated from creative minds that have been constantly working and imaging the outcome in the mind. With imaging and constant effort, all the forces of the universe work for that inspired mind, thereby leading to inventions or discoveries. Higher the number of creative minds in an organization, the best results of invention and discoveries will emerge. Unique academic environment is an enabler for great thinking that leads to creativity.
Education for sustainable growth
As I greet you all in this picturesque campus of NTU in the city of Singapore, an innovative world hub for business, education and tourism, I have been picturing in my mind the revolution that has taken place in university education itself since my younger days. I have had the benefit of receiving quality education with value system from dedicated teachers. I remember with gratitude, the educational institutions and the teachers for their guidance and the life missions that they enabled me to take up. The evolving education system, and the successful accomplishments of many dynamic teams have changed the world immensely.
It is natural, therefore, the university system itself has to meet new requirements in the twenty first century. The number of universities and the number of students in universities have increased several folds. The number of international students has multiplied considerably. With the mobility of citizens from one country to another, the students belonging to multiple cultures live in most of the cities of the world. The costs of educational system have increased and funds availability also is an important aspect. The teacher-student ratio is a major issue. For want of quantity, quality and particularly research should not suffer. The universities, in my view, need to address four important criteria.
a) The education has to address the needs of the citizen for contributing to the sustainable growth in various areas of national and global development.
b) It has to meet the diverse cultural needs.
c) It should ignite the minds towards research and enquiry.
d) It has to be cost effective for deserving students to take up subjects of their choice.
Technology through communication media and internet has revolutionalised the education delivery, which needs to be used in conjunction with the direct teaching. The 21st century challenges faced by nations require the universities to address disciplinary and interdisciplinary subjects of relevance to the society. Now the question is, is it possible that university education can drive sustainable growth of a nation?
Some time back, I happened to read the Conference General report of the International Conference on Education for sustainable future in Sep 2003, which refers to central challenge for higher education for sustainability. Since it is relevant to this audience, I would like to quote
“The Johannesburg world summit for sustainable development has made one thing unmistakably clear that the political leadership the world over is incapable of rising to the challenge of sustainability. Yet, most of the hundred or so world leaders who attended have a higher education degree from some of the world’s most prestigious universities – the higher education sector is failing society by producing leaders incapable of addressing the most pressing problems. If higher education is the nursery of tomorrow’s leaders then the sector bears profound responsibilities to create a sustainable future. This implies that graduates of every discipline need a sound working knowledge about sustainability”, through their education in the university campus.
You may like to debate this view and arrive at a conclusion on the introduction of sustainable development in the teaching and research. Of course, NTU may have an answer to the above challenge.
Technology is a non-linear tool
Science is linked to technology through application. Economy and environment are linked to technology. Technology is the non-linear tool available to humanity, which can effect fundamental changes in the ground rules of economic competitiveness. The growing technological evolution in the last one hundred years is the testimony of the fact of this non-linear trend. Technology consists of stages like research and development, technology transfer, technology absorption and production of products or systems with the desired performance, quality, and cost-effectiveness Hence technology empowers nations through science. What are the future challenges facing the humanity, which needs to be addressed by the combined efforts of various nations?
New Paradigm for Science and Technology: Many challenges are going to be thrown on the sea, under the sea and above the sea. Scientists will also have challenges in bringing back a clean environment by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy from sun, wind and nuclear systems. Some of the future tasks are:

• Evolution of clean atmosphere by replacing fossil fuel by cost-effective renewable energy systems, leading to energy independence;
• Exploring the human body, particularly gene-characterization through the proteomics project for developing gene-based drugs;
• In the area of communication, a big revolution is setting in. High-bandwidth mobile wireless is in the offing. This could result in the mobile phone becoming a convergent system for multi-media applications for meeting the needs of communication in the office, home and on the move.
• Particularly for India, having 1 billion plus population, enhancing the food-grain output from the present nearly 230m tonnes to 380m tonnes by 2020 with reduced land, water and number of people working in the farms through the use of technology could be a role model for the rest of the population in the world
• A sustainable Rural Development through provision of urban amenities in rural areas (science and technology as the focus) will need innovation, research leading to products, systems and services in physical, electronic, knowledge and economic connectivities.
• Understanding precursors for phenomena like earth quake and tsunami which damage decades of development and put humanity into descent
• Evolution of Unified Field Theory, which may be the ultimate of physics, by revealing how the universe is born and how we are born;
• Evolution of an alternate habitat among the system of our galaxy for humanity by the scientific community of today and tomorrow;
• Evolution of earth, moon, mars complex to bring to the earth new material like helium-3 and other rare materials for the generation of solar power;
These are the some of the major areas of research and innovation, which need the joint research and development efforts of multiple nations based on their individual core competence. Certainly Indian Universities, Institutions and Nanyang Technological University can work on certain specific missions which are of our interest.
21st century University Vision
I have in the last ten years have met more than 3 Million University students and faculty from more than 150 universities in India and 50 universities in abroad. Based on this spirit, I wish to formulate a 21st university vision for your consideration.
• The universities have to prepare citizens of the future with a global outlook and be capable of serving his/her nation or nation of his/her choice.
• Science and technology and public policy are interrelated for mutual benefit and ushering in human kind’s development. This link has to be solidly built in the university education
• Good teachers can be in any part of the world. The university has to bring in this resource through innovative content generation in virtual class rooms.
• Technological connectivities among universities have to be pursued on a war footing using cost effective virtual class rooms.
• Cost effective continuing education possibilities are essential for citizens to be in tune with time.
• Can university education lead to sustainable development of the nation?
• With the world population increasing and resources dwindling, a mindset has to be developed for conserving and sharing the resources and look for new research for abundant resources. This calls for a “noble spirit” as well as a “research spirit”
In summary, the 21st century university education is about developing enlightened citizenship for a knowledge society for peace and prosperity of nations and the world. 21st century University has to be the incubator of world knowledge powerhouse. Based on my interaction with Indian and foreign universities, I have detected certain dynamics. Wherever there is research intensity, it has enhanced quality teaching and also the university has got a great name in the world of teaching. Universities from developed world with their vast experience of a century, have realised the significance of research as a foundation for the university. This is one dimension. The other dimension is that the student community with research focus will most aggressively ask questions. The third dimension is that the sharp gradient and accelerated development processes can give a platform for research for sustainable development. There is a large student community in the developing countries and there is an urge for higher education. Hence, we should see how we can empower them through university to university collaboration, student – faculty interaction, lab to lab collaboration, reaching out the world class quality teaching and research through a virtual reality environment with the excellent content generated.
Ultimately, education in its real sense is the pursuit of truth. It is an endless journey through knowledge and enlightenment. Such a journey opens up new vistas of development of humanism where there is neither scope nor room for pettiness, disharmony, jealousy, hatred or enmity. It transforms a human being into a wholesome whole, a noble soul and an asset to the universe. Universal brotherhood in its true sense becomes the sheet anchor for such education. Real education enhances the dignity of a human being and increases his or her self-respect. If only the real sense of education could be realized by each individual, and carried forward in every field of human activity the world will be a much better place to live in.
Once again, let me thank the members of NTU for giving me this unique honour of being conferred with the degree of Doctorate of Engineering. My best wishes to all the members of NTU for success in their mission of providing a distinctive education to the students for solving real world problems.
May God Bless you.

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