I want to bring the following recent news to your kind attention. It is related to our earlier discussion on Mexico and Nationalism.
A little less nationalistic hero worship, please says Dr.Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Nobel laureate for Chemistry 2009:
"I am distressed by the reaction to my comment about being deluged by emails from India, and realize I have inadvertently hurt people, for which I apologize. I hope people realize that I have no personal secretary and use my email mainly for work, so finding important communications became very difficult.
I want to make it clear that I was delighted to hear from scientific colleagues and students whom I had met personally over the years in India and elsewhere, as well as close friends with whom I had lost touch. Unlike real celebrities like movie stars or people in sports, we scientists generally lead a quiet life, and are not psychologically equipped to handle publicity. So I found the barrage of emails from people whom I didn’t know or whom I only knew slightly almost 40 years ago (nearly all from Indians) difficult to deal with.
People have also taken offence at my comment about nationality being an accident of birth. However, they don’t seem to notice the first part of the sentence: We are all human beings. Accident or not, I remain grateful to all the dedicated teachers I had throughout my years. Others have said I have disowned my roots.
Since 2002, I have come almost every year to India. In these visits, I have spent time on institute campuses giving lectures or talking to colleagues and students about their work, and stayed in the campus guest house. I have not spent my time staying in fancy hotels and going sightseeing without them. The people I visited, e.g. at the ICGEB in Delhi, CCMB in Hyderabad, the University of Madras or the IISc in Bangalore can vouch for this. Finally, at a personal level, although I am westernized, many aspects of culture like a love for classical Indian music or South Indian or Gujarati food are simply a part of me.
The best way to take pleasure in someone’s achievement is to take an interest in their work and feel motivated to learn more about science. I remember reading about Gellman’s work as an undergraduate in Baroda, and, when he won the Nobel prize, rushing upstairs to tell my parents. It did not matter to me whether he was Indian or not. In my case, I am lucky to have had a combination of education, opportunities and a great team of co-workers to have made a contribution to an important problem. I am not personally that important. If I hadn’t existed, this work would still have been done. It is the work that is important, and that should be what excites people.
Finally, there are many excellent scientists in India and elsewhere who will never win a Nobel prize. But their work is no less interesting and people should find out about what they do. My visits to India confirm that it has great potential and bright young students. A little less nationalistic hero worship will go a long way to fulfil that potential".
I don’t know how many of you will be able to accept this viewpoint, but I am in total agreement. As usual I want to present and leave it for analysis and interpretation by each and every one of you.
For those interested to know related News, please read (I sincerely suggest all to read)