An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view

by | Mar 15, 2021

Books have been my companions since childhood. My father worked in the Meerut Municipality and during the summer holidays, I would get books issued from the Loyal Library at the Town Hall, near his office, in his name. I mostly read Hindi books. I acquired the skill of reading English books in 1974, thanks to Late Ved Prakash Agarwalji. He also guided me into reading philosophy. After coming to Hyderabad in 1982, I started buying books. My first purchase was Wayne Dyer’s book, The Sky’s the Limit. I paid Rs. 80 for it at the roadside book stall at GPO in the Abids area. 

General R. Swaminathan and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam took notice of my literary talent. I published my first book with General Swaminathan in 1988. It was he who seeded the idea of a biography in Dr Kalam’s mind, and this is how Wings of Fire was written and published in 1999. The book was very well received and indeed made Dr Kalam, who was already a celebrated scientist, a public persona, loved and admired by commoners across India. Twenty years later, Wings of Fire is still ‘hot’ and sells in good numbers. 

In a sense, books are like pictures of the author’s thoughts, giving the readers an everlasting vision to posterity. These days, I prefer to write blogs and columns, which are more like snapshots. However, the wish to write another timeless classic like Wings of Fire remains, perhaps to record the remainder of my readings and experiential learnings. I dabbled with the idea of doing a Carl Jung, who wrote Memories, Dreams, Reflections starting with – “My life is a story of the self-realization of the unconscious…” – but gave up as I found myself confused. 

The idea, however, pushed me to study Vedanta, first Swami Vivekananda and later, the original champion, Adi Shankaracharya. I can now see myself as a part of “One,” but I am still not thorough enough to be able to see others around me also as parts of the same “One.” I have read Greek philosophy and find myself closest to the tradition of Stoics, which I see as a secular version of the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. 

The purpose of human life, as I understand it, is to realize God-consciousness. All the drama of the world is meant to facilitate this realization for every person. Wise people not only watch this drama but also leave behind their comments and wisdom as thoughts in the form of books to share with the people who live after them, like engineering handbooks providing standards of threads and surfaces.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon Roberto Calasso’s book, Ka: Stories of the Mind and Gods of India. The meaning of “Ka” – Who? – was indeed intriguing.  It was taken from Rg Veda Mandala 10, Hymn 121कस्मै देवाय हविषा विधेम, What god shall we adore with our oblation? I was amazed to read this book capturing brilliantly the entire stream of Indian thought from the Vedas to Buddha. How could an Italian know all this? Later, I learnt that before this book, Calasso had been writing about the myths of various civilizations since 1989. Ka was published in 1996 in Italian and in 1998 in English. He later wrote one more book on Indian thought, Ardor, in 2014. 

I always found it paradoxical that Vedic people performed sacrifices. Especially, the killing of a horse for the Ashvamedha Yajna seemed barbaric and indeed repulsive. However, after reading Ardor, I could understand that Vedic sacrifice was the means to acknowledge and contain violence through religious rituals and practices. As Calasso puts it, the modern gods of money and power claim scores of victims in their enterprise, which are basically sacrifices for their success.

Calasso was born into an aristocratic family in Florence, Italy, in 1941. His father was a law professor and mother, a scholar of German literature. In 1954, the family moved to Rome. Calasso worked for a publishing firm in Milan and became its chairman in 1999. He was quoted by the New York Times as saying, “…the tradition of literature is a kind of living creature, a ‘serpent of books’ winding its way through the centuries…”. Calasso indeed is using his life and work to capture the evolution of human consciousness through the ages – from the ancient to the modern. 

In February 2018, Calasso told The Hindu, “India, as you know, has been submerged with money these last years, and that has changed many things, both in a good and in a bad way. The scene has been transformed in a dramatic manner. And it’s only the beginning . . . the word ‘post-colonialism’ has produced many distorted consequences.”

To me, inequality in the world is demonic distortion. The wealthiest one percent of the world’s population owns more than half of the world’s wealth. This was possible due to technology, which was unleashed over humanity without the option of rejecting it. Celebrated author and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yuval Noah Harari, calls these very powerful people as Homo Deus, gods in human form. 

The way nano, bio, and info technologies and cognitive sciences are converging, in the not very distant future, privileged people, by virtue of wealth, or power, or whatever, will live long lives with enhanced cognitive skills and physical health. The poor and impoverished will face strange pandemics and perish. Would this be called a restoration of order? In Hindu mythology, the next incarnation of God is scheduled by the name “Kalki,” a humanoid, a robot with human form or characteristics. 

The other day, I was having a discussion with Prof. Seyed Ehtesham Hasnain, a renowned microbiologist, former Vice Chancellor of Hyderabad University and a JC Bose National Fellow. I remarked that the way the corona vaccine was developed in less than a year’s time, it looked like beginning of the end of the pandemic era. Prof Hasnain said, “I hope so, but better put a question mark.” Although science knows a lot about viruses now, the enigma of life is too deep and dark. The short of the long view is that despite advances in Science and Technology, we could not predict the arrival of SARS-CoV-2 and may not be able to predict the next big pandemic either. Maybe a book needs to be written connecting the scattered dots to find the pattern and capture the vision out of fast-changing frames.  

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32 Comments

  1. Dear Sir, It is a very interesting title. In my first reading of the title I thought there is something wrong with the title. Because in the corporate world we are repeatedly told that Vision cannot change but the approach to realise the vision can change. After reading the title few times, I felt that the strategy Gurus also said the same thing. Vision is everlasting and the views keep changing depending on the circumstances and changing environment.

    As you have rightly brought out the books are the best friends but todays social media avenues are keeping everybody busy for nothing. These platforms provide a lot of opportunities to learn but are being used for transmission of trash messages most the times. And the networks are overloaded for nothing.

    Prof Hasnine’s remark “hope so” conveys a lot, for your appreciation on development of vaccine in a record time. Allopathy approaches all virus related problems in an indirect and round about way. The approach is attack from all sides and something may click. That is why I feel Prof Hasnine gave a measured and cautious reply. All said and done, it is very laudable effort by Indians to come out with two vaccines in the shortest possible time. The only unfortunate part is there is a lot miscommunication regarding the vaccines by great leaders of opposition. Thank you once again for an educative blog.

  2. Dear Sir, I am late in putting my thought on this everlasting, impactful blog which inoculates universal wisdom of understanding. My tryst in reading began with Newspaper & Magazines. First book I read in Graduation other than curriculum before “Wings Of Fire” was Turning Points. It influenced me to an extent that I began not hesitating in buying book .

    Clarity, Deep observation & flow of your writing is exceptionally inspiring , Dear sir in my view you should write your Memoir as ” An Experiment of observation of universe & realization of Its reality “.

  3. Blog on the love and praise of books by a masterweaver of the narrative is mesmerizing. Comments presented by the followers are informative and stimulating.

    Professor Tiwari would include many of them with the timing of a master and keep his erudition flowing. Perspectives on the reversal of the global right trend, its implication for India and how to come out of the present difficult phase would be valuable.

    Fans would surely love his book about connecting the dots in the knowledge gaps of science and technology.

  4. Your vision of books as pictures of the author’s thoughts to posterity is everlasting Prof Tiwariji !

    Sharing of your wisdom in the form of books is a noble deed and look forward for the record of the reminder of your readings and learnings.

  5. Dear Arun Ji, At the outset, I was intrigued by the title of your wonderful blog, ” An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view”. It is truly paradoxical to think of something that is unchanging in a fast-changing scene before us. Our scriptures say that this world is an illusion, but still, there are some eternal truths and values that can guide humanity towards a better future. After reading the books of some great personalities like Swami Vivekananda, APJ Abdul Kalam, etc, I feel that the philosophy of “Spiritual Humanism” can help us in finding an eternal vision and several pathways for our lives in this ever-changing world. Thank you

  6. Books are usually written for the times in which their writers live mentally, not necessarily where the writer lives physically. That is the reason some books written by personalities like Dr Kalam, who think ahead and who think beyond boundaries, receive timeless and borderless acceptance. I was fortunate to see “Transcendence” – Dr Kalam’s last book, develop from an idea to a book. It was surreal to see Dr Kalam and His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in one frame in Sarangpur when Dr Kalam presented Swamiji with his book. The book which Dr Kalam said was his way of paying his respects to his ultimate teacher Maha Pramukh Swamiji.

    It is very rare for people to realize the magnitude of a moment in their life at the same time that they are in that moment. Usually, people understand the significance of moment in their live many years later when they see how that moment impacted them. But for me, Dr Kalam presenting Swamiji with his book was a moment when I knew that I was witnessing a Historical moment. Almost 6 years later when I reflect on that moment, I know I was right. ‘Transcendence’ has inspired millions and continues to do so. It is rare sneak peek into the personalities of our time’s greatest souls.

  7. Dear Sir, Thanks for sharing , its always a pleasure to read your blogs, that gives lot of insights connecting philosophy, to modern day technology and advancement in science. Your ability to straddle between subjects, derive the essence and present to the readers in a simple way is commendable. I would say its been a great fortune to be associated with you and learn from you. Looking forward to the next one.

  8. Thank you Sir for sharing this wonderful article.

    I have always been amazed by the creativity and the ability of writers to describe things in such an articulate way that the readers are transformed into a different world.

    You are one such writer whose words always strike a chord with me. Your article has me intrigued to read the book Ardor and know more about the Indian civilization.

    I have a few books which will always be close to my heart and remind me of the power of the mind. One such book is ‘The Secret’. Such a powerful book with a very simple message. What we put into the universe comes back to us. As you said, there are some things not explained by science. I feel the power of the mind is one such thing.

    Also, I loved reading the book ‘A Beautiful Mind’ which again goes to describe the journey of a man and his will to conquer the world with his mind and willpower.

    I look forward to reading many such articles on your blog in the future.

  9. Your writings in “Wings of Fire”, Prof. Tiwari, was such a pleasant and joyful read for me, to learn of the greatness of Dr. Abdul Kalam to achieve such great things and be so humble. And how nice to know you were on the journey with Dr. Kalam for so many years. It is indeed a great life’s story and a treasure.

    A few other books come to mind that left impressions, one of which is the 1946 book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, by Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. I don’t even know why I picked that book to read, but once I started, I couldn’t put it down. It’s a fascinating story of how Frankl survived the Holocaust by thinking of the immense love for his wife. Frankl stated “if there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering.”

    As a young adult, I recall “The Art of the Deal” by Donald Trump. I had just finished my MBA so it seemed like the right book to read. I was fascinated by the many deals described in the book. Other books in my younger life dealt with relationships, probably a reflection of my desire to find the ‘right partner’.

    After forming a company with Chinese partners in 1992, I had to read “Art of War” by Sun Tzu.

    Books have great purpose for sure; you are so blessed to have written so many and read so many!

  10. Dear Prof. Tiwari, Yet another fascinating blog. Here are some of my thoughts, which emerged after reading it.

    1. A vision needs to change/adjust (mid-course correction) as the view (short– and long–term) changes. The vision recorded in a book could be everlasting in that particular book and in the context of the then existing scenario, but as scenario changes, the vision would also change and a new book would be required to record it.

    2. It is true that significance of money as a symbol of power in Indian consciousness is increasing. Nothing is wrong with money per se. It is the greed behind the money, which is having deleterious influence on masses. Even a temple attracting largest donations is considered more ‘powerful’ and ‘influencial’ than other temples. Gaining money with honesty and humility adds to the spirituality and promotes humanity.

    3. All new technologies divide society into ‘have’ and ‘have not’ classes. The gap between the two would always exist, even if both the classes move up the ladder. Instant equality will never happen. Kind regards

  11. Arun ji, congratulations for writing this blog on books. In every Leadership training programme, I conduct I give copy of the book “Wing of Fire “ to the trainees. Dr Kalam motivated me to write my book “ Manage, Live and Lead” and I gave him the first book and took his blessings on 8th Sep 2014, before the launch by Mr Prakash Javadekar.

    Dr Kalam liked the book which had 28 stories and he specifically asked me to share at least two stories in every lecture with out fail. I follow the dictum till today. I also increased my time on reading during Corona which included Bhagavatam, Maha Bharatham, Emergency medicine, Leadership books and maths/ at school level. Thank you Arunji for the blog.

  12. But Sir how do you save this endangered species called ‘The Book’ and for that matter anything printed on paper ???? My 18 years old daughter is a voracious reader and she had the carte blanche to order any numbers of books on my credit card. I have not seen any order from her in last one year. Same with news papers. The younger generation just does not touch a news paper and they know everything!!

    Technology change has killed many products and concepts in the past. India was a major grower and exporter of natural indigo but synthetic indigo killed the whole industry. Same thing is happening with jute.

    The animal sacrifice in Vedas is explained by you but why this practice is still continuing. Kamakhya temple is one such place. Lots of ????

  13. Brilliantly writtrn Sir! For as long as I can remember, I have always been enamoured with books. It was encouraged at home as my parents have always been avid readers who also used to discuss the contents with us. I love readinv books on our history and culture. At this point I am planning to read the Bhagvad Gita. I am sure it will be an enriching experience.

  14. Great write up Sir. Books have made an immeasurable contribution to my growth and development, particularly as a child where they were the major and often the only source of information about the outside world, be it our past, present or a look into the future. They helped me look at the world from other people’s point of view and in turn helped me to understand where i stand, and to be able to give an informed opinion.

    The one place where there was a treasure trove of books and magazines was our school library at the Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet. It was such a magnet to us that in a 15 minute break between periods we would flock to it and try and read the latest edition of the magazine. (Thank God there were no mobiles phones or social media during that time). We were truly privileged to have access to all the latest worldwide journals and books which very few people could access during those days.

    I once came across an old book written by an Englishman about the art of spin bowling which had pictures about everything including how to grip the ball etc etc. Not many people knew about its existence. We used to refer to it often and keep it in a very ‘safe place’, so that our opposing teams didn’t find it. Queues would form for popular books and as we were in boarding school, two people used to read together with each page turning over after both of them have finished it. It was a fun time and brings back so many memories.

    Great authors like yourself and countless others enhanced my ability to live, dare, dream and made me what I am today. I bow my head to you all.

  15. Interesting thoughts, Prof Tiwari, and these made me reflect on my journey with books.

    I was an avid reader all through my student life, borrowing (and even begging others for) books and eagerly reading whatever I could lay my hands on. When I analyze, initially books stoked my curiosity, wonder, imagination about the world; and later I sought to understand life, people and their problems and relationships through books. Books enriched my finer understanding — though did not necessarily teach me to deal with and survive the real world! I daresay they even made me confused, especially the `pop psychology and self-help’ ones!

    The reading lessened as life’s demands of work and family caught up — and now, I regretfully admit that I cannot sit through an entire book. More than the pace of life, it is reduced attention span that is the hindrance. I see other erstwhile avid readers also suffer from the same predicament.

    Also, as writers, these days we are repeatedly told to write small sentences and one-line paras, as well as round up articles in 500 words. Somewhere, the beauty of expression and deep insights seems to be getting lost. No one has patience to read, we are told.

    Yet, going simply by the fact that nearly every alternate person I come across has written a book, people are obviously reading books! They say one reads those books that one deserves to read. In that case, each book probably finds its audience.

    I read somewhere that when writing, we must “have something to say and then know how to say it”. I guess writing with the target audience in mind, so the intended purpose really goes through. Yet, in some recent books I find people’s writing is mostly a projection of their thoughts, almost like talking to themselves or thinking aloud. Sometimes, by the end of the book, one wonders what the author really wanted to convey!

    Some books give us a different view of looking at things; some give tips and lessons. But are those influences long-lasting? And how can the author be sure that though they think they know — do they really know?

    The inadequate understanding of Covid and which way it will go, is just one indicator of how little we really understand the world, life and its issues.

    “The enigma of life is too deep and dark” – is my most favorite line in this write-up.

    Therefore, who should dare to write about it with conviction?! Only one who has experienced the Truth perhaps. A handbook on how to go about life while on this earth — covering various aspects, needs and situations –may be a good idea. Some random thoughts that occurred to me, Sir. Thank you for the thought-provoking article.

  16. Beautiful Bhaisaab! The best book to read, after all the books – is “one self”- where, indeed, the Self, or Atman lives. And the way to read it is not with the mind, but by going beyond it.  Through the process of meditation and contemplative ‘insight’.

  17. When I read wings of fire , I felt I was roaming around with Dr Kalam in his childhood. It was so nicely presented that it looked like it was happening before our own eyes. God bless dear. You have used your life in the best way you could do

  18. Bhagavad Gita, Dhammapada, and Kural had shaped my thought process. Sarat Chandra Chattopadhya, Premchand, Russian authors Leo Tolstoy and Maxim Gorky and  French author Guy de Maupassant did have considerable influence on me.

  19. In the more than two decades of association with you Sir, I have seen you write more than a dozen books. Every time you wrote a book, it was a journey that I undertook to understand the essence of writing and more importantly the knack of making reading to viewers interesting. On the other hand, I have not been a person who reads books, but am thankful that working under you, I have had the opportunity to get essence of many books through the innumerable discussions we have had over various issues.

    The process of writing and thought process involved were all things that helped me understand perspectives on issues from a closer prism. Three books stand out for me amongst all the books you have written Sir, the first being ‘Wings of Fire’, which I feel is a very motivational in style but inherently also taught me the importance of being patient (took close to seven years before this book came out, right Sir?); ‘Transcendence’, wherein science and spirituality were used as methods for making one understand the fundamental purpose of life; ‘Dr APJ Abdul Kalam – A Life’, which summarizes how determination and passion can make one reach the unattainable and still inherently maintain a simple life style.

  20. Dear Sir, a true delight this blog on books. I was present when a million ‘Wings of Fire’ function was held in Taj Krishna in 2013. Listening to Dr Kalam talking about the book was surreal. There was so much excitement in the air. It was even looking like a book function but a visit of some film star. The buzz was incredible.

    There is no doubt that books are fundamental to a good life. Our real education comes from the books we read in course of our lives and not from the books in our school and college. Those books prepare us to read and tune our mind to think. But the real thinking happens with the books we read later in life.

  21. If there is one thing the great men of history have in common it’s this: books. Having read books from around the world, diving into all genres, that hunger, that drive, and desire in you to communicate the essence of writing will linger on.

    Dr. Kalam’s biography “Wings of Fire” still sell like hot cakes because it’s also a moral biography intended to teach lessons about power, greed, honor, virtue, fate, duty, and all the important things of life spiced up with powerful anecdotes. About your association and privilege to work on a best seller with Dr. Abdul Kalam,it was just meant to be.

    Absolutely amazed by the books you’ve read, I hope and pray that the reader and writer in you flourish to elevate minds and thoughts towards creating an inclusive society.

  22. As I was writing my Ph.D. dissertation on the International Coffee Agreement at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C. I had to address antitrust law, a subject about which I knew nothing. My Ph.D. adviser, Dr. Isaiah Frank, gave me the following sage advice: “just read a book about it and you will be okay.” I took his advice, then went to Harvard Law School, and now practice a fair amount in that field. And the dissertation became the first book published on the politics of a commodity agreement The International Coffee Agreement: A Study in Coffee Diplomacy (Praeger, 1972) The point is that books are our friends and our guideposts.

    And I have been fortunate to have as my guide and sherpa Arun Tiwari, the co-author of our book published by Sakal in 2020, India Wakes: Post Coronavirus New World Order. Professor Tiwari knows a lot about India, and it shows in this book. Writing this book with Professor Tiwari was a learning experience for me. My contribution focused on the United States and China, as we tell the story of the relations between the triad–India, China, and the United States. The book describes a general trend towards nationalist, authoritarian, right-wing leaders around the world. Fortunately, the United States has started to reverse this trend, with the replacement of President Donald Trump by Joe Biden, but as the insurrection of January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol demonstrated, the U.S. has a long way to go.

    I remain concerned, however, about India and the drift of Mode towards authoritarianism, the shrinking space for dissent in India, increasing controls over the Internet and social media, and the use of legal machinery to suppress opponents in a way not seen in decades. India is a great democracy and toleration of dissent is a hallmark of a great democracy. The pandemic has tested us all, and we will need the continued guidance of Professor Tiwari to advise us on how to handle the difficult days ahead.

  23. Let me confess Arun ji, aware that your Blog will appear without fail on the 1st and 15th of each month, but with topic unknown is what keeps our curiosity index at its apex. Varied – philosophical, fiction, personal, technical or travel related is like a layer of treasure, a BauBuche to be turned into solid beams and panels of knowledge for your followers.

    As it’s a day of confessions today….I again confess, I’m not into philosophy and less into mythology. What I like is Fiction, Autobiographies, Motivational and now Books with what they call as ‘moral of the story’ to live a happy and enjoy full life.

    Books have been the best friends of mankind, and so has been my story. Right from childhood with Phantom comics, teenage with James Hadley Chase, Agatha Christie etcetera Adulthood with AyanRand, Paulo Coelho, Shakespeare and fiction of all type have been friends for life. A good break would mean to be somewhere in the hills, with cool pleasant wind blowing across, a cup of coffee and total silence getting punctuated with the only sound – the turning of the page. The sashaying of the pine trees, an occasional croak of a crow or a neighing of a distant wild horse would be the right desired pause while engrossed in the book.

    With passage of time, with maturity and with involvement I should say the state of mind changes for good. I realized it more after reading ‘Wings of Fire’ It besides motivating opened doors for autobiographies as well as directed me on to the path of other classical, meaningful, and literary books. Yes! Your blog motivates me to surely now read ‘Ka – Stories of the minds and Gods of India.’

    In the present era of digital revolution, the media, internet, and e – technology having overpowered the good old books, our generation had and is still having the best of times going through the physical books. None can match the glorious feel, the fragrance and the euphoria of a physical book in hand and if it turns out to be a page turner believe it or not spending the night till wee hours to finish is so filling, so enthralling…so satisfying that it leaves us with a happy heart.

    The next generation and the generation there-after will for sure be deprived of this pleasure of life, probably it would be reserved for only those aficionados and those die-hards the percentage of which would be minuscule that for all practical reasons it would be quits for physical books. Digital books, audio books and the like may be the ‘in thing’ for the generation on the move, but then ….that’s how life is…changing continuously, one pleasure lost gets remunerated by several others. Life goes on……

    Till such time, the books are published in physical format, till such time the brick and mortar stores exist, walk into the book shop, and spend your quality time scanning through several books, your favourite authors and the new budding of your cherished genre. Read the back cover to get the kick, take the hard decision to leave out few from the bunch selected and finally head back home and into that darling spot where you would like to settle down to read what you shortlisted….heaven it would be.

  24. Reminiscences of burning the midnight oil with the Nobel laureate Pearl S Buck gem like “The Mother” in my teens or hearing my mother holler out my name as I lay curled in some nook or corner devouring an Enid Blyton wrestled inside me as I read your latest blog, Sir. At the moment I am reading ‘Wings of Fire’ and thoroughly enjoying, it appreciating its flavor would be the mot juste way of putting it. The tout-ensemble of your words was interesting and I must congratulate you on yet another insightful essay.

    My grandfather, spending his last few years in a remote village had an enviable collection of classics that included works of such greats as Hemingway, D H Lawrence, Tolstoy and Chekov. This treasure trove was bequeathed to me, he no doubt hoping some of it would tickle my curiosity and advance me from Swiss family Robinson to War and Peace. Sure enough, the rococo I took to these writers was akin to a duck taking to water and started a love affair with the written word. Books also contributed immensely to my amour propre, so to speak, at the same time becoming my invisible friend.

  25. Sir, I got my “Wings of Fire” from my father Mr NK Bhandari who got it personally signed by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam during his visit to National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), where he was working. I was in school then. I read the book and found it like a fairy tale – how a boy born in a poor family where no one is even literate, can become the most celebrated scientist of his times and a great visionary for his country. I decided right then that I can also do it and decided to become a scientist myself.

    When I met you for the first time, I knew you as the co-author of that great book. Life brought me Hyderabad and I worked as DST-Inspire Faculty at National Institute of Animal Biotechnology and now joined as Faculty at the prestigious National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Hyderabad. When my Director, Dr Sashi Bala Singh, asked about my interest, I said without hesitation ‘genetically fine tuned precision medicines’ and to be part of the team who does it for the first time in India. I have no doubt it will happen and I will be doing it.

    And Sir, please do write about coronavirus with Prof. Hasnain. You have no idea how many young scientists admire both of you and look for your insights that could shape and direct our own careers for good.

  26. Dear Sir, I witnessed the grand release function of ‘Transcendence’ in Ahmedabad in 2015 and saw how this book was celebrated by one and all. Its translations in Gujrati, Marathi, Hindi and many other languages have made the book reach a large number of homes and very widely read. Of course ‘Wings of Fire’ is a modern classic. My father gave me its Gujarati version when I passed the Intermediate Exam and I have always kept it with me during my travels abroad as my companion in free time alone.

    I felt truly privileged to assist you in writing Govindbhai Dholakiaji’s forthcoming biography. I remember when I visited you last year with Kamlesh Yagnik ji after the coronavirus lockdown was lifted and convinced you to write the book. You made three conditions: you will have Zoom meetings with Govind Kaka, Kamlesh bhai will be co-author and the book must explicitly tell how Govind Kaka become a dollar billionaire from a daily waged diamond-polisher migrated from Saurashtra to Surat at the age of 13, terminating his education after the 6th standard.

    I was very happy when Penguin lapped up the book and am looking forward to reading it in a few months’ time. I am sure we are going to have another ‘Wings of Fire’. I am also very excited to find the hint of your new book on coronavirus in the company of a great biologist and pioneer of DNA research in our country. Honestly, there is so much noise about coronavirus, the vaccine, and yet know one really understands what exactly is going on.

  27. I grew up with ‘Wings of Fire’ and have the great fortune of seeing Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in our house. He spoke to me in such a loving-kind manner asking what I want to become after I grow up. I was not sure what to say and he left me with advice that the most important task in life is to ‘design’ it and it is best done when one is young. What you desire with a pure heart God will ensure it happens. I am a computer engineer now as I later imagined and work for a Japanese company and it is so very satisfying.

    I also enjoyed some of the big promotional events of the ‘Transcendence’ book. It was such fun scientists and sadhus coming together. But it was not mere semantics. When I read the book I realized that science and spirituality are indeed the same. Like Physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc., the science of spirit – the all-pervading consciousness throughout the physical universe – and there is no other difference.

    Here, I want to add my two cents about management sciences. I find them the mannerisms of business as perhaps dogma – the karma kanda – in religious life surrounding its spiritual core but nothing to do in fact. I am going to read “Ka” now and may understand the issue better.

    You should have seen how your mother – and my grandmother – lit up when Amitabh Bachchan mentioned your name after his question on ‘Wings of Fire’ in “Kaun Banega Karorpati’. So, please do write on coronavirus. Prof Hasnain has been your long-standing friend and what better can be than a book together with him.

  28. Dear Sir, I consider myself fortunate to witness the writing of ‘Transcendence’ by you with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on his experiences with Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj. I accompanied you to Akshardham and saw you doing research with Sadhu Atmaswaroop Swamiji Maharaj. We don’t realize that life is like a flowing river, or air, and unless we capture it by writing about it in books, it just goes away.

    I was also present when you met Prof Seyed Ehtesham Hasnain and Madam Prof. Nasreen Zafar Ehtesham at ICMR-National Institute of Pathology. They are really a blessed couple – accomplished scientists, a great family and heart full of compassion of humanity. I am sure you and Prof Hasnain write a great book on Coronavirus. It is such a calamity that has affected almost everyone on earth, and we don’t take proper lessons and forget it amidst noise in media, it will be a great pity.

  29. Dear Sir, There is no doubt that ‘ Wings of Fire’ is a master piece. Reading these type of books changes the person’s views about life. I am also not an exception.

    Things are really moving very fast, humanoids are now becoming reality with the help of Artificial intelligence.

    In future it might possible that a humanoid will collect all the information to guide and control the humans on this earth and become God for the humans, could be ‘Kalki’ avatar. Regards.

  30. Sir, the portrait of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is on the wall in front of me when I am writing this comment in my office at the Care Foundation. We have been so fortunate to meet Dr Kalam and show him our work on Telemedicine on several occasions. He would ask penetrating questions, especially to the younger members of the team.

    Once he asked me, “You guy, tell me about ECG. How do you capture the wave form?” I took some time to explain but he heard patiently. And when I thought I am done he said, “What is that one thing in ECG that should alarm you?” For a moment I was stuck up as no one ask such a question to engineers. Only doctors are supposed to know the answers.

    But when he waited for the answer from me, signalling cardiologist Dr Soma Raju present there not to prompt, I hesitantly told the repetitive unformed waves and inverted t-waves. “You are a fantastic fellow!” he exclaimed with joy getting the right answer from me which he already knew. “One should know everything about the work one is doing,” he said. Thank you for making me relive such a beautiful memory through your blog today. Please do keep writing… You are our very own Dr Kalam.

  31. Sir, I can never forget getting my ‘Wings of Fire’ signed by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. That moment was so transformative. He asked me ‘What you want to become in life?’ I said, “I want to serve humanity.” He looked at me and said, “You are a good guy.” Years later, after Dr Kalam departed from this physical world in 2015, I can hear his words as clearly as if spoken just now.

    Prof Hasnain was our Vice Chancellor at Hyderabad University and I feel so happy reading about him. Both of you would make a perfect team to write about coronavirus – what it actually is and would it not return after vaccination. Equally important is to know whether new pandemics would come and how it would be possible to make life and economy anti fragile to such upheavals.
    Thank you Sir.

  32. Sir, I had the first-hand experience of the magic of ‘Wings of Fire’ and have my own copy personally signed by the legend Dr Kalam when he visited us. He was like a superstar and there was so much energy around him that we all could feel it. My son, now in the U.S., is even a bigger enthusiast of this book.

    I am indeed concerned with the ongoing convergence of nano, bio, and info technologies and cognitive sciences as you rightly pointed out. It is a little bit scary to imagine that “in the not very distant future, privileged people, by virtue of wealth, or power, or whatever, will live long lives with enhanced cognitive skills and physical health. The poor and impoverished will face strange pandemics and perish.”

    In my long service at National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), I have seen technology development – how it gets created, its different stages of maturity and finally application and absorption into society. Today WhatsApp is a part and parcel of daily life. It is used by milk vendors, washerman, and vegetable vendors and housewives as a routine. The way corona vaccines were developed in less than a year’s time and are smoothly administered in a foolproof and orderly manner is a tribute to technology.

    I fondly recall you and Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman of Bharat Biotech, sitting with us at NRDC in the late 1990s. The indigenous Hepatitis vaccine was just released and Dr Ella was already talking about Streptokinase. Hope and pray to meet you and Prof. Hasnain together sooner than later and hear from you the Coronavirus story.

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