Ramakrishnan) got the Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year. But the
way both the media and the govternment suddenly began to claim and own
such person as a person of Indian origin or Tamil looks both
hypocritical and artificial. According to Ravikumar, M.L.A.--who
wrote in Junior Vikatan, 'He is a Tamilian,' 14thOct. 2009, p. 13--Dr.
Ramakrishnan, left his birth place Chidembaram at the age of three
because of his father's work. If I am correct, on the day the Nobel
Prize announced to Dr. Ramakrishnan, one Tamil T.V. channel even
interviewed the elementary school teacher at Chidembaram, where
Venkatraman studied?!? How did a three year old child study in a
school back in early 1950s, where no pre K. G. or L.K.G. schools ever
existed? I am not sure whether the T.V. report is wrong or
Ravikumar's information. As the Television channels do all kinds of
things for the TRP (target rating point), we cannot trust them much.
Now coming to the claim of Venkatraman being a Tamilian or Indian,
there were genuine reasons for many such intellectuals to go away from
India and demonstrate their ability where they were given the
opportunity to work as a Scientist first and then as a human—least
minding about their ethnicity and nationality (or caste in our case).
But such intellectual drainage should bring more shame to us, while
instead, we suddenly begin to claim them as our own.
In fact, Dr. Radhakrishnan is an American. The same way, when Kalpana
Chawla was killed in the Nasa space launch, she was glorified as a
pioneer Indian woman space scientist, whereas she was actually an
American citizen. It is interesting to note that the Tamil Nadu
government even constituted one Bravery Award for women in Kalpana
Chawla's name. Though I am not despising her tragic death, I cannot
still understand what kind of bravery there was in her death. It was
a tragic accident, and according to some reports she died even before
her mind could recognize it. But in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu
a 'bravery award' is constituted in her name to encourage any woman
who has done some real brave incident in real life. Politicians can
use anything to earn some popularity.
In the recent past in the same way Mr. Mailswami Annadurai of ISRO
was recognized and glorified as a Tamil scientist when ISRO
successfully launched Chandrayan satellite. It is true that they
deserve due recognition in their birth place, as it will inspire and
challenge many more youngsters to follow such research.
At the same time it should remind our government to think seriously
about such intellectual drainage from our land and encourage the
existing scientists working sincerely in India itself. It is true
that the herb in our own garden never gets its value. In the same
way, when we appreciate any individuals for their success as pioneers,
the spirit of regionalism or nationalism should not be highlighted too
much at the cost of certain facts which hit us back.
I am not blaming or questioning those who left India, but let us learn
to encourage and appreciate and even claim as our own those who stay
here and toil as Indians first and then as Scientists rather than
narrowing them down with regionalism.
Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, October 8, 2009