Friday, February 8, 2008

Extra "Rural" Lecture

Today, I happened to attend one of the EMLs (Extra Mural Lectures for the uninitiated) organized by the EML team. Well, let me start with a little intro for those who have never attended one (and for those who have, I'll request you to be a bit patient and continue reading). These are not the conventional lectures you would find in classes, but are intended to create an environment for unwinding people's thoughts and thought processing. Note that I said "intended" since in some cases, you'll sleep through some of them; in fact I almost slept through today's EML , despite sitting in the second row from the speaker. And yeah, with reference to what theme the speaker is addressing, it could be ranging anywhere between things related to Indian history or some personal issues which the distinguished speaker might have addressed/is addressing/has experienced.The speakers are usually well distinguished fellows and hence, it's a kind of rare chance to interact with them and if possible pull them down (Ref : Medha Patkar in of the EMLs in 2006). Well, so coming back to the point of today's EML, the speaker was none other than PV Indiresan, an ex-director of IIT Madras. (A very reputed personality but who is also kinda 'infamous'. For more references, you can Go Ogle about it).
The lecture started off on a light note with him referring to how fast IIT is growing and then pointed to the wall clock which was 10 minutes ahead of time (and that's one of the very few things which I was happy about this lecture). He then went on to ask how many off us wanted to be rich, how we plan to be rich and all that fart. Then he came to his point . Oh yeah, I forgot to mention earlier, the topic of his lecture was "Economic Growth and Social Justice". Well, he himself told that he may not stick to the topic and I never expected him to stick to his word except for a while when he was showing us snapshots of "reality" ; not all the idiotic 'reality' shows which frequent our TV screens more frequently than the Saas-Bahu types(I wish I could ban both of them, sadly both are "hits" and boost the Totally Random Paagalpans aka TRPs), but depicting the pitiable conditions of a huge strata of our society and what we are doing..... sorry , not doing to resolve them. I was sleeping through most of this part coz I had done much more than what he had shown me under my Humanities Prof. last sem and I didnt want him to repeat that with statistics whose correctness I'm still unsure of. Well, I was woken up by my friend sitting next to me (he accidentally placed his foot on mine !)and by that time he was trying to distinguish pleasure and happiness ; so I continued staying awake till the end of the lecture. Then there was the usual question and answer(s) session for about 15 min.Now, this is where I got psyched out. To every question he posed, he would just say "THINK" at the end of the slide. And to every question posed to him by us, I don't think anyone could make out a definitve answer from his words.I guess despite leaving the institute, the vague-answers-to-questions-asked-by-students-syndrome hasn't left him yet.I agree with him in urging us to think, but couldn't he have tried much more motivational methods ? If all he wanted us to do was think, I would have been happily playing cricket in my hostel or probably preparing ("thinking" )for my upcoming quizzes. I was expecting something new from this lecture, something "extra", but alas, in my viewpoint what I got "extra" was just the time spent in some air-conditioned hall (and the nearest possible view of the Dean's A**). The funny part was that a fellow had asked him whether our population seems to be a hindrance in economic growth to which he cited examples of cities in Holland,Britain,etc. telling him that we can still be prosperous despite high pop. density and he almost contradicted himself in the next question posed to him to which he cited models of cities with smaller populations and how they should be followed to decentralize populations in big cities. Duh !!!
I would end with some points which I found encompassing the lecture. Firstly, he tried his best to keep the mood light-hearted for which I appreciate him. Secondly, it was supposed to be an "extra Mural lecture" and not an "extra Rural lecture" which was it turned out to be and hence, was not greatly informative to me. And lastly,if you ever want to make a person think to yield something constructive, show him at least a path to follow among his current options so that he can be concerned ,compassionate, comprehensive,capable to carry out the task he set forth for ; which, in my opinion , Mr. Indiresan was hinting at but couldn't make it very clear.

That's all folks ! Any cribs can be directed to dudegetlost[at]

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