Friday, 28 November 2014

The Journey to the East by Herman Hesse

The novel, written by Herman Hesse in 1932 is  certainly about a spiritual journey.The protagonist is invited on an expedition with the League.The League is a secret society whose members include Paul Klee , Mozart, Pythagoras,Don Quixote,Plato , Baudelaire and other famous characters.The East was the Home of Light,where they hoped to find  the spiritual renewal.The League is a mystical structure,representing the spiritual community through which one gains happiness.
                    One day , the protagonist loses vision as also faith in the League and in his fellow brothers.This happens when a  servant called Leo disappears .Leo is the central character in the book.Leo is a servant who later turns out to be the President of the League.Leo  describes the Law of Service:"He who wishes to live long  must serve, but he who wishes to rule does not live long" After a conversation with Leo about "the law of service" ,the protagonist says his words"left me with a feeling  that this Leo knew all kinds of things ,that he perhaps knew more than us ,who were ostensibly his employers".
                           Time passes and the protagonist  finds out about Leo:"We already have a Leo.Andreas Leo,69a,Seilergraben."This is the "proper Leo but Leo apparently does not remember the protagonist..The latter becomes so frustrated by this that he writes a long letter to Leo.The upshot of this is that  he is taken to the League and finds out that Leo is in fact  the President.
                         The East is a metaphor, not Asia:"We not only wandered through space, but also through Time.We moved towards the East , but we also travelled into the Middle Ages and the Golden Age.
               Leo , the servant is the real leader , and he binds the League with his  service , humility and devotion .The moment he disappears, the  group disintegrates.Hesse  introduced the concept of servant leadership through the character of Leo, which Greenleaf  later developed and enlarged , and wrote many books on  servant leadership. Willingness and ability to serve others   and to  remain humble , define  the essence of true leadership. Just to  understand this single important  truth, you must read this multi-layered book of  93 pages.I will read this book  at least once more.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A Life Less Lived by Saumya Misra

A Life Less Lived  marks Saumya's(Saumya Misra ,Lucknow ,India) debut as a  novelist.It is interesting ,imaginative and full of suspense .I could read its  185 pages in four sittings.Written in  in an autobiographical style,it is the story of a young girl ,who has a remarkable humaneness and emotional maturity to understand and trust an old vagabond on one hand , and  to be a remarkably dependable friend of  another young girl on the other hand.
                  The  novel  describes a rainbow of relationships , in a  traditional rural context of Uttar Pradesh (India) , marked by  fights and killings  based on caste and history.It also conveys the hold of family  in contemporary rural and suburban India.The modern values of the protagonist Panna   do not recognize the boundaries of caste and village.Above all , love  and truth  are eternal  and know no barriers of caste, region  and long separation.
               I like  author's style of writing  and also the fact that she has chosen to have short chapters.(67 chapters  and 185 pages gives an average of 2.8 pages per chapter).There is a thread of innocence , idealism, honesty and trust   throughout .There are no loose ends in the story , everything is well knit , leaving  virtually nothing to imagination .The dominant  role that the writer has chosen to give to destiny in the story, resulting in a happy family reunion ,despite all odds, is  typically an Indian value.I quote a few impressive lines from the novel.
 "You have made me see how harsh can a life be.How thankful we should be for even small mercies."(Page 146).
"What happened was destiny"(Page 161)
"Betrayal is not something we can take lightly or overlook easily(Page 174).
"After all,theirs was a much less lived a life than many and we wanted them to live the remaining years as completely and fully as they can"(Page 180).
                        A Life Less Lived  reminds us to live life fully , with zest,energy  and enthusiasm.If we meet someone  who  has less lived a life, we  may lend him or her   help ,support , and trust if we can.Without being a spoiler , let me ask you to go ahead and read  this short first novel.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Book of Clouds by Chloe Aridjis

This novel of 209 pages is essentially a book of meditation by Chloe Aridjis.Some of the key things and words are :Clouds, fog, Fall of 155 Kms long  Berlin Wall,Hitler,Berlin city,imagination,loneliness and so on .
"It is never about just one event,but rather a whole sequence of much smaller events, all those loaded seconds and minutes and hours that lead towards a decisive moment" And you begin your journey to back home, with two suitcases and a box of books.
                       I like this book for letting me realise that not every thing is knowable,though it is important to live such things without knowing.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

International Event Quanta ,2014 inaugurated on November15,2014(Saturday) in Lucknow

Today(November 15 , 2014,Saturday) , I inaugurated international event  called Quanta , 2014 at City Montessori School , Lucknow.Eleven countries sent their teams to participate in this competition on Science , Mathematics,Electronics and Mental ability.Today's inaugural had some fascinating musical events  presented by Chowk branch of CMS.I was impressed.
                                         Quanta was the first international event of CMS, organized in 1995 , and now CMS organizes 30 international events.Quanta ,therefore , occupies a special position in the history of CMS and Lucknow.This event has maintained a high level of standard and excellence.This year , a special Robot Race is being organized as a highlight..
                                    Science does three things for us:
1.Science and scientific temper help us to fight continuously against prejudices based on caste , religion , gender , race , language , region or nationality.
Marcus Aurelius , the Roman Emperor and philosopher of 2nd century, said:"Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life."Science gives us the opportunity to broaden our mind .
Events like Quanta help us to break the barriers raised by our prejudices , through the promotion of science , and in turn promotes peace , unity and development in the world.
2.Science promotes connectivity and connectedness through mobile phones,internet and civil aviation 3.Science promotes collaboration and  transformation.
These three things done by science  help to promote world peace and unity of mankind.
                   But what promotes science itself?Albert Einstein said:"Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist.They are wrong.It is the character."It is the building of character,of values , of integrity which makes a good scientist.A good school,therefore supports character formation  as well as scientific temper, and this in turn leads to world peace and unity.I am happy that events like Quanta , are the right steps in this direction .
                        Max Planck  was the originator of Quantum Theory.(He won Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.).In 1900,he said that electromagnetic energy (including light)exists in discrete packets or quanta.Energy gets absorbed and released in quanta ,and not as continuous wave.This event derives its name from this concept of bundles of energy.I wish and hope that this 4 day Quanta ,2014 will charge and electrify the minds of youth with millions of bundles of creative energy,which will pave the way for world unity ,peace and progress.I remember this poem ,Ek Naujawan ke naam(To a young man ) by the noted Pakistani  poet ,Allama Iqbal.
         "You donot have to make your nest on the dome of Queen's palace.You are an Eagle.Choose to  reside on the rocks of  mountains;"

Monday, 3 November 2014

Climate change Authority is born in Uttar Pradesh(November3,2014 ,Monday)

November3,2014was a red letter  for Uttar Pradesh.The Cabinet of the state government took the momentous decision of constituting Climate Change Authority.It was my privilege, as the Principal Secretary, Environment of UP,  to present this proposal for the approval of the cabinet.
                   The Authority as constituted  , is a society under the Societies Registration Act.It has  an Apex Committee at the top , headed by the Chief Minister of UP.There will be four experts nominated by the state government on this Apex committee,two on climate change mitigation , and two on climate change adaptation .Two NGOs , working in the field of climate  change ,will also find a place on this Apex  committee.
                        There is  a governing body headed by the Chief secretary of the state,with  senior civil servants and Heads of Departments , working in the departments having relevance in the field of climate change.There will be an Executive committee , headed by the Director of environment of UP.
                      Climate changes cause floods,droughts ,cyclones etc.,with increasing frequency and intensity, causing enormous hardships to farmers,especially the small and marginal farmers.We need to reduce and check global warming by large scale greening, having more and more solar/wind/nuclear energy, improving energy efficiency and increased use of organic fertilizers.We need to work in a coordinated manner to mitigate the effects of climate change through technology , information , flood protection , agro met advisory services and creation of appropriate infrastructure.Climate change Authority will do all these things .It will also obtain national and international support and resources .It will build capacities of the government departments , NGOs and the society.
The secretariat of the Climate Change Authority will be in the Directorate of Environment of UP .It has been approved to have a corpus of Rs 20 crores .
                    I congratulate  all those who have made it possible.It is a praiseworthy step, and I hope , it will go a long way to  achieve the purpose for which it has been set up.
Lucknow:The Uttar Pradesh government today decided to constitute a climate change authority, besides approving state bio-diversity policy and setting up of modern schools.The decision was taken during a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.(Economic Times, November3 ,2014).                       

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Written originally in Italian and translated into English by  William Weaver, this book of fiction  is about fictional cities that Marco Polo conjures up and tells the Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan.But gradually it becomes clear and Calvino tells the readers through Marco Polo that he was actually describing only one city :Venice.
                      I must confess that it is one of those works  , which make a clear impression on our minds that it  is a great book that one has read , but which needs to be read again , to be fully understood.It also taught me how to look at and understand a city , in all its perspectives which are too many and complex.
             I quote a few  lines from this immortal  classic:
1."With cities,it is as with dreams.Everything imaginable can be dreamed,but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or ,its reverse, a fear.Cities ,like dreams, are made of desires and fears,even if the thread of their discourse is secret,their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful,and everything conceals something else.(Page 44).
2."Why do you speak to me of stones?It is only the arch that matters to me.Polo answers:"Without stones , there is no arch."(Page 82).
3."The inferno of the living is not something that will be:if there is one,it is what is already here,the inferno where we live everyday,that we form by being together.There are two ways to escape suffering it.The first is easy for many:accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it.The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension:seek and learn to recognize who and what,in the midst of inferno,are not inferno,then make them endure,give them space.(Final paragraph).
                       I recommend you to read these 148 pages of subtle and beautiful meditation.