Kudos to The Hindu for publishing a delightful two-part autobiographical essay of Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (Op-Ed, April 8 and 9). As the unassuming scientist relived his experience of staking all in his quest for knowledge, the readers got a glimpse of his single-minded focus, dedication, hard work and intellectual panache. A remarkable life indeed. It was nothing short of a pilgrimage in search of truth. It is sure to inspire millions of young, vibrant minds.
Francis Kuriakose and Deepa Kylasam Iyer,
The two-part autobiographical essay of the Nobel laureate was The Hindu's gift to its readers. Soaked in delightful humility, the narrative went about the travails of a soul in search of an essentially scientific pursuit. Venki's perseverance and sustained courting of difficulties to pursue the avocation of his choice are exemplary. It rang so authentic when he said that “people go into science not to win an award.”
Fascinating was the courageous courting of an ambivalent future and risk-studded decision adopted by Venki when he shrugged off a lucrative job at Utah in favour of the murky corridors of research at the LMB for which he stands handsomely rewarded now.
Without meaning to discredit the hard work and perseverance of people like Venki and the teachers who inspired him, one finds this quote from the Panchatantra very appropriate for such people: “Waywardness is prudence/ When fortune favours the wayward.”
The autobiographical write-up is a must-read for all aspiring scientists, parents and the scientific establishment in India. His life is a perfect testimony to the truth that geniuses are not born but made. A passion for science, parental nurturing, mentoring by dedicated teachers and a conducive environment for research, and, above all, the courage to take risks in the pursuit of one chosen goal — these are the prescriptions for success in science.
The essay of the Nobel Laureate's journey towards ribosomes made poignant reading. It showed that with the right kind of environment and family encouragement, a person can realise his/her dreams and make a lasting impression on society. One looks forward to more inspiring stories like this.
In the U.S., if one has the aptitude for a particular subject, no opportunity is denied to him/her. The opportunities and encouragement provided to the right candidates are endless. How else does one explain Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, a Ph.D in physics, changing his subject of interest to biology, and then going on to win the Nobel Prize in that subject?
It was an essay written with admirable lucidity devoid of jargon. It read like a gripping story. No doubt it will inspire the younger generation and draw them to scientific pursuits. Venki's candour, sense of humour, humility, lack of intellectual arrogance, commitment to work and contentment with intangible benefits can well be emulated by aspiring scientists.
It is gratifying that he has acknowledged his emotional bonds with India. Whenever it became necessary, he subordinated monetary interests to academic interests and this has helped him to scale the heights of his profession. For the Nobel Laureate, the Nobel Prize is not just an affirmation of his past work but also an encouragement to continue to work on interesting problems.
G. David Milton,
Venki's Story was a splendid exposition of Science and Creativity and it goes to show that when it is mixed with humility, fame follows. Newer avenues open up when compromises are not made. The Hindu has done a yeoman service to science by publishing the biography of one of the greatest sons of India. May the tribe of Raman and Venki increase.
Prasanna Kumar B V,