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Updated: June 18, 2010 18:53 IST

Nobel Laureate bemused by deluge of goodwill

PTI
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Joint winner of the 2009 Chemistry Nobel Prize, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, sits in his lab at the Medical Research Council Lab in Cambridge, England, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009.
AP Joint winner of the 2009 Chemistry Nobel Prize, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, sits in his lab at the Medical Research Council Lab in Cambridge, England, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009.

Venkataraman Ramakrishnan, flooded with goodwill emails from India, finds it strange that those who had not been in touch with him for decades have found the urge to connect. "We are all human beings, and our nationality is simply an accident of birth," he said.

Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has expressed disenchantment with people from India “bothering” him “clogging” up his email box and found it “strange” that there was sudden urge to reach out to him.

“All sorts of people from India have been writing to me, clogging up my email box. It takes me an hour or two to just remove their mails,” he said.

He said the deluge of emails had buried important communications from colleagues or from journals concerning papers we have in press.

“Do these people have no consideration? It is OK to take pride in the event, but why bother me?” the 57-year-old Indian-American scientist wondered in an email interview to PTI.

“There are also people who have never bothered to be in touch with me for decades who suddenly feel the urge to connect. I find this strange,” said Dr. Ramakrishnan, who shared this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry with two others.

He expressed anguish over “all sorts of lies” published about him in a section of the media that he went to school and pre-Science in Chidambaram, the Tamil Nadu temple town where he was born in 1952.

“People I don’t know, for example a Mr. Govindrajan, claim that they were my teachers at Annamalai University which I never attended, since I left Chidambaram at the age of three,” Dr. Ramakrishnan clarified.

Dr. Ramakrishnan said that it was a good thing if his winning the Nobel Prize encouraged people to read about the work, read books and take interest in science.

“But I, personally, am not important. The fact that I am of Indian origin is even less important. We are all human beings, and our nationality is simply an accident of birth,” he said.

On reports that he has been shortlisted for a job in India, Dr. Ramakrishnan said he was in no mood to leave his laboratory in Cambridge where he was enjoying his work.

“Nobody has approached me about an offer to work in India. However, I can categorically state that if they did so, I would refuse immediately,” he said.

He was reacting to questions about reports that his name was being considered for the post of Director of the country’s premier lab Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology.

“I cannot imagine a more enjoyable place to work than in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology where I work,” he said citing a “variety of professional and personal reasons” for continuing the work at Cambridge.

Dr. Ramakrishanan said he was a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, to which he makes trips for a couple of weeks every other year.

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