Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Power of questioning& Scientific Temper

Nehru, Gen. Cariappa and Gen. Thimmayya

Lt. Gen Niranjan Malik PVSM (Retd) has written about an interesting incident how a question has changed Nehru’s policy. He wrote: Soon after getting freedom from British rule in 1947, the de-facto prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru called a meeting of senior Army Officers to select the first General of the Indian army. Nehru proposed, “I think we should appoint a British officer as a General of The Indian Army, as we don’t have enough experience to lead the same.” Having learned under the British, only to serve and rarely to lead, all the civilians and men in uniform present nodded their heads in agreement.

However, one senior officer, Nathu Singh Rathore, asked for permission to speak. Nehru was a bit taken aback by the independent streak of the officer, though, he asked him to speak freely. Rathore said, “You see, sir, we don’t have enough experience to lead a nation too, so shouldn’t we appoint a British person as the first Prime Minister of India?”

After a poignant pause, Nehru asked Rathore, “Are you ready to be the first General of The Indian Army?” Rathore declined the offer saying “Sir, we have a very talented army officer, my senior, Gen. Cariappa, who is the most deserving among us.”This is how the brilliant Gen. Cariappa became the first General and Rathore the first ever Lt. General of the Indian Army.

If Nehru already had made up his mind, it might be impossible to change it. The Rathod’s question in open meeting rattled and made him to understand the reason.

In lighter vein

Famous exchange between the prominent playwright George Bernard Shaw and the glamorous dancer Isadora Duncan on the topic of producing a child together. Researchers say that this conversation happened between Frenchman Anatole France who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1921 and the acclaimed dancer Isadora Duncan, which came to a stop when Isadore said: “Imagine a child with my beauty and your brains!” and Anatole instantaneously responded: “Yes, but imagine a child with my beauty and your brains!”The timely question could avoid an embarrassing situation perhaps.

The question of falling apple

The First Apple that was forbidden, but eaten: This is about the Fruit of Creation. The Bible says God had created our world in seven days, the Garden of Eden (The Garden of Paradise) and its caretaker, the first humans Adam and Eve, who were allowed to roam in the garden with apples, pineapples, grapes etc. The story says that the God forbade Adam and Eve to eat any apple from his garden, as that was created as the “Fruit of Knowledge and evil”. However, a serpent manipulated Eve and asked her to persuade Adam to eat and see what the fruit of knowledge holds in itself. As he took the first bite of apple God cursed them. Apple stuck in his throat. They were cursed to live in the world of sorrow and misery with the knowledge and evil of the apple. 

Newton’s apple, Not eaten

The Second apple that was not eaten: The second apple correlated with Newton’s law of universal gravitation. The story is: Sir Isaac Newton was resting in an orchard and an apple fell on his head from tree. He threw it up, it came down. No matter how high he threw the apple, it will be always landing back on the ground. Earth pulls the apple to ground and apple pulls back on Earth, he named the force “Gravity”. Position of planets, orbits of satellite, information required to go in space, is calculated with help of this law, and path of astronauts is determined by this essential equation.

The Third apple, that was half eaten: Founded by Steve Jobs, the Apple changed the world of smartphones/computers with iPhones, Macs, Apple Watch, Air pods and many more appreciable products. Alan Turing, who was a computer scientist and an English mathematician, suffered tragic death after eating the apple laced with cyanide. The half-eaten apple that was found on his bedside, became the logo as a tribute to numerous contributions of Turing to the field.

All the three stories prove the progression we can see with rational thinking.

(Today, the anniversary of Narendra Dhabholkar, is observed as National Scientific Temper Day)

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is Dean, Professor of law at Mahindra University at Hyderabad and former Central Information Commissioner. He published a number books in English and Telugu.

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