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HAPPINESS An Epicurean Approach

November 22, 2009

HAPPINESS

 

The Epicurean Approach

 

By

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

Musings on the Art of Happiness

 

HAPPINESS & PLEASURE

 

 

Are Happiness and Pleasure correlated?

 

 

They say:

 

1.  Pleasure is Quantitative; Happiness is Qualitative.

 

2.   Happiness is a lifelong goal.

 

3.       Happiness requires cognitive judgment.

 

4.       Pleasure is not essential to achieving happiness – here I do not agree. I feel happiness and pleasure are not mutually exclusive; in fact genuine pleasure can be the source of much happiness.

 

 

No philosopher has better explored the distinction between happiness and pleasure than Epicurus, a Greek Philosopher of the Third Century BC. Epicurus (341-270 BC) espoused a strategy for achieving genuine human happiness by emphasizing the delights of the mind (over which a person has control) rather than the delights derived from material things (which are so often beyond one’s personal control).

 

 

Epicurus’ name survives in the team “epicurean” which is used to refer to someone with elevated tastes and a lifestyle centred on pleasure. However, if you peruse his philosophy thoroughly, you will realize that Epicurus counsels a way of life very different from what the popular use of the term “pleasure” implies.

 

 

You may feel that Epicurean philosophy champions the pursuit of pleasure as the supreme goal of life, but this does not mean the unrestrained pursuit of excesses of any kind. Instead, Epicurus argues for a life of sober restrain and moderation in all things. The pleasures Epicurus recommends are those that are easy to achieve and simple in nature. The prolonged pursuit of pleasure is best achieved by restraint and enlightened choice.

 

 

It may be the prudent to moderate our single minded pursuit of “outward” success and achievement, the mindless acquisition of material possessions and accumulation of wealth, tendencies to showing off and ostentation, conspicuous consumption and lavish unrestrained pleasures; and focus more on the more authentic “inner” pleasures of life such as happy family life, enriching relationships, cultivating the mind and intellect, enjoying the pleasures of friends and companions, and living on the higher plane.

 

 

Epicureanism does not advocate the wanton pursuit of pleasure. Also, you must remember that pleasures and pains of the mind are of greater importance than those of the body. Epicurus set forth a strategy for achieving authentic human happiness by emphasizing the delights of the mind (over which a person has control) rather than the delights derived from material things (which are so often beyond one’s personal control). The fundamental premise is that presence of pleasure is synonymous with the absence of pain.

 

 

Genuine happiness emanates from pleasures that are easy to achieve and simple in nature. If you have only a few things, we will enjoy them more than if you had many things, and if you do not become used to rich and expensive foods, then simple fare, which is easier to obtain will satisfy you more.

 

 

In a nutshell: “The Art of Happiness is in keeping your Pleasures Mild”.

 

 

And how do you keep your pleasures mild?

 

 

 

DESIRE & PLEASURE

 

 

Are pleasures in any way linked to satisfying your desires?

 

 

There are two different types of pleasures:

 

  1. Moving Pleasures

 

  1. Static Pleasures

 

 

“Moving” pleasures occur when one is in the process of satisfying a desire – like eating delicious food when one is hungry.

 

 

These pleasures involve an active enjoyable titillation of the senses which most people call “pleasure”.

 

 

However, Epicurus says that after one’s desires have been satisfied, like suppose you are fully satiated after eating a heart meal; this state of satiety, a state of no longer being in need or want, is itself pleasurable. Epicurus calls this “static” pleasure, and says that these static pleasures are the best pleasures.

 

 

Hence, Epicurus says that there is no intermediate state between pleasure and pain. When one has unfulfilled desires, this is painful, and when one no longer has unfulfilled desires, this steady state is the most pleasurable of all. There is no intermediate state between pleasure and pain – either your desires are fulfilled or they are not.

 

 

Epicurus also distinguishes between physical and mental pleasures and pains. Physical pleasures and pains concern only the present, whereas mental pleasures and pains also encompass the past (fond memories of past pleasure or regret over past pain or mistakes) and the future (confidence or fear about what will occur).

 

 

The greatest destroyer of happiness is anxiety about the future, especially the fear of death. If you can banish fear about the future, and face the future with confidence that one’s desires will be satisfied, then you can attain a most exalted state of tranquillity.

 

 

This we see that the key to happiness is the effective management of your desires – Desire Management.

 

 

 

DESIRE MANAGEMENT

 

There is a close connection between pleasure and desire-satisfaction.

 

 

If pleasure results from getting what you want (desire-satisfaction) and pain from not getting what you want (desire-frustration), then there are two strategies you can pursue with respect to any given desire: you can either strive to fulfil the desire, or you can try to eliminate the desire.

 

 

Epicurus advocates the second strategy of scaling down your desires to the basic minimum which can easily be satisfied.

 

 

Epicurus distinguishes between three types of desires:

 

1.      Natural and necessary desires,

 

2.      Natural but non-necessary desires,

 

3.    “Vain and Empty” or unnatural and unnecessary desires.

 

 

How we tackle each of these three types of desires determines our tendency to happiness [or unhappiness].

 

 

Examples of natural and necessary desires include the desires for food, shelter, health, sense of security and basic physical needs, cravings which will necessarily lead to greater pain if they are not fulfilled.

 

 

These basic desires are easy to satisfy yet difficult to eliminate (they are ‘hard-wired’ into human beings naturally) and bring great pleasure when satisfied (“Happiness begins at the stomach”).

 

 

Furthermore, they are necessary for life, and they are naturally limited: that is, if one is hungry, it only takes a limited amount of food to fill the stomach, after which the desire is satisfied.

 

 

Epicurus says that you should try to fulfil natural and necessary desires.

 

Vain, unnatural and unnecessary desires include desires for excessive power, wealth, fame, and other egoistic ambitions which have all the trappings of status and prestige.

 

 

Vain desires are difficult to satisfy, in part because they have no natural limit. If one desires wealth or power, no matter how much one gets, it is always possible to get more, and the more one gets, the more one wants. These desires are not natural to human beings, but inculcated by society and by false beliefs about what we need; (e.g.) believing that being very powerful or wealthy or famous will guarantee us happiness. In fact, Opulence attracts thieves, and power and fame attract sycophants.

 

 

Epicurus says that such vain and empty desires should be eliminated.

 

An example of a natural but non-necessary desire is the desire for luxury food. Although food is needed for survival, one does not need rich expensive gourmet food to survive. Thus, despite his hedonism, Epicurus advocates a surprisingly ascetic way of life. Although you shouldn’t spurn extravagant foods if they happen to be available, becoming dependent on such food ultimately leads to unhappiness.

 

 

These natural but non-necessary desires are those cravings that do not necessarily lead to greater pain if they are not fulfilled. These desires are typically recreational in nature: Sexual gratification, aesthetic desires, entertainment, pleasant conversation, the arts, sports, travel etc.

 

 

In the case of natural but non-necessary desires you must approach life as a banquet. Think of your life as if it were a banquet where you would behave graciously, when dishes are passed to you, extend your hand and help yourself to a moderate portion. If a dish should pass you by, enjoy what is already on your plate. And if a dish hasn’t being passed to you yet, patiently wait for your turn.

 

 

To paraphrase Epicurus, “If you wish to make a man wealthy, don’t give him more money; rather, reduce his desires”.

 

By eliminating the pain caused by unfulfilled desires, and the anxiety that occurs because of the fear that one’s desires will not be fulfilled in the future, the wise Epicurean attains tranquillity, and thus happiness.

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

 

Appetite for a Stroll

 

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

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Ancient Wit and Wisdom

July 22, 2009

LAUGH and LEARN
HUMOR WISDOM ENJOYMENT AND EDUCATION

By

VIKRAM KARVE

Everyone loves stories.

So whenever I want to drive home my point or communicate a message, I like to tell a story rather than pontificate.

Everyone loves to laugh.

Yes, storytelling is certainly more enjoyable if you add a dash of humour than laborious dogmatic pontificating or moral lectures.

Laughing and Learning go together.

Enjoyable learning is more effective as wit and humour are excellent vehicles for transmission of views and values besides the important fact that you do not bore, annoy, or hurt egos.

I am, therefore, always in search of such stories, tales, and parables, which impart wisdom and produce spiritual growth, and there is plenty of ancient wit and wisdom enshrined in teaching stories flourishing all around both oriental and occidental which have stood the test of time through the ages.

Teaching Stories are not mere jokes.

Teaching Stories relate events that are funny, foolish, bemusing, and sometimes even apparently stupid. But they usually have deeper meanings.

A good teaching story has several levels of meaning and interpretation and offers us opportunities to think in new ways.

At first you may just have a good laugh but as you think about it the significance becomes more and more profound.

Each story veils its knowledge and as you ruminate, the walls of its outer meanings crumble away and the beauty of the previously invisible inner wisdom is revealed, and you begin to identify yourself in the story, and to acknowledge that you too could be as foolish or as lacking in discernment as the characters in these classic tales.

An example of the concept of teaching stories is embodied in the tales of the inimitable Mulla Nasrudin narrated by Sufis to illustrate aspects of human behaviour which are relevant to both our personal and professional lives.

Last week I told someone this Mulla Nasrudin Story:

Mulla Nasrudin’s donkey died and he went into deep mourning weeping inconsolably. A friend seeing Nasrudin crying bitterly consoled, “What’s wrong with you – you didn’t weep and mourn so much even when your first wife died.”

“When my wife died all of you promised to find a younger and more beautiful wife for me – and indeed you did. However, nobody has promised to replace my donkey.”

And I’m sure you have heard this one:

One night, Nasrudin was on his hands and knees searching for his key in a well-lit area in the centre of the street. Some of his neighbours came to see why Nasrudin was on his hands and knees.

“What are you looking for, Nasrudin?” enquired one of his neighbours.

“My door key,” Nasrudin replied.

The helpful neighbours dropped to their hands and knees and joined Nasrudin in his search for the lost key.

After a long unsuccessful search, one of the neighbours asked: “We’ve looked everywhere. Are you sure you dropped it here?”

Nasrudin answers: “Of course I didn’t drop it here; I dropped it outside my door.”

“Then, why are you looking for it here?”

“Because there is much more light here,” responded Nasrudin.


When one reads or hears several Nasrudin tales, they can have a compelling effect. You can reflect, introspect or take them with a pinch of salt – the choice is yours.

You may ask the storyteller: “You relate stories, but do not tell us how to understand them” – to which he will reply: “How would you like it if the shopkeeper from whom you bought a banana ate it before your eyes, leaving you only the skin?”

One of the great bonuses in learning through humour is that even as you have a good time and doubt that you have learned anything, the lessons penetrate subtly, and stay with you, to come alive when the need arises. 

A few years ago, while walking home one evening, I stopped for a browse at Mumbai’s famous Strand Book Fair, held every January, at SNDT University’s Sunderbai Hall near Churchgate.

I saw a book – Tales of the Dervishes – and began browsing, and became so engrossed in the Sufi teaching stories that I lost all sense of time, and before I realized it, the clock struck eight and it was time to close.

Seeing the crowd, and in a hurry to get home, I decided to come the next day to buy the book, but when I did come the next day the one and only copy of this book which I liked so much had been sold out.

Since then I had been hunting for this rare elusive book and I was truly delighted to find a copy at Landmark Bookstore on Moledina Road in Pune Camp a few months ago.

Dear Reader, permit me to tell you a bit about this wonderful book, a truly delightfully illuminating assortment of Sufi Teaching Stories.

Title: Tales of the Dervishes

Author: Idries Shah (1967)

Arkana Penguin (1993)

ISBN 0-14-019358-8

The author has collated a very meaningful selection of Sufi Teaching Stories ranging from the 7th century to the 20th century and has given chronological references to sources which comprise Sufi Masters, classics and manuscripts.

I am sure you may be familiar with a few of these classic tales of wisdom, or versions of them, like The Three Fishes, How to Catch Monkeys, and The Blind Ones and the Matter of the Elephant, but there are so many unique gems of wit and wisdom.

I recommend that you must read each teaching story thrice.

Yes, thrice!

Read the story once. It may entertain you; maybe produce a laugh, like a joke.

Read the story the second time. Reflect on it. Apply it to your life. That will give you a taste of self-discovery.

Read the story again, for the third time, after you have reflected on it. Carry the story around in your mind all day and allow its fragrance, its melody to haunt you. Create a silence within you and let the story reveal to you its inner depth and meaning. Let it speak to your heart, not to your brain. This will give you a feel for the mystical and you will develop the art of tasting and feeling the inner meaning of such stories to the point that they transform you.

I’ll not tell you more about the droll, witty, entertaining yet tremendously meaningful and enlightening tales in this book – that you must read yourself – but I will end this piece by narrating my favourite Mulla Nasrudin teaching story:

On his way from Persia to India, Mulla Nasrudin saw a man selling a small long green fruit which he had never seen before.  Curious, he asked the vendor:  “What is this lovely fruit?”

“Chillies. Fresh Green Chillies,” said the Vendor.

Mulla Nasrudin gave the vendor a gold coin and the Vendor was so overjoyed that he gave Nasrudin the full basket of green Chillies.

Mulla Nasrudin sat down under a tree and started to munch the Chillies and   within a few seconds, his mouth was burning. Tears streamed down his cheeks, his nose watered copiously and there was fire his throat.

But, utterly nonchalant, Nasrudin went on eating the chillies and his condition began to get worse and worse.

Seeing his pitiable condition, a passerby asked, “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you stop eating those hot Chillies?”

“May be there is one that is sweet, “Nasrudin answered. “I keep waiting for the sweet one!” Nasrudin said and he kept on eating the fiery Chillies.

On his way back, the passerby saw that Mulla Nasrudin’s condition had become even more terrible, but he kept on eating, and the basket of Chillies was almost empty.

“Stop at once or you will die.  There are no sweet Chillies!” the passerby shouted at Nasrudin.

“I cannot stop until I have finished the whole basketful,” Nasrudin said, croaking in agony, “I have paid for the full basket   I am not eating Chillies anymore.  I am eating my money”.

Dear Reader – Read this story once more, close your eyes, think about it and let the story perambulate in your mind, reflect on it, and apply it to your life.

Don’t we cling on to things, people and places that we know we should let go and move on, at first hoping to find ‘sweet one’ and even when we discover that there is no ‘sweet chilli’ we still continue to shackle and bind ourselves to material things, memories and persons who we know are painful, harmful and detrimental just to ‘get our money’s worth’ when we should ‘let go’ and move on in life and liberate ourselves.

Hey, there I go pontificating again.

It’s time for you, Dear Reader, to read The Tales of the Dervishes and it is high time you enlightened me with a Teaching Story.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this review.

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve


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Embedded System Design

December 10, 2008

Book: Embedded System Design – A Unified Hardware / Software Introduction 

Authors: Frank Vahid, Tony Givargis

Publication: John Wiley and Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd, Singapore, 2002

ISBN 9971-51-405-2

Pages: 324.

 

[Reviewed by Prachi  A. Deshmukh] 

 

Once, there was a conversation going on between three ladies. They were discussing on something very seriously. Each of them was telling her own experience and others were listening to the speaker very carefully. They were neither discussing about some TV serial, nor about the latest fashions. Their topic was regarding cooking. (But they were not discussing culinary recipes!). The three ladies were from three different generations – the first an 80 years old Granny, the second her 56 years old mother and the third the 28 years old daughter. They were discussing how the kitchen has been changed. Conclusion of their discussion was that, now cooking is a task of few minutes. Mixer, food processor, microwave oven, dishwasher etc. are there waiting for your orders!

 

Not only in kitchen, but everywhere one can see things are becoming easier and simpler. Those who are born after 1980s can experience the changes happening around themselves. Now there is no need to make your hands panic by washing the clothes. Washing machine will do it for you!

 

Do you want to listen to music of your choice? An MP3 player can store thousands of songs of your choice. If you want to convert your beautiful moments into sweet memories, then digital camera is there for your help.

 

Are you planning to go for shopping? No need to carry money with you. Credit card will maintain your account.

 

All these examples look unrelated to each others, but there is some relation in them. ATM, barcode scanner, cell-phone, digital camera, fax machine, home alarm system all are totally different from each others but they do have one thing common in them. All of them are embedded systems. Now the question arises ’What does an embedded system actually mean?’

 

In simple words, Embedded System is a computing system which does a specifically focused job. It’s nearly any computing system other than a desktop computer. We can not be unaware of it because embedded systems are part of our day to day life. We find them almost everywhere.

 

That’s why one must study about embedded systems, especially if you are aspiring to be an Electronics, Communications, Computer Engineer or IT Professional. For those who really want to know about embedded systems, a good book to start off with is ‘Embedded System Design- A Unified Hardware/ software Introduction ’ by Frank Vahid and Tony Givargis.

 

The book is actually an introductory book which makes us familiar with the basics of embedded systems, the hardware for them, the software, peripherals, memory and interfacing. This book is also helpful for those students who are going to take more specialized courses. To understand this book one needs the basic knowledge of electronics, flowcharts and algorithms.

 

The book shows its usefulness and applications starting from the cover itself. The picture on the cover shows all the applications in our day-to-day life which we find in home as well as outside our homes. A simple picture tells us how important to study the embedded systems.

 

The content in the book is divided into 11 Chapters. The first chapter introduces us with the basics of embedded systems. We become familiar with the Optimizing Design Metrics, processor technology, IC technology, design technology and trade offs.

 

In second chapter we learn about custom single purpose processors: Hardware. We learn about the combinational logic, sequential logic, custom single purpose processor design, RT level custom single purpose processor Design and the optimizing custom single purpose processors. If the reader knows about the transistors, logic gates and flowcharts then it will be easier to understand this chapter.

 

In third chapter the authors introduce us with the General Purpose Processors: Software. Here we learn the basic architecture of the general purpose processor, its operation, developing environment, ASIPs, General Purpose processor Design and about the selection of a processor.  

 

In fourth chapter we study the Peripherals of standard Single-Purpose Processors like Timer, Counters, Watchdog Timers, UART, PWM, LCD controllers, Keypad controllers, Stepper motor controllers, ADC and RTC.

 

There are different types of memory like ROM, PROM, OTOROM, EPROM, EEPROM, FRAM, RAM, SRAMDRAM, PSRAM NVRAM etc. We learn different types of memories as well as cache memory and MMU in the fifth chapter.

 

In sixth chapter we study the different types of interfacings to the processors as well as arbitration, multiple Bus architectures and advanced communication principles. Here we come to know about the different types of protocols.

 

Digital camera is an important and interesting example of embedded systems. In seventh chapter this example is explained very briefly. Here we learn about the requirements as well as the design of an embedded system very detail. Chapter no 8 and 9 are about the state machine and concurrent process models as well as the control systems.

 

Chapter 10 introduces us with the IC technology. Here we learn about the VLSI IC technology, ASIC IC technology and PLD IC technology. This chapter teaches about the IC technologies briefly.

 

In last chapter of the book, chapter 11 we learn about the techniques like Automation, Verification, Reuse, Design Process Models. At the end of this chapter we find the book summary. It gives us summary of the entire book in few words.

 

In appendix A the website is given which includes important information regarding the embedded systems. Also included are chapter wise lab resources. As embedded system is combination of both- hardware and software, it is very important to perform the practical experiments to understand the concepts.

 

This book is not just a simple basic book but is adequate for a complete course in embedded systems. The authors have maintained a smooth flow throughout the book. The language is easy to understand. One special feature of this edition of the book is that it has been designed specially for the students in developing countries.

An ideal textbook, this book may prove even more useful to understand the importance of embedded systems if some more applications of embedded systems were illustrated. Maybe further editions can be made more attractive by adding the photographs of the examples of embedded systems.

 

The summary at the end of every chapter give the important part of each chapter in brief. The review questions are helpful to prepare for the subject. The References and further reading are useful for those interested in a more detailed study of the subject.

 

We feel that this book may be extremely useful for students, engineers, technologists and professionals interested in the fascinating field of Embedded Systems. 

 

NANO The Essentials

December 9, 2008

In his insightful memoirs, War As I Knew It, General George S. Patton, one of history’s most charismatic, famous and successful generals, gifted us an priceless gem of his human resource management wisdom: “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity”.

 

Ever since I read this illuminating book more than thirty years ago, I have followed this adage with great success in my multifarious avatars as a Human Resource Manager, a Project Manager, a Design Engineer, a Teacher and a Mentor.

 

A few days ago, a young lady, Prachi A Deshmukh, a fresh engineering graduate, joined our department as a research fellow; and I gave her a book from my bookcase, told her to review it and email me her book review by the end of the day. [As per my style, I just curtly told her what to do, not how to do it].

 

When I opened my email early next morning, the book review was there, waiting for me, and yes, Prachi Deshmukh had indeed surprised me with her ingenuity. I am truly proud of my young colleague and mentee.

 

A delight to read, written in a refreshingly youthful vibrant style, breathtaking in its simplicity, I liked the book review so much that I am placing it below as it is, with minimal editing, for you to read. We look forward to your comments and feedback; do tell us if you enjoyed reading the review, and the book. 

                                                                             

Name of the book: Nano: The Essentials – Understanding Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Author:  T. Pradeep

Publication: Tata McGraw-Hill, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0-07-061788-9

ISBN-10: 0-07-061788-0

 

[Reviewed by Prachi A. Deshmukh]

 

At the root of every invention, there is a seed of a thought which was unbelievable at that time. Yesterday’s dream is today’s truth; yesterday’s imagination is today’s reality. Let us take an example of ATM. Today we use ATM as if its ‘Any Time Money’ machine; but if we had told about this to somebody in the last century, he might had thought that we have gone mad! The same thing happened in December 1959, when Richard Feynman gave an after dinner speech at the annual meeting of the ‘American Physical Society’. He took the audience in the amazing world of his imagination. He was telling about the future where everything will be so small that there will be machines smaller than the tip of a needle. People were laughing, enjoying his ideas but no one knew the real meaning of his words-“There is plenty of room at the bottom.” Feynman is now credited for his great foresight which made him the first prophet of nanotechnology.

 

21st century is the era of great revolution in technology. Information Technology, Bio Technology and Nano Technology are some of the great windows which have tremendous capabilities to change the world around us. Especially Nanotechnology is a promising field in the near future which will provide us with many breakthroughs in a wide range of applications. It has been predicted that by the year 2015 the market share of nanotechnology and nanoscience will be worth 350 billion dollars. This calls for new investments in human resource development. These people must have strong foundation to build strong building. For those who are interested in this new technology, the book ‘Nano: The Essentials’ will prove to be a true guide.

 

The author of this book- Prof. T. Pradeep is with the IIT – Madras [Chennai]. Being a professor, he has structured this book so nicely that the reader gets his concepts clear right from the beginning. Starting from the preface we get more and more interest in this amazing world of nanotechnology and nanoscience.

 

The content of the book is well organized into five parts. In the first introductory part the author takes us in the world of nanotechnology with its relation with the nature. This part is enriched with the details of the technological inventions of 20th and 21st century.

 

In second part, we move towards the experimental methods. The author introduces us with the different types of microscopies . The neat diagrams, graphs and pictures in this part make it easier to understand the different experimental methods.

 

In the third part, we enter into the world of fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, gas phase clusters, nanoshells etc. In this section also, author addresses us with his simple language. There are sufficient diagrams and graphs to understand the concept properly.

 

In fourth part we become familiar with nanobiology, nanosensors,  nanomedicines , nanotribiology and molecular nanomachines.

 

Whenever some new technology comes into picture it’s the duty of every conscientious technologist to study the societal implications of it. In the fifth part we go through the relationship between nanotechnology and the society.

 

The most appreciable thing in this book is I think the ‘History of nanoscience and nanotechnology’ which tells us about all the important events in the development of Nanotechnology. Hats off to the author for this effort. The glossary of nanoterms at the end of this book summarizes all the important terms used throughout the book.

 

The author has given the references and additional related reading books at the end of every chapter for the keen readers to know more about the things.

 

In simple words, the book ‘Nano: The Essentials’ is really essential for those who are keen to know about nanotechnology and nanoscience . With his simple language the author has maintained the flow throughout the book. There are plenty of diagrams, graphs, tables and pictures which make the study more meaningful. If you are really serious about nanotechnology, then I will insist you to have a copy of this book. It’s easier for understanding if you have enough base of science and technology. I recommend this book to students, engineers, teachers and technologists who are willing to enter in this amazing world of nanotechnology and nanoscience.

My Food Adventures

December 9, 2008

APPETITE FOR A STROLL 

[Foodie Adventures, Simple Recipes, Musings on The Art of Eating and Vikram Karve’s Authentic Guide to Value For Money Food in Mumbai and Pune]


By


VIKRAM KARVE

Please click the link and read the review of Appetite for a Stroll titled Food for Soul in the Indian Express [Pune] Sunday 7th September 2008 

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/358363.html

expressonline book review

http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Food-for-soul/358363/#

 

If you want to get a copy of the book just click the links below:

 

http://www.indiaplaza.in/finalpage.aspx?storename=books&sku=9788190690096&ct=2

 

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

 

 

I am sure you will enjoy reading the book.

Happy Reading and Happy Eating

 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

VIKRAM KARVE

Baramati

December 3, 2007

BARAMATI

By

VIKRAM WAMAN KARVE

Baramati. My birthplace. Baramati – half a decade ago, the then dusty mofussil town in the back of beyond, where I was born on the 12th of September in 1956, which has now metamorphosed into a vibrant oasis of agriculture, education and industry.

We visited Baramati on Saturday, the 1st of December 2007 – a visit so memorable, so delightful, so enlightening, and so nostalgic that I must tell you about it.

It all started on the spur of the moment, when my 75-year-old mother, who is suffering from an advanced stage of Age Related Macular Degeneration [ARMD] of both her retinas and is fast losing what little remains of her eyesight, suggested we visit Baramati, so that we could see the memories of her childhood. I too was keen to see my birthplace, where I was born and spent some of my earlier holidays, evoking in me nostalgic memories of the fun and frolic, the hurda parties at my grandfather’s farm, and was especially keen to see the much-praised state-of-the-art campus of Vidya Pratishthan and its modern College of Engineering at Vidyanagari about which I had heard so much.

We started off from Pune in the morning at eight thirty in our dependable Santro, picking up an ex-Baramatikar Bipin Pole, who had so readily agreed to accompany and guide us along, hit Shankershet road, crossed Hadapsar, and turned right and sped towards Baramati via the Saswad, Jejuri, Morgaon route. It’s a smooth drive, and soon we were negotiating our way up the Dive Ghat, glancing at the once brimming with water, now dry, Mastani Lake or Talav, down below to our left, crossed Saswad [where we would stop on our way back to meet my uncle], and soon could see the majestic Jejuri Temple atop the peak straight ahead. Crossing Jejuri, a pleasant drive, and soon we saw the famous Ashtavinayak Morgaon Ganesh Temple [where we would all pray and pay our obeisance].

At Morgaon we turned left on our final leg towards Baramati, leaving the Indian Seamless Metal Tubes factory to our right and as we crossed Medad Fort to our left we started to get a feel of the transformation seeing the excellent quality broad roads. As we approached the town I experienced a sense of déjà vu [I was visiting Baramati for the first time since the early nineteen sixties – after almost forty five years] as we approached Dr. Atul Pole’s dispensary opposite the then Shyam Talkies [now replaced by the modern and elegant Vidya Pratishtan Office Complex but the road is still known as Cinema Road]. It was almost noon; we’d covered the little over 100 kilometers distance in three hours.

Dr. Atul Pole [son of the illustrious “Pole Doctor”] and his charming wife were waiting for us with delicious upma and refreshing piping hot tea, and after refreshing ourselves we were off towards Vidyanagari, the campus of Vidya Pratishthan. Turning right on Bhigwan Road, past the canal, and the once narrow gauge [I remember traveling by the Daund – Baramati Toy Train] railway station adorned with its commemorative little steam engine as a remembrance of its heritage, we drove smoothly on the broad top quality road past the elegant court building and swanky well laid out colonies and soon reached Vidyanagari. It’s a pleasure to drive on the smooth spacious traffic-free roads – the roads here are certainly better that the roads in Pune.

The moment you reach Vidyanagari you feel as if you have entered another world. Vidyanagari’s truly impressive pristine, lush green, verdant campus, echoing with elevating silence, engenders within you that unique sense of tranquility and academic ambiance which is a sine qua non of a genuine learning environment. The museum is truly inspiring and exquisite – you’ve got to see it to visualize how dazzling and awe-inspiring it is. I was overwhelmed with a wonderful feeling as we strolled leisurely through the scenic soothing green campus.

Outside it had the old-world charm of the beautiful serene university milieu of yesteryear; inside the facilities and infrastructure were most modernistic high-tech state-of-the-art. A lovely symbiosis of nature and technology indeed!

In the good old days premier residential engineering colleges like Roorkee, BENCO and even the earlier IITs were located in self-contained campuses far away from the hustle-bustle and distractions of city life in order to facilitate holistic learning – the Vidya Pratishthan’s College of Engineering at Vidyanagari has similar favorable environs and academic atmosphere conducive to peaceful undisturbed learning and all round development.

We walk past students in their smart college T-shirts, admiring the rambling playgrounds, the superb well-stocked library, the neat hostels and faculty quarters and the impressive VIIT building and reach the magnificent College of Engineering building where we enjoy a fruitful interaction with a most pleasant, knowledgeable and enthusiastic senior faculty member Prakash Gogte who tells us all about his premier institution. As we leave, I wonder whether someday I’ll be back in Baramati to be a part of this wonderful institution.

We now drive around the new parts of Baramati and arrive at the Maalya Varchi Devi temple and offer prayers. Then we drive back into the old part of Baramati, past the erstwhile Siddhaye hospital where I was born, down Station Road to my grandfather’s ancient majestic house which still stands strong. [My grandfather came to Baramati in the early 1920’s and his address was simple – KN Gokhale, BA. LL.B., Pleader, Station Road, Baramati].

Tears of nostalgia well up in my mother’s eyes as she goes around the ancient house – her childhood home. A school classmate and some acquaintances come to meet her and they are all so happy reminiscing and exchanging notes about their friends and families. Seeing the joy on my mother’s face I am glad we came to Baramati.

We see the important places nearby –the Siddheshwar temple, Bhuikot Fort [the earlier location of the court where my grandfather worked] and drive on the banks of the Karha river. It’s late afternoon now, and my mother has to be back home before dark owing to her vision deterioration, so we head back for Pune.

I’m glad we visited Baramati. Truly admirable breathtaking development and a marvelous transformation from the fleeting memories of the once dusty little mofussil town I had in my mind. I’m going to visit Baramati and rediscover more of my roots again and again – maybe next time by train via Daund. I hope they start convenient fast trains from Pune so that Baramati is as easily accessible by rail as it is by road.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2007

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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Symbiosis Biography of an Idea

November 24, 2007

 

Book Review  Symbiosis: Biography of an IdeaBy Dr. S.B. Mujumdar[Macmillan India 2007]ISBN: 9780230633681  

Symbiosis is a landmark institution of Pune. That’s why when I saw this book while browsing at the Crossword Bookstore I instantly picked it up and started reading it. As I read, I found the book so engrossing that I could put it down only after I had finished reading the whole book. And then I was overwhelmed with a flood of admiration for the author, Dr. SB Mujumdar, the visionary architect of this hallowed educational institution.

  

Who better than a botanist can sow seeds, even if they be the seeds of a dream or an idea? The author vividly narrates the transformation of the dream called Symbiosis from germination to realization beyond even his expectations. Today there is a Symbiosis institution in almost every part of Pune imparting top quality education from the kindergarten to postgraduate or maybe even doctorate. The trials and tribulations the founder faced in acquiring its first piece of land make fascinating reading.

  

The author clearly enunciates his inspiration to start Symbiosis, and substantiates its raison d’etre by a number of real life stories of foreign students who studied in Pune. I was particularly moved by the experiences of the Indian-origin student from Fiji who was yearning to be identified with his roots.

  

The “Biography” – from the genesis to the starting of the Management course which accorded impetus to the expansion and broadening of horizons of Symbiosis culminating in a multi-institutional international university is portrayed in lucid style and makes interesting reading. I clearly remember, in the eighties, Symbiosis management students had earned a name as being a cut above the rest.

  

Symbiosis has been the harbinger in new concepts in education – whether it is specialized programmes for defence personnel, distance education, novel and innovative programmes like Telecom Management, and state-of-the-art campuses designed for holistic development like the one in the IT Park in Hinjewadi.

  

Lucidly written, interspersed with interesting anecdotes, makes this book a happy illuminating read. I commend this book – I am sure it will inspire and interest you.

  

Symbiosis: Biography of an Idea is an important contribution to literature on education and the history of the city of Pune. It is must reading for students and academicians and a valuable addition to the shelves of libraries.

   

[Reviewed by Vikram Waman Karve]

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PUNE Queen of the Deccan

October 7, 2007

Pune is the most happening city in Western India.

 Are you from Pune, a true blue Punekar? Or do you want to know more about Pune and its glorious heritage, history and past?

 I recently came across a very informative book on Pune – why don’t you click the link below and read about it

 http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/10/pune-queen-of-the-deccan.htm

And do send me your comments

Vikram Karve

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Alma Mater – ITBHU

August 17, 2007

Alma Mater

 

 

 

ITBHU  

 

Institute of Technology

 

Banaras Hindu University

 

Varanasi

 

India

       

On what basis do you judge an educational institution – an Engineering College or a B-School? In today’s world there is just one criterion – market value – the starting salaries and campus placement the students get – the more outrageously astronomical the pay packets, and the greater the percentage of lucrative campus placements – the better the institution. And with the increasing commercialization of education, many institutes blatantly compete, advertise, and focus on these materialistic aspects to attract students – it’s a rat race.

     

I feel the cardinal yardstick for appraising the true merit of an educational institution is the value-addition it instills in its alumni – and I’m not talking of utility and materialistic values alone; but more importantly the inculcation and enhancement of intrinsic and intangible higher values. The student should feel he or she has changed for the better, professionally and personally; and so should other stakeholders observing the student from the outside be able to discern the value enhancement.

     

I studied for my B.Tech. in Electronics Engineering at ITBHU from 1972 to 1977 (first batch IIT JEE) and I experienced the well-rounded value addition I have mentioned above. Later in life, being academically inclined, I continued studying, completed many courses, a Post Graduate Diploma in Management, an Engineering and Technology Post Graduation [M.Tech.] at a premier IIT and even taught for many years at prestigious academic institutions of higher learning, but I shall always cherish my days at ITBHU the most. I knew I was a better man, in my entirety, having passed through the portals of ITBHU, and I’m sure those scrutinizing me from the outside felt the same way.

 

 

 

ITBHU was amalgamated by integrating three of the country’s oldest and best engineering colleges: BENCO ( Banaras Engineering College ) – the first in the Orient, and certainly in India , to introduce the disciplines of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, MINMET – the pioneer in Mining and Metallurgy in India , and College of Technology – the first to start Chemical and Ceramic Engineering. Indeed these three institutions were the harbingers of industrialization in our country.

     

In my time ITBHU was indeed a center of excellence, an apt institution to study in, and a lovely place to live in. The vast verdant lush green semi-circular campus at the southern end of Varanasi , the largest university campus I have ever seen, with its pleasant and relaxed atmosphere was ideal for student life. And being a part of a premier university afforded one a consummate multidisciplinary experience.

     

It was a delightful and fulfilling experience I will always cherish – learning from erudite and totally dedicated Professors, who were authorities in their fields of specialization, amidst excellent academic facilities and ambience, elaborate labs and workshops, lush green campus, well-designed comfortable hostels, delicious food, expansive sports fields and facilities for all types of sports, the beautiful swimming pool, the unique well-stocked and intellectually inspiring Gaekwad library, and the exquisite temple that added a spiritual dimension to the scholarly ambiance. One could learn heritage and foreign languages, fine arts, music, indology, philosophy, yoga, pursue hobbies like numismatics – the avenues for learning were mind-boggling. The idyllic environs of BHU helped one develop a philosophical attitude to life.

     

Like all premier institutes ITBHU was fully residential, which fostered camaraderie and facilitated lifelong friendships amongst the alumni. I can never forget those delightful moments in Dhanrajgiri, Morvi, Vishwakarma, Vishveswarayya and CV Raman hostels, mouthwatering memories of the Lavang Lata and Lassi at Pehelwan’s in Lanka, the Lal Peda opposite Sankat Mochan, and the delicious wholesome cuisine of the city, and the cycle trips all over Varanasi, Sarnath, and even across the holy and sacred Ganga on the pontoon bridge to watch the Ram Lila at Ramnagar.

     

Way back then, in the nineteen seventies, ITBHU was a wonderful place to study engineering and live one’s formative years in. I wonder what my dear alma mater is like now!

         

VIKRAM KARVE

     

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BOOK REVIEW – MANAGEMENT OF THE ABSURD

May 21, 2007

 

 

Book Review by Vikram Karve 

  

The Book: 

TITLE: MANAGEMENT OF THE ABSURD 

AUTHOR: RICHARD FARSON 

PUBLISHED: 1996 TOUCHSTONE
NEW YORK
 

ISBN 0-684-80080-2 

 [REVIEWED BY VIKRAM KARVE] 

 

 

  

Leafing through my beloved books on my bookshelves is one of my favorite pastimes. I love the company, the smell and the feel of books, as I leisurely browse and glance through the varied books I have collected over the years. And maybe select one for perusal.  

This morning I picked up a delightful management classic called Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson. I acquired my copy on 06 May 1999 in the Pune Book Fair (that’s what I’ve written below my name on the first page). It is a laconic book which explores the paradoxes of management in an extremely witty manner.  Let’s browse through this wonderful book together.   

In his foreword Michael Crichton writes: “In this book Richard Farson reports more than experience; he gives us …wisdom”.  

The 172 page book has eight parts and thirty three chapters, and as the author says in the introduction, these chapters need not necessarily be read in sequence, but in whatever order appeals to the reader. Let’s do just that.  

“Morale is unrelated to productivity” the author says chapter in 27, turning conventional HR wisdom on its head. He deprecates management practices of pampering and mollycoddling employees (which one reads of particularly in the IT sector), giving gifts, holding parties, recognizing birthdays, gestures of goodwill and other HR gimmicks designed to court employee favor as a calculated morale-raising strategy. Self-actualized people, who were among the greatest achievers in our society, were not necessarily comfortable or happy; they could be ruthless, boring, stuffy, irritating, and humorless and organizations are absolutely dependent on such people. You don’t agree, don’t you? That’s why you must read this book, which turns things you have learnt topsy-turvy and gives you something to think about.  

Effective Managers are not in control, emphasizing the vulnerability requirement in a leader. Absurdly, our most important human affairs – marriage, child rearing, education, leadership – do best when there is occasional loss of control and an increase in personal vulnerability, the author says, and compares leadership with romance. If you know how to have a romance, it isn’t a romance, but a seduction. Not knowing how to do it makes it a romance; it’s the same for leadership, an intangible quality, management techniques don’t work. Genuineness in relationships is the only way to lead professionals.  

Training leads to the development of skills and techniques, and suggests the possibility of control. Education leads to information and knowledge, which suggests the possibility of understanding, even wisdom.  Wisdom involves humility, compassion and respect – essential to effective leadership!  

Training makes people more alike, education tends to make people different from each other, so the first benefit of education is that the manager becomes unique, independent. “Don’t try to train leaders. Educate them!” the author exhorts.  

Planning is an ineffective way to bring about change. Too often it is an empty ritual designed to make management feel there is something going on in that area.  

There are paradoxes and paradoxes, absurdities and absurdities!   

Individuals are strong, but organizations are not! I thought it was the other way around. 

The better things are the worse they feel, says the theory of rising expectations, and that’s why good marriages are more likely to fail than bad ones, and second marriages are better than first marriages, but shorter!  

In communication, form is more important than content, praising people does not motivate them, and the more we communicate, the less we communicate.  

The ‘meat’ of the book is the chapter on – The “Technology” of Human Relations. Exploring the impact of technology on Human relations, the author discusses how technology invents us, develops a life of its own and with every application of technology a counterforce develops that is the exact opposite of what we intended. The danger is that we become so in love with technological applications that we forget its detrimental effects; he illustrates his point with examples of how computer technology increases design capability but stifles creativity. We must focus on Relationship Enrichment rather than acquisition of techniques of management skills, he suggests, since the more important a relationship, the less skill matters.  

The book is replete with startling insights. The author states his message in his introduction: “I believe many programs in management training today are moving us in the wrong direction because they fail to appreciate the complexity and paradoxical nature of human organizations. Thinking loses out to how-to-do-it formulas and techniques, if not to slogans and homilies, as the principle management guides.”  

This is a refreshing, original and thought provoking book, something different from the run of the mill stuff. It’s a management classic, a rare gem in the plethora of management literature. Do read it. You’ll be glad you did.   

  

  

VIKRAM KARVE 

 

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