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Piercing the Wall


Needham, almost single-handedly, not only altered the prevalent views about China, but also challenged (and changed forever) dominant Euro-centric convictions on the origins of human knowledge. Truly, by the end of his life, Needham had taught many more people than he realized, what it means to take the long view. India, too, needs such a champion. (via Piercing the Wall).

Ravi is showing off

Joseph Needham, Master of Caius College, Cambridge, is the subject of this pathetic book review. And the writer of this review is Needham’s ex-student, Ravi Bhoothalingam – ex-President of Oberoi Hotels and a Director at ITC & VST, India’s largest tobacco conglomerate, Head of Personnel at BAT Plc.

I would have little objection if his entire trip was to display his Cambridge alumni status. Or the fact that his ex-professor is the subject of a book.

Like me … love me …

It is sad, when in the closing line of his review, he says that India needs a Western ‘champion’ – like China. For one from the post-independence generation, Ravi’s craven need for Western approval, the banging of the head at colonial altars, is surprising, (at least to me).

Is the Indian nation so bankrupt, that it needs foreign help for others to recognise Indian achievements in the past, present or future? How does it help India if a few Westerners admire Indian achievements? Should modern India focus on achievement, here and now – or focus on obtaining Western admiration for past achievements of Indians in history?

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