Monthly Archives: January 2011

adam osborne – the idea of (NRI) Indianness

This post continues from – adam osborne – the man…

There is no jingoism here. There is only a suggestion of a reasonable pride about relevant parts in our history, our collective pasts and the present. Of course, there are certain parts that we need to introspect on too!

There is no suggestion of an empty glorification of the past. Just a few pertinent and plain questions – to make us think.

I have personally met quite a few of our NRIs (non resident Indians) and RNIs (resident non Indians) – and I am sure, you have too – who have these kinds of attitudes – observed so ably by Adam.

” A people which takes no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants. “

— Macaulay.

How long do we hold on to the coat tails of the likes of Thomas Babington Macaulay? May be, we shall overcome, in spite of all the corruption and unrest and – am ashamed to admit to it  – in spite of my fellow Tamilians such as Raja and Karunanidhi. May be this too shall pass?

Here goes, the text of Adam’s April 1991 dataquest aricle:

I was raised in Tamil Nadu in South India, in the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi, of an English father and a Polish mother. Both were dedicated followers of Sri Ramana Maharishi. Therefore as a child growing up in the small town of Tiruvannamalai, Tamilnadu. I was fluent in Tamil and was surrounded by Indians who were proud of their nationality and heritage, and believed they had a lot to teach us Europeans.

I still speak enough Tamil to get by, and feel that my roots are indeed in India. I must be only professed “vellackaaren” Tamilian in America. After all, how could anyone, even an English boy, grown up in Tiruvannamalai, in the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi, and not acquire a pride in his roots? It is therefore with some misgivings that today I find myself dealing with Indians, many of whom do not feel proud of their Indianness.

Indian Americans represent the most affluent minority in America, ahead of Jewish Americans and Japanese americans. This is a statistic and not an opinion. Indians swarm all over the Silicon valley, where they are an integral part of most product development teams: be they teams developing new semiconductor chips, software packages or computers. Indians are recognized throughout America as technically superior. No Indian in America has to explain his educational background, or apologize for his technical training.

And yet, as a group, though Indian Americans are quick to acknowledge their caste, religion or family, they lack national pride. Indians are not proud of their nationality as Indians, something I realized many years ago. Something that puzzled me Recently, talking before Indian audiences on the lecture circuit, I have frequently talked to Indians of their lack of national pride, with telling results. Invariably, after making this assertion from the lecture podium, I find myself surrounded by Indians: Engineers, Scientists, doctors, even lawyers, all asserting the correctness of my observations,”You are correct,” they will assert. “I am not proud that I am an Indian.”

Is the reasons India’s colonial heritage? Who knows? But whatever the reason, it is a pity since the day Indians learn pride, India will rapidly move out of its third world status to become one of the world’s industrial powers. Today I work with an Indian American, trying to help him make his dream come true. And in the process, make my own dream come true, since I have hitched my dream to his. Then, with my dream realized, I will return to India, to preach Indian pride: not pride in being a Hindu, or practising Islam or being a Parsee, or a Sikh: not pride in being a Tamilian, or a telugu, or a punjabi, or a marwari; not pride in being a Brahmin rather than a lesser caste. These are all divisive differences that India would be better off without. But I will preach that Indians must learn to be proud of being Indians just as Singapore nationals are proud of their nationality, irrespective of their race or their religion. Then there will be no more shoddy Indian products, since every worker will generate output with the stamp of a proud man on it. With self-evident quality that screams out:”That is the work of an Indian!”

And corruption will decline. For, although bribes are solicited by greedy, dishonest men, as well as by men who do not earn enough to feed themselves and their families, and even though these root causes of corruption transcend the bases of lack of Indian pride of which I speak, nevertheless a proud man will pause, more than a man without pride, before extending his hand to receive a bribe.

And a proud Indian will try harder to be responsible for products and services that others will praise. And it is in that praise that India’s future Industrial greatness lies.

– – Adam Osborne

At one level, Adam fills me with hope.

— END —


adam osborne, the man…

I do not know how many of us remember Adam, I mean THE Adam.

A few days back, I was talking to Christopher Quilkey (the editor of the journal Mountain Path – published by Ramanashramam) – who visited Bangalore and us on some personal errand. Apparently he spent some 5 years personally tending to his ailing friend Adam – and Chris must have shared in the grief and sorrow of  witnessing the gradual and irreversible deterioration of a beautiful, straight-thinking and innovative brain.

But, some of us may not know Adam.

” The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake – you can’t learn anything from being perfect. “

— Adam Osborne

He was the guy who spent his childhood in Tiruvannamalai in Tamilnadu, prided himself for being the ‘only vellaikara tamil’ (the only white tamil) – and after a rather roller-coaster ride through life (and silicon valley),  finally breathed his last in 2003, in Kodaikanal in Tamilnadu.

These biographical details perhaps, are not that important. But, I personally admire him for three reasons:

1. He was a true pioneer of the relentless drive for making usable personal computers really economically. (thusly innovating in the area much before the other respectable guy,  Steve Jobs – am not even talking about Bill Gates) I would say that he was the first true PC entrepreneur.

2. Him being the first successful publisher of useful, affordable, very well designed computer books – in addition to being a very good author.

3. The fact that he talked persistently about the inferiority complex of many of us ‘learned’ Indians. (In this context, he even wrote a simple and hard hitting article in a computer trade magazine DataQuest, way back in 1991 – that is reproduced in the next blog entry)

… Chris shared  a few poignant details about the final years of Adam, and the human condition. One suddenly felt rather numb.

Chris is also a sensitive and fine raconteur of ideas – and of course, we then moved on to other common interests such as the dogs being very sentient, films etc etc. Such is life.

But I thought, I will share my admiration of Adam and that of his article which was making rounds on the USENET a couple of decades or so ago… It is worth reflecting on…

homoeopathy, homoeopathni – workshop at navadarshanam

If it had been some 30 years into the past, I would have scoffed and snorted at the ideas of louis hay, steiner, carl jung, homoeopathy and gandhi – not to mention a gazillion other luminaries and thinkers – who could be easily shotdown using quarter-backed ideas of science aided by an incredible lack of ‘life experience’ and an youthful unrest.

But, these days (consider this ‘new age’ or ‘old age’ mumbo jumbo, if you want to), I don’t dismiss anything with a left hand. Why, now I am even armed and dangerous with a resident Homeopathni – and yes, am trapped in the classic triad of – pathi, pathni and woe. Ha Haa.

This is an announcement from navadarshanam about a oneday workshop to be conducted by my dear Prof RR – on Jan 26th, 2011. Please sign up, if you want to listen to good folks talking about good things – in a beautiful setting.

Navadarshanam Trust

announces a one-day experimental workshop on


from 9.30 am to 4 pm

on Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Features of the workshop in brief:

  • A basic introduction to homoeopathy: origins, principles, Law of Cure, homoeopathic medicines, etc.
  • Workshop anchored by R.Rajagopalan.
  • Lunch and tea included.
  • Number of participants limited to 30.

What is the context and the objective?

One of the areas of experiment at Navadarshanam has been health and food. Friends of Navadarshanam are aware of our healthier food products, cookery workshops, fasting retreats, and the tasty and healthy food served in our kitchen. We are also concerned at the direction that modern medicine is taking in India: high costs of hospital care and medicines, overspecialization, entry of insurance, etc.

In 2011, we propose to conduct a few experimental workshops and discussions on health, wellness, disease, food as well as alternative medicine to explore questions such as:

  • What is disease and where does it come from?
  • What is meant by being ‘healthy’?
  • What is the basis of modern medicine as well as alternative medicine and how can we compare them?
  • How can we understand different systems of alternative medicine and the place of each in curing illness?
  • How do we make a choice among the systems in a given case at a given time?

Our objective is not to promote any particular system of medicine, but to share the information we have on different systems. It is to enable the participants to explore the topic further and to make informed decisions while choosing a system or even a doctor. The workshop on homoeopathy is the first in our series.

Who will present the workshop on homoeopathy?

While T.S.Ananthu will give an introduction, R.Rajagopalan will be the main presenter. They are not homoeopaths, but they have an abiding interest in alternative medicine and are long-time users of homoeopathy.

What will the workshop cover?

The workshop will attempt to answer questions such as:

  • Who founded homoeopathy, when, and how?
  • How did homoeopathy develop and how did it take such firm roots in India?
  • Where does homoeopathy fit in the larger context of alternative medicine?
  • What are basic principles of homoeopathy and what is the homoeopathic Law of Cure?
  • What are the sources of homoeopathic medicines and how are they made? Why do all the medicines look and taste alike?
  • Why is homoeopathy often denounced as quackery or just an example of the placebo effect?
  • How does a homoeopath go about prescribing medicines?
  • Do we know how homoeopathy works?
  • How is the practice of homoeopathy regulated in India?
  • Is self-medication possible?

What will the workshop not cover?

The workshop will not make you an instant expert on homoeopathy. No prescriptions will be suggested for the ailments of any of the participants.

Can one bring one’s family along as a holiday outing?

Only registered participants are welcome on January 26, 2011. There will be no general, open meeting of the study circle on this Republic Day. Please bring your families on another occasion, after giving us advance notice.

What is the fee for the workshop?

There is no specified fee for the workshop. Participants are invited to make contributions in tune with their capacity and inclination at the end of the workshop. Navadarshanam depends on donations and has no funding from outside.

How does one register for the workshop?

Please register in advance since we can accommodate only 30 participants due to limitations of meeting space and kitchen. Please send the following information by email to before January 10, 2011:

Name, address, telephone numbers

Email id

Age and gender

Current occupation

Expectations from the workshop

Please come to the workshop only if your application is accepted. If the response is heavy, we will repeat the workshop soon.


Phone: 92436 05051

94488 49591 (mobile)

T.S. AnanthuGopalan- Shobha


Rajagopalan Malathi

Navadarshanam Trust, Ganganahally hamlet,

Gumalapuram Village, Thally block,

Krishnagiri Dist, Tamil Nadu 635118

Ph: 92436-15470 (Gopalan & Shobha),

92436-05053 (Ananthu), 92434-35467(Ananthu’s mobile),

92430-49163 (Nagarajan’s mobile)