August 8, 2011

Interesting anecdote

I work for a very distinguished and accomplished citizen in our country, Prof M. S. Swaminathan. Being his 86th birthday, we had the who's who come and greet him on the occasion. We had many people over, from a Central Minister, to International Scientists; to the most well known media personality of Chennai felicitate him. There were people who called him the most distinguished living Indian citizen and another said he prays for his work to be immortal and then another recommended him for India's highest Civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna.

I sat there as part of the audience and looked at Professor and wondered how gracefully he handled the compliments and praise. When it was the turn of the birthday boy to speak, he shared a lovely anecdote that was the answer to my thoughts. He thanked one and all and said he was extremely grateful for all the love and affection shown. He ended by saying that once when Sir C. V. Raman was asked how the compliments never went to his head, he apparently remarked that he wore the turban tight to ensure the head didn't swell with compliments!! Professor added that he didn't have a turban to sport and so he apparently assumes the compliments are for another "Swaminathan" and that keeps his head intactJ. It’s so rare to see and work with such a genuine, humble and dignified person in spite of his yeomen contribution to transforming Indian Agriculture and the feeding the millions. It’s an honour to meet and interact with him.


India's no.1 blog said...

Interesting anecdote indeed...must say the man is not just humble but modesty seems to be his middle name..:) will remember this one for a long time..thankx for sharing :)you are really lucky to be working for someone like him

Meena said...

It is certainly privilege for you to work closely with such an accomplished and yet humble human being

R. Vijayalakshmi said...

That is inspiring

Raji said...

On behalf of Dad..

I couldn't agree with U more.

MSS is a truly great!

And like all truly great, he is absolutely level headed and humble.

a subtle sense of humour to boot.

It is great that two of us in our family, (from 2 generations) could have an association with this great man.

Connecting Sir C V Raman, he once mentioned to me another interesting anecdote.

They both were guests of Vikram Sarabhai at a get together in latter's house. (MSS was much younger then, still the trio were scientific greats of our land by then). Someone asked CV, " Your advice to those who want to pursue independent research" Pat came the reply, "Do not depend on Govt money. Do not accept it without deep thought, even if it is thrust on you without any obligation. The audit people of the Govt & research work are antithetical. they will give U no peace".

He obviously knew best. (Though today’s CAG reports were unknown then as scams of this kind were.

He was an officer of IA&AS, himself.