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Monday, 13 July 2015

The Great Pointless IIT Debate


Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 13 July, 2015

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.

For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit http://www.leftbrainwave.com

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.

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Introduction

Ever since I was in my teens, old enough to know what IIT (the Indian Institutes of Technology) was, I have heard one endless debate: “Are the IITs a White Elephant?”

The issue, for those who have no background on this issue, is this: The IITs are institutes of national importance, and admission to the IITs is extremely hard, because there is a competitive exam and only the best students who can pass this very difficult exam (the top 5000 students annually out of some 500,000 who take the exam, or some such statistic) can get into this prestigious institution. The institution provides arguably the best undergraduate education in engineering in India. The cost of the education is subsidized by the Central Government relative to its quality, though the magnitude of the subsidy has been changing.

The institutions were created so that India would have top-class engineering talent who could contribute to building the nation. Instead, most IITians (as graduates from the IITs are known) either leave the country after 4 years of undergraduate education and settle in the USA to get a better life and better professional opportunities, or get a management degree from the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), another educational institute of excellence, in this case to provide the best managers for a growing India, and become top managers in the private sector, making huge salaries. Some others move to IT because of the excellent salaries in that sector, and a small remainder work in core engineering in India as engineers. Hardly anyone joins the government. A small percentage returns to India after higher studies in the USA or elsewhere and becomes faculty in the same IITs.

It is in this context that I saw an article being widely circulated on social media that talked about “subsidies” being given to “those who don’t deserve it.” The article also alleges that the cost of the IITs runs to about Rs. 988.5 crores annually, and mentions that the budget for the IITs for the current year is Rs. 1700 crores. The article goes on to argue that since, between 1986 and 2006, not a single IITian joined the army; that since less than 2% of the technical staff at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) are IIT graduates; that since IITians do not join DRDO labs, IITs are a waste of taxpayers’ money and so IITians should receive no subsidies from the government and should be made to pay for the full cost of their education.

The article further argues that since most engineers from IIT actually do not continue with engineering, this makes the subsidy of their education even more appalling. The author cites Chetan Bhagat as an example of a person who studied mechanical engineering at an IIT, only to abandon it for management studies at an IIM, and subsequently become an author, and makes a snide comment, “Best-selling fiction is not known to help farmers.”

Responding to this kind of criticism, the Union government has even considered and approved proposals to make IIT students pay back the cost of their education in instalments after they graduate. The argument used is that the IIT students represent a huge drain on the country, and since they are well-compensated after they graduate, there is no need to subsidize their education.

THIS IS AN EXTREMELY SHORT-SIGHTED AND STUPID LINE OF THINKING.

It reveals a myopic viewpoint that doesn’t even try to understand larger issues such as the links between infrastructure, education, and progress.

Let me explain why.

How Subsidized ARE the IITs?

At the outset, before even getting into the broader picture, let us examine the claims of spending on IITs a bit more rigorously. The most important question to analyse is whether the IITs are, in fact, being hugely subsidized. Let us examine this question a little.

In the early days, the IITs were indeed highly subsidized institutions. For example, in 1986, when I joined IIT, the tuition per semester was something like Rs. 250, which was a pittance, considering that anywhere else in India, an engineering education would cost orders of magnitude more.

However, over the years, the tuition costs at IITs have risen significantly, and in 2014 the fees at IIT Bombay ran to about Rs. 25000 a semester, or Rs. 50,000 for the full year. But the government has decided to nearly double this to Rs. 90,000 per year.

The current fees charged by the IITs are comparable to those charged by many private engineering colleges. For example, an article in the media mentions the annual cost of attending an engineering college in Hyderabad to be between Rs. 51,800 and Rs. 1,05,000. Another data point for comparison is the fee structure of a college in Jalandhar, which comes to Rs. 95, 650 for the first year and Rs. 54,150 for the second year. Similarly, the well-known Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy (SASTRA) charges Rs. 45,000 per semester for a total of Rs. 90,000 per year as tuition fees.

So clearly, in today’s world, the IITs are not outrageously subsidized; however, one could argue that these tuition rates do not take into account the fact that the quality of education an undergraduate gets in the IITs is vastly superior to that he would get in most other undergraduate institutions, and hence the tuition in IITs should be higher than that of any private college in India. Be that as it may, at least it should be clear to the reader that the IITs are not outrageously subsidized by current standards.

Next, let us examine what are the budget figures of the Union Government and how much it really spends on IITs as a fraction of its total budget.

According to the 2015 budget, the total education budget for 2014-15 is Rs. 68,728 crores (Rs. 687 billion or about $11 billion). Of these, the budget for IITs alone is somewhere in the region of Rs. 1800 crores, or about $300 million. It is instructive to examine the finances of an individual IIT, such as IIT Bombay.

IIT Bombay’s annual budget is around Rs. 250 crores ($40 million). Of this, they receive Rs. 200 crores from the government and recover the remaining Rs. 50 crores from tuition fees and other charges from students. Around 50% of the students at an IIT avail of free (SC/ST) or subsidized (poor students) tuition. If the new proposal to make all students pay back the cost of their tuition after they get jobs is implemented, then at most IIT Bombay will get another Rs. 50 crores annually, or another 20% of the total budget, and reduce the burden on the government by the same amount. Keep in mind that this is at the current tuition rate of Rs. 90,000 per year.

So, even as students at IIT pay above market rate for their engineering seats, and even if no subsidies are given even to poor students, IIT Bombay will still need Rs. 150 crores every year from the Central government. If the government would like IIT not to impose any burden on the exchequer, the annual fees for IITians need to go up to Rs. 2,25,000 a year, and the corresponding cost of a four-year education will rise to Rs, 9,00,000.

This, coupled with the proposal to charge full tuition costs for EVERYONE and make them pay the tuition back after graduating, in instalments (perhaps even with interest?) will solve the problem of the IITs being a drain on the country’s finances.

But will that solve our education woes? WILL IT ADDRESS INDIA’S NEEDS AS CONCERNS ENGINEERS?

Is the Purpose of the IITs Being Met?


After the end of the Second World War and before India got independence, Sir Ardeshir Dalal from the Viceroy's Executive Council foresaw that the future prosperity of India would depend not so much on capital as on technology. He, therefore, proposed the setting up of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. To man those laboratories, he persuaded the US government to offer hundreds of doctoral fellowships under the Technology Cooperation Mission (TCM) program. However realizing that such steps cannot help in the long run for the development of India after it gains independence, he conceptualized institutes that would train such work forces in the country itself. This is believed to be the first conceptualization of IITs.

So the mission of the IITs was to train engineers in order to develop technology in India indigenously. It is important to keep this in mind, as this is the larger issue India must confront – to see whether this mission is being achieved.

IIT Bombay was started in 1958, and is today 57 years old. I entered this hallowed institution in 1986, and graduated in 1990, and so you could say that our batch entered at the midpoint of the institution’s history. This year is also the 25th anniversary of our batch, and we are celebrating the silver jubilee of our graduation this year. So this year, and this batch, is as good as any to take stock of how well IIT Bombay (and by extension, the IIT system) has performed in achieving this mission.

We had a class of 314 students, and from the records we are getting so far (270 out of 314, or 86% of the total batch strength), we were able to determine statistics. Of the 270 who we had data on (and whom we could assume to be a representative sample of the total population), 115 are today working in India. That is 43%, and tells us that the long-standing accusation of a “brain drain,” i.e., that most IITians end up going abroad, is simply not true. It still tells us that a majority of IITians (57%) go abroad, but it is not an overwhelming majority.

What is more revealing than the statistic on the brain drain is knowing what people are currently doing after graduating from IIT Bombay. We were able to (at the time of writing) get an approximate idea on 200 of the 270 former students on what they currently do for a living. We found out that of the 200 on whom we had data, only 23 were engaged in engineering (including yours truly). That’s just 11.5% of the total number of graduates (assuming these numbers hold for the full population of 314) who have chosen to stick on in engineering. A further 23 of the ex-students are continuing in academics and science domains other than engineering (another 11.5%), and the rest are in diverse domains such as Enterpreneurship (25), Government Service (10), Finance (27), Business (31), Consulting (8), IT/Tech (49), and Others (4).

So, of 200 ex-students, only 23, or 11.5% of all the engineering graduates have continued in engineering 25 years since their B.Tech. Assuming that the country-wide percentages hold across all these professions, one can estimate that only about 6% of the engineers who were trained in IIT Bombay and who graduated from the institute in 1990 still practice engineering in India!!!

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that, if this is what is happening generally across all batches, the mission of the IITs, as elucidated earlier – “to train engineers in India to develop technology indigenously” – is not being met when only 6% of those who are trained to be top engineers in India actually stay in India and work in engineering. It is also clear that the exacerbating factor is not the fact that these engineers do not stay in India – for 43% of them do live in India – but that only 11.5% of them stay in engineering.

What Can the Government Do To Change Things?

The real question that the Indian government should examine, if it is serious about achieving the mission of the IITs, is not to create more IITs – as both the previous and the present government are trying to compete in doing – but to figure out why, in spite of having these world-class institutions of undergraduate engineering teaching, less than 12% of these trained engineers continue in this profession.

The answer to this is not complicated: supply and demand. The going rate for engineers as opposed to people in finance or software or other fields is simply not attractive enough. Add to this the possibility that engineering jobs are not exciting enough compared to many other alternatives. A third reason is that many young kids who actually take up engineering as a subject do not know anything about it and lose interest in it by the time they graduate. In other words, they were never enamoured of it, and they left it because it did not resonate with them. The last fact points to a crying need for better counselling in India and for better career planning. Discussing this in detail is beyond the scope of this article and would require a separate treatise. I will therefore stick to the first reason in what follows.

How does one boost the attractiveness and the pay of engineering jobs? Simply by getting more players in the field; by creating more opportunities for young engineers; by creating more jobs; by liberalizing the economy; by allowing more foreign companies to set up subsidiaries in India; by reducing the barriers for technology companies to be formed and to operate in India; by encouraging innovation for small businesses that might be started by young IIT graduates; by providing loans on easy terms; and by doing all this, raising the level of technology in India.

Instead of this, proposals such as increasing the number of IITs will not in any way solve the problem of shortage of high-quality engineering talent in India. Students today see IIT not as a way to become great engineers and practice world-class engineering; they see it as a vehicle, a stamp to get recognition and be known as a person of high intelligence, and then move on to more lucrative jobs in domains with better opportunities. Create more IITs, and you will find more engineers move into other professions with the same stamp. Not to mention the inevitable diluting of quality.

If India wants our youngsters to stay in engineering, it needs to not just create IITs – it needs to create an entire ecosystem that is favourable for engineering to flourish. In fact, the fundamental mistake of the IITs from day one is that these institutions were created without any thought as to where the students would go once they graduated from these institutions. That is the fundamental flaw that must be fixed.

Expecting students to continue doing engineering in India out of a sense of “loyalty”or “patriotism” is foolish. People will only do what gives them an advantage in life and what they enjoy doing. Sometimes you have students in IIT who actually wanted to study and work in electrical engineering but only got a rank that allowed them to study civil engineering. Expecting that this person should spend his life as a civil engineer because the country invested four years in him is silly. If four years of civil engineering gave him a love for the subject, that might happen. Otherwise, chances are that he or she will jump at the first chance and move to marketing or finance or whatever else captures his or her fancy and pays well. These changes and decisions are dynamic and should be expected. The question to answer is whether there are reasonable opportunities for those who want to continue in what they are trained.

Making students return the full cost of their education misses the mark by far – and the contribution to the exchequer is so minimal as not to matter at all – after all, a matter of about Rs. 1800 crores in an education budget of close to Rs. 70,000 crores is less than 3% of our annual education budget. The inordinate focus on this amount, rather than the real and crucial issues facing our nation in the matter of shortage of real engineering talent, simply highlights the venality of the political class and the stupidity of the masses in focusing on irrelevant details and missing the forest for the trees. The man on the street can get some petty satisfaction for making the “Richie-rich” IIT graduates “pay for their education,” but beyond this juvenile satisfaction, nothing concrete would have been achieved. It might even exacerbate the brain drain – for, after all, the IIT student who has paid for his degree through his nose will not even feel the little sense of loyalty he might feel now. You will have completed the transformation of the student into the consummate mercenary. At least, in our batch, 43% of IITians decided to come back to India. Make students today pay Rs. 9 lakhs for their education and that percentage could be down to 5 or 10%. The fact is that there is no value to this education – and by making Rs. 9 lakhs the price, you are setting a value on it and telling the students that once that is paid for, they owe nothing to the country.

Yes, you could call the IITs a white elephant – but the people responsible for it becoming a white elephant are not the students who graduate from these institutions. The responsible people are the people who have rushed to create engineering institutions without thinking of the entire ecosystem that students graduating from such institutions need.

And if the IITs are indeed a white elephant, what sense is there in making the elephant even bigger?

Acknowledgments


I would like to thank Anu Narasimhan (B. Tech., IIT Bombay, 1990) for providing me with the figures relating to the break-up of the IIT Class of 90 batch by current location and profession.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

When a Great Tree Falls...



When a Great Tree Falls…

Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 24 February, 2015

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.


For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit http://www.leftbrainwave.com



All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.


This is purely a work of fiction. This work of fiction has been inspired by real-life events, and uses events and quotes from real-life events for the setting of the story, but those events have only been used as an anchor to give this story a context. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. There is no direct or implied allegation in this work of any crimes committed by any real people. This is an essay meant to be assessed purely on its literary merit and has been written purely to showcase the author’s skills in literary fiction. The entire scenario depicted here is simply a “what if” portrayal of how power may be abused. The author makes no claims that any of the events mentioned herein actually occurred in real life.


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Sanjiv continued looking at the television, his face set, his eyes red, his fists clenched, his knuckles white. They were showing his mother's dead body round the clock, interspersed with shots of crowds yelling "khoon ka badla khoon se lengey." (“We will avenge blood by blood.”)


His childhood friend, the big Bollywood star, Vijay Verma, was also there on TV, saying the same thing. How long we have known each other, thought Sanjiv. A good man, he thought. A friend in need.


His mother, the Prime Minister, had been assassinated by Sikh assailants that morning. The party had quickly made him the new Prime Minister, but right now he was too numb to think about that. His biggest anchor in life, his mother, was gone, never to come back.


He couldn't go on. He switched off the TV. It was 10 pm. His wife Tanya came to the living room and said, "It's late. You look terrible. It’s been a long, rough day. You need some rest." He waved her off and said, "I know. I’ll sleep in a little while. You go to bed."


He opened his cabinet and pulled out a bottle of scotch. He took out a glass and poured out a large double. No soda, no water, no ice. He took a long sip and let the whisky burn his throat. I don't want anything to mask the pain today, he thought to himself.


He stared into the opposite wall that was blank except for a photograph of his grandfather with his mother. Thoughts of the meeting at the house earlier came back to him in a flood, and he closed his eyes as he winced again at the pain within...


Earlier That Evening…


His home had been full of friends, and while he himself could not speak much, his friends and colleagues of his slain mother did all the talking.


"Those Sikh bastards should all be burned alive!" thundered Jatin. Many made sympathetic noises and nodded their heads grimly.


"We should pick them out one by one, and teach them a lesson they will never forget!" yelled Vimal, his eyes bloodshot, his face twisted with rage.


"We'll bury the bastards alive!" shouted Ajay. “They took your mom, we'll take their mothers. And sisters. And daughters. We'll make them feel pain like they never have felt before."


Sanjiv said nothing. His face was stony, devoid of any emotion. He looked at Jatin, then Vimal, then Ajay, and then continued to look down on the ground.


"Shut up, all of you," growled Kishan, who was sprawled out on the armchair opposite Sanjiv. Kishan was built like an ox, and was the de-facto king of the capital city. When he spoke, everyone listened. He had a habit of wearing dark goggles even indoors and at night, which added to his intimidation quotient.


"Can't you see he is upset? Is this the time for us to bother him like this by yelling like this? Don't you fellows know how to behave in a house of mourning? Leave him alone."


He then got up, giving the signal for the others to follow suit, and put his arm around Sanjiv, and said, "She was like a mother to us too. We sons are not ungrateful. Don't worry about a thing. You have a lot of grieving to do. Focus on mom's funeral. We will take care of everything."


Sanjiv did not say anything, but nodded silently.


***
Sanjiv refilled his drink and turned on the TV again. They were broadcasting his mother's last speech: "If I were to die tomorrow, every drop of my blood will invigorate the nation." He hastily switched off the TV again, unable to bear the pain.


As the neat drink scorched his throat again, he thought of a conversation with his mom a few months ago...


***
"But mom, are you sure?"


"Bloody hell, yeah I'm sure. I made that pipsqueak who he is. And he dares to thumb his nose at me? I'll teach him a lesson he won't forget."


"But they are dangerous people, mom!"


"And you think your mother is a sheep? Son, politics is a business in which a woman has to become as tough as a man!"


"But what if something goes wrong?"


"Be a man, Sanjiv!!!" yelled his mother, her eyes furious. Sanjiv was stunned. He had never seen his mother this angry. Her face was white with rage, her lips quivering, her hair disheveled because of how rapidly she had whirled around to face him.


Seeing the stunned look on his face, she composed herself, and told him, this time in a gentle voice, "I have talked to Gen. Krishna and Gen. Shridhar. There is no risk. Don't worry."


***
The alcohol burned again in his throat as he thought, "maybe she should have worried."


He thought for a long time in the silence. Then he finally said to himself, "Yes, she was right. This is the time to be a man."


He looked at his watch. It was 2 am. "What must be done has to be done," he thought to himself.


He would not make the call to Kishan.


Let the boys take care of things.


He finally went to bed.


Four Days Later…


Sanjiv got out of the bathroom and got dressed.


Since he had those few glasses of neat scotch a few days ago, the burning had not left his throat. He drank some water to make himself feel better.


He had almost finished dressing when the doorbell rang. It was Kishan.


"It's done." said Kishan quietly.


"Yes?" inquired Sanjiv.


"We took care of them."


The burning in the throat suddenly stopped.


"Go on."


"Jatin took care of Mangolpuri and Sultanpuri; I took care of Shakarpur; Vimal took care of Rakab Ganj. Everyone contributed. No place was left untouched. In Trilokpuri Ajay..."


Sanjiv interrupted him. "That's enough. We will talk later. Not now."


Kishan paused, thought for a minute, and then said, slowly and carefully, "It had to be done, you realize, don’t you, Sanjiv?"


"I do.” Putting his arm on Kishan’s shoulder, Sanjiv said, “Thank you.”


Kishan held Sanjiv’s hand in both of his, shook it, and turned to leave. As he was leaving, Sanjiv said, "Kishan."


Kishan turned to face him. "Yes?"


"The family will never forget what you have done for us."


"I know."


"You make sure the others know as well."


"I will."


"Good. Now I have to go to Doordarshan."


***
Half an hour later, Sanjiv addressed the country on national TV. He appealed for calm and asked people to put aside hatred. He said that what had happened was regrettable, but said:


"When a great tree falls, the earth must shake a little."


Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Wonder That Was Bharatvarsha


The Wonder That Was Bharatvarsha

Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 22 February, 2015

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.

For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit http://www.leftbrainwave.com

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.

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No, this is not a review of the famous, wrongly-named book by A.L. Basham, in which he used the word India instead of the more correct Bharatvarsha. This is an attempt to educate modern Indians about the glory of their culture by revealing new insights that have resulted from the work of tireless researchers around the globe on the origins of civilization. And all roads of inquiry lead only to one conclusion – that the source of all civilizational greatness in the world is India.

For too long, India has been cast as the land of snake-charmers, tigers, and elephants. For centuries, westerners have mocked India for its backwardness. However, recent SCIENTIFIC discoveries have established that India was more advanced than any other country in the world in antiquity.

Join me as I reveal the story of hitherto unknown (or little known) scientists, who languish in their quiet academic environs because their momentous discoveries have not been given the credit they deserve. This article is a humble attempt to cast light on their collective greatness and the earth-shaking importance of the seminal work they have done.

I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did writing it. Anything that is good in the article should not be ascribed to me – for I am merely a messenger – it should be ascribed to the great scientists who have revealed so much for us to learn and whose work you are going to discover through this article.

So, without further ado, let me begin telling you about the recent momentous discoveries that have established, once and for all, why Bharatvarsha was the greatest civilization ever on the planet.

The IVC and the Aryan Invasion/Migration Controversy

The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) is one of the oldest civilizations of mankind. Although there have been older human settlements on the planet than the IVC, the IVC can fairly be said to be the cradle of all civilizations because of the range and depth of the ideas it brought forth (this will be made clear in the following). This is the civilization to which modern India owes its existence. So it is meaningful to look at what this civilization was all about and what it has bequeathed us.

The IVC was first discovered in Harappa, now in Pakistan, with later discoveries in Mohenjo-daro, also in Pakistan, Lothal in Gujarat in India, and various other places. While initially these discoveries were greeted with great excitement, as it gave Indians a view of what seemed to be their antiquity, this fond hope was soon dashed when archaeologists investigated the artifacts in depth.

The reason was that India is largely a country of Hindus, with significant minorities that made their homes in India due to migration and conquest; but essentially, India was the land of the Hindus. The Hindu epics (itihasas) such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana spoke of an ancient civilization that Hindus held to be around 5000 years old. The discovery of the IVC gave Hindus a lot of hope that this was the proof of the ancient civilization they were looking for. Unfortunately, some key archaeological facts went against them – or seemed to at the time.

The Absence of the Horse

One key point of variance  was that the Hindu scriptures, right from the time of the Rig Veda, the most ancient scripture, spoke of “Ashvas” – that were translated as “horses” everywhere in the epics. The IVC carvings and drawings showed no evidence of any horses, though there seemed to be some strange one-horned animals drawn in the reliefs and tablets, in addition to identifiable buffaloes. See figure below for an example.



This seemed to dash the hopes of the Hindus, who were hoping for confirmation that the IVC was part of the ancient civilization mentioned in their epics. Because of the absence of the horse in the evidence from the ruins, an alternative theory sprung up – that the Vedic traditions did not belong to the Harappans, but were brought to India by the Aryans, who invaded India at the end of the Harappan period. The fact that the horse seemed like a well-known animal in Persia helped this explanation.

Recent research, by Hefner et al. (2007) has revealed a rather different picture. According to these researchers, who have published a book on this topic, the image seen in the IVC seals is not a horse at all, but a unicorn. Many mythologies talk about unicorns, but we have never seen any evidence of unicorns – that is, until Harappa. After digging a lot in the IVC and the BMAC (Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex) as well as in Afghanistan and Iran, Hefner et al. found out that during the Harappan period, unicorns were indeed quite common, and they rapidly mutated to the horse that we know today. Hefner et al. (2007) found huge unicorn graveyards in the BMAC, which are thought to be massive “Ashwamedha Yagna” (mistranslated today as horse sacrifice, but in reality unicorn sacrifice) complexes. They have found several well-preserved horns of the unicorns that prove this theory without a doubt.


The cause of the confusion, therefore, has been twofold: believing that "ashva" in the Vedas referred to horses, and believing that unicorns did not exist. With the discovery of unicorn fossils, Hefner et al. have resolved this question.

The Saraswati Civilization

Another point of contention was the mention of the river Saraswati as an important river in the Vedas, whereas there is no known river in that region today. There has been much controversy recently regarding the Saraswati river of the Vedas, which many consider mythical, and many, including Michel Danino, consider a real river connected to the Ghaggar-Hakra basin in Pakistan/India.

However, the clinching evidence for the Saraswati river basin surely must come from the recent work of Ali et al. (2014), who have found what appear to be unquestionably Vedic era bows and arrows. There has been strong speculation that the artifacts retrieved from the Ghaggar basin are, in fact, the bow, quiver, and arrows of the famous Pandava hero, Arjuna. The main artifact at the root of this momentous discovery is a bow about 12 feet long, which matches the description of Arjuna’s bow Gandiva, said to be 8 cubits (12 feet) long. The quiver is surprisingly well-preserved, being made of pure gold and carved exquisitely.

Ancient Hindu Warfare: Astras

One of the controversial aspects of Hindu epics is the frequent mention of “astras” – special weapons that are weaponized by chanting of specific mantras (religious chants) and possess tremendous destructive powers. One of these, the Brahmastra, is said to have so much power that it is said to have the power to completely destroy the whole world.

Naturally, the scientific world has dismissed these claims as religious gobbledygook. The general attitude towards these claims has been that these are highly exaggerated descriptions that can only be attributed to poetic license, and that there is no scientific basis to these claims.

New scientific evidence has revealed that these may no longer be fairy tales. There is reason to believe that the ancient Indians were in possession of highly advanced weapons technology not yet fully understood by modern man. But the beginnings of such understanding are on the horizon.

In recent papers, published after 30 years of research by two different groups of workers at opposite sides of the globe, scientists have learned that sound waves emitted at precise frequencies with extremely specific cadences have the ability to highly excite the molecules of air in the local vicinity of these chants, and thereby “hypercompress” air packets – to the point that they can cause minute fusion reactions that can then lead to a chain reaction – a phenomenon described as “lukewarm fusion” (as contrasted with “hot” and “cold” fusion). The resulting fusion reactions, if properly amplified by the right kinds of chants, according to Dagar et al. (2013) (a multifactorial study spanning 3 generations of researchers in one family and published after the death of the researchers) and Carreras et al. (2014) (again the result of a 40 year international collaboration and, again, published after the death of one of the principal investigators) can lead to weapons of different destructive potentials.

It is in this way that astras can be launched by the proper chanting of mantras that give them awesome destructive power. The secrets of these astras are locked away within a few highly-realized rishis, and it is necessary for Hindus to reclaim these before the secrets are lost to humanity.

Ancient Hindu Aviation Technology

Another recent topic of controversy, which garnered much attention when a session was devoted to it at the Indian Science Congress of 2015 in Bangalore, is the possibility of Vedic Hindus possessing advanced aviation technology. It was claimed during this conference that in Vedic India, aircraft existed that could fly forwards as well as backwards with equal facility, and easily move between planets and galaxies. Much of these speculations have rested on two main sources. The first is the ancient epic Ramayana, in which the hero Rama (as well as his enemy Ravana) were said to have used flying machines called “Vimanas.” The second is a text called the Vymanika Shastra that detailed many aspects of these vimanas. In particular, the VS talked about these planes being fueled by vast quantities of cow and elephant urine, among other ingredients. See figure below to see an illustration of one of these vimanas and its fuels.


 

One of the objections raised to the idea of the existence of this ancient technology is the lack of evidence. No one has, to date, discovered the existence of even one of these ancient aircraft in any of the archaeological ruins. It has been argued that if such aircraft existed, and in substantial numbers, there should be at least one indicator of their past presence – either some broken down aircraft, or some airports that housed them, or similar supporting evidence. The complete lack of such evidence – at least until recently – has been a weakness of the theory that ancient India possessed advanced aviation.

However, recent discoveries by a team of biologists and archaeologists have revealed (Herman and Allen, 2012) the existence of specific mosses in Iraq which fossilized years ago. Examination of these fossils, which were covered under mounds of ruins and which came to light because of incessant bombing runs that have completely destroyed the mounds and exposed the underlying fossils, first by American air force operations in the first and second Gulf Wars as well as by violence by insurgents, have revealed that they originate from a specific kind of moss that can only grow if fuelled by copious amounts of cow and elephant urine. This leads to the only possible conclusion – that this archaeological site in Iraq was a forward post for Vedic armies and airforce units, which were using this vast site as a supply depot with adequate fuel for their aircraft. With such large quantities of fuel, some leakage is inevitable, and this leakage had clearly led to the growth of these mosses.

Hindu Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)

Archaeology continues, and will always continue, to be our window into the past. One of the greatest mysteries of history has been the mystery of the giant stones of Costa Rica. These are large, perfectly spherical stones that are found in abundance on the island of Costa Rica. There are about 300 of these stone spheres on the island of Costa Rica, and no one knows where they came from. They are customarily referred to as the Diquis spheres, as a reference to the primitive pre-Columbian peoples known as the Diquis. However, it is highly unlikely that such a primitive civilization would be capable of sculpting such a large number of perfect spheres (see picture below), that too out of stone, especially when no one is able to explain how they might have been carved from the stone without any tools.


 

However, there is another explanation that fits the facts better, and which has recently been confirmed by new archaeological and linguistic evidence.

In the Mahabharata, it is said that after the establishment of their kingdom Indraprastha, the Pandavas conducted a magnificent Rajasuya Yagna to commemorate their supremacy over the entire earth. Before they could perform this sacrifice, however, the Pandavas needed to bring the entire earth under their sway. The four Pandavas, viz., Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva, are said to have conquered all the lands on the east, the north, the west, and the south of Indraprastha respectively. Of course, some lands, such as America, were well beyond the range of land-based forces. For this reason, the mighty Pandavas used weapons of various kinds, along with their aircraft (vimanas), to subjugate those lands that were separated from them by oceans. One such example was the Americas. In those days, the West Indies were attached to the continental United States, and the Pandavas utilized efficient demonstration of force (“shock and awe”) to reduce the Americas to subjugation.

This they did by dispatching intercontinental ballistic missiles – spheres that were discharged as projectiles from the western coast of India to reach the Americas. In an effort to minimize loss of life and obtain a quick surrender, Nakula opened fire with massive batteries of cannons on the western coast of India that rained showers of perfect, spherical boulders on the coasts of America and the modern Caribbean as a “softening” measure.  Because of this, the island of Costa Rica, which is on the eastern end of the North American continent, was bombarded by hundreds of stone spheres.

This might seem like a fanciful fairy tale but for the recent discovery by a team of Sanskrit scholars and explorers based at the University of Miami, who have published the results of their study in a recent paper. In this paper, Jagger et al. (2015) mention that they investigated 95 of these boulders carefully, with high-powered lenses, all over their surfaces, and discovered that many of them were engraved minutely in Sanskrit with inscriptions such as “With Love from Indraprastha,” “Nakula Sends You His Love,” “Bow Before the Pandavas,” and “Resistance is Futile.” Needless to say, when Nakula arrived a few days later in his vimana, the Americans were only too happy to avoid a repeat of the stone shower, and acquiesced immediately to whatever terms he proposed.

This theory is supported by the mythology of the natives of Costa Rica themselves, the Bribri. As has been mentioned,

“In the cosmogony of the Bribri, which is shared by the Cabecares and other American ancestral groups, the stone spheres are “Tara’s cannon balls”. Tara or Tlatchque, the god of thunder, used a giant blowpipe to shoot the balls at the Serkes, gods of winds and hurricanes, in order to drive them out of these lands.”

So the natives themselves recognize that these are cannon balls, and the god Tara/Tlatchque in their story doubtless refers to Nakula, and the god Serkes to the native ruler of America that he drove out with his aggressive military actions in order to make America subservient to Indraprastha. Given the fact that Nakula came down from the sky in his vimana, and rained stones from the sky on them, it is natural for the primitive Bribri to think of him as a “god of thunder.”

The Caste System as a Method for Better Organizaton of Society

One of the main criticism of Hindu society regards the Caste System, which many modern sociologists consider to be barbaric and cruel. However, many today defend the system as simply a means for organizing labor in Vedic societies. While many have claimed that this is simply a defensive posture adopted by today’s Hindus to defend the indefensible, recent discoveries of old publications dating to the early 20th century show that, before the contamination of western attitudes made them hostile to India, Europe was quite welcoming of Indian ideas on social reorganization.

Two studies bear telling evidence towards this conclusion. The first is a position paper by Todt et al. (1932) who talk in glowing terms of the Hindu order of life and its uplifting ideas in organizing society into more capable and less capable workers, and even talk about its incorporation in Europe as a general way of life (modified, of course, to suit Europe suitably). The second is a paper by Daniel Malan in 1930, in which the author praised the Hindu social organization and interpreted it as a model for life in all countries, specifically South Africa. It should be mentioned that Malan later implemented his modified system to great success in South Africa as Prime Minister in 1948.

Hindu Advances in Medicine – Test Tube Babies

One of the most stunning scientific claims in the Mahabharata is the mention of test tube babies. Significantly, the entire Kaurava brothers, numbering to 100, were said to be born out of a single embryo, which was split after it grew up and the pieces put in pots with ghee (clarified butter) in them, and which then went on to become full-born babies in due course. Similarly, the teacher Drona gets his name because he was born of sperm ejaculated by his father and preserved in a pot (a pot is known in Sanskrit as a Drona, thus giving him his name.)

While these claims have been ridiculed by western doctors and scientists as impossible, recent archaeological evidence appears to confirm these claims. This sensational discovery is the discovery, under 50 feet of overgrowth, of a vast scientific laboratory that appears to have been frozen in time due to a volcano 2500 years ago which since has turned completely dormant. This laboratory, not far from Pune, in the Deccan Traps, was found, similar to the ruins of Pompey, with people frozen in their actions due to their rapid engulfment by volcanic ash.

As Steptoe et al. (2015) describe, the laboratory unearthed shows large rows of clay pots with fetuses in them in what is clearly a process of in-vitro fertilization. Contrary to modern medical practice, however, embryos at various stages, all the way to full term babies, were recovered from within the pots in the ash deposits. The findings are nothing short of revolutionary and hold great promise for modern medical research if the secrets of the ancient Hindus can be deciphered.

Hindu Advances in Medicine – Plastic Surgery

The Indian Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi, recently stated that ancient Hindus were very advanced in plastic surgery. Mr. Modi used the example of the Hindu God Ganesha to illustrate his belief that Indians must have been quite advanced in plastic surgery, as the mythological story of Ganesha involves the transplantation of an elephant’s head onto a human torso.

Religious myths of any civilization always have some anchors in that civilization’s daily experiences. There is reason, therefore, to speculate that the Ganesha story was inspired by technologies that they were already aware of. Recent science has confirmed that this, indeed, was the case with the Hindus.

A recent archaeological find near Ropar in Haryana has revealed the presence of a large number of copper plates that have been dated to 3300 BCE. As Dali et al. (2013) explain, these copper engravings appear to be an ancient “brochure” advertising the skills of the Royal College of Physicians at the court of Hastinapura. The engravings are fascinating, and show various examples of what can only be plastic surgery: dogs with sewn-on human heads and hands, pigs with dog-heads, goats with cow-heads, tigers with the heads of asses, and even rats with cockroach-heads. See figure below for an example of one of these copper plates.


 

Soma: The Enabler of Excellence in Hinduism

By now, it is abundantly clear to most people that ancient Hinduism was responsible for most worthwhile things in the world. A cursory search on the internet reveals that the entire world was Vedic once, and that Christianity and Islam are offshoots of Hinduism. We have also learned from the learned scholars who prowl the internet that the source of most science and technology are the Vedas; that Newton and Leibniz stole the ideas of calculus from Vedic rishis; that most technology that is only being discovered today had already been discovered by the Vedic rishis, be it airplanes, cars, medicine, surgery, nuclear weapons, etc., etc.

The question is: WHY? What made the Hindus of Vedic times such geniuses and so far ahead of their time? And why are they not at the top of the world today, if they were so advanced once upon a time? The answer, in one word, is: SOMA. The wonder elixir that the Vedas talk about – which is offered at every sacrifice to the Devas – was the source of the ancient Hindus’ extraordinary creativity.

Soma, as described in the Rig Veda, is a miracle plant. It is even said to confer immortality. It is said to be the reason the king of the Devas, Indra was able to defeat the Asura Vritra. In those days, the educated Hindus, viz., the Brahmanas, who used to perform sacrifices regularly, often drank soma in connection with religious rites. This gave them tremendous creativity and gave them the ability to conceive of airplanes, cars, calculus and other extraordinary feats of mind when other civilizations were still shivering in the cold because they had not yet discovered fire.

This idea might have been relegated to mere idle speculation, had it not been for the recent publication of a manuscript that is 48 years old this year. This book, written by Morrison et al. (1967) and published this year, purports to have rediscovered the lost Soma plant and talks about its extraordinary properties as evidenced by direct experimentation by the authors. The authors claim to have traveled to Central Asia in 1962 and found the lost plant, whereby they brought it back to the USA and started experimenting with its properties by ingesting its extract.

The results, for those who are aware of the history of blues and rock’n’roll, are nothing short of spectacular: Jim Morrison formed the legendary band “The Doors”; Eric Clapton, nicknamed “Slowhand,” is considered one of the greatest blues guitarists in the history of blues and rock’n’roll; and Jimi Hendrix is considered by many to be the most skilled electric guitarist ever.


 

In this manuscript, discovered only last year in unpublished form in Eric Clapton’s archives at his home in the UK, the three authors discuss the miraculous increases in creativity they experienced after the consumption of soma juice. According to the authors, they found the rare plant with the help of an old, experienced tribal man who showed them one of the few places in which the original Soma plant still grew. The three managed to get as much as they could bring on the journey back.

Hendrix mentions that some of his greatest performances, particularly the famous “Star-Spangled Banner” live version that he performed at the Woodstock festival, owed their phenomenal creativity to the effect of Soma, which he had ingested just a couple of hours before the performance. Similarly, Clapton credits his incredible performances with “Cream” to the potent effects of Soma, particularly the single “Spoonful.” Morrison discusses how he shared Soma with guitarist Robby Krieger just a day before they collaborated on their legendary song “Light my Fire,” which became the title of Morrison, Clapton, and Hendrix’s manuscript.

In an interview conducted by the author just before this article was written, Clapton mentioned that “I knew how powerful Soma was, and I used to caution Jimi and Jim about it. But they were too carried away by its power and how creative it made them feel. I still feel guilty that if I could have only stopped them from taking so much of it, I could have saved them.” 

What Clapton is referring to is the apparent drug-overdose-related deaths of both Jimi Hendrix (1970) and Jim Morrison (1971). It should be mentioned that the cause of neither death has been conclusively established, probably because there was no test in western medicine that could detect a Soma overdose. But with Clapton’s account, we can now clear the mystery behind the unexplained (and unnecessary) deaths of these two musical geniuses. After all, one has to exercise a little caution when consuming the drink of the gods.

On being asked if he could find out where more of the authentic Soma could be found today, Clapton said, “Well, yeah, I tried to get more. Our stocks lasted only a small while, and while I used mine more carefully and sparingly than Jim or Jimi, by 1978 I was out of all of it. It did leave a permanent impact, though. I tried to go back to that place to get more, but it had been covered by a residential complex and the field was gone. The old tribals were nowhere to be seen. I don’t know if any Soma can be found today.” When asked if they did not try to grow the plant in the west, Clapton replied, “We tried. But it looks like the plant won’t grow in the western climate. The plant died very fast.”

Conclusions

From the preceding, it should be obvious that the world owes all its significant achievements to the civilization of the ancient Hindus. Unfortunately, much of this knowledge has been lost and is only now being rediscovered. The question remains: how can India regain her lost glory? How can we reach the heights attained by our ancient Hindu ancestors?

The answer doubtless lies in Soma. The Modi government must make the rediscovery of Soma its prime agenda for the next 10 years. The quest for the true Soma must commence immediately and PM Modi must use all his goodwill with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, China, and the Central Asian republics to send teams of Vedic scholars and biologists to locate and bring back to India the original soma plant.

Once it is obtained, Soma must be grown in a large-scale way so that every family of four in India gets at least 2 litres of Soma every day. This will ensure that Indians today become as intelligent and creative as they were in Vedic days, and with these enhanced nutritional supplements we will soon surpass the Westerners and the Chinese in development. (Of course it will mean that some farmland will have to be diverted from growing crops like rice and wheat to Soma, but a little hunger is a small price to pay for national greatness.) At that point it will be easy to reconstruct the lost secrets of the Vymanika Shastra and other scientific classics of Hindu rishis. The Soma juice might even make us so spiritually aware that telepathic conferences with great Rishis can be carried out on a routine basis so that we can update our knowledge with the knowledge of the eternals.

Once we are on this path, nothing can stop Bharatvarsha.

Jai Shri Ram!

REFERENCES

Ali, M., Frazier, J., Liston, S., and Foreman, G., “Gandiva of Haraxvati: The Right Hook That Deals the Knockout Punch to the Aryan Invasion and Migration Theories,” Pingu Books, 2014.

Carreras, J., Domingo, P., and Paruppurotti, L. “Effect of Sound Vibrations on Molecule Hypercompression Leading to Lukewarm Fusion,” Musings of the Royal Italian Gelato Society, 2014 (17), pp. 233-304.

Dagar, M.N., Dagar, A.N., Dagar, Z.N., and Dagar, F.N., “Effect of Musical Chanting on Localized Air Pressurization and Hypercompression Due to ‘Udhak Gamaks’ in Dhrupad Singing,” International Journal of Dhrupad Physics, 2013 (3), pp. 1473-1553.

Dali, S.D.F.J., Duchamp, H.R.M., Tanguy, R.G.Y., Magritte, R.F.G., and Radnitzky, E., “Heads, Torsos, Hands and Legs: The Infinite Juxtapositions of Biology as Seen in the Copper Plates of the Royal College of Physicians in Hastinapura in 3300 BCE,” Journal of Near-Impossible Archaeology, 2014 (9), 1323-1692.

Todt, F., Frank, H., Frank, W., Heydrich, R., Mengele, J., and Himmler, H., “Learning from the Ancient Aryans – Master and Slave Races,” Annalen Sociopathophysik, 1932 (1), pp. 1-473. (in German)

Hefner, H., Guccione, R., and Flynt, L., “Single Horniness: The Mystery of the Indian Unicorn of Harappa Revealed,” Sharper Collins, 2007.

Herman, P-W, and Allen, W., “Following the Pee Trail – Archaeological Evidence for the Use of Cow’s and Elephant’s Urine as Fuel for Ancient Indian Aircraft,” Biology, Oleo and Paleobiology, 2014 (2), pp. 223-309.

Jagger, M.P., Richards, K., Wood, R.D., Perks, W.G., Watts, C.R., and Zimmerman, R.A., “Like a Falling Stone: The Conquest of America by the Pandavas Using Ballistic Missiles,” Archaeo-Linguistic Ruminations, 2015 (1), 22-251.

Malan, D.F., “Understanding the Genius of the Hindu Organization of Society and Its Possible Application to South Africa,” Journal of Race Relations in the African Continent, 1930 (3), pp. 32-97.

Morrison, J.D., Clapton, E.P., and Hendrix, J.M., “Lighting My Fire: The Effect of the Ancient Indian Plant Soma on Musical Creativity,” Eastern Spirit Books, 2015.

Steptoe, P., Edwards, R., and Mukhopadhyay, S., “In-Vitro Fertilization in Ancient India: The Archaeological Discovery of the Largest and Most Complex In-Vitro Fertilization Laboratory in the World,” Journal of Fanciful Archaeology, 2015 (1), 1900-1947.