Dr. Subramaniam Swamy in his FOREWORD:
This book is timely during this transition period of the new world order where India is vying for an economic, scientific, and political leadership through hard (population, military, and technology) and soft (yoga, Ayurveda, music, and movies) elements of power. Indian diaspora (NRIs) can be very important link between India and rest of the world (more true for America). Cross-cultural bridging, communication, and cooperation will be influenced by the content of this book.
About the Book:
The main point of elaboration here is that while NRI is a common name referred to people of Indian origin who have been outside India for an extended period of time, NRI is not a monolithic group, especially when one considers the Indian diaspora in different countries like Britain, Europe, Middle East, Canada, or now even in China and Korea. Each of these groups brings the same fundamental cultural connections but deal with different contrasting cultures outside. Thus, there will be slight differences in their NRI lens on India.
This book in no way meets the task of making Indic values and practices the lynchpin of the world, but is surely a small step towards that goal by presenting a different take on many pertinent issues. The book is work in progress and the work is multidimensional that will need contributions from many, if not all, people of the entire world.
About the Author:
Bal Ram Singh, PhD, has been a professor since 1990 and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-scholar since 1997 at UMass Dartmouth (until 2014) and at the Institute of Advanced Sciences (INADS), Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He has been visiting professor at Georgetown University, Harvard Medical School, Yang Ming University (Taiwan), and Jawaharlal Nehru University (India). He is currently the President of the Institute of Advanced Sciences and also the founder of Prime Bio Inc., a biotechnology based company.
Dr. Singh is Founding Director of the Botulinum Research Center, established in 2003 and currently located at INADS. He is also the Founding Director of the Center for Indic Studies at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Dr. Singh is an alumnus of Kamla Nehru Institute Science and Technology of Avadh University, Ayodhya, India, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India and Texes Tech University in Lubbock, TX, USA.
He has been conducting research on botulinum and tetanus neurotoxins, and also on yoga, mind and consciousness. He has published 13 books and over 300 articles, including articles related to India’s philosophy and traditions. He is Editor/Associate Editor of four journals, including Ayurveda Journal of Health and International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, Ayurveda – Health Happiness And Harmony Book Series, Motilal Banarsidass.
A Different Take: An NRI View of India in the Tradition of Ram, Krishna and Gandhi by Professor Bal Ram Singh is full of information, illumination and contestation on global issues and international concerns particularly from the perspective of the NRIs. The subject matter of the book has been well chosen. We have for long been needing a whole book on these issues. The author’s range of theorizing is extraordinary. He deals with most of the themes which are matters of concern for any NRI- diversity in Indian tradition, colonial distortions of India, Indian religion in world peace, nationalistic fervor, including conflict resolution and affirmative action policies, combating terrorism and so on. In addition, he has sought to achieve a thorough going synthesis of developments in culture and civilization, religion and spirituality, the village life as the hope, particularly with the Gandhian pedestrial. It is not easy to assess the work of a scholar whose professional competence extends from bio-physical- chemistry to the sociology of knowledge, by way of Ram, Krishna and Gandhi, the more recondite sources of the Eurocentric metaphysical tradition. The most striking and impressive feature of Professor Bal Ram Singh’s approach to the range and complexities of NRI’s inquiry is the way in which he weaves whatever he analyzes into coherent whole. There is a unity of vision that informs his work. To this extent he is greatly under the influence of science from the western tradition with the vision of indigenous values. There is no corner-cutting, no facile evasion of difficulties or squires enunciation of conclusions unsupported by research: whether he is reassessing Indian polity, evolving and evaluating consciousness, delving into the culture and civilization, or bringing Ram Rajya up to date, there is always the same uncanny mastery of the sources, joined to an enviable talent for clarifying intricate logical puzzles. The Foreword by Professor Subramaniam Swami is an additional dimension of the book. The book is of immense value for the students, researchers, teachers and general readers world over.--- Professor Raghwendra Pratap Singh Centre for Philosophy, School of Social Sciences Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi-110067 March 7, 2020
“A Different Take” is a very different kind of book. Whether you are an NRI or a citizen of Bharat, you should have this book gracing your coffee table when you invite your friends over for a cup of tea and samosas! The book, with its colorful photographs, amusing cartoons and an amazing smorgasbord of articles can surely start and sustain a long lively evening. The thirty plus short articles by Dr. Singh touch every imaginable issue concerning modern India, be it religion, village life, terrorism, politics or fashion. They are written not so much with the political pundits in mind as the common citizen who wants to stay conversant with India in all its varied aspects. India with its mind-boggling diversity cannot be reduced to generalities. Diversity of opinion is inevitable. “A Different Take” is a full acknowledgement of this greatness of Bharat. Without preaching one monolithic view, the book is a clever introduction to the magnificent mystery that India will ever be.----Raju Chidambaram, Ph.D. and an NRI of 55 years, Alexandra, VA, USA; February 12, 2020
A different take, by Prof Bal Ram Singh is a collection of 33 short articles (written by him on different dates) organized into three broad sections – NRI views on India, Dealing with Problems, Moorings in India. These articles present Prof Singh’s different and interesting takes on wide ranging issues (not limited to) social, political, cultural, educational, current national/international affairs for which he has offered practical (at times radical) solutions. Prof Singh is a scientist from the chemistry side (biophysical chemist to be precise) but has only one take on the subject in this volume – Chemistry of understanding where he begins with the issue of understanding of chemistry and then goes on to discuss the chemistry of understanding in his own lighter vein. The article on language titled Language as a pride of brain was equally interesting. I have had this discussion with Prof Singh numerous times. There is now some evidence on the direct relationship between an extended range and organization of speech sounds in a language to the efficiency of human brain, yet nothing on this matter can be said conclusively – be it the tri-tone paradox demonstrated by Prof Deutsch or a connection between Indian advancement in mathematics and computer science to their multilingualism. Credit however certainly goes to the Indian linguistic tradition for elaborately detailing the science of linguistics in early India before and after Panini. Another very interesting article that caught my attention offers A radical solution for India’s reservation system. Giving ‘reservation’ or preference in jobs, education, elections etc has been one of the strongly idiosyncratic Indian concepts which have been hard for a westerner to understand. The system of setting aside more than half of total seats available for jobs, education etc to weaker sections of society has been very controversial in India and often a convenient stick to beat the electorate with for votes. Prof Singh offers a quick solution. He says reserve 100% seats for shudras (considered a lower varna in Indian varna system) as anybody who serves (or does service or works) is a shudra according to him. This liberal definition with a provision of 100% reservation according to him will solve the problem. He cites Manusmriti which says that vertical movement to higher or lower varna was possible in the varna system as the varna was not assigned by birth but by one’s actions or profession. Such is the flavor of Prof Singh’s writings in this volume. His take on most burning issues is plain, clear and satirical at times. He carries his humble background and struggles from India to wherever he goes and whatever he does. He carries the weight of Indian tradition in his writings and discussions and is deeply inspired by it. I had several opportunities to work with him at the Center of Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth when I was a visiting professor there on his invitation and then at the School of Sanskrit & Indic Studies at JNU where Prof Singh and I jointly offered a course on Sanskrit and Science during his visiting professorship here. He leads the Vedanta initiative in the United States and together we have organized several international conferences and edited volumes on contemporary Vedanta studies and practices. He is also currently our Adjunct Faculty in JNU to help in innovative Ayurveda Biology initiative. Being an NRI gives him an advantage in viewing things from a different lens and making comments from a slightly different perspective for common good. The articles in the volume offer interesting reading and would be of great help in not only broadening your perspective but also in learning some nuanced concepts about Indian society and American society. I wish him all the very best with a hope that this book will be translated in Indian languages for wider readership.----Prof. Girish Nath Jha Professor of Computational Linguistics School for Sanskrit and Indic Studies, JNU, New Delhi - 110067