When an air warrior fired ‘poetic missiles’ penetrating R&D hearts…

By: Dr Anantha Krishnan M
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Rare are occasions when one gets to hear a speech from a senior Indian Air Force (IAF) official packed with thought-provoking quotes and poems.

During the Foundation Day celebrations of one of the defence establishments in Bengaluru recently, Air Commodore Dr Deepak Gaur, Commandant, Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM), IAF, unleashed a script that had many poetic moments, all thought-provoking ones.

Deepak Gaur

He first quoted from A E Housman (1859-1936), revered as one of the greatest scholars ever lived. The English poet and classical scholar attained fame for his collection of poems ‘A Shropshire Lad.'

Quoting from a poignant poem from Housman, Air Commodore Gaur, said: "Four lines express the anguish of young soldiers who would rather be alive to enjoy than die. I quote from Housman.

"Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.
Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young."

Rudyard Kipling's famous poem ‘If' comes alive

The top aerospace medicine expert in the country was emphasizing the need for developing equipment that would augment safety and save the lives of personnel of all three services.

"As long as we remain acutely aware why we do, what we do, we remain meaningful and we possess a sense of fulfillment," he said. Air Commodore Gaur complemented the defence lab for developing home-grown life support systems for soldiers, air warriors and sailors.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), the famous Bombay-born English short story writer, poet, and novelist was on Air Commodore's radar next.

Saying that Passion, Equanimity and Perseverance are key ingredients of an R&D person, the IAF brain quoted from Rudyard Kipling's famous poem, ‘If.'

"If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster;
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools.

R&D persons must be seekers of truth

Speaking to a packed audience and in the company of Dr G Satheesh Reddy, the newly-appointed Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister, Air Commodore Gaur drew a parallel between doctors and scientists.

"Doctors grapple with diagnosis, strive to cure and finally enjoy the smile of a cured patient. Scientists grapple with problems, strive for solutions and enjoy the Eureka Moment," he said.

Touching upon the desirable traits of a R&D person, Air Commodore Gaur said that they must be seekers of truth with honesty of purpose, commitment to the cause and with a helping attitude.

While the audience enjoyed every bit of gyan from the chief guest, the IAF official ended his speech quoting a verse from ‘Invictus', written by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903).

"If we have belief in ourselves, then no path will be too difficult, no impediment too daunting. Let me end this talk with a verse from Invictus," he said, quoting:

"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul."

It was definitely an address with a difference for the defence gathering, who are otherwise used to the please-all, self-patting speeches often made by guests and guests of honour.

Will the inspiring dose of thoughts from an air warrior, have any impact on the otherwise lethargic R&D set-up in India?
That's the million-dollar question left hanging!

(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)

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