[Book Review] Carving a sky by Samarpan

This is our second review of a book by the same author. The first review is here for the book entitled JUNGLEZEN SHERU and we strongly request our readers to read as our basic methodology of book review is presented there.

This book is titled CARVING A SKY – A Perspective on Life.

The book is about a train journey and the perspective becomes immediately clear when we find that a dialogue is going on to keep us engaged as soon as the train starts or our reading starts. The dialogue is between a monk and a young man and they both board a train from Kolkata. Destination : you shall forget after few pages or you will not care.

The journey now expands in space (geography spread in time) and time (historical time) as the author deploys the autonomy of the Art of Narration  and we slowly get out of the local space-time. This very process appeared to me providing a foretaste, a satori as Zen monks call a hint of ecstasy, of what the title says – Carving a Sky.

The young man (or the disciple as he slowly becomes ) is the narrator of the journey and the narration runs in three layers : the local time inside the train, the time outside the train where the young man was happy/successful/hopeful and the time when he will be confused/estranged, the Time outside of all times. The greatest virtue of the book is not to become uni-dimensional nor biased in treating these separate mode of times. The book treats the relish of eating a biriyani and that of explaining tanmatras and other very deep and profound aspects of existence with the same level of kindness and care. Without this narrative care, the book would have been simply a “spiritual manual read to pass time in a train journey”

As a reader, I found a distinction which was hammered, chiseled and brought to life is the difference between life and philosophy of life. It is tempting and not unjustified to consider the monk a symbol of timeless India and the young man a symbol of contemporary India, but the greatest virtue of the book is keeping the reader in a willing suspension of disbelief. Not only we find that the monk shares contemporary time but the young man also has his share in other times.

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Many spiritual books on Hindu scripture project a “world-weariness” and “rejection” of the only tangible, although fragile and ephemeral – our own life with its tangible and sensory connections. This projection may be the matured fruit of an engagement with the same thing that it tries to transcend, i.e. the life we live. However, if we start the book of life from its final pages to a person who has just entered life, the project will not find much takers. I think many spiritual traditions of our country and of other climes and times became disconnected with those who are at the entry point of life. Not because those traditions did not have anything to offer but they started teaching higher mathematical truths to kindergarten students exposed to arithmetic alone.



Carving a Sky avoided this pitfall at the cost of voluntarily losing some of the authority that scriptural texts generally command, at least, still in India. There is a demonstration of this aspect when some Maoist insurgents meet our monk and the young man in the train as they journey through the Chotanagpur plateau.

But we love the monk of the book for this. He has voluntarily and consciously left his garb of authority and that made the dialogue free and open-ended – subjected to doubts, questions and anxieties.

We find this dramatic device in one of the most authoritative manuals of Life, ever attempted by Man or God – The Bhagavad-Gita.  The recorder and speaker of the Gita’s supreme and enduring genius lies in masking the Omnipotence of Lord Sri Krishna till the very last. The first and second chapter of the Gita would have lost its tremendous poetic and human impact had the viswaraup-darshan happened at the early stages when the dialogue was friendly in tone.

Temperamentally, I am that type of reader who is not only interested what is said but equally interested as how it is said, I mean the literary quality. The book has charmed me. The authors prose style is what I envy. To write in small sentences and yet keeping the narration coherent.

Postscript : The author is doing a significant work and presumably his approach to communicate scriptures through books of such design might invite criticism from some more conservative and orthodox quarters – within and without.

However, we may rejoice at a more exciting phenomenon happening through the book – the ancient scriptures seems to be relevant for our Lives. To take liberty with a famous uttering : “The greatest incomprehensibility of scriptures is their applicability in vastly different ages.”

Carving a Sky, Harper Elements, by Samparpan, INR 199


Infocon : 4 fundamental types of security risks

There are four fundamental types of risk in the order of our vulnerability

I. Known Known – We know what are the risks and how we are placed relative to that risk. (For example – exposure to cold air in early November air in Kolkata, the time of change of seasons.  This is the time, we thought is also the best time from another angle to hold Infocon Conference on Information Security – because this is also the time when we get the maiden winter sweets of Kolkata)

II. Known Unknown : We know that we do not fully know fully the risks. (Downloading a free software from an arbitrary website)

III. Known Unknown ++ : We know that we do not know anything at all about the risk involved. (Providing sensitive banking information over phone to a caller who says he is a bank employee)

IV. Unknown Unknown : The most dangerous risk. We do not know that we do not know. This is the risk zone that causes greatest harm and damage. It is in this area that all kinds of risks germinate, mutate and manifest. We just see the consequences and then comes a re-action. 

The last class of risk with relation to Information Security cannot be mitigated by any hardware box, AI+ software because by definition we do not know that this exists.

Awareness and reporting in a trusted ecosystem can only fish out the “unknown unknown beast” as soon as it manifests so that the damage is minimum.

There is no 100% and permanent information security. There is no permanent bandobost  or Permanent Settlement as one British Governor General Conrnwallis started in Kolkata/Bengal in eighteenth century for harvested land of Bengal.

The settlement neither proved a settlement, not permanent.

Information harvesting needs another model of security.


Bringing Information Security to book – Infocon initiative

How much information security is enough security ?

Infocon is an initiative by Prime Infoserv, Kolkata and Wordsmith has been a collaborator in the initiative. Any contemporary CXO who is not concerned with the theme and confusion called Information Security is either non-existent or soon will face bankruptcy judge.

Billions are lost by private and public institutions worldwide through loopholes in securing information. Information is literally money. If you are a financial institution and if your customer database is compromised, then the fall-out can be seriously embarrassing to catastrophic.

The Problem of Mr. K, a CIO of the castle called Kolkata 

Mr. K is a  CIO of a large healthcare company in Kolkata. His 60% life was spent without internet and when his career is at the matured peak, he finds that he needs to reckon with information security. His CEO has instructed him to “do something”. What he should do ?

In case of an enterprise, any “doing” needs management time, money and attention (follow-up). More important, no vendor appears to be able to answer the question : “How much information security is good security ? “How much I should spend, considering the solutions are correct ?” 

Mr. K, found to his great confusion that he is not able to get these “figures”.

In a autumn morning in Kolkata, post-Durga Puja last year,  I and Sushobhan, CEO of Prime met Mr. K in his East Calcutta office, overlooking the wetlands of Calcutta that appear to be merging with the Sunderbans.  Mr. K narrated his predicament, especially the most important one – “How much money and resource he should ask for approval ? ” from his top management to implement the solution selected. The problem with the solution was its very nature : the solution is directly connected to the threat – real, perceived, imagined or enmeshed in the business interest of the information security vendor.

The Mathematical Model

In other words, we need an analytic framework backed up by the cold, austere and objective mathematical perspective other than paranoia, vendor interest, disaster porn, technical jargon, hardware and software vendor with their exotic offerings lined up in the form of priests of some esoteric cult.

There is a mathematical model called Gordon-Leob model that does exactly that. It uses mathematical tools like probability, confidence interval, distribution to produce a mathematically verifiable statement

After the coffee, I and Sushobhan told Mr. K that he should spend no more than 37% of the amount X, where X is calculated by

X = Cost * Maximum probable vulnerability * Impact Constant * Quantified Risk 

Mr. K was delighted. He is now at least dealing with arithmetic, not anxiety-metric.

In due course, we did find out X for his organization by using a 4 step method which is basically a combination of police work + detective work. In the first step, we did a vulnerability analysis and logged all known risks, in the 2nd step, we had assigned some metric to those risks in consultation with the company. In the 3rd step, we calculated the probabilities of such events, in the final step, we tabulated the impact and then estimated X.

Since then, we have been working in this area with clients in India, Bangladesh, UK and everywhere we found one common aspect : lack of awareness. Then the idea of Infocon was born.

Infocon 2016 is happening on 18th November – a platform for sharing our confusion, triumph, fear, best practices and combining our torches in a same direction to create a path in the literal jungle of information which not only has exotic fruits, flowers and scenes but ferocious enemies.




Geopolitics 101 : Underlying reasons of certain world events

All empires instinctively felt, studied,  built strategy around geopolitical realities and grew. They also fell when imperial ambitions overshot the limits imposed by geopolitical reality. I start with empires because all our democracies are relatively recent phenomenon of history. It is also becoming clearer that from the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991) to the Credit Crisis (2008), this period of 17 years witnessed something interesting and intriguing.

From 2008 to 2016 – what we observe is not some definitive march towards open countries and free people but something very strange and contrary. In the middle East, a new state is emerging that draws its existential fire from 7th century, a powerful China shows tendencies which are like small tremors of a dragon wagging its long tail before a jump, many democracies are showing clear polarization in far left or far right ( European democracies), a faded Russia that bemoans its Soviet imperial past, not with apology but with a sense of nostalgia. Great Britain’s people think completely opposite to what the Premier thought they were thinking in terms of regional integration as Brexit demonstrated. India – showing a clear inclination to electoral right in the last election goes for a “surgical strike” while the status quo so far was “strategic restraint.”

For all the matured democracies of the world, it is imperative to keep this geopolitical reality in mind because geography is a continuous and dense rock-like presence whereas ideologies are like layers of slime in underwater rocks that move with the undercurrents.

The post at the end will discuss the recent “surgical strike” by India in Kashmir in the light of the geopolitical aspect.

First some axioms which are self-evident and we can easily verify them without becoming an expert.

I. Geopolitics is not some theory. It is an existential baggage of a nation. Simply put, geography is, in a sense – destiny.

II. “A nation does not have any permanent friend or permanent enemy – only permanent interests” – this was from a British Prime Minister at the just peaking period of British empire.

III. There are certain geographical locations which may be valueless in themselves – a barren desert, an icy mountain area, a shallow marshland but has tremendous geopolitical and geo-strategic value with relation to its position vis-a-vis the current order of military, political, trade, transport connected realities. Their “geopolitical value” attracts powers at all stages (matured, decaying, emergent, established) and all these locations will be conflict zones. There is no exception to this observation. The conflict may manifest in various forms but the underlying causes reinforce them because of the principle of least resistance. 

IV. It is quite possible that a nation – weaker and vulnerable in comparison to a more powerful enemy will survive and even overcome if it remains aligned to its geopolitical wisdom but it is certain that it cannot but perish if it goes against its innate geopolitical wisdom.

V. Quo bono – the first question of Roman criminal jurisprudence. Who benefits ? World events do no happen by complete co-incidence. Someone benefits in whatever happens. It is like a trade – you can go long or go short and both ways there will be benefit for someone, somewhere.

Russia  : Napoleon and Hitler – both experienced their worst defeat near Moscow. If you see the map of Russia, you shall find that from the West, there is no geographical barrier. It is a vast steppe and plain lands. This vulnerability remains in Russian psyche and as a counterbalance, Russia has always sought sphere of influence or buffer zone in the East. Russian government has  always left the seat of government in Moscow when an enemy stands at the Gates and is saved by her weather. When Soviet Russia collapsed in 1991, first the buffer zones melted away and this perhaps makes current Russian President Putin say that the break-up of the Soviet Union is a catastrophic geopolitical event of last century. This statement is very important when we see the timing and the speaker.

China : One of the clear handicaps of China is her having no direct access to Arabian sea and Indian ocean because of being land-locked in the south. How China can have access to Arabian sea or Indian ocean ? It can either take a route from South China sea via Hongkong, connect to Burma and reach northern reach of Bay of Bengal. Then it drops south, touches  Sri Lanka and takes westward route  and connects to Arabian sea. Or it can drop overland and connect to Arabian sea at some port in North West of India or in Pakistan.

Q1: Why is China investing so much in Burma ?

Q2: Why is China building a port in Pakistan ?

Q3: Why is China building highways through Karakorum range all the way to Kashghar from the port at Pakistan ?

Q4: Does this highway cross through a zone called “Kashmir” ?

Q5. Who benefits if that zone is not under complete control of another regional player ?

Afghanistan  Since the time of Alexander, the overland access to India has been through Afghanistan and it still remains so. if the so called Aryans came to India from North West and they must have crossed Afghanistan and this area is one of the most scenic places in the whole planet. Why didn’t they settle there ?  There can be only two conclusions : a) Aryans did not come this way  b) They came this way but there previous settlement was very different from the mountain valleys of Afghanistan. In other words, the Gangatic valley of North India suited their taste. This river might have saved  Eastern India from becoming Hellenic. Alexander’s army never saw anything in the dimension of the Ganges in their whole journey from Macedon to Patna.  The holiest river of the Aryans stood in front of the mightiest Hellenic warrior to save Eastern India and after 2500 years, a son of the greatest city of the East of India, Calcutta – Swami Vivekananda declared that ..”in the domain of ideas, ancient Hindu and ancient Greece are meeting.”

Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nagarno – Karabach : These are small regions in Caucasus. Why there has been continuous conflict in these areas ? Hint : Caucasus oil (especially of Azerbaijans Baku oil fields) and these are the points where most strategic oil-pipeline can have their choke points.

British Empire : British empire was the last empire before the age of airplanes. Military application of airplanes drastically changed the geopolitical equation as there is no ocean in the sky ! In its height, British empire dominated all trade routes and controlled all “choke points” – Suez Canal, Panama Canal, Afghanistan as a counter-balance to Russian expansion in the East), India (entire sub-continent), Hongkong, Singapore. This maritime umbrella made sure an island continent like Australia supplied Britain with soldiers although Australia has no interest in those conflicts. Why ? It is to keep the master of the global trade routes pleased, otherwise Australia will be doomed. Air-power changed everything. British empire’s floating army – Royal Navy was too costly and inefficient to police the world.

Fifty years after the 2nd world war, we can easily see why nations have no permanent friend or foe, only permanent interest. America’s entry into war did save the world from becoming a Nazi empire but it did not save British empire. Actually, the global dominance was inherited from British to America. We now find Australia dutifully supplies soldiers to die in Iraq although we do not see any logic what strategic interest of Australia can lie in a conflict in Iraq. Answer : geopolitics.

Geopolitical Studies in India 

Unfortunately for India, there has not been first-rate geopolitical thinkers.  During British rule, their was no need as British imperialism’s broad shoulder bore the burden, for good or for worse.

Post-independence, economics was considered to the branch of knowledge and still today this veneration continues.  This unduly and blind veneration for economists among Bengalis always irks me and I have once quipped once in a polite company just after Dr. Amartaya Sen was awarded the Nobel prize : ” the more a community studies economics as a branch of study, the overall economic health of the community goes down.”

Two Bengali thinkers (not intellectuals as understood in India), with the risk of being labeled as prejudiced towards fellow Bengalis, I must declare that these two  thought about the issue with great foresight and originality. Bankim Chnadra Chatterjee (in Bengali essays) and Nirad C Chaudhuri in his works in English analysed the geopolitical realities and the policy implications. As early as 1952 (two years after India became a Republic), Nirad C Chaudhuri was talking of the need of a military aristocracy and he was citing the example of Roman republics. He also cautioned us of a military jingoism and how such mis-adventures can bring untold harm to a young republic and gains to third parties who may channelize their interest through “proxies”. He was perhaps a lone Indian, admittedly and bitterly, who like Putin, considered the collapse of British Empire as one of the pivotal historical event for India and the world and again, in a nostalgic sense.

The young republic of India in 1950 has matured. The military, administrative and political elite must concede to the fact that we need to have a culture of geopolitical studies among our young men and women for whom geopolitical realities will be starker and nearer.

As an Indian of 40+ years, I entreat the young men and women who are in their 20+ to consider the fact that the world order where globalization, private enterprise, free flow of capital and innovation, rising middle class income, the “3BHK, Wagon R, 2 private school, 2 credit cards”, economics and investment uber alles  model of urban elevation may not continue as geopolitical re-configuration are due. It is easy to deny this as healthy men deny death, rich deny poverty, stable people deny disturbance.

You may expect to be an entrepreneur in the common sense of the world but this sense of a world itself is a political construct. You may not be interested in politics but changing politics is interested in you.

“We may not be interested in geopolitical cataclysm but geopolitics is interested in us.”

Writer in a democracy

In my last vacation, I was working on a project of translation. I was translating selected parts into English from the writings from at least 70+ man and woman of letters of Bengali language.  A friend of mine, a successful man by today’s standard asked : “Who shall read these old writings ?”. He is right. He has brought to words what always remains a part and parcel of democratic environment.

One of the  writers in the pantheon was Promotho Chowdhury. Very few of Internet generation in Bengal even know his name. One of the finest craftsman of Bengali prose. More important – the only artist in Bengal whose prose reflects the clarity that only one language has most-plentifully : French. He was a master of that language and French did not remain foreign to him.

As I worked to translate, I found it is impossible to convey the “craft” into another language from Bengali. He was talking of Democracy and the role of writer-artist in such an age :

“..The noblest teachers of democracy wanted everyone to grow to the same level, but their disciples comprehended the opposite and each one aspires to be a man above all. “

“..The eternal stamp of aristocracy that Art has in her soul is something democratic milieu cannot comprehend and perhaps envies. It happened in ancient Greece that the society was democratic but Art was aristocratic. Because of this, Greek art is so immensely valuable that we cannot even separate its soul from the body through logic. I have a hope or rather false hope that Bengal will grow to play the same role in India where there will be a democratic society but aristocratic Art.” 

The last sentence appears to be a direct translation of the soul of Democracy in America by Alex de Toqueville (published in 1833) and I am sure Monsieur Choudhury was a lone man of his time who had the capacity to read this in original and to appreciate the craftsmanship of the work. His 36 words in Bengali  is something every writer in democracy keep in front of his desk all the time :

“...The writer in a democratic age has a grave responsibility and must draw people’s attention to the higher aspects of his being through Art because in a democratic age, the common mind naturally gravitates towards crass materialism.”



[clinicdephilo.com] presents Mid Life Crisis

This post will discuss an universal phenomenon discovered around 1960, called Mid Life Crisis by psychologists. I would rather term it as Mid Life passage. The post is written by a 40+ man, presumably in the thick of it.

In 1960s, economists or psychologists studying human happiness or well-being were considered very strange or “alchemists reborn” by the mainstream practitioners.

The situation is very different today,so different that a venture  clinicdephilo.com is returning positive return on investment within six months.

If you are 40+ , working professional, have a family with attendant parameters – spouse, children, EMI for home, car, then look at the curve below very intently :

20101218_xjc736 - Copy (2).gif

The U-bend of Life or U curve – Courtesy – The Economist 

This is very famous U-curve which seems to be of the same pattern over a huge population samples in many cultures. Some researchers did collect data over 500 zoos and found out that chimpanzees also validate the curve and some academicians consider this U -curve as a biological condition rather than a human condition alone.

The implications are very interesting. Let me present what the insights of the curve I gathered and this may explain many things which are tormenting you but you are not able to get a “scientific” explanation. You shall thank me if you continue reading.

I. Before you reach 50+, the next 10 years, on an average will be very troublesome. You are on a free fall in terms of happiness, health, ambition, energy, libido, relationship, loving your work.

II.  The above is independent of professional success and financial security. Do not fool yourself that you can escape U-curve just because you are successful. It is not clear yet but it appears that your brain and mind both have re-calibrated what is meant by success and achievement.

III. You may suddenly feel that Life has sped by you and what you have achieved is nothing. You have nothing to show for. You shall find your office and work a kind of prison  cell and home – solitary confinement.

IV. You shall think about death a lot. To get an idea what it is – please consider your phone showing a lone bar of power left and you are in a situation where you cannot charge in next 5 hours.

V. You shall become customers of those businesses that a) helps you grow new hair b) tightens your skin c) makes you look younger d) inject vitamins and all super-human supplements e)  helps you look younger and attractive f) sells wigs g) sells viagra and such stimulating pills

VI. You shall make impulsive buying

VII. You shall be suddenly interested in music, playing an instrument, joining an art school, planning exotic travels. You did nothing of them earlier.

VIII.  Trying to associate socially, emotionally and romantically with people 20 years younger than you ; they bore you mostly but you think that their is a radiation theory of youth and you shall be able to capture some of this “radiation of youthfulness”. You may prove yourself a fool but you will not care.

IX. Even though you have a good job and  good salary, it will be an effort for you to drag yourself in the morning to your work / office.

X. If you have old parents, every phone call from them will make you tense.

XI.  You shall quite often muse : “How my children’s generation will be able to work, earn and lead their lives ?”

XII. You shall see people – achievers, celebrity in the TV and will ask yourself – “Look… he is two years younger to me.. but where is he now….”. You shall discover that school-mates, college-mates, ex-colleagues – all were in some universal conspiracy to torment you, to re-prove your own worthlessness. Facebook photos posted by friends will burn you.

XIII. You shall have an intense longing for your childhood. You shall think more of the past then of the future.

XIV. Sometimes, you shall think of leaving the metropolitan (you have worked hard to be in such a company HQ since you were 25) and going to some secluded area, in some small town and become a clerk there. Or may think of leaving the job (which you cannot for at least 15 years because of mortgage) and starting a small dhaba or coffee-shop or bookstore.

XVI. Sometimes, you shall look at the mirror and think : “Who is that fellow ?”. If you are less polite and unforgiving, you shall quip inside while you look at your spouse : “How unattractive !”

If you identify some symptoms (no need to admit, a nod will do) matching, do not be bitter or sad. Look again at the U-curve. By 50+, you shall again start becoming happier, so much so that you shall be reaching your peak happiness when you are 60+. This explains why grandparents sometimes are much more emotionally closer to the grandchildren than the parents. Their happiness is almost at the same level.

How to go through this Crisis or Passage ?

As U-curve clearly demonstrates, being more successful or achieving more will not help you at all.

Research on this has indicated that something called “wisdom” is something that can make the passage less painful and less bitter. The neuro-psycho configuration that is causing the crisis, in other way is preparing you for “wisdom” where if you remain truthful to the passage or rather to biology, you shall find that your reaction to achievement, ambition, success will be different.

The challenge is not the crisis but an engagement with it. This can only be done once you are detached. Hence the first advice to Arjuna in India’s omnibook of wisdom, the Gita declares :

“dehino-ashmin yatha dehe kaumarng jaubanam jara

tatha dehantra prapti dhira statra na muyati”

“Just like a body changes from boyhood to youth and then to old age, thus a man of wisdom does not become sad while the body takes another body (death of the current body and taking another new body )”

In the Gita, body meant both physical body of five gross elements and three subtle elements called mind, intelligence and ego.

This detachment will not just come when you need it. This needs practice.

Let me do some more research and I shall write a post on the practice aspect of it.




Pure mathematics and Poetry

[Formalized discussion with my son, a student of class VI – a victim of maths teaching in contemporary schools ] 

Pure mathematics and poetry, in vulgar eyes appear to be useless. People who are exact solutions to “cost-benefit analysis equation” in the most rigorous manner will definitely think so. Pure mathematicians and poet – these two species are most-unprotected in this world. Let us see how :

  • Since 300 BC, some people are mesmerized by the property of prime numbers. A prime number is a number, greater than 1 and that is divisible by 1 and itself. For example, 2,3,5,7,11,13,17,19…..They ask the following questions and dedicate their lives in finding their answers.

a) How many such numbers are there ?

b) How are they distributed in the number line ?

c) Is there any “neat” way by which we can tell how many prime numbers are there, say in between 10,0000 and 10,0000000 ?

d) Why is that in between 1-10, there are 4 prime numbers ( 2,3,5,7) whereas between 90-100, there is only one (97) ?

e) If we know a large prime number, when will the next prime number will be ?

f) Do prime numbers appear in number line without any order or pattern or there is some pattern and we are just not able to discover it, since last 3000 years.

Now, prime numbers are not conscious and they do not care if someone turns into an old man from a young man while pursuing them. Failure in this has no tragic consolation as one gets in unrequited love. There is a 50/50 chance that one is pursuing a chimera.

Let us observe the rough sketch of these pursuits with prime numbers :

  1. Euclid in 300 BC proved by brilliant argument that there are infinite number of prime numbers. How ?  The fundamental theorem of arithmetic says that any integer number greater than 1 is either a prime or can be expressed as a product of prime numbers in a unique way. Let us consider now a finite list of prime numbers and P = p1 * p2* p3*p4*…..p(n). Let Q = P+1. Now, Q is either a prime number or it is not a prime number.  Then comes a brilliant logical reasoning.

If Q is prime, then we have a number which is greater than P and since this interval [1 to n] we have chosen, there will be always some prime greater than the last prime of this interval and for all intervals. Hence there will be infinite number of primes

If Q is not prime, then we have some prime number p in our list that divides Q. It means it divides both P and Q. But that is not possible because Q-P = 1 and no number divides 1. So there is no such p in our list.

2. Fermat found out a result in 1650 that established a fundamental relationship between the product of 2 prime numbers. It was just playing with the rules of the numbers and no one had any inkling whether this would be of any “practical use”.

3. Riemann in 1888 found out a function called Zeta function that pointed to some remarkable connection with the distribution of prime numbers. Just note that prime numbers do no appear in a regular fashion and as we move to larger number interval, they become less frequent and very very difficult to detect.  For example, recent breakthrough research by a mathematician found out an interval of 70 million within which at least a prime can be found in case of large numbers. Now consider that to check this prime in 70 million numbers, any computer will need a finite time. And this finite time  is the key antidote for this code to be broken and necessity of this finite time arises, as if it is in the fabric of the cosmos, the way primes are distributed as numbers become larger and larger (128 bit encryption – a 128 bit number in binary will be this one decimal :340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456). This number in decimal features in the blog that provides a fascinating elaboration of how large this number is.

This property of prime numbers is at the heart of all security of Internet. As a matter of fact, “secured site” means that the site is using 2 very large prime numbers – one is publicly known(public key) but the other one (private key) – being very large prime is so further away and it will take hours, if not days to find this out using the fastest computer and most optimized algorithm. If we use brute force (i.e take a number, check this and go to next number), then the time taken will be so large that solar system will collapse with sun getting off !

Even if an algorithm and machine can make this in 10 mins, the designer of this security code can just use a time-stamp and will expire – “session timed out” in say 5 seconds. This can be used for all communication.

After 350 years from Fermat, we suddenly discovered that his “little theorem” and prime numbers are part of our everyday lives. Like electricity.


Poetry shares this with higher mathematics. If the above aspect of pursuit of mathematics can be considered to be doing something that will be “imposed” on mankind centuries or millennia later . One such poet, Shelley wrote a sentence in one of his essays which is very easy to denounce as “poetic rapture” or “over-speak”.  He said, “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of mankind.” 

If we soberly examine the Fermat’s little theorem’s impact on our lives and business today, it is really so. If you run an online business, you must be compliant to the “mathematical legislation” imposed by Nature and first discovered by Fermat while just intimately playing with them and later applied by the designers of RSA algorithm some 350 years later.

Mathematics uses highly specialized language and notation. We are beneficiaries of their work with this language but cannot directly engage if we do not learn the language. And learning the language is not easy or we just cannot pick it up.

Poets use words – used by all and the language is known and we start using this as soon as we are two or three years old. But poets do something remarkable with this commonplace entities using the same rules of grammar everybody use. And the miracle happens.

I am giving an example which connects our native city – Calcutta and a Bengali poet.

In 1856 a French poet Searle Baudelaire published his collection of poetry called “Les Fleurs du Mal” and in 1940s-50s – a leading Bengali poet Buddhadev Basu got so much attracted that he devoted an intense amount of time, attention and care to study, translate, review and spread the poems of this long-dead French poet, almost to his dying day. What is happening here ?

A combination of words, a pattern of words rather become so potent that as if they enter into one’s innermost soul, as if seizes the core of us – call it genetic code, call it consciousness, call it soul, call it “I-ness”, but the effect is remarkable.

Another striking effect is the stability of some of the codes. Some poets are being read over centuries and millennia – the  pattern has remained the same – the same old text but thousands of generations have come and gone but few in each generation respond to these codes in an intense way. There is no apparent encryption here – the text is all open – no stated private or public key here but just like our genetic code maintains its stability and integrity over millions of years although using very little matter, poetry – is strangely like these codes which run in our genes.

I think true poetry is also encryption – encryption of our soul – some souls have the private key, most haven’t.

Hence just like large primes do not seem to obey any law or some law of their own choosing which we haven’t figured it out completely but will benefit us as we walk along the time-line, true poets appear in their own choosing and guided by some unknown law.

True Poetry is the encryption for our soul, our private key  and people who can create these “keys” are those on whom “eternity casts its gigantic shadows.”