The Midas touch :

What is the Midas touch? 

Most of you will recall the story of the King Midas. 

Here is an animated video (~12 minutes)on the story of King Midas :

The desire to instantly transform stuff of low value to one of high value is a natural human desire. In fact, the alchemist’s life’s mission was to convert base metals into gold. And while this ambition was not really fulfilled, it gave birth to the Science of Chemistry and then to Pharmaceutical Science resulting in infinitely valuable life saving medicines. 

In our tradition also पारसमणि ( Philosopher’s stone ) was a mythical object in Alchemy, purported to transmute base materials into gold. 

For children, chocolate is perhaps more exciting than gold, and  a story was created  about a boy who turns everything his lips touch to chocolate ( 

As we understood Chemistry we learnt that the results of chemical bonds can also be very dramatic and magical. Hydrogen for example is a combustible gas that burns with a blue flame and Oxygen is a supporter of combustion but water ( which results from their combination) puts out fire. Similarly the poisonous sodium and chlorine combine to form common salt which is essential for life. That is why Gandhiji’s whose 151st birthday we are celebrating protested at Dandi to assert the right to make salt. 

But gold is an element, which means you can’t make it through ordinary chemical reactions — though alchemists tried to do so for centuries. To make the sparkly metal, you have to bind 79 protons and 118 neutrons together to form a single atomic nucleus. That’s an intense nuclear fusion reaction.

Today is Gandhi Jayanti, and it is a good idea to reflect on what he thought of the significance of money. This is a story that I heard when I was a child, but I haven’t found any mention of this incident while searching the Internet. The story is that while addressing students at Allahabad University, Gandhiji was asked a question about what he thought of the role of money in a person’s life. He responded with a very simple demonstration. He asked someone in the audience  to hand him a coin. Then he held the coin grasped by the thumb and the index  finger (forming a circle) and fully stretched his arm. And he remarked that I can see this coin as well as the rest of the world. And then gradually he bent his arm and brought the coin very close to his eye eventually fully covering the eye. And remarked that now I cannot see the world. This story had a profound effect on me, on maintaining the balance between the pursuit of wealth and leading a life of service to  fellow human beings. For me personally, it was a more powerful story than that of Midas. Later on I appreciated that it was also linked to the concept of “aparigraha”. Aparigraha is the Yogic concept in which possessions should include only what is necessary at a particular stage in one’s life. 

Do you sometimes think that our obsession with turning everything into digital…. could lead us to a similar undesirable fate ? 

About mmpant

Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation. Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s. He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era.. Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada. He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published. During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management). With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT” Prof. Pant is presently; • Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education. • Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan • Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education • Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT • Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training • Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education. Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ; • Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms) • One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University • Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government. • Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.
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