From the Desk of Coordinator, Bioinformatics Centre

January 2005

The Supreme Energy

While scanning the ‘Current Science’, I was intrigued with the postulates on Ātman, the immortal aspect of the mortal existence. Narasimhan states that the Ātman described in old Hindu scripts is possibly genetic material as it carries all the manifestations, behavioural characteristics and even memory as already programmed to the progeny from generation to generation (Narasimhan NS. Curr Sci. 2003;85:1115-1116). However it does not meet the imperishable property of Ātman and explain how it migrates to another body, when the body dies as envisaged by saints. Crick states that one’s joy, sorrow, memories, ambitions, personal identity, free will are no more than the behaviour of vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules (Crick F. The Astonishing Hypothesis. Maxwell Macmillan, 1994, P. 3). It does not spell out causative factor responsible for the heterogeneity in human taste, temperament, character, perception and performance. This brings us back to importance of Nature Vs nurture (effect of environment). Further Vedas say that the three principal gunas Satva, Rajas and Tamas blended in different proportions, influence the mind and intellect giving a distinct flavour to each personality. As the human being is energy centre – physical, biological, psychological and spiritual and all thoughts, words and deeds are expressions of these energies translated into work done, all actions obey the law of nature i.e. for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The Hindu doctrine of Karma is its moral equivalent. Karma – yoga, the path of right action with free will (work done in spirit of dedication and selflessness, beneficial to society without expecting any reward) helps in Self-realisation and thus breaking the birth – death cycle.

Swami Rama says that consciousness is energy, which circulates in the energy channels and is known as Prana (Swami Rama, As per Yoga Vasishta, the consciousness that tends towards thinking, on account of the movement of Prana, is known as the mind. Movement of thought in the mind arises from the movement of Prana and movement of Prana arises because of movement of thought in consciousness. They thus form a cycle of mutual dependence. When cessation of thoughts of desire, greed, aversion etc. is brought in mind by meditation, the appearance of the World-illusion ceases leading to Self-realisation. 

Advances in physical science seem to validate the concept of Brahman (derived by Metaphysical Science approach), a state of pure consciousness, the Universal spirit, sum totality of the Universe and its phenomena. Physicists are coming close to explaining, why, if everything is eventually made up one single substance, Energy, does nature provide different types of fields for energy to work its magic? Physicists now realize that these divisions of fields are nothing but different aspects of a single entity, the ‘Unified filed’. Yogananda stated that body is only a manipulatable form  of condensed or frozen energy (Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi. P. 278).  Chattopadhyaya is too simplistic in stating that our ancient wisdom derived by years of meditation by the Enlightened to explain physiological phenomena has no rational basis and does not carry conviction (Chattopadhyaya MK. Curr Sci. 2004;86:626).   

According to Tejman the Grand Unified theory explains every principle process that occurs in nature including diversity within human species by introducing ‘energetic matter’, which is composed of time, space and energy. Wave theory contends that energetic matter transmutes to other wave formations by means of its energetic path and phase transitions. It provides a theoretical and practical basis for the notion of ‘Life after death’, reincarnation or existence of “ghosts” (Tejman CH. According to Nanduri, The Science of Cosmic Philosophy inter links the human spinal cord with consciousness and the soul to the Cosmic Vision of the Universe and attempts integration of science of philosophy and the philosophy of science. Sa 187-188 in the L 204 complex has a structure similar to a human spinal cord projected by Yoga philosophers (Nanduri V.       

   January 1, 2005                                      Prof. B.  C.  Harinath



  Gratitude stands out as the foremost of individual qualities. From the moment one is born one is indebted to the world. We are given food and drink, air and light, temperature and right pressure.  A sense of gratitude must be cultivated.  The more we develop the attitude of giving, the more we gain in life both in terms of happiness and prosperity.  The way to gain something is to lose it said Swami Rama Tirtha.  This is evident in nature as well. Light consists of seven colours.  When an object is bathed in light it absorbs certain colours and reflects back the others.  The object actually gains the colour of that which it gives away.  A blue object appears so because it absorbs all colours, giving back the blue.  So also in life, we are parted from that which we cling to and gain that towards which we maintain a spirit of dispassion.  A value-conscious person maintains an inner cheer.  His actions are dynamic and beneficial to all.  Of such a person says Coleridge: “For him in vain the envious seasons roll, who bears eternal summer in his soul”.

TOI, February 2002                                                                         Alok Chopra

April 2005

Benchmarks of Globalization

Whether we like it or not, we have entered the era of globalization, which will be commandered by 63000 MNCs accounting for 80 percent of all world investments and 70 percent of all world trade without accountability to National sovereignties,  sensibilities and interests according to Lord Bill Jordan, Global Trade Union Leader, UK. (Disha, Jan 2003).  While globalization is seen as a boon by those frequenting multinational hotel chains and flaunting their imported cars , a vast majority sees it as a threat to their jobs and livelihood. Time only tell whether we achieve the cherished aim of well being of one and all.

It is  said that Globalization will not be stopped, much less reversed. But it can and must be changed to suit national interests. Then the question raised in my mind. What are the benchmarks of globalization? From the trend setters, the weekend news media, I gather that the proliferation of motor vehicles, expansion of colas and junk foods to village level, mobile phone in each pocket with aggressive advertising and marketing by MNCs whether they are need based or not, are the symbols of globalization. Indiscriminate proliferation by MNCs will only affect national health and dignity.

The commercial beverages Coca-Cola and Pepsi with the World’s yearly consumption in the order of 200 billion liters, are chemical cocktails without nutritive value. Andhra farmers are using cola drinks as more economic  pesticides for their cotton and chilli crops. Still they are sold as modern soft drinks, without anyone raising a finger. Fast food preservatives and additives have a lot to do with triggering off  allergies. Americans are beginning to recognise the disastrous effect of their junk foods and cola mania after realising that their obesity epidemic is adding to the national health bill. Lawsuits were filed against McDonald’s chain by obese children blaming the fast foods for their obesity problem. New Zealand government has proposed to ban junk food advertising aimed at children. WHO is working on diet norms and education to restrict excess use of sugar, salt and fat in junk foods and change dietary habits for better health.

The mobile phone has become a fashion than necessity, thanks to the aggressive marketing.  Electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones carrying in trouser pockets, found to cause male infertility, by decreasing sperm count. Mobile phone radiation can damage DNA within the brain cells and has been linked to brain tumour. Significantly UK’s Radiological board advised the parents not to give cell phone to children below the age of 8 years. By 2009, India would be the second largest cell phone market in the world. A lot of scientific reports and research indicate the health hazards of using cell phones, though not conclusive. More and more government bodies and official agencies are issuing warnings against heavy use of cell phones. There could be a tobacco-style deluge of lawsuits facing mobile phone companies.

Another symbol of globalization is motor vehicle. There is a phenomenal increase in the number of vehicles on the road, thanks to the banks for easy loans. One can buy easily, but can a middle class family afford to maintain a car with white money, with increasing price of petrol? The population clogged towns and cities are already facing traffic jams and parking problems. Our priority should have been on mass transportation and affordable private transport. We just emulate the affluent countries and go through the same problems they faced. Can we not learn from their experience? Already there are suggestions of importing second hand costly brand cars from abroad, encouraging vulgar consumerism. The difference between the rich and poor widens, a good cause for increase in crime. Is there a place for self-dependent and sustaining Gandhiji’s village model in the process of globalization for arresting mass migration from rural areas to cities?

Once we are hooked to modern gadgets and utilities, without developing self-reliance, we get into trap and become second hand users and recyclers. The UK exports more than a third of its waste paper and plastic to China for recycling: government puts the annual figure at 2 lakh tonnes of plastic rubbish and 5 lakh tonnes of waste paper and card board, causing considerable pollution to the environment. In 2002 – 2003, India imported 6700 tonnes of explosive scrap and 79000 tonnes of plastic waste and imports nearly 2.5 million tonnes of steel scrap annually (Down to Earth, Oct 2004). Recyclers claim that metal scrap is imported into India due to shortage. We import the waste from the backyards of the rich countries and recycle here. Possibly this is what we bargained from globalization

 April 1, 2005                                       Prof. B.  C.  Harinath         

July 2005

Healthy Food should be a Service and not MNC business

  After clean air and water, natural and healthy food is important for optimal physical and mental health. Obesity is assuming epidemic proportions in developed countries and is becoming a serious public health problem in developing countries as well with faster economic development and globalization.

Though automation, sedentary life style and lack of exercise do contribute to obesity problem, the real culprit is addictive junk food with increased sugar, salt, fat and chemicals dished out by the MNCs by aggressive marketing and targeting in particular children and teenagers. Now a days every magazine and news paper do publish reports of harmful effects of junk foods which are heavily neutralized by MNC’s marketing manipulation write ups and advertisement using glamorous celebrities. For every dollar spent in the US on nutrition education, it is estimated that the food industry spends about US $5000 on food advertising (Down to Earth, May 15, 2024). In Indian mythology, we are used to stories of God Shiva making Rakshasas powerful by blessing them and then worrying about their misdeeds. Food should not be treated as business and leave in the hands of MNCs. The sooner we realize the better will be our physical and mental health. How much of the proposed Food Safety and Standards bill by our rulers, laying standards to regulate manufacture, import, export, storage, processing and distribution of safe and wholesome food will be effective is debatable with the experience of America having obesity epidemic with two thirds of adults and 15% of school age children either overweight or obese due to consumption of fast food. In 2000, the economic cost of obesity in the United States was put at 117 billion dollars. I wonder whether the governments really are focusing on the real contributors to obesity. It is of interest to know that gut microbes (gut contains 1023 microbes of about 500 different species) are responsible for fat deposition in our body thus linking with obesity. The scientists speculate that changes in microbial ecology promoted by western diets (fast foods) could be the environment factor affecting predisposition towards obesity (Shouche et al. Curr.  Sci., Feb 2005).  WHO is discussing the global strategy on diet, physical activity and health as a guideline which is supported by consumers International. But Food Industry lobbies are pressurizing the governments to support corporate interests over public health.  

When Governments fail to understand and tackle the obesity problem, the consumer is waking up and taking the corrective measures. Here I must thank Dr. Wig for sending news item from BMJ about lawyers going to sue US junk food manufacturers. Professor John Banzhaf of George Washington university, the first lawyer to sue the tobacco industry is predicting a series of similar suits against the fast food industry for its role in the obesity epidemic. He predicts that many obesity related suits will be filed in the near future. Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition in her book ‘Food Politics: How the food industry influences Nutrition and Health’ states that food companies will make and market any product that sells, regardless of its nutritional value or its effect on health. In this regard, food companies hardly differ from cigarette companies (Fred Charatan Florida, BMJ 2002).

Two teenagers had filed a case against fast food giant Mc Donald’s corporation blaming it for their obesity, were allowed by US court to move forward with the law suit. They can now demand secret company documents on food preparation and advertising (Down to Earth, Feb 28, 2024 P-12).

Central Board of secondary education at Kolkata has decided to junk junk food on campus at CBSE schools. Mike Adams has come up with e-Book, The Five Soft Drink Monsters; how to finally kick the soft drink habit for good. Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that he wants to ban all sales of “junk food” in schools (Down to Earth, April 15, 2005, P-58).

Why not our country come up with novel ideas? In our culture we consider guest as god and we like to give fresh food. Let us make supply of food, a service and not profitable business. Small food outlets and hotels supplying farm fresh and home cooked food and not stocking junk foods should be encouraged and exempted from income tax. More jobs will be created along with healthy food. Tasty food does not need advertisement. Advertising expenditure of MNCS should be taxed. All possible steps should be taken to educate masses and discourage consumption of junk foods in the interest of better human health and saving National health management costs.


July 1, 2005                                                         Prof. B.  C.  Harinath     

October 2005

Chemicalized Life Style

Fast foods and fizzy drinks with number of chemicals to keep them stable, fresh and tasty, are causing havoc with the health of the community and in particular children with asthma, obesity and other health problems in epidemic proportions. No wonder the Governments and the public abroad are concerned with health care costs of these man made health problems.  When USDA came up with nutrition advice on internet with flashy new food pyramid on what and how much to eat, the website received 48 million hits in the first 24 hours, showing the serious interest of the public on nutrition (Newsweek, May 9, 05). The result of the anger of the people is the voluntary withdrawal of Fizzy drinks by Coke and Pepsi companies from US school premises (TOI, Aug 22,2023). When similar discouraging steps initiated on smoking in developed countries, the MNCs exported cigarettes to developing countries. I was shocked to see the children selling cigarette packets on the cross roads of Delhi.

 There is a need for strong and nationalistic leaders in developing countries to arrest the vulgaric consumerist culture being imported from abroad in the name of economic advancement and modernization. Under the programme of Global Realization, MNCs organize workshops for globalization of their chemical based products, identifying children and teenagers as targets for indoctrination and addiction for life with variety of means including aggressive marketing (Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser). In the Polanyi tradition, the political  redistributive logic (historically, the logic of the state) stands out as less destructive than the anarchist  logic of the market itself. The movement of self-protection of society against the disruptive and destabilizing effects of the market economy is gaining momentum (Vital Connections. Ed- R. K. Srivastava).

 In addition to fast foods, in the name of hygiene and better packaging, the chemicals used in household products such as plastic wraps, toys, metal cans, detergents, cleansing products, personal care products, (perfumes, nail polish, hair colors etc.) are attracting the attention of the geneticists and causing alarm. Pre packaged foods (popcorn & French fry boxes) which often have grease-resistant coatings that contain PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) is likely to be a carcinogen. Hair products, deodorants, fragrances often contain chemicals, which are endocrine disruptors. Alkyl phenols present in detergents, paints, cleansing products affect sperm production and immune system. In a study, CDC researchers found that boys is neonatal intensive care unit had higher phthalate levels following FDA’s warning that phthalate leaching out of plastics used in medical devices, carry health risk to baby boys (USA Today Aug 3, 05). In a study conducted by Clean Production Action a US-based NGO detected presence of most of the 44 toxic chemicals in significant amounts in the house dust collected from vacuum bags in American homes, which when inhaled or ingested may prove harmful (Down to Earth, April 30, 2024). However safety studies on chronic long-term health effects resulting from exposure to chemicals from products are seldom conducted though, chemical industry claims that lower doses pose no harm. More than 100000 chemicals are commonly used, with daily addition of 4 new chemicals introduced into everyday products such as cosmetics, household appliances, furniture and toys. From one million tonnes in 1930, the global chemical production now has reached more than 400 million tonnes. Six screenings tests (mutagenicity, ecotoxicity, acute and chronic toxicity, developmental / reproductive toxicity and environmental etc.) have been internationally agreed for high production volume (HPV) chemicals. Only 7% of 3000 HPV chemicals in the US have all the screening tests done. 93% of the HPV chemicals are missing one or more of the screening tests (Down to Earth, May 31, 2024). Clean Production Action (CPA) suggests an overhaul of regulations on chemicals using Europe as an example. Europe’s new draft on chemicals management programme, entitled Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) is set for enactment in a year. According to the European Commission, REACH would save an estimated 50 billion Euros in health benefits over the next 30 years and prevent as many as 4300 cases of cancer. American Chemistry Council (ACC), predicting loss of billions of dollars in US sales of these chemicals, is lobbying against REACH (Down to Earth, April 30, 2005). We have two options. Take it as it is dished out by MNCs in the name of modern life style or be judicious and exercise control over the situation.

October 1, 2023                                        Prof. B.  C.  Harinath