On the journey of writingSRM University – AP, the multidisciplinary research-intensive university located at the heart of Amaravathi, initiated another unique programme titled “University Eminent Lecture Series for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences” today with Mr Jairam Ramesh – Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha. Mr Ramesh participated in a vigorous interactive discussion “On the Journey of Writing”. Ramesh shared his process of and insights into writing and interacted with the members of the audience comprising faculty, students, scholars and attendees across the country. His generosity in terms of sharing tips for better writing, developing principles of writing, being well-disciplined about writing, and persisting and being patient with the process inspired others.

Ramesh also spoke about his latest book The Light of Asia: The Poem That Defined The Buddha sharing that it was written during the lockdown period. His daily routine of sticking to a certain number of words or any other form of goal had made it easier for him to produce the work. This particular book is quite different in nature from its predecessors and reflects the same positive mindset that is an attribute of the author’s persona itself.

jairam ramesh at SRMAPRegarding rejections of writing, he advised that failure should never be seen as something that deters a writer. He shared that his own journey began quite late and that his own writing goes through at least three drafts before it gets published. He emphasised that it happens because writing is an iterative process, in engineering terminology, and not a linear process, and that is what makes it a process full of surprises. He put a great emphasis on reading as well. To be a great writer, first, one needs to invest one’s time in order to be a good reader. He further shared his thought that this generation lacks the discipline of writing. It is never easy to communicate with readers until one is able to understand the mass psyche as writing is not only about expressing one’s point of view but also understanding the psychology of the targetted readers.

The universities need to establish a system whereby they can encourage students to read a body of work from disciplines other than their own and produce a paper at the end of their reading, Ramesh argued. The engineering students need to know what is happening in economics or literature, for instance. Similarly, students studying literature should know what is happening in sciences. This cross-fertilisation would help students get exposed to thinking in general.

The audience asked him several questions about the sources that can be consulted for getting better at writing, ways of integrating feedback into writing, means to writing with objectivity, balancing conscious effort with spontaneity and so on. His ideas inspired students and faculty alike.

Prof V S Rao, Vice-Chancellor of the University, who was there to welcome Ramesh kept interacting with him throughout the programme. He extended an invitation to Ramesh to visit the university early next year to motivate the students in person. The event ended with a vote of thanks by Faculty Coordinator Dr Supriya Daniel.