Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Atlas Meets Delhi - Report

The much awaited first Atlas meet in Delhi was quite a memorable affair. It brought together ten enthusiastic voices driven by a common interest, although the backgrounds and the experiences with Ayn Rand were as varied as one could imagine (not to mention an 11th ‘little’ observer, who will perhaps need a decade and a half before he can really contribute to this group!). There were no dissenters, however, and it was agreed, by and large, that the core group should only contain people who have an interest in Rand and her philosophy and would appreciate and contribute to an initiative to spread these ideas further in India.

The Participants
The meeting was conducted between 5-8 pm, in two sessions divided by a little ‘tea and snacks’ break. The participation was slightly different both sides of the interval. In the first part, Vikram, Barun and Amar, playing hosts, were joined by Avinash Mullick, formerly a facilities manager with ICICI bank, Arun Virmani, an architect inspired by Howard Roark, Sharad Joshi, a Rajya Sabha MP (yes, a member of parliament influenced by Ayn Rand!), Poonam Kapoor Vasudeva, a textile designer and a theater person, and Jayant Bhandari from Vancouver, who was passing through Delhi and found this evening an engaging enough prospect. Sharad Joshi left us at the tea break, but his empty chair was more than made up for, as two new participants joined us at that time – Anuradha and Gautam, a software engineer. Both of them have had a long association with Barun and the Liberty Institute, and both are very interested in Ayn Rand’s philosophy (and they were the ones with Rohan, their nine month old son).

The Course Of The Meeting
It took no time for the ice to break and the meeting to gather speed. Much of the discussion, debate and cross-fire along the course of the evening were surrounding the questions – ‘what value can such a group add to the participants?’, and ‘how can Ayn Rand’s ideas be spread further in India?

It all began when, after the introductions, Barun gave the background behind the initiative of the Atlas Meets and set out its objectives. Vikram summed these up as the 3S’s. The first of these is to savor the company of like-minded individuals (what greater goal can there be than the simple pleasure from such an unusual and refreshing evening?). The next is to study Ayn Rand’ books, her philosophy of objectivism and commentary upon it. Also included in this is applying her philosophy to current issues. Third in line is spreading her ideas in India. An alert observation by Sharad Joshi gave us a 4th S – sustaining this group and its efforts in the long-run. Finally we all decided that this was, in fact, the most crucial of all the S’s!

More specifically, several ideas were suggested to actively promote these S’s over the course of these meetings, and even beyond them. Here is a list:

  1. Translations of Ayn Rand’s books into Indian languages.
  2. Actively promoting an understanding of certain excerpts from Ayn Rand’s novels – perhaps even developing video versions of some of the long speeches and monologues from the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (like the Galt’s speech video already on you tube)
    Reaching out to university students through publicity campaigns and perhaps even talks and lectures.
  3. Identifying the right age group to begin promoting Ayn Rand’s ideas in India
  4. The need to promote the Ayn Rand Institute’s essay contest in India.
  5. Using the medium of bookstores to publicize this group and Ayn Rand’s ideas.
  6. Blog posts and comments applying Ayn Rand’s ideas to current issues.
  7. Applying Ayn Rand’s ideas to public positions, such as the political and economic situation in India.
  8. Writing letters to the editors based on the two points mentioned just above
  9. Applying Ayn Rand’s ideas to personal situations and circumstances
  10. Watching videos and interviews with an objectivist interest
  11. Inviting guests for talks
  12. Starting a study group for those interested in understanding objectivism further
  13. Hosting the play ‘Night Of January 16th’ in Delhi (a couple of us observed that a theater group in Hyderabad had performed this recently)
  14. Identifying famous Indians who can be considered objectivist role-models

Tfinal choice of targets will depend, to a great extent, on the level of interest and initiative that the people seriously involved are willing to show. Identifying this might be the objective of our next meeting... The first of our decisions was, simply, pertaining to the regularity with which this group should meet. We decided that the fourth Saturday of every month represented a time interval and discipline that everyone was very comfortable with.

Chicken Soup For The Soul…
This is what Vikram called it – not the entire meeting, but the first part of the John Galt’s Speech video that we screened just before the snacks break. We all ‘watched’ the powerful words, enhanced by an interesting collage of images, with rapt attention. The entire representation is in 17 parts, and is certainly worth a watch on youtube.

We also screened a short talk given by Yaron Brook, devoted to the reasons why he is optimistic about the influence that Ayn Rand’s ideas might have in America’s future. It gave us a very good idea about the scale of effort that the Ayn Rand Institute is putting in, and the sudden boost in general interest in Ayn Rand’s novels in America. This is available on youtube as well.

Well, this was as much as we could pack into three hours! And has this been a long blog post… I guess it indicates that the meeting was a real tour de force! Vikram has even posted a video on youtube from our meeting.

Here is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qUiY3bcOPY. Be sure to catch a glimpse!

I, for one, am already looking forward to the next edition of the Atlas Delhi meet planned for the 22nd of August.

- Amar Gujral


  1. I'm very happy to read this report. Unfortunately, our meets in Mumbai are not quite so stimulating. That said, in my own personal ways, I have been able to bring around two new people in my life to appreciate the ideas of Ayn Rand. What's more, I have also been able to channel the ideas of Ayn Rand in the mainstream media through a celebrity mouthpiece that I am close friends with.
    So that's my personal activism--small steps at a time.

    Of course, I do enjoy larger, spectacular instances of activism as well--like a debate series or group meetings, lectures, etc., would be nice to have in Mumbai.

    Shall we get to the drawing board for the next event in Mumbai??

  2. didn,t know ,bout u guys. ,d lv 2 attend the meeting. But hoe, lemee know

  3. Please use this link for complete details on the meeting - http://www.aynrand.in/story.aspx?id=2770&pubid=2672. If you are interested, drop us a line at info@aynrand.in. And a request - do make that extra effort writing complete words next time... Hope to hear from you. Thanks!

  4. That sounds so like my English teacher! :-))

    P.S. This is not the same 'anonymous' as the one above.