India Today - - UPFRONT -

“Don’t get into those maths. Those maths have never helped Ein­stein dis­cover grav­ity. If he had only gone by struc­tured for­mu­lae and what was past knowl­edge, I don’t think there would have been any in­no­va­tion in this world.”

PIYUSH GOYAL, min­is­ter of rail­ways, and com­merce and in­dus­try, has been all over the news and so­cial me­dia in the past week for mix­ing up Ein­stein and New­ton in glib, fact-free re­marks at a meet­ing of the Board of Trade. As footage of his slip went vi­ral, Goyal sought to ‘clar­ify’ his silly er­ror by con­demn­ing the “mis­chievous and base­less nar­ra­tive” that had built up around it. He soon re­leased a sec­ond self-serv­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion, be­fore fi­nally ad­mit­ting, in a third, that he’d made a dumb mis­take. The more se­ri­ous er­ror of judge­ment, though, is Goyal’s ap­par­ent be­lief that in­no­va­tion doesn’t build on ac­crued knowl­edge, on ‘past’ ideas and thought. And that en­cour­ag­ing in­vestors is akin to bluff­ing them, that ex­ud­ing con­fi­dence is a sub­sti­tute for know­ing what you’re talk­ing about.

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