“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.