Discovering what I never knew, I never knew…
Correspondence Address: Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.263259
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Con te partirò
During my 6 years (one year as Editor-Designate and 5 years as Editor) of being at the helm of affiars of Neurology India, my life and focus were inextricably intertwined with the destiny of the journal. Its creation and dissemination occupied nearly all of my free moments…and, it is now 'time to say goodbye.' When my thoughts meander on the wonderful relationships and the unquestioning and unstinted support that I enjoyed with the readers of the journal, members of the Neurological Society of India and its executive committee, and the editors, authors and publishers of Neurology India over all these years, the beautiful lyrics from the classic opera by the famous tenors, Andrea Bocelli from Italy and Sarah Brightman from England, written by the song writers, Francesco Sartori, Frank Peterson and Lucio Quarantotto (Time To Say Goodbye lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, Sugarmusic s.p.a) immediately come to my mind:
Time To Say Goodbye
When I am alone
Quando sono solo
…When you are a distant
Quando sei lontana
dream on the horizon
And the words are missing
E mancan le parole
And I do, I know
E io sì, lo so
that you are with me, with me
Che sei con me, con me
… I'll go with you
Con te partirò
on ships over seas…
Su navi per mari
That I know it
Che, io lo so
No, no, they do not exist anymore
No, no, non esistono più
I will relive them with you
Con te io li rivivrò
I'll go with you
Con te partirò
Me with you
Io con te
Walking the footsteps of a stranger…
My journey as an editor has been an amazing one. In the lyrics of the song, ”Colors of the Wind”, written by the lyricist, Stephen Schwartz, and the composer, Alan Menken, for Walt Disney Pictures' animated movie 'Pocahontas (1995), that went on to win the Academy Award for the best original song, the Grammy Award for best song written for a motion picture, television or other visual media, and the Golden Globe Award for the best original song, are the famous lines,
” You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You'll learn things you never knew, you never knew”
As I walked the 'footsteps of a stranger, discovering things I never knew I never knew' as an editor, not for a moment knowing what will suddenly appear my way, I realised that in my journey of self- discovery, there were two amazing perks: the first, coming in contact with inspiring people of all generations, whose commitment and hard work towards neurosciences and for the journal also exemplified the graciousness with which they conducted their own lives; and the second, encountering the amazing and omnipresent talent in myriad fields waiting to be discovered. One overriding factor that was common to all these immensely talented people that I met along the journey was what has been well brought out in the popular Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) talk by the Harvard psychologist, Shawn Achor:,
”What we found is that only 25% of job successes are predicted by intelligent quotient (IQ), 75% percent of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.”
”[We assume] that our external world is predictive of our happiness levels, when in reality, if I know everything about your external world, I can only predict 10% of your long-term happiness. 90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.”
Every successful dream has an epiphany…that transforms the 'dream' into 'discovery'
Epiphany is the enlightening realization that permits a situation to be understood from a deeper perspective. Whenever universe conspires to generate a dream in a person, it is opening a window through the medium of that individual, to bring the dream to its fruition. The 'enlightened' embrace their dream…or perhaps universe, in its anxiousness to introduce the benefits of the dream for humanity at that opportune moment in time, inculcates in these individuals, an epiphany and a persistence that helps them pursue their dream with steadfast determination…until the dream attains a physical form, and transforms into a discovery. Thus, every innovation has three phases…an idea or a dream (that rides on the vehicle of self-belief)…an epiphany (that helps in embracing it, pursuing it and persisting with it…no matter what the personal cost is)… and discovery (that makes it acceptable and of immense use to humanity). As Pablo Picasso, the famous painter, once said, “Everything one can imagine is real.”
Although our journal serves as the vehicle for the propagation of the third phase, that is, 'discovery', there is no third phase in the natural sequence of events without the first two, that is, 'a dream or an idea' and its 'enlightened realisation or epiphany'…and this requires every individual to make a concentrated effort to think originally and have self-belief in their capacity to bring about an appropriate actualisation of their dream. The journal, therefore, serves a greater purpose, of bringing out the best in us… that evokes within each of us, the inspiration and capability to do something meaningful…for which we are impelled into garnering the extra reserves within us.
Home is where you think you belong…
During my tenure as editor, despite all the successes of Neurology India, I have always been haunted by the inescapable feeling… that the journal, despite being in existence for 67 years, is still yearning for an identity…a sense of belonging. It is named 'Neurology India' and yet represents an organisation in which the majority of members are neurosurgeons. The neurologists state that their articles are under-represented…but so do the neurosurgeons and the members in allied neurosciences. Most authors demur to acknowledge other authors from the country working in the same field…and most authors vacillate about citing other published articles from this journal and other indigenous works. Every fledgling society starts its own subspecialty journal that is directly competing with Neurology India, both in the articles that the journals receive as well as in the readership and citation.
Home is where you think you belong. Rather than considering this journal as being representative of one society and one subject, all of us need to 'home' on to its universal and multidisciplinary appeal and not resist this intrinsic quality of the journal. This journal represents every neuroscientist of India and the world, not just the members belonging to an organisation or a subject. This approach has several advantages… it increases manifolds the readership and multidisciplinary scientific contribution to the journal …it also increases collaborative efforts across various disciplines of neuroscience, as readers in different fields are privy to seminal ideas from areas they have previously not been exposed to. As its citation increases, so will the individual and institutional citation! Once all neuroscientists of the country reconcile to the new concept of 'a multidisciplinary home' in the context of the journal, Neurology India does unequivocally become 'home' for nesting and nurturing their valuable scientific work. We owe it to ourselves to bring about this change of mindset to increase our outreach and power in the world of scientific publishing.
What are the real measures of success of the journal?
The impact factor of the journal has progressively increased over the years. The recently published Clarivate Analytics in the 2019 version of Journal Citation Report has reported the impact factor of Neurology India to be 2.708, which represents the highest impact factor that the journal has received in the last 67 years of its existence. This is a measure of the enormous support to the journal that has been provided by its authors, readers, reviewers, editors and the editorial board, publishers and financiers. However, is the assessment by scientometric indices, the true measure of the success of the journal? The answer is both a “Yes” and a “No”. The answer is a “Yes” in terms of the better quality and quantity of scientific articles that the journal receives on a wide spectrum of topics, with a significant international contribution, due to its higher impact factor. This, in turn, progressively enhances the quality of the journal. The answer is also a “No”, because the real success of a journal is in providing a proper platform and forum for the expression of ideas, advances and innovations of its diverse group of contributors. Neurology India has also been 'successful' in the latter sense, as its provides an 'all-inclusive' opportunity to the entire spectrum of neuroscience community, from members in their formative years, to those contributing to the frontiers of international clinical research. Never should the primary role of the journal, that of providing a true scientific platform to all its users, no matter what their level of seniority in the subject is, be sacrificed in the scramble to achieve the all enticing “high” impact factor.
What then is the true measure of success of an erstwhile editor of the journal? It is to establish proper standards, systems and protocols in such a way that when his/her term is over, the editor quietly fades into oblivion, without even slightly affecting the quality of the journal…and more importantly, without ever being missed.
And this too shall pass away…
I have resided in the majestic city of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, for nearly 27 years. One famous 'must-visit' monument in the city is the Residency. It was constructed in the late 18th century by the Nawabs of the province of Awadh. The building was gifted to the British Resident and was the focus of the first war of Indian independence during the siege of Lucknow from July to November 1857. Its walls are still ravaged by holes made by the bullets and cannon shells fired during the 5-month siege. The buildings that were the epitome of prosperity, wealth and culture in one period, and the identity of a nationalistic uprising and a rebellion against foreign rule in the other, now lie in scarred ruins.
'The ground opens,
As like meets like,
As earth meets earth,
What is left but stone…
The clash of the armour,
The sashay of robes,
The splendour of the celebrations,
And the music of the courts
Is that contended squeak of the squirrels,
Gnawing away the roots.
What is left but stone…
The building represents the adage: 'In life, the only thing permanent is change'. This fact also guided my stint as editor of this prestigious journal. During times of accolades and appreciation, the thoughts that were the uppermost in my mind were '…and this too shall pass away'; and, during the periods of abject despair and hopelessness, when nothing was going my way, came to my support, this beautiful verse:
'When the sun of joy is hidden,
And the sky is overcast,
Just remember sun is coming,
And the storm can never last.'
The centre-piece of my parents' mantelpiece
Finally, I would like to share with you a saying by Swami Vivekananda, which always used to form the centre-piece of my parents' mantelpiece. I do hope that it continues to guide you through all your successes and travails as it has helped me through mine!
'Do not fly. Look not for success or for failure. Join yourself in a perfectly determined will and work on… Know that a mind born to succeed joins itself to a determined will and perseveres. Anyone can keep calm in a cave or when asleep. Stand in the whirl and madness of action and reach the centre. Once you have found the centre, you cannot be moved.'