Ajai R. Singh MD

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Research and Publications: A Synoptic Overview

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  Research and Publications: A Synoptic Overview

 

1985-2000

From 1985 to 2000, the Singh’s co-authored papers in philosophy and related issues published in various Indian journals like Indian Philosophical Quarterly, JICPR, New Quest, NAMAH, as also in Indian newspapers like The Times of India and Indian weeklies like Mainstream1.

 

They took issue with philosopher Rajendra Prasad's 1984 position2 that poorer thinkers did comparative philosophy and the synthetic approach was less creative, maintaining, in two 1988 papers, that the comparative/synthetic approach could be creative, and the creative had nothing to lose by being comparative/synthetic3,4. At a time when philosophical enquiry into professional ethics was hardly considered important, they stressed, as early as 1989, on the importance of a philosophical enquiry into psychiatric ethics wherein the philosopher's absolutism was tempered by the psychiatrist's utilitarianism5. Philosopher K.J. Shah, while editing a special issue of the IPQ, called for a national debate on the Tagore-Gandhi controversy6. As a response to this, in two 1992 papers, they concluded how dress, language, work and beliefs were the four areas represented by that controversy, and between them 'traversed the whole gamut of activities that can occupy the people of a nation'7,8  One time bosom friend V.P. Singh's dissent and opposition to the then PM of India Rajiv Gandhi was the backdrop for an analysis of why people dissented and some first aid tips to handle it9, along with who was an honest dissenter, the fate of dissidence and the values-power dichotomy resolution10 . The manipulative-exploitative use of non-issues in politics and human affairs was an interesting area of enquiry, both in psychology and social philosophy; but, the Singhs concluded that, in the final analysis, some non-issues deservedly became the supreme issues, for "of greater import is the ''joy de vivre'' of describing the bubbling ecstasy of a baby's smile or the twinkle of mischief in a toddler's eyes than all the reams that can be written in aesthetics."11. In response to philosopher S.S. Barlingay's contention that man's historicity was realised in his actions12, and philosopher D.P. Chattopadhyaya's that both histority and futurity were contemporaneously operative within man13, both important positions on historiography and historism, the Singhs talked of the challenge today for man's histority which was to provide means to stem the 'head-long foray into devastation, to unseat man from the nuclear stockpile which was his narcissistic alter-ego ready to ignite in front of his blind folded eyes, to offer him alternative hedonistic pursuits that satiate his narcissism, and provide a sublimatory channelization to his recklessly driving thanatos'14 . In addressing the problem of inadequacies of the rehabilitation of drug dependents, they concluded that any viable rehabilitation programme for drug dependence, 'must offer alternative and integrative outlets while concomitantly trying to change the value orientations of the society with the help of relevant social collaborators’15.

 

During the celebrated 1980s controversy between the so-called 'patriotic press' (represented by Girilal Jain, the then editor of the Times of India) and the 'activist press' (represented by Arun Shourie, the then editor of the Indian Express, the Singhs wrote two articles on Indian journalism which talked of the perils of messianism in an Indian journalism that was coming of age16 and what was needed for a free and fair press was to eschew both sycophancy and quixotism17. In the aftermath of the then raging Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid controversy in India, and as a response to a misquotation by a prominent political leader of Gandhiji's stand on the subject, the Singhs went through all volumes of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi [>90 in number] to refute it, speaking of how Gandhi's plan could never involve desecrating a religious place, and an idol could be worshipped only if it was legitimately installed and sanctified18.

 

2003-2009 in MSM

 

From 2003-2009, the Singhs have co-authored and edited monographs, editorials and papers published by the Mens Sana Monographs related to topics in philosophy, philosophy of psychiatry, science, health and ethical issues in medicine.

 

In trying to understand the nature of Indian research, the essence of scientific temper and the future of scientific progress, they talked in 2003 of the replicative nature of Indian research which spawned and encouraged mediocrity, the essence of scientific temper which was to withhold comment/acceptance for want of evidence, and the future of scientific progress wherein it needed to be coupled with human welfare, even if science was considered value neutral19. As a secular blueprint for multi-religious societies like India, and others, the put forth in a 2004 monograph that the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi on religion, faith and conversion, were relevant20. In tackling the polarisation of ideologies and approaches in psychiatry, the Singhs held that the personal had to gel with the social, and the biological with the psychosocial; and a synthesis of cognitive psychology and neuroscience offered the greatest promise for psychiatry in the present, while a renaissance of scientific psychoanalysis coupled with a perceptive neurobiology which could translate those insights into testable hypotheses held the greatest promise for psychiatry in the future21. In deciding where was medicine headed, profession or business, they put forth in 2005 the argument that medicine could profit by becoming a patient welfare centered professional enterprise rather than remaining just a corporate enterprise, or a patient welfare centered profession22. To the dictum of medicine: 'To cure sometimes, to comfort always', the Singhs, in 2006, added 'to hurt the least, to harm never', defining the difference between hurt and harm, wherein harm involved malevolence23. In forwarding the advance of pharmacotherapy and the pharmaceutical industry, Singhs in 2007 reiterated, amongst many things, the ethical obligation towards research subjects24. Challenging the standard dichotomy between diseases of poverty and diseases of lifestyle, the Singhs, in 2008, maintained how diseases of poverty (in the developing world) and diseases of lifestyle (in the developed) were similar, in that both deprived mankind of well-being and development, though in different ways25. In understanding some of the problems of contemporary man as an individual, a member of society, a citizen of his country, a component of this world, and of nature itself, they, in 2009, probed whether Sri Aurobindo's thoughts offered an alternative26. To tackle the criticisms of anti-psychiatry and to progress from being a proto-science, the Singhs wrote a rather lengthy treatise in the form of refutable points, the most important being that psychiatry needed to progress from being a sickness (inability to fulfil normal social roles) and an illness (subjective awareness of distress) to becoming a disease (proven universally accepted objective pathology), in which biological psychiatry would offer the evidence while psychosocial psychiatry would offer insights and leads27.

 

Other Writings 2008-2010

 

The Indian tradition attracted either committed followers or staunch critics. Steering clear of either reverence to or departing from the tradition, Ms Singh in 2008 advocated the middle path, saying that the task of an Indian philosopher today was to first comprehensively study the tradition, constructively interpret it before thinking of departing from it, for the order could not be reversed28. An invited book chapter29 in 2009 in a collection of papers in honour of V.K.Varma, an Indian psychiatrist-academician was later expanded, peer reviewed and published as27 above. The fields of mind, brain and consciousness research had numerous stake holders and diverse viewpoints from equally diverse disciplines. In 2010, the Singh co-authored an editorial on the need to integrate knowledge from these diverse approaches30. Ms Singh has been involved with organizing various Seminars, on Bioethics (2007), Indian Philosophies (2008), and mind, brain and Consciousness (2010)31.

 

 

 

References

  1. "About Us". http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id1.html. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  2. Prasad, Rajendra (1984), Swaraj, Reverence and Creativity, IPQ XI (4): 503–509 . 
  3. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (1988), The Creative and Comparative, IPQ XV (2): 198–208.  http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id43.html Retrieved 28 Sept 2010. 
  4. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (1988), Appendix to the Creative and Comparative, IPQ XV (3): 369–373. http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id44.html Retrieved 28 Sept 2010. 
  5. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (1989), Psychiatric Ethics: Role of Philosophical Enquiry, IPQ XVI (1): 89–118 . http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id53.html Retrieved 28 Sept 2010
  6. Shah, K.J. (1984), In Search of Development, IPQ XI (1): 5–13. [This controversy took place in the first part of the 20th Century in India, before Indian independence.] 
  7. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (1992), Tagore-Gandhi Controversy Revisited, Or, Further In Search of Development-I, IPQ XIX (3): 167–186.  http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id45.html http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id45.html Retrieved 28 Sept 2010
  8. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (1992), Tagore-Gandhi Controversy Revisited, Or, Further In Search of Development-II, IPQ XIX (4): 265–282.   http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id46.html  http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id46.html Retrieved 28 Sept 2010
  9.  Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (1988), Readings in Dissent-I, New Quest 71: 289–296.  http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id51.html Retrieved 28 Sept 2010
  10. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (1988), Readings in Dissent-II, New Quest 72: 333–347.
  11. Singh, Ajay; Singh, Shakuntala (1991), On Non-issues, New Quest 86: 89–97.   http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id47.html Retrieved 28 Sept 2010
  12. Barlingay, S.S. (1993), History, Historical Being and Historiography, Beliefs, Reasons and Reflections Pune (IPQ Publications): 215–235. 
  13. Chattopadhyaya, D.P. (1984), Remarks on Historiography of Science: Historism and Structuralism, JICPR I (2): 105–135.
  14. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (1990), A peep into man's histority: the lessons for today, JICPR VII (3): 23–46.  http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id26.html http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id26.html Retrieved 28 Sept 2010
  15. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (1995), Hedonistic Issues in Drug Dependency, NAMAH 2 (2): 57–61. Editor’s note. http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id48.html   http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id48.html  Retrieved28 Sept 2010
  16. Singh, Ajai; Singh, Shakuntala (1987), Indian Journa lism Comes of Age, Times of India: Wed, Oct 14. Op-ed article. http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id50.html Retrieved 28 Sept 2010
  17. Singh, Ajai; Singh, Shakuntala (1988), For a Free and Fair Press, Times of India: . Fri, Apr 18. Op-ed article. http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id49.html Retrieved 28 Sept 2010
  18. Singh, Ajai; Singh, Shakuntala (1991), How Mahatma Gandhi's Plan Can Solve Temple Issue, Mainstream XXIX (13): 19–20 .   http://ajai-shakuntala.tripod.com/id37.html Retrieved 28 Sept 2010. 
  19. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (2003), "Replicative nature of Indian research, essence of scientific temper, and future of scientific progress", MSM 1 (4): 3–16, http://msmonographs.org/article.asp?issn=0973-1229;year=2003;volume=1;issue=4;spage=3;epage=16;aulast=Singh, retrieved 2010-09-13 
  20. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (2004), "Gandhi on religion, faith and conversion-secular blueprint relevant today", MSM 2 (1): 79–88, http://msmonographs.org/article.asp?issn=0973-1229;year=2004;volume=2;issue=1;spage=79;epage=88;aulast=Singh, retrieved 2010-09-14 
  21. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (2004), "Resolution of the polarisation of ideologies and approaches in psychiatry", MSM 2 (2): 5–32, http://www.msmonographs.org/article.asp?issn=0973-1229;year=2004;volume=2;issue=2;spage=5;epage=32;aulast=Singh, retrieved 2010-09-14.
  22. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (2005), "Medicine as a corporate enterprise, patient welfare centered profession, or patient welfare centered professional enterprise?", MSM 3 (2): 19–51, http://www.msmonographs.org/article.asp?issn=0973-1229;year=2005;volume=3;issue=2;spage=19;epage=51;aulast=Singh, retrieved 2010-09-14 
  23. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (2006), "To Cure Sometimes, to Comfort Always, to Hurt the least, to Harm Never", MSM 5 (1): 107–112,  doi:10.4103/0973-1229.27598 .     
  24. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (2007), "Ethical Obligation Towards Research Subjects", MSM 5 (1): 107–112, doi:10.4103/0973-1229.32153 
  25. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (2008), "Diseases of Poverty and Lifestyle, Well-Being and Human Development", MSM 6 (1): 187–225, doi:10.4103/0973-1229.40567  
  26. Singh, Shakuntala A.; Singh, Ajai R. (2009), "Humanity at the Crossroads: Does Sri Aurobindo offer an alternative?", MSM 7 (1): 110–127, doi:10.4103/0973-1229.38517 
  27. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (2009), "Notes on a Few Issues in the Philosophy of Psychiatry", MSM 7 (1): 128–183, doi:10.4103/0973-1229.40731 
  28. Singh, Shakuntala (2008), "The Task of an Indian Philosopher Today", National Seminar on Indian Philosophy: Its Relevance in the 21st Century: 1–3, http://www.vpmthane.org/Publications(sample)/Indian%20Philosophy%20%20Its%20Relevance%20in%20the%2021st%20Century/Dr.%20(Mrs.)%20Shakuntala%20Singh.pdf, retrieved 2010-09-14.
  29.  Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (2009), "Notes on  Some Philosophical  Issues in Psychiatry". In: Culture, Personality and Mental Illness [Vijoy K. Varma, A.K. Kala, Nitin Gupta eds], Jaypee, ND, 37-76. http://www.jaypeebrothers.com/contents/978-81-8448-536-3.pdf Retrieved 28 Sept 2010.
  30. Singh, Ajai R.; Singh, Shakuntala A. (Jan 2010), "Why this Seminar: The Need to Integrate Knowledge from Diverse Disciplines", Proceedings of Seminar on Mind, Brain and Consciousness: 1–4, http://www.vpmthane.org/Publications(sample)/MindBrainAndConsciousness/Why%20This%20Seminar%201.pdf.pdf, retrieved 2010-09-14 
  31. "Seminars on Bioethics (2007); Indian philosophy (2008); Mind, brain and consciousness (2010).". Proceedings of Seminar. VPM. http://www.vpmthane.org/Publications(sample)/publications.htm#2010. Retrieved 2010-09-14.

[Last updated 28 Sept 2010]

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