Bertrand Russel

Bertrand Russel on the occasion of Dinner hosted for Nobel Prize Winners

Today on the 2nd of February, I remember the great English thinker and philosopher, Bertrand Russell. He died on 2nd February 1970.

Russell was born in a powerful political family. His grandfather, Lord John Russell served as Prime Minister under Queen Victoria, not once but twice. Following the death of his mother and father, Russell was brought up by his grandparents. Initially, he was privately educated but later on he joined Trinity College Cambridge. He graduated with degrees in mathematics and moral sciences.

Russell would not follow the path tread by most of the so-called reasonable people. In fact he chose to go to jail protesting against World War. This was a time when most British people saw reason in fighting the war. He was sent to prison for the second time when he protested against proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The above photograph was taken when Russell made his speech accepting the Noble Prize in Mathematics was awarded to him in 1950. Conspicuously, he said, “One should choose desire when asked to choose between duty and desire”. Without desire he said it’s not possible to perform the duty the way it should be performed.

Russell’s ideas were his own and he would not make any compromises. He would rather express himself clearly and fearlessly. Many people opposed him for his ideas but there were many who followed them.

Given below is a photograph when he was addressing his followers.


As a child, I always felt that I lacked confidence. Even now, in some situations I find that I do not measure up to my expectations. Yet, I have always admired ‘confident people’ and I continue to do.

Considering that Confidence is a very importance part of our lives, I often contemplate about it.

This happened at the Delhi Airport. I had checked-in well in advance, as per my habit. I was waiting to board the flight to Mumbai. As usual I was looking around to find ‘confident people’. There were many men and women – well dressed, upright and looking satisfied with their lives. But there was one gentleman who appeared exceptional. He was immaculately dressed in a dark grey suit. His broad shoulders and with his ‘chin-up’ added to his confident look. As I was brooding the flight was announced and we all boarded the plane.

It was a comfortable smooth flight. All the usual things – the in flight safety demonstrations, service of snacks, tea and coffee went off very well. Soon it was the time to reach Mumbai. The air-hostess announced that the plane would land at Mumbai airport in a few minutes. Then something happened. Instead of descending the plane went up and started going round in circles. After about ten minutes everyone got restless. People were looking around and trying to understand what was happening. I closed my eyes and started praying. Still, the plane continued to hover in mid-air.

Suddenly, I thought of this very confident tall man I saw at the Delhi airport. Looking around I found that he was perhaps the most restless soul on the flight at that moment. He was holding his handkerchief in one hand furiously wiping the perspiration, sometimes from the forehead and sometimes from his cheeks. With closed eyes he was looking up and down. At times he would put his hand in the pocket, as if he were trying to search for something. I could see all this because he occupied an aisle seat on the opposite side just two rows behind. In my futile endeavor of observing him, I had somehow forgotten my fears.

And then the Pilot came out of his cabin, walked to the middle of gangway, and stopped there. He did something and then went back. Shortly thereafter another landing announcement was made. The plane landed safely and all of us got down.

I realized that the ‘confidence’ of a person is not only about posture, looks, and dress.  dressed, and the way he behavior, it is something more. In fact, a lot more. Real confidence is tested when there is a crisis how you remain cools at the time.

I realized that the confidence of a person is not only about posture, looks, dress and behavior, but it is something more. In fact, a lot more! Real confidence is tested when there is a crisis. How you remain cool at the time of crisis shows how confident you are.