An engineer, a finance teacher and now a fiction writer, Dr Rajiv Seth is a man of many fields. This ardent lover of science does not believe in restricting himself to only one domain. In his book Never Say Goodbye, he entwines a love story with science. Read on to discover what sowed the first seed for his book, his views on technological innovation and its possible aftermath...
Your book Never Say Goodbye is a love story in which the character attempts to transcend the law of nature through science to make her love eternal. Since it is your first book, how did it happen? What was the source of inspiration for you? And tell me something more about the book.
Many years ago, human beings experimented with Dolly the sheep – the first attempt at cloning an animal. It fascinated me, and just like many others, I wondered if it would ever lead to human cloning. I followed the many debates which have taken place, and I guess that is what sowed the first seed of the story of my book.
Never Say Goodbye is about two doctors, Anjali and Aakash, each satisfied in their own worlds, but each yearning to do much more in life. And so when they meet, it is as if the synergies propel them into new areas of work. They work together, pushing each other to realise their potential. Emotional and physical attachments naturally follow – but complications arise because Anjali is married and Aakash is not. Initially Aakash lectures Anjali on marriage being sacrosanct, while Anjali is rebellious. Aakash pushes Anjali to get into the world of genetics and Anjali enjoys every bit of it, setting up a funded research lab in India. But then Anjali has a child from Aakash, and then the roles are reversed, with Aakash becoming so frustrated with Anjali and his child not being able to be with him, that in a state of depression he ends his life. Anjali is so taken aback, that, while thus far she was opposed to human cloning, she now pulls out a source of Aakash’s DNA and decides to take the plunge and create a clone of Aakash.
You have taken up the issue of human cloning and therapeutic cloning in your book. The opponents of the technology use the notion of human dignity against it because of which either it is banned or a highly regulated field, what is your view on this technology?
While therapeutic clwoning is being done, and the benefits of that are widely known, it is human cloning which has drawn-in the aspect of ethics into it. Can we play God? Won’t it lead to many chaotic situations? As I have mentioned in my book, what if someone could find the DNA and create multiple clones of Adolf Hitler?
But then this happens with most technology. Scientists discover and create new things.
How we use them is what determines the fate of the human race. Nuclear fission, for example, can be used for the good of mankind, but at the same time can destroy generations. So my opinion is that while the field of genetics will definitely benefit mankind, its misuse can lead to chaos.
Technology has its share of bane and boon. Do you think putting a ban on further advances of some technology as being morally right? Don’t you think banning new technology only ensures that our society become stagnant? For instance, ban on genetically modified crops in India?
Human beings wouldn’t be where they are, if it were not for scientific advancements. What is therefore required is a good regulatory framework where the use of technology or scientific discoveries are regulated in a correct and ethical manner. Above all, I think increased education and awareness levels would help us all to self-regulate!
What is your passion? Is it science, finance, teaching or writing?
Science definitely! There are so many fascinating things being discovered and created around us all the time, that the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ which little kids take along with them all the time, are still alive in me – and I do hope they never die.
But then, being a typical Gemini, I have always wanted to dabble in many other things too. So Finance is what I got into for my doctoral research. Teaching and writing are natural corollaries. And today, what gives me the biggest high is to be in a class-full of young, questioning minds!
Do you plan to write another book? Would it be a sequel to your first book because of its open ending?
A lot of people who have read the book have actually felt that a sequel would be very interesting. Yes, Never Say Goodbye ends with many questions left unanswered in the readers’ minds – but then that was the intention. I get a thrill when those who have read the book write to me to say that they spent hours thinking after they finished with the book. So I have actually been toying with the idea of a sequel where the clone of Aakash takes birth, with Anjali not having a relationship of any sort with him, but still having a bond which is unshakeable. It would be interesting for the cloned Aakash to go through life in a society which is yet to come to terms with even genetically modified food!