Excel at Any Cost – Some Thoughts to the Contrary


Dr Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

17 Jul 2017 – Most parents want their children to excel — be it studies, sports, music or politics. In academics, if a parent is a scientist, doctor or an engineer, they usually want their child also to follow their profession. In physics there are a few examples of a child following the footsteps of their father/mother scientist . Perhaps the best example is that of the Nobel prize winning couple of Pierre and Marie Curie whose daughter Irene also subsequently (1935) won a Nobel prize in Chemistry along with her husband.

Similarly, in the field of music we see a few examples of father and son excelling and becoming well known musicians in their own right. Films are no exception with the Kapoor family in Hindi films having well known actors/directors for four generations starting from Prithviraj Kapoor.

In sports also there is equally an unrelenting desire to be the best — to get a medal — at least a bronze if not gold or silver. We read the exploits of the athlete Usain Bolt,  who keeps on winning and reducing the time to run the 100 m race by a fraction of a second. There are other examples of athletes or boxers or gymnasts etc.

What comes out from this frenzy to win at any cost is of course hard work, training, perseverance, but occasionally they use drugs to boost performance.

Today, in order that the students may be able to get admission into  IITs or IIMs or medical institutes for engineering, management or medical courses respectively, there are huge advertisements in newspapers and other media for specialised training and coaching programs on offer, obviously for a fee. Parents who may or not be engineers or doctors themselves, but have  a dream that if they could not make it,  let their children get the opportunity and get a good career for themselves and fulfil their own unfulfilled dreams.

A similar situation exists for admission to a college after passing out from school. The number of students seeking admission to so called good colleges is increasing from year to year without a corresponding increase in the number of seats available in these colleges. Competition for seats is severe and sometimes unethical methods are used by giving more marks in laboratory examinations . There are some school boards that deliberately enhance the marks so that students passing out from these Boards may have better chances of getting admission to prestigious colleges.

These adverts or hoardings are legitimate business practices. But they hide a rather unhealthy or we may even say a sordid situation. Where a single mark or a fractional percentage determines whether a student will make it or not make it to a College or course of a student’s desire.

Politics or the business sector also has fathers wanting their children to follow their professions. We know the case of Tata Sons in India which has through its dedication and business acumen excelled not only in many sectors including airlines and IT, but also in providing welfare schemes for its numerous employees. In politics, the family of Nehru-Gandhi is well known in India. The families of Kennedys and Bush(s) in USA are equally illustrious.

But in many fields the unscrupulous elements also hold sway. Not only the parent wants his children to follow the same profession, but methods — often unethical, are used. Bribes or corrupt practices or even blackmail are not an uncommon means to achieve one’s stated aims.

With the intense competition to be the best, to succeed, to be rich, those young people who cannot compete are left behind. Do they feel inspired by the stories of the successful or do they feel dejected and disappointed? Everyone cannot stand first or be successful, but everyone has the right to lead a peaceful life and become a good citizen. Why cannot the society or some individuals support the ordinary, kind, peace loving human being, who does not think just of himself and his personal success? Such a person  may rather  be working for the welfare of the society and for our degraded environment.


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, an educationist and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University.  ravipbhatia@gmail.com


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 17 Jul 2017.

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