this is an editorial published in times of India, contributed by famous novelist chetan bhagat,
The recent news of a person of Indian origin winning the Nobel prize while based abroad sparked off a series of discussions at home. “Why don’t we win Nobel prizes here?” became the question of the week. The standard points were raised: we don’t have the facilities, too much government interference, the selection process is rigged, the prize committee is racist and, finally, who cares about the Nobel anyway (of course we do, that’s why we discuss it).
Like all media stories, this one too will die soon. However, maybe it is time to look at the core issue: why India doesn’t excel on the world stage on a fairly consistent basis. We don’t win a significant number of Olympic medals, we don’t create global brands, our IT industry is essentially a job transfer model but we haven’t created even one Google, Facebook or Twitter. (Of course, there is plenty for Indians to be proud of otherwise, so please don’t jump on me because of my observations.)
The real issue comes down to the treatment of talent in our country. So, what is talent? Talent refers to a special ability and aptitude that give people an edge in a particular field. In sport, science, films, business or the arts, people who dominate the world stage all have a gift that makes it easier for them to excel. Of course, along with talent there is preparation, hard work and a certain amount of luck required to achieve success. However, talent is usually a necessary ingredient. Talent is rare, and randomly distributed across the human population, irrespective of pedigree, connections or wealth. Some may call talent an unfair gift. However, it is talent that allows ordinary people to come up in life. Otherwise, rich people would stay rich and poor people poor. Thus, this unfair talent actually makes the world fairer.
However, we don’t put talent on the highest pedestal in our country. Talent’s stature is below that of someone with connections, with hereditary entitlement, pedigree or even experience.
Even in an IIT, a truly gifted young faculty cannot jump ranks and scales set by the system. And the people designing the system never took talent into account. Even when talent is identified, we are unable to train it, and find it difficult to reward it.
It is difficult to say why we have this attitude, but there are many possible reasons. One, talent conflicts with the traditional Indian caste system. Two, Indian cultural values revere the older generation and its experience, and talent zooms past it.
Ask yourself, have you seen some of this in India? Maybe because so many dreams have been crushed in India, someone else’s success reminds us of our own pain. The US (only as a contrasting example, not recommending we become like them) has an opposite value system. Talent is respected, seen as something to be emulated. That is why they have teenage boy bands and college dropouts who open outcomes as national icons. We don’t.
There are grave negative repercussions for a community that doesn’t respect talent. It leads to a society where connected people do better than people with ability. It leads to a lot of talent being unused, a tremendous waste of a national resource. It causes frustration in the entire new generation as they see people with less capability doing better than them. It also reinforces the old Indian values of fatalism and the helpless-common-man theory. And it means India’s excellent people may not excel worldwide to the extent possible.
So what can be done? Well, we definitely can do something – both at the macro organisational level and a micro individual level. At the organisational level, we have to let go of corporate hierarchies and the lifelong promotion ladders of government, particularly in talent-dependent organisations like R&D, companies requiring high innovation or sport.
at individual level we have to encourage and appreciate talent emerging around us. We have to make incentives in line with what attracts talent, as there is a global battle for it. Exceptional talent demands exceptional reward. We have to take away the moral judgement associated with rewarding talent. Just as it is morally okay for a rich man’s son to be rich, a person with talent also deserves to do really well.
Change needs to happen amongst us, at the individual level as well. We have to acknowledge that talent exists, and we need to respect it. Frankly, isn’t it better a talented person gets rewarded than a minister’s son? Talent shouldn’t cause resentment, it should become an inspiration. I think the young generation is already on board with that. It needs the older generation’s support to make this change in values. It may be difficult, but it is worth it.
Because if we do become a talent-driven country, we will become a more progressive nation, utilise the new generation’s skills properly, become a fairer society and, along the way, win a few Nobel prizes too.
The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama landed with a shock on darkened, still-asleep Washington. He won! For what?????
just delevering a lecture in Indonesia n Cairo? touching feelings of muslims??? re bounding Americans and Muslims?
or for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”. (in terms of promises),
He promised to ban torture and other extreme interrogation techniques for terrorists.
he also promised to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a source of much distaste for the U.S. around the world, a task with difficulties that have Mr. Obama headed to miss his own January 2010 deadline.
He promises that he would end the Iraq war.
He has pushed for new efforts to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. But he’s received little cooperation from the two sides. (this one is true n happening)
He said he wants a nuclear-free world. but cant trust Iraq, seria etc. ready to help pak who literally plays war.
He has said that battling climate change is a priority(!?) and he did not signed the kyto protocol which says cut the green house emission.
perhaps he is busy in cleaning S.H.*.T created by bush admin, and so far have done a fantastic job. so anything antibush => nobel???
The prize seems to be more for Mr. Obama’s promise than for his performance.soon will know about the diplomacy behind this…
ok next year our prime minister will also bang a nobel for peace talks with pakistan.
first after 26/11 attack we didint lauched war against pak,
in sharm al-shaik we took a soft stand,
and since 50 years we are just talking…….with pak, with naxal attacks with china with Bangladesh……
wow… its election time in Maharashtra, tell every minister to submit their profiles coz our politicians are best at making promises many to the poor people, imagine how many nobels will India bank on this potential… great!!!!
UNITED NATIONS: Marking the International Day of Non-Violence, the United Nations released a Mahatma Gandhi stamp on the occasion of his 140th birth anniversary. The United Nations Postal Administration released the $1 stamp designed by Miamibased artist Ferdie Pacheco.
The stamp shows the Father of the Nation in red, blue and gold. Envelopes marked with the stamp and the U.N. seal are on sale. Several U.N. envoys present at a function, organised
by the Indian Mission, reiterated the impact of the Mahatma’s
“In many ways, Mahatma Gandhi pre-visioned the United Nations. Much of the work we do in the area of human rights owes its genesis in the struggle against racial discrimination, which he focused on,” said Ambassador to the U.N. Hardeep Singh Puri.
President of the General Assembly Ali Abdussalam Treki stressed upon Gandhiji’s commitment to communal harmony between the Muslims and the non-Muslims. Paying tributes to Gandhiji, United States Permanent Representative to the U.N., Susan Rice, said, “Gandhi had influenced millions of Americans. Gandhi believed that physical force could be
turned aside by moral forces.”
article copy paste from: the hindu dated 04-10-09 🙂