The youth of India have become aware of the infirmities of our society retarding its progress, the parasites gnawing at the vivaciousnessof our economy, the failure of the safeguards put in place by our Constitution and the supplanting of the purity of our religious beliefs by militancy and radicalism. The youth are beginning to raise their cries against the association of governance with corruption, the numerous hurdles in our criminal justice mechanism and the imperfections of our existing legal system. The youth are clamouring for freedom of scientific and artistic innovation,the cleansing of the rogue elements within our keepers of law and order and the independence of our state institutions from the iron hand of the ruling elite.
Awareness and a desire to act upon it are the first two steps towards a revolution. Without an understanding of the ills plaguing our society, economy, justice system, governance and art and the willingness to craft a panacea to cure these evils, there can be no revolution.The third step is the action. And so the unsettled issue surfaces in every conscientious individual’s mind – How can I contribute towards the betterment and progress of my country? How can I, a singular green leaf in the autumn of evil, be able to make a difference? How can I, a new adult stepping into the reality of our country, initiate change and not fall into its threatening monotony?
Ayn Rand, the Russian-born American novelist and philosopher, made one of her villainous characters say, “Don’t set out to raze all shrines, you’ll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity – and the shrines are razed.”By this, she meant to say that if one wants to own the world, he must destroy everything that is good about our societyby placing mediocrity on the highest pedestal and ultimately the society itself would disintegrate into nothingness. Encourage sub-standard poetry and music, and you have destroyed literature and art. Hailfrivolous journalism as the benchmark of effectiveness and you just squashed the power of the media. Propagate corruption and you have done away with the ideals of good governance. Once the collective drive to excel of the society is destroyed, the shrines are razed.
And this is exactly what is being done by the unprincipled pockets of our country. So what can I, a mere citizen of this country, do to save the society from being so ravished and deprived of all ideals? I must strive towards excellence. I must put in my best efforts in whatever field of study or employment I am in to preserve its sanctity and ensure its sustenance and progress.
“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity trust upon them.”Allow me to throw light upon this statement by analysing the latest evidences of the disintegration of our society. The primary aim of governance is to servethe greater good of the people. But numerous scandals have shaken the foundations of our government, revealing the shameless audacity with which is it being misused by the corrupt. The recent outrages involving the allocation of the nation’s coal deposits to public sector entities and private companies, bribery to attain a higher ranking position in the Railway Board, the suspension of an honourable civil servant for attempting to put an end to illegal sand mining and the misappropriation of a mindboggling sum of two trillion rupees by a Waqf Boardexpose the hollow structure upon which our nation is operating. It shows the acceptance of below par governance by not only the ones holding the reigns but also the ones governed. The principles of good governance, utility and welfare have withered and have been replaced with the mediocre competence of mediocre men.Once these values have been destroyed, democracy shall fall and consume the nation with corruption and tyranny. Cast a glance at our economy. The ever-falling value of the rupee as against the dollar is affecting the conditions of investments and loans in our country and the rising prices of all basic commodities are only making it difficult for the have-nots to sustain a decent standard of living. This shows the indifference of the business elite and the economic decision-makers towards thevalues upon which an economy is meant to thrive. The pioneers of the Indian business age are long gone and the economy has fallen under the thumb of men whose charity is only meant for their selfish purposes. Bring the law and order under the limelight. The steadily increasing crime rates in urban areas, the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder in Delhi by certain depraved individuals living amongst us, the Bombay gang rape of the young photojournalist and the involvement of crime syndicates in betting and match-fixing promoted by the glamour of the IPL provide concrete proof of the on-going decay in the role of the police and its dominance by mediocrity. And lastly, the bomb blasts this year in Hyderabad, Srinagar and Bodh Gaya point towards the deterioration of all our high religious ideals and its replacement by easymilitancy and terrorism.
This impending destruction of democracy and the victory of anarchy can be prevented if I, and everyone else, embrace our long-forgotten concepts of honesty, integrity and hard work. This era has been engulfed with ordinariness in every field from literature to science. Non-compliance with thismean quality is what I can do for my society and my country.
As a law student, I can put in all my efforts to comprehend the law, its intricacies and its application. I can utilize the facilities provided to meto absorb every piece of knowledge and experience I can spy. I can become a Judge and exhibit calibre, impartiality and keen understanding of law to ensure that “justiceshould not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.”The Indian judiciary is nothing but an extension of the colonial regime. Our country is suffering from a great backlog of pending cases. A baffling number of under-trials remain in prisons awaiting a decision. There is a shortage of qualified judges. Litigation has become time-consuming and expensive. The lack of absolute independence from the legislature and the executive has led to the judiciary being reduced to a congregation of mediocre judges. A mediocre Judge will not apply his mind exclusively for the imparting of justice. He will not remain completely unbiased. He will get swayed by the considerations of money and relation.He will not exercise the required industriousness when formulating a judgment. He will misapply the law leading to the miscarriage of justice. My sole defiance of such mediocre virtues of a judge can make a difference to our entire justice system. Every drop matters to the unfathomable ocean. If I reject the depravity that has seeped into the Courts, my sole efforts at excelling within my scope of work can bring about a positive reform.My timely decisions can help reduce the burden on Courts, if only a little. My extensive research and my reasoned decisions can provide relief to the aggrieved parties. My unbiased views can ensure that no deserving party is prejudiced.My resolve to remain independent from the overbearing personalities of the ruling classes will keep my integrity intact, while I discharge my duties towards the country. If I enshrine all that is good about the judiciary, mediocrity is famished and equilibrium is obtained. Because “true peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”
We are in conflict with mediocrity, which is weighing down on the traditional Indian concept of integrity and hard work. It is destroying all that is good about our society. It is destroying our dedication to innovation.Sub-standard literature, art and movies are being hailed as glorious products of creativity. Relaxed policing has become the new benchmark of responsibility. Self-serving decision-making by our legislatures are being upheld in the name of welfare. Skirmishes, centred upon caste and religion,have become the current test of one’s traditions. The entire value system of our country has shifted to accommodate mediocrity as its integral part. What we need to do as singular individuals is to simply espouse impeccable effort as our means to achieve happiness and success.
This embracing of excellence and diligence can be done by me in any field that I choose as my calling. If I am to become a doctor, I can pursue higher education from the best medical institutions of the world, train under the best medical practitioner and learn the art of medicine, only to come right back to my motherland and use my heart and my experience to become the most efficient surgeon. If I am to become an engineer, I can explore unchartered waters of physics and chemistry and dedicate my life to innovation and invention. If I am to become a businessman, I can excel the formerly established thresholds of financial success and run the mostorganized and growing corporations, thus shaping the course of our economy. If I am to become a professor, I can absorb all available knowledge and find more resourceful and effective techniques to disseminate it among my students. If I am to become a writer, I can challenge myself constantly by stringing the most beautiful and powerful words together and producing literature that can guide and educate generations to come. If I am to become an actor, I can exhibit the best of talent and capture the world with my meaningful performances. If I am to become a policeman, I can ensure that I follow procedure in respect of criminals and conduct systematic and exhaustive investigations.If I am to become a farmer, I can toil in the sun, tending to my land and crops, to produce the best possible yield year after year. If I am to become a cobbler, I can mend shoes so perfectly that I go on to run my ownfootwear manufacturing company. I have to be the“man who had never accepted the creed that others had the right to stop him”. I have to be the man who succeeds without ever resorting to the prostitution of my ideals.
Every employment is crucial to the functioning of this country as a whole. The role of a clerkis no less significant than that of a bureaucrat. The elimination of any one can disrupt the balance of the national structure. This parasite of mediocrity affects each and every social rank; it is contagious and it is fatal. And so to make this country a better place, to ensure its evolvement,it is imperative for each individual to conquer mediocrity and bring extraordinariness back into vogue. This is what I can do. I can make every sincere attempt to never fall below par. I can contribute to the welfare of this nation by simply excelling in whatever endeavour I chance upon.
There are no spectators in a country. Everyone is equally responsible to it and for it. Anna Hazare inspired the whole country to say that they have had enough. The India Against Corruption movement achieved much success in its short-lived period and ArvindKejriwal even formed his own political party called the AamAadmi Party to counter the vices prevailing in the current system of governance. Though its reach and effect will be fully analysed and comprehended only after the 2014 General Elections, it suffices now to state that even a single ex-civil servant can make a difference if he decides that he has it within him to rise above the mediocre. As a private citizen wanting to actively participate in the revolution, I can influence minds by declaring my ideas openly in the print media and on the internet by articulating powerful opinions that shake others into being awakened. I can lead peaceful demonstrations with respect to my cause. I can petition to the government. I can take advantage of the weapon shaped by judicial activism called public interest litigation and fight for the depressed, disabled classes who cannot approach the Courts of justice on their own. I can spread awareness by organizing drives and workshops, by issuing pamphlets that educate and move the populace. I can become unparalleled in my career, carve out a name for myself and lead a revolution.
When the masses embrace their inner potential and strive to work towards achieving what they believe they can reasonably achieve, there will be a revolution. When the masses realize that they don’t have to comply with the evils in place, there will be a revolution. When the masses rise up against the prevailing corruption and crimes and failures of our representatives by replacing the ruling elite, there will be a revolution. When the masses flush out all mediocrity from the national framework, there will be a revolution. And every revolution starts at an individual level.Defiance, diligence and drive are the three essentials of success. Defiance of all binding vices, diligence in my efforts and the drive to surpass all established limitations is what I need to bring a revolution. “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius.”
Akansha Sunil Kumar Singh
National Law Institute University, Bhopal
5th Year Student, B.A.LL.B.(Hons.)
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Heller, Joseph (1961), Catch 22, ISBN: 0-684-83339-5,Vintage, London, p. 95
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Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1955 as quoted in:Oats, Stephen B. (1982), Let the Trumpet Sound : A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr, ISBN: 0-06-014993-0,Harper & Row Publishers Inc., New York, p. 84
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Doyle, Arthur Conan (1915), The Valley of Fear, ISBN: 014043772X,A.L. Burt, London, p.8