May 15, 2009

Competitiveness – Bane Or Boon

Filed under: Chicken Soup For The Soul,opinions,personal,Random,Relationships — Kaveeta Oberoi Kaul @ 6:51 pm
Tags: ,

On a Goa beach, one lazy evening, with the sun in its glorious best, displaying brilliant hues, the sea energetically washing frothy waves ashore, a soft breeze bringing in refreshing salty spray ,life seemed calm, harmonious, almost perfect..when all of a sudden I heard the loud wails of my 6 year old son ( this was many moons ago). Hubby and me rose from our comfortable love seats, rushed to find a Japanese girl, maybe 10 or so, literally mauling him, throwing sand directly onto his face targeting his eyes.

We gently removed our child from the scene. Walking away we noticed the girl rush up to her parents who we realised were occupying the table next to ours. They seemed unaffected at the behaviour of their daughter and also to the cries of my son. Thinking that its best we distract him, clean him thoroughly and take him for a dip in the sea, we decided to ignore the issue.

Perhaps our lack of proclivity to any malevolence, the Japanese mother came up to me and in a effort to logicalise her daughters behaviour simply said ” You know the school she attends, there are bullies around so we have taught her to fight for herself”. Quite taken aback, I reminded her that a 6 year old boy playing with his beach toys was hardly a bully or a source of aggravation for such uncalled for violence. Her response ‘ The area in which he was playing was hers since she was there first’ !

Instinct has taught me to keep mum on occasions where the person inflicted on me is light years away from my thought process. Since converting/ convincing each other is a futile exercise or more like spitting at the moon..all that would occur would be slush on your face.

The point is, around us today, whether on television reality shows, schools, dance classes, colleges, all we witness is this sense of competitiveness, often unhealthy in spirit. The need to succeed is perfectly acceptable. What is objectionable is the resorting to pulling down another to rise. This crab mentality where more time and effort is spent in being a nuisance to others and for others, instead of diligently pursuing ones talent to reach the top, is the curse of the times we live in.

It completely negates any semblance of education in its literal sense. What projects forth is Neanderthal man , wild on the hunt, this time with his laptop..

Survival of the fittest has achieved bizarre connotations.

How much are we as parents responsible for drilling our children with the new ‘ Success at any cost ‘ mantra? I am afraid, wholly. To be ‘hot’ is ‘cool’… to be ‘aggro’ ( aggressive) is hip!! To be calm and composed, moral, upright is to be namby pamby..’sad’.. ‘not happening’.

The flip side is all the more flummoxing. The loud mouth braggartish variety seem to be riding the crest of glory. Our era is distinct in the whole hearted acceptance of a nebulous moral code where borders between the righteous and downright evil is blurred and I daresay leaning heavily on the side of the amoral, with abslutely no conscience pangs that throb violently in protest.

So how right are we in declaring vociferously to our children the philosophy of ‘ Karmanyu va adikar aste maa phaleshu kadachanna”.. You have the right to action but not to the fruit thereof or even extolling virtues of Buddhas middle path and Right conduct? We assure them that keeping to the virtuous side of life is always a blessing? Is it? Will goodness be met with success and abundance?

Not so sure any more. My experience has taught me that the one on the path of Good has a longer, more difficult struggle. Sometimes it seems that even the Gods are with those who flaunt their lack of integrity and sincerity yet luxuriating in untold wealth. Is the road to fairness any lesser than that to perdition? Is it right then to teach our children to be the odd ones in a world that is falling over itself bettering each other in vicious games and betrayals?

My heart prompts me to aver’ Yes..the meek shall inherit the Earth..Satyameva Jayate” But my mind speaks quite a differing dialogue. Will one have to wait till ones last breath to know the answer? Will good be rewarded? In the next life, in the after life? But then what does one teach ones kids? Go ahead and ape the vast mulititude gasping for fame, success. riches even if it means silently killing the last shred of a dwindling conscience left in you?

It requires guts to set your children on a wrong path. To guiltlessly condone the kind of competitive spirit that speaks of ‘cut throat’. TO make them feel comfortable in duping, usurping, betraying all in the name of material success that is in any case temporary.

I certainly dont have the quality that can make my children into ruthless fighters, devoid of ethics. We will fight it together. Not sure of victory but definitely of a good nights sleep for them and me.


  1. Thought provoking as usual Kaveeta. After a long absence something really nice. Killer instinct is killing .. I know what you mean. Making me wonder too how I talk to my son now.

    Comment by Krishnan — May 15, 2009 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Krishnanaji. All we need to apply our mind to awareness as to just what are the signals we are sending to our kids.

      Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — May 21, 2009 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  2. Kaveeta,I would first blame the parents for the condition of the children today.We may like to blame the school to shift blame.The fact is that we,the parents,want to see our child one up upon our neighbour and child’s classmate.To top it all this,we have these TV channels with,where they attend school and shoot during late hours all sorts of children’s programmes.It is only parents who have to put an end to this,lest they regret later

    Comment by B K CHOWLA — May 16, 2009 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

    • Agree Chowla ji. If you read the article again you will see that I have taken and put the blame squarely on the parents. The school was an excuse the japanese couple quoted. I merely reproduced the incident as it happened.

      Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — May 21, 2009 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks Kaveetaaji for this awesome article.. I feel the unchecked population growth of india is the main cause for this competition.. We are already a billion plus and we need to do something about it.. Where are we going to provide a sustained means of livelihood for so many people.. The competition is arising because if yesterday 10 people were contesting for a resource.. today the figure is 100.. so I feel there is no point in just blaming parents or schools or channels for that.. this is because finally in the long run.. it is the next generation who has to face the music, when they grow up.. But at the same time, as you have rightly said, the line between ethics and success is becoming blur.. This is the sad part of it.. But still i feel the philosophy of ‘karmane va adhikar aste’ holds good.. because this philosophy has stood the test of time for god knows how many thousands of years.. Our texts are our heritage and it should still be taught to our children.. It may not help them win a competition or win a job but i strongly feel that they will ensure that when we or our children grow old.. they will not have much to regret about life.. -)

    Comment by Rajeev — May 16, 2009 @ 6:36 pm | Reply

    • Rajeev your analysis is difficult to disagree with. Too many mouths to feed and too few sources of income. True. But you know the confusing part is that children of apparently well secure finances are not those that bespeak of upright values and behaviour either. This obsession with one upmanship even if it is to do with who gets the best table at a restaurant is fodder for competitiveness. I daresay this attitude reflects in interpersonal relationships soon. Siblings, spouse, friends are all open to a ferocious attitude of winning at any cost even if it is just arguments.

      I hope your optimism holds steadfast and does come true.

      Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — May 21, 2009 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

      • Does accumulation of wealth guarantee high values and ethics.. I do not feel so.. In fact would say, children from well to do families are those who are more likely to break rules as they know they can work the system by throwing around money.. but as you have said they are taking competitiveness to irrational levels. A child will learn values only when he sees that his/her parents have upheld values all their lifetime. Is that also happening today? In today’s times, the parents are also facing increased competition in their spheres. Gone are the days when loyalty was defining the relationship between people and companies..Now money defines everything.. Same is true in business scenarios too.. Gone are the days when we had industrialists like JRD Tata for whom values were important.. Similar things can be observed in all walks of life.. In fact, the degradation of values is happening all over the world.. Did the biggest american banks followed ethics when they did trading in securities. The answer is Big No.. they corrupted the whole banking system and threw the world in a recession.. I feel the only solution to this could be to self control yourself and not to get lured/corrupted by the shortcuts which others are taking.. The strength to do this can only come from our texts..Its easier said than done but i think thats the only way out..

        Comment by Rajeev — May 30, 2009 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

        • For many Rajeev, the excuse of insufficient funds and comforts or lets say lack of basic necessities was reason enough to set aside ethics and despairingly even have a few thumping them on their back in support. Surprisingly terrorists too had been using the poverty card to ascribe reason for their nefarious activities as if to garner sympathy for having chosen this road. Recently there was an actress who was stridently logicalising the taking up of arms as one that arose from poverty. Nothing of course is further from truth. A bent of mind to criminality can evolve in the most progressive societies.

          Its absolutely true when you state that degradation of values is happening all over the world. On the flip /positive side may I say that a never before clamoring for God is also on the rise. in equal proportion if not more. Somewhere I believe that given an option most would prefer to lead ‘good’ lives. It is the insecurities and limitless desires that egg them to transgress barriers of moral conduct.

          These desires and fanning them takes seed in childhood. If we teach our children to be successful human beings first and then successful professionals, I think we will be doing a great service to society. WE have to make them see the truth in this statement ‘ Sucess is not about material possessions but personal accumulation of values’. Has immense wealth ever accorded unlimited happiness.. Never. So if happiness is a state of mind more or less independent of wealth, why hanker after it only to add to miseries?

          There has to be sea change in the mindset of parents to see a altered vision in a new generation. Insecure , frustrated, edgy parents can only bring forth similar kids.

          Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — June 1, 2009 @ 1:09 pm | Reply

  4. I could read U after a long long gap Kavita and indeed it was refreshing, something above the democracy in which we live or the decadent value set up of today ,which has become a norm.
    What is happening in our country or in other democracies ? To achieve the goal or to get a win in elections ; we go down to any length and it is admired as a “Competition and freedom” in the name of democracy. Why blame only the helpless parents or the victim children of this system? Has not this become a normal MALAISE in our world/ society ?
    But I for one would believe, that ” KARMANNYA VADHIKA-RASTE MAA PHALESHU KADACHANA ” will remain true. If rewards for honest hard work ,do not come in present life, it will come in next birth .At least the Almighty God can’t go against his own Gospel.

    Warm regards to you and Pawanji.


    ( P .S. tie By the way, R U receiving the links/info everytime I post a new material on my Website?)

    Comment by Mohan — May 17, 2009 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

    • Mohanji.. so good to her from you. How was the festival and your experience. I have been out and therefore have not accessed my blog. I received just one link to your first article. After that nothing. Pavan ji shares in reciprocating our regards to you.

      Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — May 21, 2009 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

  5. True..It’s so sad some parents encourage such unhealthy competition.what they don’t realize is someday even their child maybe subjected to the same treatment at the hands of some other kid.

    Hope they see sense.

    Comment by indu — May 18, 2009 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

    • Hope so too Indu. In fact that was the simple intention of this post for parents to pause and think. Is it worth bringing up an insecure, agitated, frenzied, disturbed individual in this world already full of anarchists? Is life only about amassing wealth or gains which are a temporary acquisition anyway? isnt it more about evolving as a better mind and one who has discovered his closeness to the Divine?

      Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — May 21, 2009 @ 1:15 pm | Reply

  6. There is a certain individual writing under different names and is trying his best to show his venomous trait on this blog and other sites I write at.. I am fully aware of his identity.. What has shocked me is that this person was once who I had the most intriguing and healthy discussions with. I had been warned time and again to ban him from my site but I went against all advice. When he began crossing limits and resorting to incite and rebuke for a mere fancy I decided to ignore him but yet hadnt banned him. Now I see he comes under various guises to spew venom.

    To each his own. I am wholly unmoved. Nothing he says or does can make a truth into untruth. I dont wish to spoil my equanimity and harmony in retaliation. If this wasteful exercise provides him peace and happiness, let him continue. It only proves the veracity of my post.

    ‘ghalib burra na maan jo wayiz burra kahe
    aisa bhi hai koi jisse achcha kahe sabhi?’

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — May 21, 2009 @ 1:18 pm | Reply

  7. Hi Kavita !

    Your Ghalib Sher — “Ghalib bura na maan ….” was just out of this world— Marhaba !!

    That nostalgic thing has rewinded my retrieval memory and urged me to present following more gems:

    “Na suno gar bura kahe koi , Na dekho gar bura kare koi,
    Baksh do gar khata kare koi”

    “Hai bas ki dushwar har kaam ka aasaan hona
    Aadmi Ko bhi Mayassar nahi Insaan hona”

    “Qaide – hayato Bande Gham ,Assl mein dono ek hain
    Maut se pahle aadmi, gham se nazaad paye qyuon ”

    ” Hain aur bhi duniya mein, Sukhanwar Bahut Acche,
    Kahte hain ki Ghalib ka hai andaze bayan aur.” ( Shall I say Kavita ka bhi ?)
    ” Humne Ye maana ki kuch nahi Ghalib
    Mufft mil jaye to bura kya hai ”

    ” Agar ho Shamyen hakeeki roshan, do dilon ki halat Khuda hi Jane
    Khayali Shamyen jo jal rahi hain, usi ke parwane ban rahe hain.”

    I think ,should sufffice for the present

    ” Chipat jate hain woh, Bijli ke dar se
    Ilahi ye ghata do din to barse”

    ” Humne chaha tha Ki Haakim se karenge shikwa
    Par hai kambakht, wo bhi tera chahnewla nikla”

    I think this should suffice for present .

    Am sending you new links for articles once again .Pl. do visit that
    Warm regards to both of U

    Comment by Mohan — May 21, 2009 @ 4:54 pm | Reply

  8. kaveetaa, I couldn’t found any other way to communicate to you hence posting it here, I just added u as India’s top female blogger, if you name few more female indian bloggers, please tell me (and u shud post more..)

    Comment by Abhimanyu — May 21, 2009 @ 5:54 pm | Reply

  9. DiDi, Please don’t mind my saying this but, Na Tu Lakshman Rekha Paar Karti, Na Tuje Agni Pareeksha Deni Parti. DiDi Tu Raavan Ke Itne Kareeb Kyon Gayi ?

    Comment by Choti Bahen — May 22, 2009 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

    • Pyari behna

      Saanch ko Aanch nahin.. pareshan mat ho. Jeet to Ram aur Sita ki hi hogi. πŸ™‚

      Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — June 1, 2009 @ 1:28 pm | Reply

  10. Yet another thought-provoking post as usual. And it is definitely a dilemma. Not just where children are concerned – but on our own cases too. For example, you see the guy-at-work who bends the acceptable behaviour a tad to get ahead. I, on the other hand, stick to my principles always and am left behind. Should I get into the competitive mould too and become as ruthless as the guy-at-work?

    No easy answer. Undeserved success is definite to prick my conscience .. but then, well-deserved stagnation is no good either! And this dilemma is purely because of the succeed-at-all-costs mentality.

    Comment by Kiran — May 27, 2009 @ 11:29 am | Reply

    • Hi Kiran.

      I know exactly what you mean and the dilemma you face.”Undeserved success is definite to prick my conscience .. but then, well-deserved stagnation is no good either”.. Hit the nail on the head.

      Lets just say that we have to respect the person in the mirror and live our life meeting him in the eye. If one has succeeded in accomplishing that honestly, then there is nothing to worry about. Lets stop measuring success and failure with barometers set by media , society, or our neighbors.

      We have to set our own benchmarks to a gainful life. Satisfaction, or rather true satisfaction. is the result of intention+ labor x integrity and moral uprightness. Inching ones way up the ladder of material wealth and not willing to spend a moment with oneself in peaceful quietude for fear of facing inner demons is hardly the person who can claim to be successful.

      Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — June 1, 2009 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

  11. good
    Keep it up

    Comment by choti — June 14, 2009 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

  12. This is exactly how i feel about life!

    This is A beautiful post!

    Comment by Janaki — June 19, 2009 @ 10:40 am | Reply

  13. Thanks Janaki πŸ™‚

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — June 19, 2009 @ 11:41 am | Reply

  14. You have come a long way. Life has taught you many things too soon. I am sure your family would be proud of you . I am specially happy for your children who must have been given divine virtues because of you. The ripple effect shall be immeasurable.

    Comment by vipin — July 18, 2009 @ 2:25 pm | Reply

    • Hi Vipin.. Are you the Vipin I know? So good to hear from you and welcome. Thank you so much for your kind words.

      Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — July 21, 2009 @ 7:25 am | Reply

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