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Saturday, 20 August 2016

Where are the incredible minds?

Yesterday, I attended a Management Development Program at a college. It was to host speakers on topics such as Mentoring, Psychometric Counseling, Administrative Techniques and Health and Happiness. I had enthusiastically registered for this program – which is far far away from the pharmaceutical field I currently inhabit professionally – in the hope of learning something new in a field I hope to someday inhabit professionally.

At the end of that program, I was left with a sense of being let down. Intellectually unsatisfied. Like I went expecting a banquet and was fed crumbs of stale food (only figuratively though, because the food at the event was quite good). There was not one thing spoken of that I did not already know. Not one way of handling the topics that made me sit up and say, “Aha! This is something I need to learn!”  The speakers’ handling of their topics was superficial to say the least. It was as if they were unwilling to delve deeper to convey something of real value.

For example, with speakers who come highly recommended as faculty from an institute like NIMHANS, I don’t expect a presentation that just lays out the general outline of a topic in a cursory manner, giving me information that is just off the internet. What a rich experience such a person must be privy to in the course of her practice! Why not use snippets from there to enrich your presentation?

If you are a speaker from a prestigious company like WIPRO, of course you need to be careful about not revealing certain confidential information. But must that make your presentation seem like you’re heading towards a certain crux point and then, just deflect without making it?

To be honest, even at the cost of sounding like I have a superiority complex, I must confess that I felt I would have done a far superior job of getting vital information across even though these are topics outside my area of expertise all these years.

Even as I pondered over this, I wondered why so many of the other faculty members attending seemed to be over the moon with even this basic information. Maybe it is the fact that we don’t demand quality from the speakers at conferences that lets the speakers get by with so little effort.

Why has the teaching profession grown so intellectually weak? Maybe it has to do with the fact that many in this profession are in it because they had no other option…but it is infinitely sad to think that a profession that is supposed to shape up our future generation is mostly filled with mediocre stuff. An Arjuna was possible because of his innate talent and hard work, but didn’t the deft guiding hand of Dronacharya play an equally important role? Would Swami Vivekananda have achieved his total potential if not for a guide like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa?

And then, just as I was feeling so despondent, today morning, I read an article in the Indian Express. The piece was about Pullela Gopichand. Unless you are an Indian who has been living under a rock since the past 48 hours, you know who this guy is and the glory he helped P. V. Sindhu achieve.

The article says Gopichand was starved of inputs, strategy and knowledge from his coach which caused him to lose out in the Sydney 2000 Olympics. This realization may have made him temporarily bitter, but it later drove him to provide the same to his athletes along with what could prove to be the deciding factor that determines who will win – an incredible mind off court.

This last bit – an incredible mind – is something that is becoming increasingly rare. But still, that there are people like Gopichand is a big source of hope and relief for people like me because it means I’m not being wrong or egoistic in seeking to gain or impart excellence.


  1. Very thought provoking. I think it is left to a few of us to lament about the rest of us. However, this is to test our convictions. We have to find our own ways of accepting and making peace with all that is around us without losing sight of / without giving up our passionate persual of the path towards excellence. Here in lies the potential for holistic and spiritual growth.

    1. Yes, have made a very true point. Thank you.

  2. You r rt Anu,I will even go further as to say,the best teachers need not be the most intelligent but rather they should have a vision which allows them to see and guide students in their quest.Very nice piece


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