What leads you towards excellence?

By GS Tripathi

There is a saying, “Nothing succeeds like success; and nothing fails like failure.” We appreciate the end results, but never look at the efforts. It points to a business-like approach. But life is much more than business. Two students joined a laboratory to do research. One pursued a stereotype approach, followed a well-known path and got some results, published them and left the laboratory with a certificate. The other tried to do something new, but at the end of five years, finished only half of what he was meant to do. He did not get a certificate, because there was no appreciation for his unconventional efforts. The attempt to innovate was nipped in the bud.

A company asked a scientist to develop a solar cell. He developed one, but the efficiency of the solar cell was half of the efficiency of the solar cell available in the market, and the manufacturing cost was double. The scientist was fired.

Both examples suggest that we are not ready to pay a price for innovation. In both cases, there was no lack of sincerity and effort. We do not have patience to develop on our own. We borrow and buy the by-products of others and enjoy them. When we passed out from the school, our headmaster gave a piece of advice. He said, “Dear boys! While growing up, try to depend less and less on others and more and more on yourselves. That would help you develop confidence and lead you towards excellence.”

Today we are lamenting the lack of excellence everywhere; in our educational institutions, in our science, technology and in our manufacturing and services. Ideas are borrowed. Implementation processes are borrowed. Technology is borrowed. Therefore there is no excellence. When we have nothing to show in the present, we go back to the past and claim that our past was better than others. How long will we bask in past glory which has now only limited or no relevance?

Not long ago we did produce a few Nobel laureates, great thinkers and reformers, leaders and doers. It happened because we yearned for change and to achieve it, we were committed and prepared to undertake sacrifices in order to prove our potential and excel.

The spirit of sacrifice gradually faded after Independence. The need of the hour is to excite the youth, encourage them to follow the path less travelled, to overcome the hurdles of destiny, and to shift the target forward so that they can learn to walk ahead fearlessly. Uncertainty could be converted into certainty and hurdles into opportunities.

Only a robust general educational system, can help us achieve this. Positive change will come only when the means of change is based on truthfulness and honesty. MK Gandhi brought about a change in us because he adhered to these principles under all circumstances.

Growth must be universal, not local. In science we have seen that universal laws are more effective than the local ones which are subject to fluctuations. There are many scientists but only a few are remembered, like Newton, Einstein and Darwin because they showed us the eternity of science and the beauty of its creations.

Science is not destructive, it is our inability to use it for constructive, peaceful purposes that proves to be dangerous.

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