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Dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and sustainable growth of mediocrity

By Arup Mitra*

The theory of mediocrity would suggest that the meritorious who are always small in number as a nature’s gift will be dominated by a vast number of mediocre as the latter cannot withstand the inferiority they suffer from. By subjugating the merit, they derive a pleasure of having established their superiority. Such processes are functional in all spheres in life though the field of art is the worst sufferer. An artist mind is most sensitive and those who are meritorious in this lot possess exceptionally different traits. This makes them more vulnerable and, on the other hand, it paves the path of the mediocre to cast their shadows all around. Unjust and strong criticisms are sufficient to detract many.
In developing countries, the modes of subjugation are many. Individuals do not hesitate to take recourse to criminal means as the subconscious prevalent with vengeance, accesses easily the outlets for execution. The lack of civility and the power of money form a unique combination to destabilise a personality of talent. Further, mediocrity in self-defence creates such institutions which make them survive eternally without being exposed or punished.
In this short piece we take up two important areas as for illustration. One is the film world and another relates to higher education and research.
The death of an extremely talented and young actor (Sushant Singh Rajput) in the Bollywood is a live example of such torture and destabilization mechanisms. Certain groups without talent but with resources have been successful in establishing their dominance all over. The financiers of projects are dependent on them, the production houses carry out their orders and their decisions in all spheres will have to followed because disobedience can result in complete dismissal of an organisation or a character – be it director, producer or artist or whosoever may be there in that chain. Their access to underworld can result in smooth physical elimination. Oral backstabbing can produce exclusion and exit from the industry. Even certain degree of success in acquiring consignment can be turned as flop with their fingertips. If the talented artists happen to be lacking in strong networks because they did not have a legacy in the field, a couple of nominal strategies are sufficient to demolish their carrier. Thus, talent is resisted and mediocrity keeps the temple ready for its own worship even in the future years to come. The new recruits will be their decisions so that there is no possibility of comparison and eventually mediocrity would rule to prove that it is the best among all.
This theory helps us explain the paradox of why in a developing country like India unbelievably large magnitude of resource-based projects are pursued in the cinema industry with a disproportionately large tilt towards average outcomes, the impressive ones being within the confinements of finger counts. The answers to how such a sub-optimal situation persists and why it is not self-corrective are embedded in the basic principles on which these organisations function without collapsing. Such multifunctional monopolies must be crushed with strong state intervention if quality output is to be generated with efficient utilisation of resources in the industry.
It is indeed a shame that the reports of the investigations of the death of the artist are not out, yet. Justice delayed is justice denied. As a benefit of doubt, we may presume that the investigators are still looking for substantial proof which is time consuming. But after two years of the incident if nothing is conveyed, it does give a jolt not only to the family members but also to the public. The faith in democracy gets shaken if mediocrity can get away with huge pay-offs after committing crimes. Interventions from the government at the earliest is a must.
The dominance of mediocrity is evident in many spheres. In educational institutions when it happens, there is a major decay. And as mediocrity prefers similar recruitments to be followed, the average standard declines significantly. Institutions which once emerged as the top hubs of intellectual discourses and innovativeness, lose their sanctity and hover around what is obvious and superfluous. That is how the respect from the international audience is totally gone and a developing country is never able to equate the intellectual standards with its developed counterparts. In such a situation the reasons for inequality across countries may be attributed not to any external factor, rather to the internal faults, the vicious circles and the low equilibria embedded in the entire dynamics. To meet the requirements and visibility both from demand and supply side, outlets have been created facilitating publications in exchange of a huge amount of money.
Vindictiveness and jealousy of the mediocre take the top position in eliminating the talent and diligence. Dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and immorality take an important position because these are the means through which the mediocre survives. The authorities do not get to receive the right picture and they rely on those who they know. Familiarity depends on how quickly one is approaching the authorities and, incidentally, the mediocre is always desperate to access them first because of their vested interest. That is how the survival of the mediocre becomes sustainable.
The ecosystem of higher education and research requires revamping.
---
*Professor, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi

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