Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Responsibilities of the Powerful and the Powerless - Namsurei Thomas Kamei, Assistant Professor Economics

“We have a new class of educated people too qualified to be working in the paddy fields, but not qualified enough to be self-responsible and self-dependent.” True self-responsibility and self-dependency is to be accountable for our jobs, our organizations, our departments, our State. From the powerful to the seemingly powerless, together we all have a responsibility to shoulder.








The Responsibilities of the Powerful and the Powerless



People at the helm of affairs need to introspect and find out what they think about themselves. The President of a country can see himself/herself as a person entitled with many privileges and fully enjoy it. He/she can even go overboard. He/she can go on a foreign trip every month, regardless of the needs, squandering crores of the taxpayers’ money. The same is true for every leader.


Point here is, people tend to forget their priority the moment they are in a position of power. This has led to corruption and stagnancy of the process of improvement and development. Power can be easily misused if one forgets why one has been assigned with authority and power.

In my opinion, one of the essences of leadership is service. It is through continued service a person is considered capable of shouldering responsibility. In the history of mankind, no one became a great leader without putting in years of dedicated service. There can be a plethora of qualities essential for good leadership, however without a touch of servitude in a person’s personality, one can’t really be a good leader. This is equally applicable to all people who are in a position of responsibility. Thus, starting from the president to the chowkidar, each is expected to perform a certain service. The service is basically the responsibilities one is entrusted with.

A certain group of people who seem to be forgetful of their responsibilities are the politicians. When it comes to politicians, I have numerous questions for them and the public to ponder over: How many of our honourable representatives are aware of their responsibilities? Why do our representatives watch porn (happened in Karnataka) in the assembly? Why do we have so many of our leaders charged with corruption cases? Why do we have so many leaders whose wealth is disproportionate to their legal means of income (flashy cars and houses speak for themselves)? Why do we have leaders involved in molestation of the women folk? Why do we have representatives holding important portfolios caught for an illegal possession of arms when they are supposed to be guardians of the laws of the land? I think many are unaware of their responsibilities. Do they take a moment of their life and introspect who they are? Do they ever ask themselves what their responsibilities are?

The same holds true for the bureaucrats, corporate bosses, directors, heads of departments and whoever is in a position of authority. Misuse of position and power to further one’s own interests dilute the sanctity and purpose of authority. It has a “cascading-effect” pulling everyone into its web. A subordinate cannot be expected to be trustworthy when the boss is not trustworthy. The whole structure crumbles when the head succumbs to selfishness, sycophancy and corruption. A person supposed to provide solidarity and direction to an organisation or institute shouldn’t be so easily moved as to bend every time when there is a conflict between one’s good and the common good. It has rightly been said that an action that improves the condition of a person and worsens the condition of two persons is not an improvement. It is not an act of development and does not increase the welfare of the society as a whole.  If only people in power judged their every action by this simple rule of development and welfare.

Responsibilities are not exclusively for people in a position of power. Each and every individual shoulders it in one way or the other. It is a different matter how every individual views their responsibilities. There are individuals who go out of their way and shoulder responsibilities, regardless of self-benefits that come along. While others shoulder responsibilities which have direct bearing on them. In my opinion, even these two groups of individuals are a responsible lot. Then there are individuals who shun their responsibilities, regardless of whatever excuses they offer; they are a burden to the society. This is because of the fact that they are dependent on others who shoulder their responsibilities.  How do we decrease this dependent lot?

The issue of shouldering responsibilities becomes more important in a state like Nagaland. This is because of two reasons: firstly, because the State is a consumerist, non-producing and centrally funded State. Secondly, because the work culture in the State is not very healthy. Everyone in the State knows that whatever we consume, right from luxurious items like expensive cars to the smallest item like needles are all from outside the State. The State is very dependent on others. This dependency is so much so that the people of the State can appear like a burden on the Indian economy.

How do we alleviate this dependency? A simple rule to help may be to be responsible. Are we responsible for unwanted wastages in functions like marriage parties, birthdays, tribal festivals, church gatherings? I am not against the celebrations but against the wastages. How long will the educated depend on government jobs? Does education mean securing a Government job? Does higher degree mean attaining a higher post in a Government job? Is the Government meant only to be a job providing agency or salary disbursement organisation?

This rising dependency may be because of the results of prolonged shunning of responsibilities from the higher ups to the bottom. It may be because of the unhealthy work culture that prevails in the society. The degradation of the dignity of labour is partly because of the way the older generation encourage their children (the younger generation) to shun their responsibilities. How many parents equate success of their children with government job? How many of the parents taught or threatened their children that if they didn’t do well in their studies, they will be forced to work in the field? How many parents rate the success of their children with the amount of their pay cheque only? This has resulted in a generation of youngsters ignorant of their responsibilities and also their core abilities. We have a new class of educated people too qualified to be working in the paddy fields, but not qualified enough to be self-responsible and self-dependent.

Let us be responsible and reduce our dependency on others. John F Kennedy rightly said: “Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for the country”.
“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email: admin@tetsocollege.org” 

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