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Old is Often Gold
by J. Ajithkumar Bookmark and Share


The very popular perception that youth and young blood are the sure solutions to all our problems is completely misplaced. Quite in contrast, most of the outstanding contributions for betterment of society anywhere in the world have come from leaders when they were past their youthful age. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyrere or Abraham Lincoln did anything good for mankind only after they have passed their prime. It is only logical that such men who came up from the middle or lower rungs of society by their own merit could afford to contribute something only after their days of struggle to the very top. The climb to the top must take time and if we press hard to ripen the fruits, it will result only in unripened fruits which are good for nothing. 

The laws of nature are very clear regarding such matters. As a new born, almost all of us (except those who are physically or mentally challenged) are in the same boat in terms of capabilities. But then we struggle on to develop our skills based on likings and opportunities that present before us. More than relative merit, sometimes it is the relatives’ merit that plays its part in getting us the opportunities. But whatever be the amount of backing we receive from our relatives, the ultimate result squarely rests on the foundations of one’s own shear merit, perseverance, attitude and luck. No force on earth can make a visionary leader out of an undeserving aspirant even if he or she happens to get the best of opportunities and backing.

Pre-Maturity Ensures Mishandling

It happens that familiarity may breed contempt, but it is absolute necessity to have some familiarity if one wants to do anything good in any field or to anyone. Without familiarity it is not possible to develop an understanding that will enable doing something good for anyone. People who are totally unrelated to the situation or community will not be able to appreciate the intricacies involved and provide solutions. These factors are more relevant when we are talking about leaders of countries and movements. The background, character, caliber and training of leaders are no doubt important, but much more important is the actual experience of these leaders. In India, we have seen in action when an inexperienced leader could come to office with an unprecedented majority. Yet another historic opportunity was wasted and the country lost at least one more vital decade.

But we cannot blame the particular individual for all that happened. It is simply impossible for anyone who is unfamiliar with the system to perform in any situation. This is a universal truth, irrespective of the capability, caliber and background of the person involved. All that such persons do, when they come to occupy positions of power by vagaries of popular democratic processes, are to become unwilling puppets in the hands of ‘vulturous’ advisors and classy old men who know how to play the power games. The opportunity gets lost not only for the individual but also for the millions whose lives are dependent on the policies of those in power. The whole system gets vitiated on account of a wrong decision of the voters to overlook relative merit for the merit of the relatives.

Maturity Ensures Understanding

In sharp contrast, we all know the tremendous changes that happened in India subsequently, under two totally different dispensations, but with two old men at the helm of affairs. The maturity arising out of their fifty odd years of experience came into play in changing the direction of our growth and development. It is jokingly (but rightly) said that there are two ways to achieve socialism – by distribution of wealth or by distribution of poverty. But for the first few years of infrastructure development in post-1947 India, we have been witnessing only the latter method of socialism being adopted by subsequent governments in power. It was the maturity of an experienced old man that decided to change our destiny. The present glory of India is entirely on account of this change of course, initiated and nurtured by the two old men in power. 

The advantages of maturity are manifold. All of us are accumulating knowledge every second in our life. Some of it is voluntarily, but most of it unknowingly. Our vital senses are picking up elements of knowledge without fail in every moment of our daily lives. Whether one is an engineer or doctor or graduate or illiterate, the process of accumulation of knowledge is exactly the same. The more worldly experiences one undergo, the more wise he or she will be. By repeated dosages of success and failure, time - the world guru - is tempering each of us and preparing us for more such incidents in future. What a mature person possesses is this accumulated wisdom, which makes him recognize the consequences of his actions upfront. The more aged one is, the more capable he or she will be in analyzing the consequences of each action. There is no substitute for actual experience, like there is none for actual performance. Perhaps the only field where elders must give way to youngsters is in athletics and games, where brawn plays more role than the brain.

The amount of damage wrecked by immature leaders in poorer nations is something that is working against the interests of democracy. More than democracy as a form of government, it is the associated electoral mechanisms that are to be blamed for this. We still do not have a good method for identifying or qualifying leaders for contest. In unrestrained popular democracies, it is still possible for undesirable and immature contestants to win and come to power in a legal manner. Populism is working against the interests of democracy, which is still perceived as the most evolved form of government in the twenty first century. A few more immature leaders can easily kill democracy even in the world’s largest and strongest democracies like India and USA.   
 

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07-Oct-2007
More by :  J. Ajithkumar
 
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