The fault lies in us

The inability to accept defeat finds expression in excuses and allegations often cleverly camouflaged, writes V. RAJARAMAN.

It is ridiculously true that we Indians as a class cannot digest defeat easily. “Work, regardless of the fruits of your actions” is the exhortations of the Bhagavad Gita – a dictum fondly quoted to console others in their hours of despair and disappointment. But as for ourselves we are generally quick in finding excuses for our failures, rather than accept them with grace or with philosophic resignation.

Take for instance a candidate who fails at a University examination – perhaps copying did not much help in this case. He however would not hesitate to take up the cudgels for an immediate enquiry into the so-called examination malpractices painting the entire class of examiners erratic, moody and corrupt. Quite prudently soon after the examinations are over he takes care to say that questions set that year were totally unlike those of the previous years and that some of them were from out of the prescribed syllabus tool.

He pictures himself as helpless victim of a bad system, suggests yearly examination if the semester system prevails and the semester method if it is the yearly examination that is in vogue, and if he is a rebellious youth indulges in harangues blasting the university authorities, at every available opportunity. The simple truth may as well be that he has a very little of the mental abilities required for higher education.

A candidate who loses a political election is no better. He is indignant (describes his anger righteous indignation that Mahatma Gandhi would have approved of) and alleges that the election was rigged and that voters have been bribed, coerced and threatened. In wake of his defeat he suddenly sees the shortcomings of adult franchise in a largely illiterate country, of the election machinery, of the incongruity of the present system of Government and suggests that in scrapping all these lies the redemption of his country – in fact he is seeking his own redemption.

The inability to accept defeat finds expression in excuses and allegations often cleverly camouflaged. It is well known how intolerant and inhospitable we are towards an Indian cricket team that has lost to a foreign team. The critics, euphemistically called experts, start their fusillade of attack attributing the Indian defeat to the lack of government patronage to sports, to the general deterioration in umpiring standards and quote former defeated captains to underpin their point of how difficult is cricket – improvement in the country. In this process of expert analysis the superior merits of the rival team gets little notice. Quite strangely all these handicaps vanish mysteriously if we happen to have won the match.

We analyse too easily the causes that exist outside of us and take shelter under the thought that we are victims of forced circumstances or a forced system. The courage to take defeat in the stride comes with honest self-criticism and honest performance of work which few of us think worth cultivating.

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