Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay 

"Success is a great deodorant", opined famous Hollywood actress, Elizabeth Taylor, sometimes in the past. Success, indeed, brings laurels in the form of awards, accolades and social recognition dispelling any kind of stigma or ignominy. In any avocation or activity, every person just craves success and awards. It cannot be denied that the taste of success itself rejuvenates anybody to a great extent. Though the nature of awards may vary from cash to mere electronic certificate, the most crucial aspect is social recognition in society. For some time, the awarded person thinks that he is dwelling on Cloud Nine. Primarily, awards are the reflection of a person's hard work, acumen and perseverance to achieve better results. However, the sad reality is that not every award justifies this exalted ideal. In an age when moral values are changing fast due to steady spurt in materialistic culture, the sanctity of awards gets compromised more than often. Consequently, we come across many awarded 'non-performers' and a lot of others who are left high and dry without getting any awards despite being meritorious and real performers. In the present times, it is happening daily. This tendency hurts the deserving contenders to the maximum. In many cases, they develop depression and lose enthusiasm, even temporarily. Winston Churchill, the redoubtable prime minister of England, and a political personality once wrote "Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm". This is an ideal statement which is worth practicing by all. However, in real life situations, men are ordinary mortals, and they are not expected to be steel-hearted and strong to face such unprecedented happenings. The stark fact is that omission, from the award list despite being deserving, strikes at the person's sensibilities and mental approach. For the losers, the world seems to be lived and ruled by the mediocre only. Famous writer, Jean Giraudoux has aptly described the feeling as "Only the mediocre are always at their best".

The unusual appetite for awards and recognitions in the current scenario has grown into horrendous proportions. People are resorting to new lows to snatch the awards from the rightful contenders. The use of money power, temporary relation-building for ulterior motives and exerting undue influence on the sponsors and the award jury are just burning examples. Nepotism and browbeating also occupy an important place in this regard. The list is ever-growing. The irony is that the undeserving awardee always justify his or her felicitation vehemently. Rather, he blares his own trumpet from the rooftops to make the neighbourhood aware of his achievement. Some of them give bizarre and out of the box explanations regarding their awards. American comedian, radio star and actor, Jack Benny, has put it in a lighter vein as such:" I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either".

But the extraneous influences are not the root cause, always. Sometimes, other factors also play their role. For example, the quality of judges and the jury lacks appropriate standards. Their knowledge is often suspect regarding the subject-matter of the competition or the purpose and philosophy of the awards. Though it is an admitted fact that selecting the most eligible persons from the different walks of life is not an easy one for the organisers, yet this does not permit them to make a compromise with the qualitative aspect of the event or competition. Interestingly, it is often seen that the organisers of such events are more prone to self-aggrandisement at the cost of sanctity of awards. They give awards to their trusted ones or loyals and are, generally, in the form of rewards. They organise the events and the award-winning ceremony with much fanfare attracting enough publicity. Basically, such types of events and awards have lowered the prestige of awards and the awarded persons both.

In the present age of the Internet, many social media platforms are full of various groups of users formed for different purposes. In literary groups, for example, a plethora of daily, fortnightly and monthly competitions are organised in which the standard of judging is almost deplorable. Judges and jury often ignore even the basic requirements of the competition and, apparently, take their decisions arbitrarily. This results in diminishing the enthusiasm and oeuvre of the competitors, many of whom are budding writers. The sympathisers call it luck. But is luck so unpredictable? Brian Tracy has aptly said "I have found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often". Probably, this is sane advice. One has to take chances again and again till the bad luck changes its course. But the question remains that in the presence of biased or unqualified judges and jury, how far the course of luck can be changed? Over the years, this practice of distributing rewards in the name of awards, by the unscrupulous and run-of-the-mill organisations and institutions, is fast becoming a new normal. India's most powerful and worthy prime minister, Indira Gandhi had once remarked that "There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there". Prophetic words, indeed! Ironically, people believing in taking credit and doing nothing appears to be flourishing in modern times.

A significant aspect of this phenomenon is that the injustice caused by the judges and juries go unpunished, mainly due to the fact that the participants accept their decision as fait accompli. Hardly anybody raises his or her voice against it. And if it so happens, no heed is paid by the concerned authorities. That is how this pernicious practice is on the increase.

The honest, hardworking and sincere people forgetting the past indulge themselves in pursuing their favourite activities, once again. They are perfectionists who never tire of the intense labour they put on a daily basis to improve their skills. They take new challenges in order to prove their worth. Renowned painter and artist Salvador Dali has opined that "Have no fear of perfection-you'll never reach it". But the aspiration for perfection keeps them vibrant with a burning desire to excel in their pursuits. They seem to follow the eternal diktat "I am still learning", so well-articulated by the great painter, sculptor and artist, Michelangelo. Undoubtedly, that is the golden rule. Instead of ruing on the failure of getting awards or recognition, one has to move forward, and improve his or her skills every day. However, at the same time, this is the bounden duty of the good citizenry to exercise a check on the nefarious award-distributing activities of such organisations and institutions who care the least about human sensibilities. This practice is harmful to the healthy growth of the society. It adversely damages the strength of the deserving persons who are capable of contributing a lot towards the betterment of not only their respective fields, but also of the nation as a whole. In this context, one significant aspect needs to be mentioned here. People inhabiting a particular society are generally aware of each-others' activities. They know very well about the credentials of every individual living in the vicinity. Hence, people getting awards which they don't deserve are easily noticed and talked about by their neighbours and acquaintances. Hence, such people never get the true recognition from society. On the contrary, meritorious people always enjoy an all-round respect and appreciation. They never cease to try and try again. Martin Luther King has rightly said "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree". That is how civilisations advance, and humanity grows.

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