A Survival Instinct

Democratize Education to Groom Competence to Compete
Among Unprivileged Children with a sense of
Personal Social Responsibility (PSR)

COMPETITION: A Survival Instinct


One of the learned readers, in recent past, made an observation “I felt a little disturbed by the word 'compete' in your logo (and at many places in the discussions). Does Subodh Foundation ultimately aim at preparing children to 'compete'? It is our effort to use the Readers’ Feedback column to reflect their concern genuinely and use it to make this mission transparent, selfless, and correct wherever necessary, so as to benefit our target audience in a best possible manner. Our genuine concern to the feedback had placed us in an introspection to study as to what is wrong about competition? Is it unnatural?

Famous evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin has related survival instinct to his theory of Natural Selection according to which those individuals are more likely to survive when they possess positive characteristics which can be passed on to next generation so as to adopt their environment. Renowned psychologist Sigmund Freud, known as Father of Psychoanalysis, recognized the existence of life instinct as an innate tendency to maintain one’s own physical existence.

In Indian mythology Bhagwat Geeta, is profoundly adored discourse on धर्म-अधर्म. While in गीता-रहस्य, written during imprisonment for freedom struggle, by लोकमान्य बाल गंगाधर तिलक cites that when one Rishi was eating flesh of dead dog, Manu who was passing by reacted saying that “you have tarnished your religion”. On this the Rishi replied “unless I protect my body how can I protect my religion”. There is also a famous saying in India शरीरो रक्षितो धर्म:. This survival instinct has roots in the genesis of the whole life cycle. It would be seen that birth of all the species in the flora-and-fauna in itself is a result of strugle of the tender new life and the environment.  Charles Darwin has extended the survival instinct into social instinct arising out of fear for others acting in union to endanger oneself. Darwin stretches it to say that ‘these social instincts acquire a moral sense with the development of intellectual power’. This survival instinct is deep rooted in every culture, mythology and religion with different manifestations. One श्लोक that is recited in महाराष्ट्र before taking meals is cited as a typical example of as to how does the survival  is a spiritual act:

वदनिं कवळ घेतां नाम घ्या श्रीहरीचें, सहज हवन होतें नाम घेतां फुकाचें |

जिवन करि जिवित्वा अन्न हें पूर्णब्रह्म, उदरभरण नोहें जाणिजें यज्ञकर्म ॥

The above discussions point towards inevitability of change. Everything changes with time, even the non-living objects compete with the environmental to resist the change with time. In different context this change is called wearing, erosion, corrosion or depletion. Change is dynamic; all that one can do is to evaluate the change and make it worthwhile. This change is always relative and that leads to competition for survival. The genesis of this competition lies in scarcity of resources. In presence of abundant resources their consumption depends upon one’s capacity. This consumption of resources over a period of time leads to competition among its aspirants. There comes the role of moral, social and religious sense which regulates coexistence.

In this context there are three methods of competing. First is  to increase pace of growth. In this method one can compete with self or any other who is either ahead or the one apparently competitive. This requires one to work harder, smarter and strategic in manner. Smarter means making hard work more effective. While, strategic conveys sense of selection and deployment of resources in a right manner, at right place, at a right time. Second method is to pull the leg of the one ahead in the competition. And the Third method is to create hurdles on the way of progress of the competitors. The first method is full of positivity, value based and respects natural right of everyone to grow and is most judicious and is admirable. The other two methods are full of negativity and immoral. Ernest Hemingway has rightly said “You can wipe out your opponents. But, if you do it unjustly you become eligible for being wiped out yourself”. Thus the thought process of the latter Two methods being immoral denounce one own existence and the environment as a whole. Expression of smarter and strategic manner in first method should no way be construed as resorting to one of the other two methods. These two methods are criminal in nature and lead to envy, which in turn reflects in vengeance; they would follow a revenge which could be self-destructive as propounded by Ernest. May almighty bless wisdom to all!

Education is a process where pupils are subjected to uniform learning environment and to compete. Growth of opportunities is widening competition; it has assumed global dimensions. As a result it becomes extremely difficult for every learning centre to globalize competition. Here comes the role of learning process. Group learning and collectively complementing each other are the two techniques which exploit the positivity of competition and grooms, among pupils, team spirit and requisite personality traits of coexistence, social values with due regard to individual differences. This approach is based on natural existence of inequality among equals and is very basis of coexistence. Every individual has a limit to excellence in any field that can be achieved. But, it neither makes one inferior to other in one field nor superior to the other, in the other field of excellence. Inequalities in fingers of a palm vis-à-vis strength of a fist are excellent examples of coexistence of diversity. Jig-saw puzzle is just not a childhood game, rather it is a real life proposition. This has been made an integral part of mentoring philosophy at Subodh Foundation. Group learning and collective complementing are implicit. ‘Grooming Competence to Compete’ in its logo and at multiple instances show this imbedded-ness. It is a considered choice. Nevertheless, while doing so, caution is exercised not to mince the expression with philanthropy, charity, help or mercy. These letters are considered as sweet poison to pervert thought process of the subjects and kill their ingenuity at the nip-of-the-bud.

Natural justice first demands that everyone has an equal opportunity to grow. Having done that, in the name of social equality, blocking growth of competent in favour of those who wasted the opportunity, might be an area of research in sociology, but it amounts to social injustice. This makes the challenge tougher and none, howsoever mighty, can bridge inequality, at the same time establish natural justice by grooming competence to compete. In view of this no opportunity was lost to open up this initiative, to any of the forerunners in the field of education to unprivileged and educational excellence. They were appealed to collectively complement. Despite all graceful and kind words of such players, abrupt isolation to the collective gestures did cause a discouragement, a very natural response. But, question that dominates this thought process is “should the mission and its philosophy be allowed to get dissuaded by such aversions?”  However, optimism was reinforced by a few who chose to stand by us, not only in words but in deeds too. We salute such individuals as true statesmen, true nationalists and above all true humanists.

At this point new question arises as to what is corruption? Is it just monetary or financial only? The genesis of corruption is found to be in attitude of person to acquire and preserve anything that one aspires for, in an easy way. This attitude is nurtured in a child who is too protected to compete. Such protected persons when grow up with silver spoon in their mouth (relative to unprivileged children) invariably use their possession be it positional, material, professional and intellectual in a manner which tends to preserve and perpetuate their belongings. Uses of such power, which may not be of exclusive monetary benefits, are seen as moral, professional or intellectual corruption. Such aberrations are also called white collared corruption. Such a corruption is less susceptible to get noticed, and are more dangerous and deep rooted than mere monetary corruption. Creeping in of such white collared corruption creates a lust for longing immoral possessions which are seen to grow abruptly and in an un-phenomenal manner to propound that  2+2>>8 and thus violating basic laws of mathematics  i.e. 2+2=4, most un-natural. It is essential to understand grooming competence to compete is not like transfer of an amenity, but like building of capability through eradication of poverty of thought process. This thought process is an integral part of capability and personality of every individual. And this transformation of thought process is slow, gradual and needs perseverance.

It is, therefore, considered extremely essential to groom competence to compete in every child, not in the form of a charity, but in an environment where learning is democratized. This is where every elite can collectively complement in a big role with a fragrance of Personal Social Responsibility (PSR).

Most of the elite are seen to be critical of lack of competence and imperfections in their surroundings. If these imperfections are eradicated, all elite would be left jobless. Therefore, elite should feel not only responsive but obliged to the prevalent system which offers them a big role to play, so as to correct imperfections. God willing, if it really happens, a new scenario would emerge which will definitely not depose elite. It is essential to remember that perfection is like a mirage which keeps demanding more, as it is approached. Such oncoming demands shall be more orderly and competitive and would judiciously require everyone to be worth what they may aspire, belong, claim, demand or expect (a,b,c, d and e)  in their life.

Through these utterances, I honestly share my selfish fear that if we (the elite) fail to pro-act with a sense of PSR, our beloved descendants, despite affluent belongings at their command, might not be able to enjoy their living fearlessly. Growth of organized crime in global scenario are more than enough pointer towards it. Nevertheless, if any reader finds any kind of negativity or pessimism in the thought process he/she is welcome to share views, in the form of article or feedback which would acknowledge with gratitude. They are also invited to collectively complement for the larger good.


Subhash Kumar Joshi

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