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Is the growing level of competition good for the youth?


The duel between triathlon legends Dave Scott and Mark Allen at the 1989 Ironman World Championships is remembered as one of the greatest races in the history of endurance sports. Allen finally emerged victorious; defeating Scott, after five successive losses to him. When Dave Scott was interviewed, he admitted that if Mark Allen was not there as a competitor, he would have finished a minute slower.

As an optimist, this is what I think the effect of growing competition on the youth is. They get a platform to uplift their performance and negate the effects of certain weaknesses on the same. But, competition comes with loads of pressure and expectations, under which people often tend to crumble. This gives rise to the negative effects of competition. Let us analyze the effects of competition on the youth.

Today, a major portion of our population can be classified as 'youth'. Undoubtedly, this is the most challenging phase of life. This is the time when one strives to turn dreams into reality and make something out of life that they will cherish in the years to come. After a few initial steps, they realize that millions are trying to reach the same destination; and obviously all do not succeed. It ultimately boils down to the 'survival of the fittest' theory. And, with the ever-increasing population, the intensity of competition rises exponentially. Pertaining to the youth, the competition is usually based on educational and employment scenarios.

The million dollar question is, 'Is the growing level of competition good for the youth?' It all depends on the mentality of the people. Let us see how.

Some people believe that competition is the best way to assess one's strengths and weaknesses. In fact, 'strength' and 'weakness' are relative terms. Unless they are compared with others, they have no existence. And, one cannot move ahead in life without the proper analysis of the above two factors.

A unique feature of a certain competition is that the increase in number of competitors and the competitiveness of the people increase the overall standard of the competition itself. And, if this represents a certain feature of the country, it is a matter of great pride for the nation. For example, if we have thousands of people, all equally able, vying for a prestigious post in the Government of India, other nations form a very high opinion of the Government, its officials and the country as a whole.

Sometimes, competition pushes us to perform far better than our own capabilities. It serves as an ignition to our performance. Referring to Herzberg's two -factor theory in management, competition is a motivating factor. It is a necessary element to make a person do his job with interest. Also, we often tend to lose focus midway of a certain task, if we lack competition.

Amidst all these, there is something about competition that people often feel is not correct. Indulging way too much in it allows us a very minimal time for ourselves. We often forget that we have a life outside competing. The pressure that a competition encases is also unbearable to some. Parents and elders also contribute to this already existing pressure. This can have hazardous effects. A certain agency has shown India to have the highest number of youth suicide in recent years; and, as we all know, India is the second-most populated country in the world. Can we find the missing link? Obviously, it is competition.

The recent incidents in Kota, India's 'coaching capital' have left the country stunned. The grueling schedule of the students often leads to frustration and the only way they think of getting rid of all these, is death. Drug menace also has competition and peer pressure as some of its root causes. Thousands of youth ruin themselves when they think that they are not as good as others and begin to lose ground while competing.

Through this essay, I want to convey that competition, taken as a sport and a way to improve ourselves is productive and may be life changing; but if we overdo it; self-destruction is imminent. We need to be an optimist and try to bring out the best in adverse situations.

"When the going gets tough, the tough gets going."

Most importantly, we must compete with a spirit of sportsmanship. In a race, the man who lends a hand to his fallen opponent earns greater respect than the eventual winner. We must not lose our values and righteousness while competing and believe me, this is one of the toughest things to do.

"When you compete with someone as good or better than you, you may not always win, but you never lose."

- Michael Josephson, former law professor and author.

DEBADRI SOM