Mr. C E M Joad, a profound thinker and a leading British writer of the twentieth century, paying rich tributes to the father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi wrote “Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became Mahatma Gandhi because of his moral force that exerts not ‘power’ but ‘influence’ that can be defined as the effect produced by one human being upon the mind and actions of another not through the fear of punishment or hope of reward but by the latter’s intuitive acknowledgement of intrinsic superiority”. That the remarkable outcome of such an influence is a part of the history of this great country India that is Bharat, is well known throughout the globe.
The world is abounding with the people with such magnificent influence because of which the world is what we see today with a sense of pride and achievement!
Whether in the field of religion or social reforms, politics or economics, culture or civilization, education or entertainment the gifted persons with a positive power of influence have done a world of good to the society.
Any Standard English Dictionary will show the different meanings and connotations of the word “influence”.
When the power of influence is not positively employed, the society stands to lose and suffer.
Probably the then chief of the World Bank would have continued in his position without the ignominy of resigning under adverse circumstances due to favoring a girl friend- cum- PA, bestowing on her, great monetary benefits and out of turn promotion utilizing his position and influence.
It is indeed sickening to observe that this power of influence acts more often than not detrimental to the interest of the individual or the society. One has a number of experiences to quote on the evil effects of “influence” taking different shapes and size, hue and scent – victims being the really worthy and meritorious! This I strongly believe must be a global phenomenon – may be sure in kind but not in degrees.
Power of influence, in its negative connotation, has multiple and varied sources. May be money, muscle, caste, community, religion, politics, – under any mask, the power plays havoc.
Forty five years ago, a gold-medalist in post-graduation in Mathematics was denied a lecturer-ship in a private college, which is today one of the leading Universities in the south and a just post-graduated was offered the position to the annoyance of several observers thanks to the power of influence derived from a particular ‘community’. It was unfortunate that the power of influence was stronger than merit. An individual won but the society lost.
From getting a cinema ticket for a newly released film starring a great set of actors to getting darshan in a famous temple, the one who has some one, to influence gets the things done easily than the one who does not have one or the one who is averse to availing the services of the influential.
An officer at a high level in a public sector undertaking transferred from a different state tried to get admission in a high school class and he was bluntly told by the Principal that there was no vacancy in the class and in a couple of days a similarly placed officer could get an admission for his ward in the same class of the same school from the same Principal, thanks to that power of influence derived from the power of money!
Everyone can recollect and relate any number of such experiences of their own or others.
One should remember in every such instance, someone else who is legitimately due is denied and that drives him to adopt unethical means or create an aversion to the society, people, government and probably the nation! The end of this situation can be well visualized and if a solution is not found to eradicate such power of influence operating in the society, the people affected or having concern for the society will lose faith in the very society. This should be a real concern for the powers that be and all those who can do something to improve the situation – the government, the social service organizations, the change agents in different spheres etc. etc.
Can the following help in this regard?
1. Creation of opportunities to get the things/the needs of the individuals as a matter of routine in a fair and free manner.
2. Changing the mindset of the service providers of various kinds and denominations not to be ‘influenced’ by any considerations that are unfair, unethical and illegal.
3. Changing the mindset of the people not to seek and solicit the interventions of the ‘influential’ under any circumstances and get the needs through normal means. This requires sustained efforts by all to educate the society. Right from the infant stage, the right values of life must be injected in their minds. The all powerful media can play a very significant role in this area. Parents at home and teachers in schools and colleges, social service organizations, religious leaders and preachers all can play a positive role in this matter.
Who is to bell the cat? May be several Mahatma Gandhis have to be born and help or a ‘benevolent dictator’ can bring out the necessary changes and redeem the society. One does not know at the moment, whether this can be seen in reality or will remain a distant dream of the one who is very sensitive to the issue.