The most interesting part of any book that I love reading is the section either at the beginning or in the end where the author acknowledges and conveys his gratitude to all that helped him complete his project devotedly. Rising above symbolism and tokenism, it is this one aspect that in my opinion is not just accurately true but also tells us that almost always any artistic endeavor has an all-encompassing collective spirit. Isolation can fire up the imagination but action always needs a plural connotation.
Our culture is deep-seated in generosity and gratitude is most of the times ritualistic. A very thin line borders subservience, sycophancy and genuine filial appreciation. Any acknowledgement either in books, plays, television or movies, emboldens the unvarnished spirit of recognition and collectivism devoid particularly of any moral or social obligation. However the same salutation coming from a victorious politician or a promoted employee, for his peers and superiors, is often perceived as obsequious and shallow. Despite the brooding similarities in both, the distinction is not too hard to define. While one begins with an end in mind and prescribed benefits, the other is more philanthropic in nature. In my opinion, a personal commemoration is as important as a professional recognition. While the latter follows a pattern and is a result of a series of actions, the former has more private and an emotional connect; where the success of one leads another to probably gain nothing more than unflinching love and appreciation. Acknowledgement creates camaraderie and gets people a step closer to each other.
India’s fixation with role models and demi Gods is unparalleled. At all times in our history a personality towers over the rest, providing hope, meaning and expectation to the lives of millions that all institutions have generally failed. Such an icon rarely can afford to feel or behave exclusively. Should he start doing that, his fall from grace is sure and certain. He or she has to come across as someone who is all embracing and that his seats of success has many stakeholders. Hence it serves him best to publicly acknowledge each and every contributor not just for personal satiation but also to connect a chord in a manner that willfully justifies his position. From a victorious Narendra Modi rushing to meet his mother and family and seek their blessing to the celebrated Sachin Tendulkar bowing down at Achrekar’s feet; all of these are display of personal affection and recognition for their loved ones’ untiring contributions.
In India, favors have traditionally come from the occupancy of power, money or at times through sheer acts of mercy. Between the world treading these two extremes, pure play display of gratitude can easily be misconstrued. However it, in no way, demonizes the significance of the same. A landscape, where nothing seems to be unconditional, this show of recognition offers a healthy insight to the spirit of teamwork and collaboration. This specific trait also symbolizes humility which is one of the most endeared virtues of humankind. It might not be administratively a very sound tactic, however it has immense perceptual relevance. Any departure from the same will lead to the person being inferred as snooty, heady or exclusive.
The victorious captain of a team sports almost always recognizes the effort of the team before specifying individuals. This perpetuates from the thought that each one helped the cause in one way or another. Public acknowledgement is the purest form of appreciation. A renowned joke exaggerating the impact of thanksgiving goes something like this;- A victorious captain when being congratulated on becoming a father for the first time famously quoted “It’s all the hard work of the boys and credit should go to the team”. Howsoever menacing this might sound, it does highlight the conditionality of a happy mind. A mind which feels dwarfed by the grace showered on him or her. Barring the language blip, credit does fall due to doctors, nurses and the almighty to make it happen. Individual sporting event also have a battery of people working behind the scenes. From a rumbling tennis coach sitting at the sidelines watching his ward play to the sharp chess “seconds” dissecting the minds of opponents, all such people are acknowledged and recognized both in victory or defeat.
Issac Newton once famously and metaphorically remarked, “If I have seen further, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants”. This act of reference and recognition transforms Newton himself into a giant of sorts, exhibiting the frailty of individualism and exclusivity. A society like ours needs voluntary or involuntary collaboration for any act to succeed. And an acknowledgement of the same is the first step towards success. A famous folklore of Indian Space history goes something like this. In 1979, Prof Satish Dhawan (the then Chairman of ISRO) shouldered the entire blame for the failure to launch satellite “Rohini” ( the whole rocket system plunged into the Bay of Bengal). The next year when the satellite was successfully orbited , he publicly conferred the honor and acknowledged APJ Abdul Kalam ( his young scientist) as the man behind the success. The impact it left on the young Kalam finds a mention in almost all his memoirs and has since become an important lesson on leadership.
My mother wants me to write and it is for her that I carry on scribbling. In fact she already believes me to be a writer of some might. My argument with her of making the difference between the writer and an amateur has almost always fallen flat. My scrambled expressions and informal grammar does not deter her high opinion about me the writer. I sincerely believe that she eagerly awaits the day when an accidental publication of mine carries her name inked in bold as part of the acknowledgement section. I presume that her love for me and my writing is superimposed by her desire of my making public, the long loved appreciation and her contribution to my life.
In this “dog eat dog “ world, where efficiency is synonymous with gaining wealth, creating value is a measure of productivity, getting rich is a paramount virtue; cutting corners, short changing people, trampling on human emotions is perceived nothing more than just collateral damage. In words of John Steinbeck:- “We value virtue but do not discuss it. The honest bookkeeper, the faithful wife, the earnest scholar get little of our attention compared to the embezzler, the tramp, the cheat.” In such a scenario, the tiny corner of a book, eulogizing and appreciating friends, family and colleagues , recognizing and considering their pains and efforts not just brings a smile on the lip but occasionally also a tear in the eye. And just makes it true that a sincere “thank you” is sometimes bigger than the biggest gift.