Administration: a skill rather than power

 

“The marks you score in exams matter very little.  The fifty percent-walle will rule over the ninety percent-walle.  What matters is attitude.”  I was not surprised to hear these words from an educator-administrator.  Nor did it surprise me that he was addressing a school during the morning assembly.  This educator-administrator had risen in the administrative hierarchy using his “attitude” which translates as Machiavellian schemes.  A temporary hobby of his was to invite top level administrators as chief guests on various occasions and introduce them to students as people who were “lulloos” [his word] while at school.  One of the first things he did after exhorting the students to cultivate their “attitude” was to recommend some serious punitive measures against the teachers who had failed to produce expected good results in the last Board exams.  To his credit also must be added that he indirectly punished the teachers who produced the expected good results by refusing to give them the reward promised by the school.

What he said about “attitude”, however, applies not only to him; unfortunately there is much general truth in it.  The mediocre reign over the others almost everywhere.

Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead, is an illustration of the uncanny knack of mediocrity in asserting its supremacy wherever it may find itself.  The genius, Howard Roark, is thwarted right from the beginning of his career.  Allowing genius to pass promotion exams is a threat to the mediocre.  If genius is recognised by the people, then the mediocre won’t be able to market themselves successfully.  Rand’s novel shows how the mediocre make use of every trick available in their limited resources to keep genius under suppression.  The media, religion, social morality and conventions, parties and gatherings, are all always at the service of the mediocre. 

There is a very intriguing argument given by a character in the novel that an architect cannot be destroyed by proving him a bad architect.  An architect can be destroyed by showing him to be an atheist or homosexual or alcoholic or something that the conventional morality or religion will love to castigate.   Such means are employed to destroy Roark.

Genius is usually centred round a particular skill.  In the case of Roark it was architecture.  For Einstein it was scientific thinking.  We have geniuses in painting, music, sculpture, literature, etc.  Has anyone heard of a genius in politics?  Or even in administration?

Politics and administration are about power over other people.  Rand argued that the culmination of civilisation’s evolution is “hands off”.  The primitive bandit said, “Hands up.”  The civilised man would keep his hands to his work and let others keep theirs to their work.  Wanting to assert power over others is a primitive urge, according to this logic.

That does not mean the present writer is an anarchist.  It just means that administration need not be an exercise of power over others.  It can be a service as noble as the medical profession or, why not, teaching.  Or, for those averse to the word ‘service’, administration can be a skill just like any other skill; a skill far superior to proving one’s superiority by exercising one’s power over others.

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About matheikal

My more regular blog can be accessed at www.matheikal.blogspot.com
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5 Responses to Administration: a skill rather than power

  1. feddabonn says:

    sir, i promise *never to suggest you are an anarchist again…i really am sorry about the last one. my enthusiasm was misplaced, and got much the better of me.

    interesting point about mediocrity ruling in administration/politics. i’ve never thought about it like that before.

  2. Matheikal, I want you to remove this post, ASAP 😛 It is really unfortunate this place does not have appropriate smileys to show my emotions.

    What I meant was, no matter what I cannot stand anyone saying anything good about Ayn Rand, Howard Roark, John Galt … None of them was an anarchist. They were, at best, meritocratists, defined in a highly restrictive way.

    Anyways, I think I understood the tenor of your post and that indeed is good. Therefore, I ALLOW you to keep it. The mediocre exercises power over the genius!

    Raghuram Ekambaram

  3. Aram says:

    Dear sir,
    You know me well enough to know that i loved the post 🙂
    I will not say anything more but tell that every word echoed my thoughts 🙂

    Rgds,
    Aram 🙂

  4. matheikal says:

    Thanks, Aram, you’ve said enough.

    Raghuram, I wouldn’t have removed the post at any cost. But I’m very much relieved by your ‘permission’ to keep it. [Yeah, unfortunately this site does not allow smileys easily. In one way I like that! Just this morning I attempted a joke in the class with the introduction that they didn’t have to laugh if they didn’t understand the joke!]

    Feddabon, I was only clarifying keeping in mind my readers just as I teach keeping in mind my students. You don’t have to feel anything at all about it. At best my remark about anarchy shows I’m sensitive to my readers…

  5. Dawn and Dew says:

    Another good example of mediocre ruling over the ‘knowledge disseminators’ [I avoid the word ‘genius’ for it may not suit all including me] in the so called Vasudev Kutumbakam:

    The ones who are responsible for the failure of the ‘products’ should be punished by suspending increments, etc. Why the admn. staff? There is no problem in the functioning of the Admn. dept. Why should they suffer? — These were the words in a different form by a personnal from admn.

    I replied: [again matter is implied] : The raw materials received by the production unit is far below than the required standards. Still we tried our best, toiling day and night to improve the quality through all possible means and produced the things of minimum expected quality. Now the authorities are demanding high quality products after providing us with low quality materials for production!

    Please think! I think the person may not bother to think. Because the nature of admn. is such!

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