Is Growing Competition good for Youth?
Oxford Dictionary defines competition as, “A situation in which people or organization compete with each other for something that not everyone can have”. What this implies is that competition is a by-product of scarcity. So, when resources and thus the spirit of competition is born. Competition is the opposite of cooperation. It arises whenever at least two parties strive for a goal that cannot be shared or which is desired individually, and hence cannot be achieved collectively. Human by their very nature are competitive as they constantly face a lack of resources as compared to their unlimited wants. Darwin’s theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ also implies that only those species would survive and grow which have the ability to compete and emerge as winners as against other weaker species who lost in the game of life. Human beings not only survived the evolution process, but they have emerged as superior beings. This proves beyond doubt that humans are competitive and that competition is the fundamental pillar of human evolution.
However, research from development literature suggests that competitive nature of humans varies according to gender, race and age. In terms of gender, most research suggests that males tend to be more competitive than females. Similarly, students from cultures that emphasize ‘individualism’ such as Americans, Europeans etc. tend to be more competitive than students from cultures that emphasize ‘collectivism’ such as South Asians, Africans etc. Also, the youth are more competitive than middle-aged population. So, it leads us to the conclusion that competition among youth is a global phenomenon, India being no exception. In India, competition begins when a fifteen years old appears in the Board Exams, it intensifies when he seeks admission for a degree and is at its peak when he tries to find an occupation for himself. As per statistics, nearly four lakh secondary school pass-outs apply for a few thousand seats in engineering/medicine and other professional courses in a handful of premier institutions across the country and it leads to cut-throat competition among them.
The present scenario in India is that of ever-increasing cut-offs, which demand absolute perfection, as it is evident when some colleges affiliated with the University of Delhi announced a cut-off entry percentage of 99%. The competition faced by the aspirants of a government job can be assessed by the fact that when recently Ph.D. scholars, Master’s degree holders apply for forest assistant job needing class 8-passed candidates. The reservation policy of the Indian Government allows an easy access for the reserved category to educational institutions and government jobs. This reduces the opportunity for the non-reserved or general category of people and enhances the level of competition among them. So, we can say that in today’s world, competition is inevitable. AS Michael Jordan has rightly observed, “You have competition every day because you set high standards for yourself that you have to go out every day and live up to that.” The impacts of the growing level of competition are both positive and negative on youths. With competition being unavoidable, there is a large fraction of youth who have accepted it and have made it a propelling force in their career. Competition generates interest and excitement and helps an individual to give his best.
But not all people are able to face competition in a positive way. Its negative results also manifest in youths who are not able to survive in a competitive environment. Youths who cannot manage to compete with other youths often become vulnerable to crime and drugs. They get trapped in anti-social work such as robbery, fraud, etc. to earn money. Due to failure to succeed in their careers, they become addicted to alcohol and drugs. In extreme cases, youths who are not able to adjust themselves to the competitive world often choose to end their life.
Studies have revealed that the suicide rate of youths in India is the highest. Almost daily, there are reports of suicide by youngsters unable to bear the shame or the fear of failing to get into an educational institution of their choice. The guilt of not being able to get admissions or jobs also leads to suicides among youth. Competition can thus say to be ethically neutral. The individual’s perception of it makes it good or bad. So, competition should be encouraged, but the youth have access to counsellors, so that they are to face it in a positive way. Also, SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis should be conducted in schools and colleges which will help the students to identify their strengths and weaknesses and choose a career accordingly.
Also, youth should remember that they could compete with others or with themselves. Competing with others would make them aware of their faults and competing with themselves would improve on their strengths. So, if you continuously compete with others, you become bitter, but if you continuously compete with yourself, you become better. So, compete with yourself and the world will be your forte.
By Gajera International School, Utran