Someone held a spoon with a lemon on with his teeth for 47hrs and 55 seconds and has entered the Guiney’s book of records, said the daily. The mad feller went through the ordeal just get into some record book by doing this weird act is a fact that doesn’t surprise me because, I see several such mad acts committed by people around me. This craving is near total amongst us humans and is probably inherent in our psyche. If by own merit one cannot achieve this recognition then one will buy it, seems to the modern Indian credo. Some examples.
Kishendas Banwarilal is my patient and friend of many years. Banwari, as he is popularly called is a very successful business man. He belongs to a community who are well known for their business acumen and many have dominated the commercial scene of the country and one can even see them in the world scene [Laxmi Mittal for one]. On day Banwari came to my clinic with his daughter’s wedding invitation in hand. He said after the preliminaries, that I must attend the wedding which was taking place in far away Jaipur. He extended the invitation to my wife also. Seeing the obvious reluctance on my face he said, ‘doctor, you don’t worry, I will take care of the money that you are going to lose by not practicing for three days. I will also buy both of you business class tickets and fly you back’. He was serious when he said this. I had to decline the invitation despite the incentives he offered.
Banwari met with me after the gala wedding. I asked him how much he spent on the wedding. He said,’ Rs 5,000,000 [5 crores]’. The floral decorations alone cost him 500,000 [5 lakhs]! Even Rajasthan government ministers attended the wedding, he said proudly. When I said what a colossal waste of money, he replied that, unless he did that how would his community know he has succeeded and how else would his daughter get the respect from her husband’s family?
‘So, when your son gets married you will expect the prospective girl’s parents to spend an equal amount’, I asked. ‘No, more, because the cost will be more as one has to keep pace with inflation!
Banwari is not a bad man. On the contrary he is a very good fun loving helpful person, but the illness of getting the recognition from his community drove him to this irrational act [for me, that is]
C.S. Reddy is a small time contractor and politician in this locality. With some difficulty he became the member of a local club. Every year the club holds elections and elects a committee to manage the affairs of the club. The elected member is given various responsibilities. One gets to run the kitchen and another sports section and yet another bar and the like. These members in turn form what are called as subcommittees consisting of their cronies to help them. C.S.Reddy’s friend who got elected got the bar section of the club to run. C.S worked overtime to influence his friend to get him on the subcommittee. When once he was on the subcommittee he went round telling everyone he knew, about this tremendous achievement. I was one of the recipients of this information and my congratulations were warmly received. A month later I got an ornate invitation card kept inside an equally ornate envelope. This was the invitation for the marriage of C.S Reddy’s sister’s son. The envelope, in one corner had this legend. With compliments from: Mr. C.S. Reddy, member bar subcommittee, HAL Club! Needless to say I did not know the groom’s nor the bride’s parents. Reddy took it upon himself to invite the two thousand odd members of the club to his niece’s wedding!
I came across a letter head of a gentleman who went one step further. The top of the page had his name and among equally mundane accomplishments was that he was ex member of the city club!
Many years ago, I used to work for the local branch of our national medical association. The president was a well known physician of the city. We had to get some material printed and he recommended that we get it done from the printer who does his jobs. I duly went to meet with this man in his office cum press. When he came to know that I was an emissary from the doctor he was all over me with his enthusiasm and showed me several examples of his work. One of them was our president’s own letter head. The degrees this physician had ran to almost two lines! Of these only two were degrees which needed an examination to pass. All others were awards or ones that were bought for a fee. The degrees and diplomas ran like this. M.B.B.S., M.R.C.P, F.R.C.P., F.I.C.S, M IACS, FIACS, FCCP and the list ran on and on. But what drew my attention was a degree which read F.U.C.K [UK] tucked in between these many citations. Quite intrigued, when I went back, I asked him what is this special degree that he has been awarded and which was the institution in the UK? He was taken aback and wanted to have a look at the letter head in his office. To his horror all of them carried this honorary degree awarded to him by his faithful printer which our worthy doctor had failed to notice. What happened after wards is another matter but for years after I kept teasing him about this special honor received from UK. This craze for the addition of many real or otherwise honours seems once again, an attempt at getting recognition.
But there are some who want to achieve not for fame but for the sake of a purpose. You can place sports persons, adventurers, social workers in this class. They do the job for the pleasure of it and if they also get the recognition so be it. There of course are some who deserve to be recognized but go about doing their job without bothering about recognition [late Dr Achaya, TNA Perumal: see birds and others]