This article has been submitted by Rakshanda Deka for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.
It is an intolerable hot Delhi day – two more classes to go and I cannot wait to go back to the comfort of my air-conditioned hostel room. That comfort would remain for a matter of three hours but I get fifteen minutes as I quickly get ready to go for my law coaching. Then I will take a bus-ride to get there and the heat will hit again (accompanied by the moving view of roadside beggars, hungry roadside dwellers, Mercedes cars and splendid corporate buildings) and the thought of all of it depresses me for a while but the idea of a good law college in a year makes me hold back my cynical thoughts.
As I think of random things and trace the course of my monotonous day, the teacher goes on with the cacophonic songs of project completions, holiday homework and a hundred other things I do not like at this instant. Putting a deaf ear to her, I try to think of something to write for the CLATgyan Blog Post Competition. Several vague ideas cross my mind but nothing appeals much.
I think of plagiarism and how it is often overrated. Philosophically, nothing is original; every work of art has been learnt by seeing, reading, or hearing someone else do something of the same order. Inspiration is an integral part of learning any art. However, the line between inspiration and plagiarism lacks lucidity. So much so that one feels awfully under pressure while attempting to invent new ideas — which seems almost impossible keeping in mind the society’s sensitivity to plagiarism. There should be liberty to think through ideas and express them in our own way. The result may not be new, but if honestly done, it may well be interesting and worthwhile. When others add in identifiable and specific ways, the original creator must be given the credit they deserve. So often, it is seen that a person who has genuinely toiled is accused of plagiarism and he is eventually compelled to give in to the accusations due to his inability to prove the originality of his work. What needs to be understood is that there is every possibility that there could have been a similar work of art or literature in the past but that, in no way implies that the person who has supposedly portrayed this idea for a second time is a fraud. Two different people can definitely have similar ideas or concepts about something without having any idea regarding the other’s work.
Suddenly it occurs to me that I could write on something to which I have a closer association. I move on to western classical music and the fact that it is alien to most of our country. I am reminded of a day when I played Fur Elise by Beethoven on the piano and somebody said, “My neighbour’s car plays this on reverse gear!” and another agreed-“Ah! This…oh, it’s my watchman’s ringtone!” On the contrary, if you play a sordid hindi item song, everyone knows it in and out- the singer, the actor and that horrible tattoo on her waist. It is pitiful to talk of one’s own country in this unpleasant a manner but frustration builds and it is too dark a blotch for me to look through.
My mind shifts again and I move on to yet another topic I could probably write on. It is this situation of uncertainty that millions in the world are in right now, me being no exception, in this crucial last, deciding year of high school. I think of the hundreds of students from all strata of society that buzz into my coaching centre, all aspiring to be lawyers out of the top law schools five years later. Almost each one seems as motivated as the other and almost certain of reaching the ultimate goal. However, time and history knows that only a small fraction make it there. This cutthroat competition, the ‘survival of the fittest’ makes me wonder further. Of the greater chunk that does not make it, is everyone ‘unfit’, ‘less deserving’ or simply ‘unlucky’? I quickly settle on the conclusion that posing such questions is practically irrational since this competition- healthy or ruthless, is a well-accepted norm of today’s society. Only the thought that you and I would belong to the smaller chunk and that hard work does finally pay off can keep us going, giving some purpose to our tedious efforts.
I finally move onto a more optimistic note and think of better days that may be in their making. Days when employment will be assured and when luck will not be as important a criterion for success, when equal education and efforts would mean equally respectable lives. A time when there will be dignity of labour and personhood will be valued over professions. In my small imagination, when originality will be respected and there will be freedom of expression in its true sense; when all music, art and dance forms will be appreciated and Beethoven and others like him will be rightly honoured and their works cherished.
Lastly, when I will have something more substantial to write and a clearer, more knowledgable mind.
Till then, I keep thinking. Everyday.
[The bell rings, the next teacher walks in and I half-heartedly slide my notepad under the desk]