By Abhijit Bhaduri
When the Olympic Games have been officially declared closed and everyone has gone home, the world begins to believe in a myth. The myth of limits. That it is not humanly possible to do it any better…ever. Somewhere, tucked away in obscurity there is someone who does not believe in any such limits. Someone is still practicing for years for a shot at being unreasonable. For the hundredth time, the person will take a run up. For the hundredth time that day, some girl called Dipa Karmakar in Agartala decides to risk her life and try the “Produnova” vault.
She has watched that video and has been warned that a wrong landing could mean being crippled for life or even death. She has been warned that very few gymnasts around the world have done it. Naysayers tell her to be realistic. But then, dreamers don’t believe in being realistic. They like to be unreasonable. That is why they accomplish the unexpected.
The year is 2008 and a giddy fanboy is joining the queue to get a photo clicked with Michael Phelps. Joseph Schooling is delighted! He just got a photo with Phelps. Eight years later, he is competing with Phelps in Rio. Singapore has never won an Olympic medal. It is unreasonable to expect anything else. It is unreasonable to expect Rio to change history. When the race finishes, it is hard to tell who is more surprised – Phelps or Schooling. Schooling has defeated Michael Phelps. The New York Times’ headline is apt. It says, “Somebody (His Name’s Joseph Schooling) Finally Beats Michael Phelps”. But don’t feel sorry for the defeated hero. He is an unreasonable dreamer. Phelps won his 23rd career Gold medal and now ties up with South Africa for 38th place for most gold medals won by a country, all-time, Summer and Winter Games combined.
Like a Bolt
At 29, he was still dreaming. He has had his share of glory in two Olympics and now must stay content, the media advised. This unreasonable man has won the title of the fastest man on earth by winning two consecutive Olympic golds in the 100-meter dash. He dreams of doing unreasonable things. “What I always wanted was to be great.” The naysayers pointed out that Rio would be different. Usain had suffered a grade-one hamstring tear and had not run faster than 9.88 seconds as he headed to Rio. He was ranked fourth in the world.
At 9.81 seconds, Usain proved that the Bolt of lightning strikes not once, but thrice.
This too shall pass. Someone is already dreaming of doing something unreasonable. Someone is thinking of breaking Bolt’s record. Someone is aspiring to beat Phelps’ tally.
At seventy, India has had its GDP growth forecasts trimmed from 7.6% in 2015-16 to 7.4%. There are challenges. Our infrastructure needs to be made world-class. Our educational institutions need to be revamped. We are on the 130th rank on the Human Development Index. At 7.4%, we will still be surpassing the growth rates of major emerging economies.
We are a nation of unreasonable people. We are a nation of dreamers. We are that underdog who is practicing the death defying Produnova in a city the world does not know of. We are that nation that has steadily grown for seven decades and keeps growing at a pace that is the envy of many. Dreams never follow a well-trodden path. Dreamers are unreasonable.
Abhijit Bhaduri works as the Chief Learning Officer for the Wipro group and has led HR teams for various multinationals.