Betaal And Tenali Raman In This Digital Age!


Yes, we are living in the age of artificial Intelligence and very efficient robots. Intelligence can be artificial but emotions are always real. But the question is, has society become so data-driven that there is no scope for emotions? The answer is NO, but one thing is sure the dimensions of emotions have changed.

First, talking about the professional scenario, when you want your inputs to have an impact, the feedback needs to be subjective and elaborate rather than quantitative and cult. Telling an employee that he is rated on a six-point scale of optimism is much less impactful than telling him that you find him more optimistic than a lot of other employees but still, there is a scope for him to see positives around and groom himself further.

Similarly, broader terms like ‘Nice Work’ or ‘Poor Performance’ do not say much. However, when the Professor says “Your explanation is clear and concise, but your presentation could have been better if it was substantiated with facts and figures”, the professor has not only motivated the student but also told him what exactly he has to do the next time.

 Emotional expression in an impactful yet professional way is an absolute art. Many people refrain from giving feedback because they lack this art and are scared of the backlash that may be caused by to wrong methodology adopted while giving feedback. Nevertheless, we never hear too many Bollywood stars or politicians speak on some popular and contemporary issues. Enticing the wrong emotions can be dangerous! “Cattle Class and the Holy Cow” remains the most controversial tweet ever, credit to Mr. Tharoor, as it enticed wrong emotions at the wrong time and then you have social media with its insurmountable power to cause a multi-magnitude havoc.

Growing up in a culturally diverse country like India, our minds have been titillated by stories of deities and demigods right from childhood. Not only that, for those born in the late 80s and early 90’s there are popular television shows like Ramayana and Mahabharata to back up these claims. But one thing to notice here is that all of these popular kings and demigods always had some very good feedback givers to them. Be it Betaal – a very weird-looking ghost fixture in the myth of  King Vikramaditya, or the very intellectual Birbal who was the prime advisor in the court of Akbar and fearless enough to give unbiased feedback even if it went against the expectations of the King or the very popular and blessed Tenali Ramakrishnan – the clever advisor of King Krishnadeva Raya of the Vijaynagar Kingdom. A plethora of interesting stories hint at the power of advice and feedback.

Another important factor of the successful human quest is being governed by rules. But do rules dehumanize us? What if Lord Ram was not obsessed with rules, would it give a different life and destiny to Sita?

Rules make one independent and strong but the people around pay the cost of those adherence to rules. As they say, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Like in the same era, there lived Ravana who made and lived by his own rules unperturbed by the rules made by the society. Did he have a better life or a better end?

Well, on these thoughts I want to ponder over the millennials and Generation Z who also exhibit this similarity of living by their own rules. But then are they as courageous as Ravana? Do they have the same risk-taking capabilities as Ravana? If yes, they would probably become the most successful entrepreneurs of their time.

When it comes to feedback, the roles of Betaal, Tenali Rama, and Birbal have been replaced by online reviews and discussions on Social Media. Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter hold a stronger influencing power than family or friends. The best stories are no longer told by grandmothers but by Instagram and Snapchat!

Dr. Bhavleen Rekhi

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