The progress of man from a cave-dweller to a cosmonaut owes as much to competition among men as to cooperation. Cooperation among groups has strengthened them to fight against nature. But inside the groups, individuals have always shone above one another by dint of their individual talents and skills. Since the beginnings of history, brave men have competed with others for the hands of the most beautiful girls. Hence the saying: “Only the brave deserve the fair”. Even Rama could wed Sita after competing successfully with other kings and princes.
The great naturalist, Charles Darwin, attributed evolution of man to the fierce competition among the species in a struggle for survival of the fittest. Gifted with a big brain and flexible limbs, man survived while unwieldy dinosaur became extinct. Competition is the law of nature and all beings compete with one another for scarce resources of nature. The communities most successful in this competition have evolved great civilisations, developed science and technology and achieved higher standards of living than those communities who lagged behind in the competition.
Competition has contributed greatly to the improvement of technology. But for the inexorable competition between the U.S.A. and the then U.S.S.R., the breath taking advancement in space travel and Man’s landing on the moon might never have come about. Both the countries wanted to score a first over the other. While U.S.S.R. was the first country to launch a Sputnik, USA became the first to send a man to the moon. The satellites in space have revolutionised the communication technology. Now people from all over the globe can watch Olympic Games or summit meetings of world- leaders live on their T.V. screens.
Through Star T.V. and Cable T.V. net-works, achievements of different national cultures in cinema, music, fashions and theatre are being beamed to the global community. It is leading to the growth of a single world- culture heavily dominated by the western culture.
Man has immeasurable potential for growth and development. Competition inspires a man to realise his potential by measuring his intellectual and physical capacities against those of a rival competitor. Surpassing others in performance enhances a man’s self-esteem. It motivates him to greater efforts to improve him. Competitive opportunities provided by the society are a mechanism for upgrading the productive forces and also to formulate norms for selection of community leaders in various fields of human endeavour.
Competition constantly influences the market forces of demand and supply of goods and services. Firms are constantly improving the quality of their products to survive and succeed in the free market economies. Thus we find that the Japanese electronic products though costlier than similar products manufactured by other countries, out sell those of other nations and are progressively enlarging their market share. Japanese cameras, televisions and music systems have become universal favourites.
Competition has greatly raised the academic standards over the last century. Competitive spirit enters a child’s mind unobtrusively at an early age. As he plays for fun and frolic in nursery school, he gets competitive excitement when he out-performs his playmates. He discovers that he has to master language and develop his verbal skills if he is to make good impression on others. The periodical tests, debates, quiz events are all designed to foster a spirit of competition among the young. Competition has raised the performance standards enormously. It has become really very difficult for students of average ability to get selected in professional – medical, engineering or management – courses.
Competition has led to a spectacular growth of sports and athletics. At every world event, a few old records are shattered and new records are established. The top players of golf, tennis, football, boxing and cricket are among the highest paid individuals. Many of the sports-stars have become role-models for the youth to emulate.
Competitive spirit is not an unmixed blessing. While it motivates the successful competitors to forge ahead in varied fields of human-endeavour, it bogs down many others who fail more.often than succeed. Many accept their position of mediocrity. Quite a few, on the other hand, harbour resentment against teachers, umpires, parents and even fate which unjustly deprive them of lime-light and fruits of competitive success. Competition breaks the spirit of many who, desirous of higher things, do not make it to the top and remain irreconciled to their station in life.
For every successful person in competition, there are many who fail and after having failed stop making efforts at developing themselves. They withdraw into their shells and sulk. It is a loss not only to them individually, but the community is also deprived of many promising personalities which never attain full stature and do not contribute to the collective growth of the community. One wonders at time, if a less competitive and more cooperative society would not make for greater development, harmony and peace in the world!