September 21, 2017

Generalist or expert?

Few days past, I walked into my company’s office cell, where three distinguished gentlemen, including our boss-a retired chief engineer were discussing dynamic issues, the spectrum was broader enough to fuel my curiosity, though the unanimity was diluted as everyone was adamant to his reference, one of the gentleman narrated an anecdote though in an antic tone but enough to counter every argument from the across the table.
He said, while executing a project work in valley a Civil Engineer heading the project used to put his leg in almost every feild – electrical , geology etc . He was “Mr.know it all”. He would always tell us, I know this, I know that and blah blah. While implementation was halfway a geological problem occurred and to resolve that we had to invite an expert from the Australia from an agency which was monitoring the project. Once he stepped-in our chamber he had to face our boss.
Our boss: Mr. I know civil engineering, I know this and I know that. Our boss was trying to tells him that he is the boss in almost every field. The only reply from the other side was: “I only know geology, I only know geology” I only am concerned with my job”.
This incepted a thought in my mind. Is this good to be an all rounder and know a part in everything or just be an expert of your subject? I got some nostalgic grim, where I was one of the character. When I met one of the cricketers and had a good talk with him about the cricket. The cricketer concluded the arguments by saying Kashmir is having abundance of talent in Cricket, but here, almost everyone is having a common problem, and that is, nobody in the Kashmir will say, “I’m a batsman” , or “a bowler”, but instead, the all rounder including a keeper. If you have a master class batsman, he too will say, “I do thodi-thodi bowling as well” and being a cricketer, I believe, he was 100% right. It’s true, we have a culture here. If you are a good cricketer, you are a bowler, a batsman and a keeper, all in one. Another example, which is related to some extent with the above events is, when the student folk are about to pass their tenth grade examination, and where it is done, and the student counted among the extraordinary intelligent ones, you ask him/her to take the medical as well as the non- medical subject. It was good, if you want him/her pick the both subjects for the basic or general knowledge of the subject and latter you ask him/her to be a master of a particular subject. But, the reason, you ask him/her to choose both the subjects, used to keep him/her in the safer end for the general entrances. If he/she couldn’t qualify for the MBBS course, may qualify for the engineering course. Being an extraordinary student, he/she should have chosen only a particular subject and have qualified the same concerned entrance, however, if would haven’t qualify the entrance, could have at least became the master of his/her subject and could have served the people better than an engineer or a doctor.
I put forward these points to many of my friends. Where some of them were in accord with me, and put forward the same thinking and some disagreed with me. One of my friend responded like this.

Be a specialist in your particular field of choice. I accept its not job of an engineer to look at economic activity of a state, but to count how many economists are there in the state, it will be a discouragement .Can’t they be biased and “money centric” rather than “development centric”. We as humans must be masters of everything that is directly or indirectly affecting our lives.

Unless you want to become expert I think, st we must be generalist as we are common people in the 1st place. We must as aware citizens know nitty gritty of everything that happens to us at the hands of other even if you are great expert in your field. Unless you don’t know how your country is playing with you and how companies are playing with our brains, I think expertise of ours won’t help people in a broader perspective. As educated souls we must reach out to people to spread knowledge which is of their use, not only of where lies our mastery. See for example, why Kashmiri’s are sidelined or why rohingyas are being deported by GOI, our knowledge of how mobile tower works is of no use to people who need this information, business lobbies use our emotional tendency to buy their product. It all works as our subconscious mind records all things. When we see a particular ad for long time, it takes space in subconscious mind. So when our conscious mind searches for related thing, we don’t literally use our intellect, but we use what we have seen “ad” So, then we take decisions based on “what they want us to take” rather than our own capacity to decide what is right for us or what’s wrong. Say for e.g. you go to Saudi Arabia, you went outside for shopping, but all products are new to you, except coca cola, So maximum chances are you will buy coca product. So basic thing is, business lobbies are trying to reduce our Intelligence level and raise our emotional upsurge. This limitation of ours is used by terrorist organizations. E.g. how people come down to streets to kill other ethnic groups all because of what we are shown in the earlier stages so finally when calls come, we fail to use mind, rather go by emotion. You will find people who support central govt. even for skyrocketing petrol prices and claim it is inevitable and is due to global price fluctuations. In fact the culprit to blame is high excise duty. For every Rs 100 of petrol we pay nearly Rs 51.78 to GOI. If you don’t know it, you might fail to glorify every action of govt. If you are expert only in your engineering subject and don’t know basics of how societies work, then probably you‘ll support any group, which aims to raise growth without development. The consequences of which are rise in terror attacks, unemployment will jump to newer levels, and corruption will skyrocket, so this much should be known to all.
But be a specialist in your particular field of choice. I accept its not job of an engineer to look at economic activity of a state, but to count how many economists are there in the state, it will be a discouragement .Can’t they be biased and “money centric” rather than “development centric”. We as humans must be masters of everything that is directly or indirectly affecting our lives.
Well my point is if you have studied electronics don’t chase civil, be expert in electronics 1st, then reach out to know about general principles as we often fall victim to them. As is said
“if you try to be best, you will be number one.
But if you try to remain unique you will be the ONLY ONE”
Taking examples of Shahid khan Afradi and Inzimamul Haq, who are legendary cricketers. The problem with them was that they couldn’t speak good english. Did this problem reduce or effect their fan following or fame? Answer is absolutely not. Suppose both Shahid Afradi and Inzimamul Haq had focused more on speaking good english rather than focusing more on cricket, this could have affected their cricketing skills and could have effected their fame. Its good if cricketer speaks good english like that of Shoib Akther . But its not desired if cricketer speaks good english and performs poor. Cricketer can be a multi skilled like that of Ab Devillers who know others sports too ,but when he focused on cricket he became master and its because of cricket he is considered legend and people know he is multi talented. let me finish it by a famous quote “Its better to improve7/10,than improving 3/10”
(The author is a regular contributor of “Kashmir Horizon”. The views of the author are his personal)


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