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 Mohan Thulasingam

What happens when the incompetent people occupy the seats of power?

Competence makes the difference between the success and failure. It performs even in adverse circumstances by making adaptation and taking advantage from the hindrances. This is what emphasized by the Darwin’s theory of ‘Natural selection and the survival of the fittest.’ However, by chance or through fate, even the weak or incompetent stand to reach the higher positions. The feather that gets blown up by the wind cannot take pride in itself for the new heights scaled temporarily. Competence is an innate trait that can be polished and fine-tuned with the aid of knowledge and experience. Nevertheless, the presence of mind and the application of it add lustre to the competence. This is a common phenomenon experienced in any part of the world and applies to all times. The cowardly and lazy heirs gained the crown of Kings by virtue of their birth but lost the kingdom due to their incompetence.

At times, the unqualified and incompetent people occupy the seats of power in various organizations of technical, administrative and political nature. It matters the most when such incompetent persons reach the highest office of a nation. One ardent loyalist to a political party got the post of The President of a country, despite his poor academic standards and performance records. He endorsed even the wrong decisions of his boss unaware and unmindful of the impact on the lives of the citizens.

There are many ways in which the incompetent people become the competent authorities. The major methods are:

1) the quotas and reservations provided under the government policies

2) the influence manifesting as favoritism and nepotism

3) employing the loyal individual or group as puppets to serve the selfish interests

4) when the rules do not specify the skills and qualifications clearly

5) when no alternative candidate is available. In the General elections to a parliament or assembly, people have no choice than to vote for the least bad of the contestants.

The consequences of such incompetent persons donning the mantles of power are dangerous to the public at large, and to that person itself. The eight serious and direct effects are:

1) Unscrupulous people manipulate the system to further their self-interest

2) Rules are bent to serve nepotism and favoritism

3) Wastage of precious time and resources

4) Loss of confidence in the democracy and the polity

5) Damages to the society as administration gets paralyzed

6) Corruption, and Malpractice dominate

7) Factions of power emerge and confuse the governance, and

8) Undue advantage by kith and kin.

The proverbial saying ‘Right person for the right job’ holds well all over the world. We should recognize the talents and skills in a person, but not prejudice based on the physical appearance or the origin of the person. The quality of water is never judged by seeking the source, but by testing its taste and clarity.

(Author is a Ex-Banker and can be contacted on

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May 2024