Sunday, February 27, 2011

Capacity to Receive

When Subroto Bagchi delivered the First Commencement Lecture, he mooted an idea Capacity to Receive. I have been experiencing the importance of this idea everyday in personal, organizational and societal context.

Usually capacity is an idea which is associated with giving. If you have money or material or knowledge you can give what you have. The capacity to give has also a willingness component. In India, we do not seem to have that willingness component. Imran Khan built a cancer hospital in the name of his mother. Saurav Ganguly has built a restaurant. That is an example of willingness or lack of it to give.

My focus here is on Capacity to receive. If I am a teacher and knowledgeable about by subject, I have the capacity to share / give my knowledge with my pupils. However, the pupils need a capacity to receive this knowledge. Not everyone receives this knowledge and uses it well in their life. Once-in-a-while I meet a student who tells me how he benefited from something I taught a long time ago. There are many who do not say a thing implying perhaps they did not receive much from the class.

I see examples of lack of capacity to receive in many places. The Government builds infrastructure. Do the citizens have the capacity to receive and use the infrastructure well? In Bhubaneswar, we find the traffic lights donated by corporate houses like Infosys and Nanclo but most often they do not work. There are at least a few traffic policemen around a traffic junction. The traffic light is supposed to regulate the traffic without human intervention. This shows the lack of the capacity among the citizens and the traffic police department to receive and make good use of Traffic lights donated.

The world bank and other donor agencies give money to build Dams and Canals. However, the agriculture productivity has not improved a lot. This shows the lack of capacity among our farmers to receive the water and improve agriculture productivity.

For last 25 years the government has been pouring money among the poor in KBK districts. The improvement among the poor is not very perceptible. Once again this shows the lack of capacity among the people to come out of poverty with the money given by the government.

In our Institute we build facilities like labs, sporting facilities, libraries etc. We organize events for learning and talent spotting and development. One can argue that the facilities are not sufficient. The amount of facility given is our capacity to give. However, how well the facilities are used are an indicator of our capacity to receive. When we organize an event, we find only a few students willing to participate in those events.

I observe numerous examples of lack of capacity to receive among the IIIT community.

Improving our capacity to receive is critical for our success as individuals, institute and society. In addition to asking for more let's be critical of how well we are receiving what is given to us.