Saturday, January 31, 2009


Readers must be wondering what the above topic has to do in a food technology blog like this one. Motivation to do some thing unusual has to come either from the brain in the case of normal human beings or is forced through coercion. While human motivation is not generally food connected, for animals, coercion through food or punishment is the normal practice. There are some interesting things one can discern by looking at this very ordinary subject about which very few think about, under normal circumstances.The dictionary meaning of an award is 'some thing given to some body as a prize'. While the noun is used mostly with a positive connotation, as a verb even death sentence given to an indicted person can be indicated as 'awarded'. In contrast 'reward' is a recompense for work, merit or services and has always associated with some thing positive. Thus there is a fine distinction between these two liberally used words. Awards can be bestowed on some individual or a group of individuals with exemplary accomplishments in different fields by the society, organizations, governments and industry mostly on an annual basis . Rewards are linked to economic compensation given for extra work out put beyond the call of duty. The bonus paid to workers is really a reward for their performance though the trade unions politicize this as a deferred compensation.

What about the 'carrot and stick' idiom used very commonly by all and sundry? Carrot is a good vegetable but how come it is associated with rewards? Till recently eating raw carrot was not a common practice but the advent of salads makes eating raw carrot slices or pieces nutritionally attractive. Other wise raw carrots form one of the vegetables fed to non-carnivorous animals in many zoological gardens. According to the dictionary, usage of the word carrot became common to signal rewards for persuading some one to do a job. "Carrot and stick" idiom signifies 'the hope of reward and the threat of punishment as a means of making some body try harder' and thus has nothing to do with the literary meaning of the words used.

How far the society has deviated from the true meaning of the above words to day! Awards are sought, lobbied for, coaxed, forcefully taken by threats, politically manipulated, distorted and neither the giver nor the receiver has any qualms about the perversion that has taken place before our very own eyes! A skeptic society has hardly any confidence on the process of conferring awards and hold poor opinions about the caliber of most of the recipients.

Hectic canvassing by over-ambitious or greedy persons to 'get' the awards at 'any cost' and lack of transparency in the process of 'awarding', make many truly great people shun most of the awards, let alone apply for them. How inappropriate the system can be gauged from a recent news report of an Indian professional organization conferring some life time achievement award in food technology to an American citizen working for a multinational soft drink company who is not known to be a student of food technology any time in her life. Obviously this is a unique case where an award was thrust on some body who did not consider much about the organization or about the value of the award. Probably the award route was chosen for some one in the organization to develop personal 'net working' at the expense of the organization. This is indeed a sad reflection on the moral and ethical values prevalent in to day's world and the "chalta hai" attitude of the hapless common man who has to tolerate such spectacles with a grin!

If awards and rewards system is being grossly abused in the country, what alternate option is there for use as a tool to mantain and boost productivity in all sectors of the society? Carrot and the stick? It is time for introspection.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stories of how organisations' money is used by the 'people in charge' to entertain politicians through dinner diplomacy to garner awards and lucrative postings, doing works for multi-billion multi-national companies for peanuts to get some awards or foreign jaunts and then getting all these 'achievements'published in some yellow tabloids for cheap publicity are all too familiar.