‘No great mind ever existed without a touch of madness’ -Aristotle
History is testimony to the fact that what is considered ‘Madness’ at one point in time is considered ‘Revolutionary’ at another point in time. When Galileo pointed out that the geocentric model as inscribed in the ‘Bible’ was not evident when observed by the telescope, he was ostracized and an injunction was put on discussing his ideas which advocated that earth is not at the centre of planetary system but it is the sun which is at centre of the planetary system. While he was charged with heresy and was nudged to drop his ideas but over the time his ideas started gaining traction with more evidence emerging for heliocentric system. This is not one single story but one among many. The story of Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln are all the stories of madness which later became the stories of change. Only people with a little bit of madness can push the human race forward. The ones who are sane want to play along with traditions because that means ‘stability’ and ‘peace’ whereas madness inadvertently leads to chaos at initial stage.
Mad are those people who do not let it go easily. They are those who fall deeply in love with their ideas and refuse to let their ideas die in a crowd of ‘naysayers’. They are different from the majority because they do not agree with the status quo. Some call them ‘rebel’ , some call them ‘misfit’ but no one can ignore them because their ideas seem to be appealing though they may not be in tune with the times of the day. They are also ‘courageous’ enough to put forth their ideas and advocate that their ideas fit into the progress of humanity. Some would advocate that better word for people who drive change is ‘passion’ but no ‘passion’ reaches its destiny without the spark of madness. ‘Madness’ is belief that one’s mind has done enough of contemplation to believe that it is correct and even if common understanding does not reasons it out, it still is an idea which is going to see the light of the day.
The society which has chased madness and appreciated the people with ‘out of box ‘ thinking has reaped the rewards of it. In fact, the societies which have seen vast progress are the ones which have encouraged mad ideas. The recent ‘space flights’ done by Benson and Bezos are nothing short of fairy tale stories. Who would have thought that billions of dollars pumped into space projects and reusable vehicles would one day lead to feasibility of space tourism? It is nothing short of a mad idea. The reusable rockets not only make the projects cost effective but also reduce the menace of space debris. The result is that space tourism , once a sci-fi concept is now a reality. Not only area of science , but also the area of society and culture needs ‘disruptive ideas’ to rejuvenate and recreate themselves. India has come away from menace of sati, prohibition of widow remarriage, caste based discrimination only because likes of Vidyasagar , Ambedkar stood for their ideas even when mainstream was yet to digest those ideas. It will not be wrong to say that we live in a better world thanks to madness that happened in the past.
However, perfection is an elusive idea. A lot remains to be done especially by emerging countries like India to push themselves into a better future. India with its vast demography has basic challenges of providing an environment for dignified life to an individual. While to attain a dignified life, an individual will always have to work hard but it is the environment which can make things a bit easy for an individual. And that is why it is important that we continue to encourage ideas that create a better environment. Liberalization reforms of 1991 did not only open up our economy for foreign goods and capital but also opened up opportunities for foreigners to invest in Indian ideas. No doubt, India has become the software shop of the world and is witnessing dramatic growth of ‘start up’ ventures. The listing of Zomato ,with all the aspersions about its profitability, is an example of how an esoteric and economically unconvincing idea may come and occupy centerstage because of their indispensability in the current environment.
India needs such mad ideas in the realm of governance too. The government has to run high on technology and less on inertia. The unlocking of assets and inducement of efficiency is the order of the day. JAM(Jan Dhan-Adhaar-Mobile number) trinity is one such simple but revolutionary idea. Similarly, the faceless assessment is a paradigm shift in the Indian taxation system. The abrogation of article 370 is also one mad idea which has seen the fruition. The fact is that disruptive ideas do come and they can change the society. So, what does country like India needs? Country like India needs ‘mad ideas’ to sweep its system and to usher in an era of efficiency and progression. Mad ideas that reward the ‘righteousness’ are the ideas that should be embraced and this message should get so internalized in our society so that any Indian, whether a kid or an adult, does not feel embarrassed to be mad. Every mad idea will have to wait for its time , the madness has to continue till that time arrives.