The Price of Achievements

“It is too much. I have not slept for two days, have a client meeting tomorrow morning, have to complete a presentation, my VP is annoyed and I am working alone in my office.”

“This job is not for me. Too much work and too little time. I want to come back home.” (Excerpted from Sunil Gupta’s online essay ‘A Son Never Dies’.)

This is what Sarvshreshth Gupta said to his father in a brief conversation at around 2:40 AM, just a few hours prior to his unfortunate death on April 16, 2015. The abominable circumstances of overwork and stress are said to have led the twenty two-year old New Delhi-ite to his tragic end.

Sarvshreshth, as his name suggests, was, indisputably, the best. His brilliance was par excellence; his determination was commendable and his persistence was truly exemplary. Having studied finance as well as computer science, Gupta earned his dual bachelor’s degree from the renowned University of Pennsylvania, where he made the dean’s list and was a member of “Eta Kappa Nu”, an electrical and computer engineering honor society. His sublime skill pushed him to work as a summer analyst at the eminent Deutsche Bank AG and Credt Suisse Group AG, and eventually paved the way for him to work as an analyst and investment banker at the well-reputed Goldman Sachs in San Francisco. The young achiever was determined to pay back in American dollars for the hard-earned Indian rupees his father had spent for his education.

Invigorated by abundant achievements, young Sarvshreshth would have undoubtedly reached the pinnacle of success in a short span of time; however, cumbersome workload, twenty-hour workdays and consequent stress brutally terminated his hopeful life and promising future. The relatively long hours of work, worsened by plethora of daunting tasks, prevented him from seeing his family for even once in a week, leaving him all by himself to deal with his ordeal. What did he have to pay as the price of his achievements? Lack of sleep, overwhelming workload, isolation and a premature death.

The twenty first century is remarkable not only for the unprecedented growth and development in all realms, but also for the despicably high levels of stress, anxiety and depression in its masses. People triumphantly brag about the rapid progresses humans have made in various fields and counsel others to look beyond with critical thinking, but seldom do they counsel to look within and know the inner self. In this “glamorous” and “iconic” modern world, our views have been distorted to such an extent that our beautiful asset, our peace of mind, has been put at stake and we are all hell-bent to transform ourselves into  lifeless machines whose sole aim is to work tirelessly and produce wealth. Today, those who overcome the hurdles of stress and depression and acquire ostentatious comforts are lauded as the victors, while those who cannot manage, succumb without any sort of impact on society. So powerful is the proliferation of the “empire” of stress that the positive energy yielded by anticipation, laughter and complacence has been marred by worldly tensions. It is shameful that more people perish due to illnesses and diseases caused by stress and depression, compared to the casualties inflicted by natural calamities.

The purpose of education is to prepare young minds for the future and to be the architect of one’s fate. All around the world, there is great emphasis on shaping minds to build a bright future, but unfortunately, there is very little emphasis on knowing one self and empowering the mind to cope the worst of circumstances, to value the essence of tranquility for a healthy mind and the significance of mankind. Had people valued and admired one another, had young minds been encouraged to develop intellectually and explore the inner self, mankind wouldn’t have stood at the threshold of annihilation caused by depression. Furthermore, according to a survey conducted by the Assocham Education Committee in Ahmedabad, “76% of Standard 12 students face high post-result stress. 58.7% of students felt the burden of parents’ expectations and showed significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety.” This apparently indicates the necessity of intellectual as well as spiritual education to empower the mind and soul to foster a milieu of harmony, tranquility and composure.

Vraj Desai


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