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With every change of guard, from one President to another, from one Secretary to the next, there is a constant transfer of authority. But is such a transfer aware of the corresponding responsibility? Are inactive or precarious Presidents and Society Heads a thing?

It’s strange how with every new session, more than the excitement of a new curriculum, an alarming number of DU students await the culmination of their contributions into being elected society post-holders or heads. In a self-proclaimed political atmosphere, such expectations are natural, some would say. There is not a lot of space for selfless action. And why should such a concept even exist, when all we are, is measured by the responsibility we hold, the productivity we profess, and the authority we command? In the face of such reckoning, positions of responsibility become titles just for the sake of CV’s and job interviews, and that is precisely when the shams associated with authority are revealed.

It happens ever so often that people volunteer to take up positions of power, and fortunately, they also come to access them. Notably, they also volunteer to assume power in societies they are passionate about. How is it that on assuming authority, some of these promising candidates resolve to inaction? 

Once in power, the excitable idea is to step beyond the last set precedent. But more often than not, at least in my experience, even as a new imaginative thinking is employed in a defined position, something does not quite click. Everyone who has ever had to work with a group of people would agree how difficult it is to materialise ideas into tangible models with the combined effort. To speak matter-of-factly, there is an annoyingly normal lack of initiative in societies and organisations. In attempts to avoid overwork, we limit the scope of our responsibilities. Are societies then Just for Fun? Should every member be allowed to practise individuality or is there a moral obligation every person associated with a society is bound by? Questions like these reverberate in every society meeting, unspoken and unheard. However, there are two sides to this dynamic: the power-owners, and the sources and subjects of said powers. Failure to accomplish goals on either side complicates functioning of the structure as a whole. While it is easy to hold the latter responsible for fall-outs, who can question the former higher authority? College spaces instill a sense of free-rein, but as practitioners of such liberation, we regularly overrule the corresponding ideas of responsibility. 

A constant game of power dynamics is sustained by innovation and newness. Many a time, the creative, however, is sidetracked by the administrative. To top it off, we are also an age of burnout “ded” youngsters, and that seems to justify more than our general lack of empathy, as it also enables us to do away with our responsibilities at times. 

Almost all literature on Management Studies emphasises the correlation and co-dependence between the concepts of authority and responsibility. One of these cannot exist in a vacuum. In the face of such a mutually exhaustive structure, we often find ourselves contemplating the delusional non-issue that is life. To some extent, the transitional formative understanding of authority-responsibility relationship can cause disconcerting disillusionment, in the event of which, ignorance becomes bliss. We switch off our phones, ghost the council groups, evade our responsibilities to spite others. But everything about this maneuver spites us in return. How do we then, evade a voluntarily taken responsibility?

One of the greatest challenges in college is learning to prioritise. A position of responsibility teaches a lot, but it also takes away, sometimes much more than what it offers in return. There comes a point when authority seems coaxing. “Why am I doing this? What is the purpose of this all? I have a life outside of this space, where is my assertive power to say “No”? Why am I the only one working?” A collective space of authority tends to become a toxic agency in time, because of the very substance holding it: subjective inventiveness. Since every person brings their own mental faculty to the fore, the contributions also vary. It is indeed very easy to question someone agential, as the true measure of a leader is the sum total of the team lead by them. In the end it is for the team to decide the nature and scope of authority, as it is the leader’s decision to blend power with responsible action. But how often does that happen?

Feature Image Credits: @bambashkart via Instagram.

Kartik Chauhan

[email protected]