One fine day in 1666, an apple tumbled, sparking the curiosity in the man sitting beneath the tree. Observing the fruit’s descent, he contemplated the forces at play. Suddenly, the realization struck him in the mundane, a force that governed the motion of the apple. In a stroke of insight, he realized that the same force governing the apple’s descent may also influence the celestial bodies. This revelation led to the formulation of the law of universal gravitation. The man was none other than, the father of modern physics, Isaac Newton.
This mundane moment became a catalyst for one of the greatest scientific revelations in history. Mundane is something that exists around us, which usually goes unnoticed or unaddressed treated as a given. It was a mundane moment because everybody was observing the same phenomenon before his as well. Then, what made him different? His effort to look at the magic in that mundane. His effort made him give a contemplative thought.
Consequently, mundane movement combined with effort inspired creativity in the field of modern physics by discovering the force of gravity. This law not only explained why apples fall but also provided a framework to comprehend the movements of planets and stars. The apple, once just a piece of fruit, became a symbol of the interconnected laws governing the universe with the effort put in by Isaac Newton. It is neither a new nor unique phenomenon because it is seen across the spectrum.
If we look into the ancient days, we find an event in which the worried king in ancient Greece asked Archimedes, a Greek mathematician, to find out whether the crown was indeed 100% gold. The weight was right. The crown was the same weight as the lump of gold that the king had given to the goldsmith. But that is not proof whether it was of gold or some other material. One day while taking a bath, he came across ‘Eureka’s movement’.
As Archimedes lowered himself into the water, he noticed the rising water level. He put effort into thinking about this phenomenon. He realized that objects made of the same material and with the same weight must displace the same amount of water. Applying the same phenomenon, he was able to find whether gold was pure or not. It was mundane because before him, people used to bath but nobody observed in this way. His effort toward this mundane phenomenon discovered a fundamental law of fluid mechanics, now known as Archimedes’ principle.
Furthermore, a more or less similar phenomenon was found in the modern world. One day, in Kitchen James Watt watched that the steam came out of the top of the kettle. He held a spoon up into the jet of steam and watched as little drops of water condensed. Later, this became a basis for finding ‘the steam engine’. Subsequently, it laid the foundation of the Industrial Revolution which significantly changed the social and economic profile in the world. It happened because Mr. Watt put his effort into a mundane phenomenon that ended with the discovery of the steam engine.
Similarly, we have come across the work of Florence Nightingale as a nurse. Everybody was noticing suffering and death during the Crimean War. Everybody understood death as natural. But she observed something else and made changes in hygiene. She emphasized cleanliness, hygiene, and the importance of a healing environment that had a profound impact on patient care. It has significantly reduced the spread of diseases by emphasizing the role of proper ventilation, handwashing, and overall hospital cleanliness.
Consequently, She was instrumental in reducing the mortality rate from 42% to 2% earning her much fame in England through the press and the soldiers’ letters. That’s why she is called as “Mother of Nurses” due to her pioneering contributions to the field of nursing and healthcare. It was all possible because of her effort to look at magical strings in the mundane things that were often seen by everybody in the Crimean War. Her relevance was also realized during pandemic days.
On the same line, in the post-modern world, India witnessed a slow rate of growth in the economic sector between 1950 to 1980. Experts named it as “Hindu rate of growth“. It means the majority population is conservative and does not spend money on consumption. That was deemed as the reason behind low growth. But the effort put by the then PM, Narashimbha Rao, and finance minister Manmohan to bring changes in the structure instead of blaming consumers. That was the ‘Eureka moment’ for the Indian economy.
Consequently, India brought a New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1991. It has opened the market for private players. Due to the entry of private players and economy of scale, the prices of goods decreased along with the income of people started increasing. It has increased the purchasing power of people which spurred the Indian economy. Today, India is 5th largest economy in nominal sense and 3rd largest economy in PPP terms. The efforts of Indian leaders to look at magic in Mundane have brought creativity to the Indian economy like e-commerce, the PPP model, and rapid developments.
Similarly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, India was suffering due to increasing death tolls and limited resources to counter it. In the field of administration, similar challenges were faced by a DM in Uttar Pradesh, Arvind Singh. He was facing a shortage of masks to distribute in public. He called women working in the Self Help Group (SHG) for this purpose. These women used to make pickles before. They were trained by the administration to make masks.
Consequently, over a few months, they were able to manufacture masks not only for consumption in their district but also started helping other states. Indian army also placed an order to supply masks to them so that they could distribute them among soldiers. It was possible due to efforts put in by civil Servant Arvind Singh to get a solution in the mundane for the problem, the administration was facing i.e., ensuring the availability of masks in the district.
In the individual sphere too, It will also help in getting out of daily life dilemmas as well as magical discovery. For example, if we look at vegetation in desert areas, then we will find largely grass and shrubs like cactus. Since deserts lack water, it makes vegetation adapts based on the availability of resources. It gives a beautiful message to people that one needs to be adaptable to harsh conditions. One needs to focus on the efficient utilization of resources amid facing obstacles.
However, it is true that magic happens in the mundane if someone puts effort into contemplation. But it doesn’t mean that everybody should engage in the mundane work. There is another side of the coin. It would hamper functional specialization if everybody engaged in the same contemplation. It may lead to delays in work and functional interference. Due to this, there may lead to disorder and anarchy in society.
Along with this, it may also distract people from the core job. For example, a civil servant, assigned with a duty to serve people, must not engage in searching for creativity in the mundane every time otherwise core job of public service would be compromised. It would disturb the administrative equilibrium. Also, it is a costly affair. If an administrator is engaged in this by keeping core job aside, he/she is diverting government resources as well as slowing administrative work.
Apart from this, life would become a lot more difficult if we decide to become too focused on finding the mundane as inspiring. Sometimes when one starts running after beauty in the mundane, they may lose perspective in life. Therefore, it can lead to an unrealistic or overly romanticized view of the world. This may create a disconnect between one’s expectations and reality, potentially causing disappointment or dissatisfaction.
Therefore, there will be a need for understanding between mundane observation and putting effort into it. There are challenges, but it also doesn’t mean that man should go for complete ignorance. It is very crucial for scientific development. Then what people should do? for this, a man can focus on the observation aspect. While observing, one can give contemplative thought to Mundane things. In this process, the role of critical thinking is crucial.
Also, there is a need to reform in education system that should be based on value system and vocational training. It would inculcate the system of critical thinking. Along with this, there is a need for a fine balance between materialism and spirituality. Sometimes, people become ignorant amid race of technological developments like social media. It won’t give people time to think about mundane things. Therefore, there is a need to maintain balance.
In conclusion, it depends on what you perceive more than what you just look at. In this process, fundamental duties in the Indian constitution under Article 51A also talk of the spirit of inquiry and scientific temperament. It is in the line of putting efforts for magic in the mundane to reach creativity that can solve the problems faced by the people in society.
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