Being a Judge

“The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgement.” Jiddu Krishnamurty

No it’s not a philosophical piece. Well almost not. As the season of college fests, inter and intra college cultural extravaganza, food festivals, and numerous such competitions, etc., come to a close, the time is ripe to reflect upon that one component that is integral to such contests – judging.

The noun judge refers to an official of a court of law whereas the verb judge, about which few following lines shall harp on, means to form an opinion or draw a conclusion about. Since we are all so familiar with the word, synonyms will be redundant, however, assessment, rating, deciding would fit the bill.

As a judge to various competitions since the last four years now, primarily of cultural and literary events, I have witnessed various spectacular performances and disastrous ones too. I have seen as a judge of such events the best possible judgements delivered and controversies raging too.

Judging per se is a fact of life. You may think it as the most unfortunate exercise that has so seriously gripped mankind or think it to be necessary exercise to distinguish the better and best from the rest, depending on which side of the spectrum you believe in. But judged we get right from cradle to grave. But as I told you in the beginning, we shall not delve much into the philosophy of it.

Events such as dance shows, song competitions, street pays, miming, debates, all require judges to decide which person or which team is the best. Though participation spirit is exhorted in each such competition it is more or less that ‘winning’ which is the motivation that drives people to participate. And to do that most-of-the-times difficult job judges are invited.

To circumvent subjectivity about 3 or 5 judges are invited. At the end of the event however a peculiar phenomenon occurs. The usually senior judge, or the one who has greater expertise in the category of event being judged, try to impose their thought on others. Judges huddle up and if a long discussion goes on, it could be because of such a reason.

Another often observed phenomenon is what I should describe as extreme vs. average marking. There will be judges who either shall award extremes of marks affecting the end result extremely or those who would award so similar marks to each participant that it would hardly make a difference in the end. The gold standard however would be to add and average the scores.

Clarity of thought is the most important virtue that a judge should possess. Only that will have clarity in the end result. Judging is an undesirable act many a times. It often leads you to be hated by a section of people, for obvious reasons. And certainly since we are so hardwired and our lives revolve around being judged and to judge, all this shall stay put.

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