I have often written in this forum on the subject of Human Excellence. Human Excellence is what builds, sustains and nurtures the society and the nation. The intellectual and material excellences are only two legs of the tripod. The third leg is the spiritual excellence. I am not using the word spiritual in a religious sense here. The spirit is universal. The moment one cares about someone or something more than oneself, he/she enters the spiritual domain. India’s only (THE ONLY) problem is lack of Human Excellence. All other problems (including poverty) are only symptoms of this fundamental problem. Selfishness, greed and corruption are rampant within us, particularly in the government and the bureaucracy. Like a cancer they destroy every living cell of potential opportunities.
I have been criticized by some of our readers for being somewhat an idealist and not a pragmatist. I appreciate that this criticism is offered in a sincere way. However, I refuse to believe that human beings are inherently selfish, greedy and corrupt animals and the only way to keep them in check is with systemic means. While systemic restraints are an essential part of good governance, we must not forget that the system itself is a construct of the same human beings. Human Excellence is also an inherent and important part of the same human being. In our country it has gone dormant in a state of hibernation.
After the recent calamity which devastated North-West Japan, the Japanese still had some important lessons to convey! Before I list these lessons, I wish to tell that these are not my observations. I received these in an email that did not mention the source. If any of the readers are aware, please tell us so we can give the proper credits. The observations listed below are too important to ignore and should be published here for the benefit of all of us.
What a difference between them and us! I am not saying that Japanese are all good and Indians are all bad. We both have our strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps weaknesses are more apparent closer to home. Still the differences are glaring and remind us of the difficult path ahead.
In one of my earlier articles emphasizing the importance of nationalism I said “Show me a progressive country and I will show you people who take pride and ownership in it”. Here is how the Japanese have conducted themselves after the recent earthquake and the devastating tsunami that followed:
1. THE CALM
Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.
2. THE DIGNITY
Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.
3. THE ABILITY
The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall.
4. THE GRACE
People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.
5. THE ORDER
No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.
6. THE SACRIFICE
Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?
7. THE TENDERNESS
Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.
8. THE TRAINING
The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
9. THE MEDIA
They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reportage.
10. THE CONSCIENCE
When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly.
During the dawn of Quality Control in the 1970s the Japanese taught the world about benchmarking for continuous improvements. The process of continuous improvement is not just an industrial tool - it is a way of life. These are 10 benchmarks for all of us to measure ourselves against.