It is not uncommon among people to do what the three members of the legislative assembly of the state of Karnataka did. The issue is that they were caught during an assembly session in the capitol building, a sanctum sanctorum of democracy, watching an adult video on a mobile phone.
In this age of instant communication, the public, throughout the world, comes to quickly discover when a public servant – elected, appointed, or hired – engages in viewing adult materials. This phenomenon of viewing or sending pictures of an intimate act or a naked body part is not new, but the alacrity with which it can now be done is unique. In the past one had to find the pictures in books, paintings, magazines, newspapers, or movies, but nowadays these materials are just a mouse click away.
We in India have had for ages both the famous Kama Sutra and the carvings on the exteriors of temples (in Madhya Pradesh state) that are widely known for their depiction of human bodies in sensual poses. Coincidently, the book and the place’s name (where temples are located) start with the letter “K”. Now add the Internet.
Certainly, I am not condoning the act of three ministers or blaming the delivery media. I am wondering what can be done, if anything, when such instances occur; and furthermore, how this might be prevented. I believe the answer lies within two groups of individuals: the voters, who are responsible for placing the public figures in public offices, and the servants themselves.
The voters can either make the servants resign or accept their indiscretions. The voters in Bangalore, the state capital of Karnataka, demanded the resignations of the three ministers and were successful. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the example of the 21st President of France, the late François Mitterrand. It was a well known fact that he shared his bed with women journalists, women ministers in his cabinet, and a mistress. However, the French press and the public chose to overlook his peccadilloes.
In contrast public servants can do a lot more for themselves and the voters who elect them to public office. As many Hindus and others know from the Bhagavad-Gita’s teachings, to a man of honor, death is better than dishonor. It further teaches that:
- When you let your mind follow the call of the senses, they carry away your better judgment as storms drive a boat off its chartered course on the sea.
(2:67; translated by E. Easwaran).
- Pleasure from the senses seems like nectar at first, but it is bitter as poison in the end. (18:38, translated by E. Easwaran).
It would be best if public servants could practice these messages of the Gita. However, if they cannot, then they ought to refrain from serving the general public, both for the good of themselves and the society.