Sep 25, 2023
Sep 25, 2023
The issue has to be looked at in the context of several developments in the recent past:
An avalanche of financial misdemeanors starting with the Harshad Mehta case, featuring personalities cited by the industry as role models.
Is there any category of ethics peculiar to industry or to government? Profiteering, exploitation, hard-sell, end-not-the-means apply equally to all areas of human endeavor as undesirable conduct, harmful to society at large and to individuals in particular. How is the role of the bureaucrat, or of the politician, any different from that of the industrialist as far as ethics is concerned? Hence, the quintessential need is an understanding of one's role in the context of the super-ordinate goal.
There is a pervasive lack of clarity about the goal itself because of obsession with achieving objectives quantified in terms of money. Industrialists appear to have pushed into the hinterland of their consciousness their role as enhancers of the nation's wealth. They concentrate on maximizing profit regardless of the impact of their actions on society and the environment.
Management executives are caught up in a frenzy of activity, ("wrestling with the laptop computer's appointments-and-jobs-to-be-done program" - Stafford Beer, Cybernetics Guru), ending up as slaves of their own activities (cf. Gita 4.14 and "the world is imprisoned in its own activity" Gita 3.9), losing sight of social good and turning into modern Philistines (cf. Margaret Thatcher: "There is no such thing as society").
So what are we left with? The individual and his selfish desires!
The bureaucrat is oblivious of his role as a public servant in a welfare state that is to be administered in accordance with the laws enacted by the legislature. Rent-seeking behavior is his signature, harassment the modus operandi. He feels it beneath his status to serve anyone except his own interests, oblivious of any obligation he owes for being paid his salary by the earnings of the people of the nation.
The political executive prefers to overlook the oath sworn to uphold the Constitution of India, in which the Directive Principles of State Policy provide the goals towards which it is elected by the people to take the country. Its outlook is using power to make money to ensure re-election so that more power can be wielded to make more money. Graft and statecraft have become synonymous.
All of these are driven by two overwhelming impulses: Greed and Fear. Greed to have more, with its inevitable camp-follower Arrogance; Fear of someone more powerful who will take away what has been grabbed and humiliate.
The Vohra Committee Report, taken cognizance of by Parliament and the Supreme Court, documents the vicious nexus of money, crime, politics and power that is strangling the people of India. The government's role vis-a-vis industry is twofold:
Facilitate the creation of wealth for the nation by industrialists; create a user-friendly responsive administration with a human face where rules are meant for ensuring impartiality, not as instruments of harassment for extortion.
Protect people's rights, the environment, the national interest against damage by the activities of, inter-alia, industrialists.
In all spheres of action where leadership is involved - whether in industry, in management, in public administration - the motivation has to spring from within, from a sense of commitment to the welfare and prosperity of society and the nation. It is a we-win-they win-everybody wins frame of reference that has to prevail, and not the obsession that I can win only if they and everyone else - even the country - loses. Need has to replace Greed, Giving has to replace Grabbing.
Rabindranath Tagore brought the point home in one of his dawn talks at Shantiniketan. He pointed out, "Wealth has to be created-- if this intention is kept within the mind, then it will not do to allow our desires to roam around as they will... When desire spills over its inner banks, it destroys everything." Therefore, he urges that desire be subjugated to the authority of the inner will, which "binds down all the restless desires around some internal intention." Thereby, man grows in wisdom, possessions and prowess.
However, there are also conflicting wills within us, pursuing which we fall victim to tiredness, depression, ennui, constantly seek "the liquor of excitement" and are ultimately cheated. Tagore tells us that we experience the supreme goodness of the monarchy of the will when we harmonize all our inner intents with the world-will, namely:
"the will for welfare. That is not only my wish, not only your wish, that is the fundamental and eternal will of the universe... Then renunciation does not harm, in forgiveness there is no loss of prowess, in service there is no slavery. Then danger does not terrify, chastisement cannot punish, death abandons horror" (Human Values: the Tagorean Panorama, pp. 140-143).
That, then, is the adamantine armour repelling the twin virulent goads of Greed and Fear that impel the industrialist, the manager, the administrative and political executive.
Let us recall the super-ordinate goal enunciated by our own ancient tradition:
Sarve api sukhinaha santu Sarve santu niramayaha
Sarve bhadrani pasyantu Ma kascitdu dukhabhak bhavet.
May all secure happiness, may all enjoy good health,
May all experience goodness around them.
Let none be in pain or sorrow.
The world is my family.
More by : Dr. Pradip Bhattacharya
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