Oct 10, 2010

True globalisation is when honest and good people come together

Presenting an award for honesty, Orai, Uttar Pradesh, Oct 5, 2010

At a time when there is so much of dishonesty around us we as a society seem to have given up on honesty. Truth is no longer a virtue. It is a matter of convenience. Corruption has increasingly been accepted. In many ways, it has been legalised. Democracy has not only helped corruption to grow, but has institutionalised it. Globalisation has further hastened the process. It has brought the rich and the corrupt together.

Let us accept it. The 21st Century has discarded the robe of honesty.

It is at such depressing times that I salute the person who first thought of identifying some honest people and honouring them. I thought it was a good idea, that will remain confined to the coffee table discussions. When journalist Anil Sharma, who works for one of the Hindi newspapers in one of the mofussil towns in central India, told me that he plans to honour some of the common people who have spent their lifetime working honestly, I wasn't sceptical. 

So last week when I travelled to Orai in the heart of the drought-affected Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh, I realised what it means to honestly pick up the honest, and thereby allow the society to recognise and appreciate honesty. The 35 honest people that some enlightened citizens of the Orai town -- under the informal banner of 'Achhe logo ka Varhat Parivar' -- picked up, came from different walks of life. Most of them were drivers, cooks, maid servants, gardener etc. 

When I sat on the dais and looked at the awardees I realised there are still a lot of honest people around us. It is only that we fail to recognise them. If you also look around yourself, you will find that more often than not the maid servant who has worked with your family for ages, has never even picked up any currency note that you left behind. She has always returned the expensive gold ring you left behind in the bathroom. Many a times your driver has brought back your wallet that you forgot in the car, and so on.  

It isn't that these poor people are honest because they had no choice. They could have also walked away with gold, cash and other expensive items that you have it lying scattered in your home. Some do, but most don't. And all we end up doing by way of reward for them is to show courtesy by giving them a worn-out shirt or a sari. In other words, we have forgotten to recognise and honour honesty. It never strikes us that honesty is a rare virtue that needs to be acknowledged. Perhaps if we did, the tribe of honest people would have grown by now. 

As I stood up to present the awards I could see tears rolling down the cheeks of several of the awardees. They couldn't control their emotions. They could never believe that they were being called to the stage to receive an award for something they have always lived with. Later, they shared with me what they felt being honoured for honesty. "I never knew I was doing something big, something great. Saab, from now onwards I can walk with my head held high," quipped one of the recipients.   

Along with Swami Rajeshwara Nand and senior local journalist K P Singh, we did the honours, by presenting each awardee with a pressure cooker, a shawl, and some utensils of daily use. 

In lot many ways I think the Orai event was historic. At least, I am unaware (and I stand corrected) of any other initiative to honour the honest amongst us. The organisers told me that encouraged by the public response they now plan to hold such events in every ward of the town to begin with. "We will have each month a similar event for each of the wards/mohallas," promised Dr Ramesh Chandra. Anil Sharma already has feelers from people from other neighbouring towns who want to hold similar functions. The need now is to draw up a code of conduct that strictly needs to be adhered to so that the dishonest do not take over. 

What began from Orai can certainly trigger a nationwide movement. At the same time, it can die down as one of those events that once took place. It will therefore largely depend upon the ability of some sensitive and concerned people to come together and stand up for the sake of honesty. I have a feeling it will not be that easy, but is certainly do-able. I am looking forward to the day when the fire that began from Orai spreads throughout the country, and finally crosses the national borders. 

Globalisation has brought the rich and the crooked together. True globalisation would be when good people from across the globe come together. Perhaps, Orai has sown the seeds of goodness. Let us join hands to reap the harvest across continents. As someone said: It takes one village, then another, and then another...and a revolution is born."


Anonymous said...

Truly said Sir. The problem lies in the information sharing. We always want to highlight the bad part (which is also necessary). I have seldom heard a maid stealing from any of my known's place so far. But whenever they discuss the thing it is always for those very few who are creating a hole in the plate they are eating in. We have accepted dishonesty as law of the land – as you said- so it bothers nobody. We have happily adapted it & proved the Darwin's theory of adaptability. That is the reason whenever I discuss something with my friends, family & noble people about these things, they say this is part of life & this is how it goes. They advise to be honest yourself & don't indulge in any activity which may harm you for they love me. Good & bad can never part with each other. Most of the people know & talk about corrupt officers & babus (clerks), when we happen to meet an honest person who ask us to follow the procedures properly we say that person a fool & get frustrated to follow the rules. The same people when go to foreign countries, they obey the law with utmost care – God knows why.

(to be continued..)

Ashok Kumar

Anonymous said...

Continued from previous letter....

I have worked with Electricity boards & Private Electricity Supply companies in India. I know how middlemen & employees involved in it are earning all the money in the name of shortfall of demand and inclusion of new technologies, and how the price hike is being done by the government but at the same time there are many honest ones who never allow anyone to play the dirty game or they simply most of the time close their eyes & keep their moral intact for their works . In any electricity utility there are three major categories of consumers

Category % Consumers (approx. – typical.) % consumers (approx. typ.)
1. Domestic (including agricultural) 80%33% 33%
2. Commercial 15-18% 33%
3. Industrial 2-5% 33%

Commercial Losses in India varies from 20 to 40 %, which is mostly due to mismanagement & lesser work at grass root level & everyone has to bear the burden for these losses & millions of rupees spend on techniques to lower these losses. Problem lies in improper implementation.

It is the industries which consume most of the power despite being least in count. In addition there are govt. deptt. who has free connections or they don't pay bills & consume electricity to cook food on heaters & many of them don't even have the LPG Cylinder. Commercial consumers include many government offices, colonies, buildings, Water works, hospitals, municipality utilities like street lights & road lights etc., they also don't pay honestly & there is huge misuse of the electricity. On the other hand, electricity boards are saying that they are in loss due to free power given to farmers and BPL families, which is totally false claim. In fact there is no perfect method according to which exact losses can be predicted. But there are many honest engineers & workers working which who are doing best possible to improve the situation. In context of corruption, an equipment worth Rs.100 is purchased at min. Rs190 keeping approx. 45% margin for departmental expenses (you know what these expenses are) & there are many more things to be exposed.

I have always thought of VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme) since its start. I have reached at one conclusion that it is also a very well planned conspiracy. It was launched by showing the public that govt. has no funds to meet the pension & retirement funds for its employees. Many a people availed the opportunity which has left the govt. departments with void of capable manpower & there were very few fresh recruitments ( 3 persons in place of 8-10 typically). Most of the people who took VRS benefits joined private sector companies. Private sector companies take those people who are not only knowledgeable & but also has influence in the departments with which they are dealing, it makes their job easier for them. Most of these people are those who have worked honestly/dedicatedly during their tenure in government departments. Govt. hit two birds with single stone of VRS – first it shortened the number of honest/knowledgeable employees in government departments & second it strengthened the private sector.

(to be continued...)

Ashok Kumar

Anonymous said...

(the 3rd and final part of the letter...)

This policy seems to be from the effect of recruitment of retired personnel (after 58 years of age – mostly from Defense Services, Irrigation Deptt, NTPC, NHPC, BHEL, SEBs, Health Deptt. etc.) by private companies & their success, which in itself is draconian. It has not only resulted in government department like discriminating environment in the offices of private sector companies but also deprived career opportunities of many young aspirants.

I am an engineer myself & have always worked with utmost honesty even if I have to work for more hours but I have always did my work as perfectly as possible to avoid any sort of corruption. It never felt a pain in it rather enjoyed it for I have abandoned the say 'NO PAINS NO GAINS' for if one start something with this say one can endure pain only & will never do anything. I am not the alone there are many better than me.

Draconian environments of government offices, illusionary freedom of private sector companies & better perks has driven many to abandon govt. jobs & join the private sector companies.

Similar environment is created in education sector also. Primary school teachers are forcibly involved in activities other than education like Pulse Polio, Census, voter lists etc.
This has resulted in creation of hatred in people's mind for enrolling their children in govt. schools. One of my own cousin who is a primary school teacher have admitted his son in a very hi-fi convent school & one of my other cousin who is also a primary school teacher has done miracle in his school in 2 years time by introducing good dresses & practices in the school.

In the end what I want to say is, we have to negate the bad things & that bad according to me are people behind it not the thing. There is a say on this (with first word added from my side)
'SIRF CHOR NU NA FARO CHOR DI MAA NU V FARO' ( Don't catch the thief only catch his patron also) and another
'JO PAKADA GIYA VO CHOR HAI, JO BACH GAYA WO SAYANA HAI' (Thief is who is caught stealing, who has escaped is noble)

I request you to please not to generalize the bad things because there will always be many honest people who wants to do their best in their capacity. Dr. Shiv Chopra & many other amongst us are the living examples of this with us. If these themselves had not been an expert of these technologies, was it possible for us to even think about the problem of food poisoning leave apart GMOs.

Same thing is being done by you & but no one still got the punishment. Why there is no case registered against the scientists who have signed on recent Bt-Brinjal repot. How we have been silent on such a heinous crime, have be forgiven them. Is it not a discrimination to the honest people who wants to do better for humanity.

Ashok Kumar