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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ends do not justify the means!

Could not but appreciate from the heart the effort of a few individuals to honor those whose contribution to good governance in the country has been tremendous and who otherwise would have remained confined to the shadows. Well done Gfiles for doing what the system should otherwise have been doing to motivate their own men, yet it is rarely done.

Almost all who spoke at the function made a forceful mention of the need for ethics in public service. Some even gave real life examples of the stand that they took for doing what is right even in the face of powerful forces that willed otherwise and often in the process suffered ignominy. Yet for once I felt proud of belonging to the same league of government servants as these brave men and women who were decorated for making a difference in a system that generally does not lay a premium on doing and being good.

And that is why we are where we are – almost at the bottom of the list of nations in almost all spheres of societal growth and human upliftment. Yet it fails to surprise me for what better does one expect in a system that even after over sixty seven years of evolution remains woefully short of adherence to ethical values and proper conduct.

It often surprises me that in almost three and a half decades of service, I am yet to attend an official meeting (not convened by me) where adherence to ethical values and the welfare of men is discussed. The meetings generally remain confined to the mundane world of projects, budgets, punishments, discipline and more often than not – self-gratification of the powers to be. Never ever the need for probity in public life is discussed, much less acted upon.

And the almost tearing hurry to comply with the unethical demands of superiors even at the cost of the organization and the nation is invariably witnessed. Often this is the result of conditioning that we have been accustomed to – of never saying a “NO” to a powerful superior perhaps because of the degeneration of the spinal cord with the years spent in the services or for expecting the same ourselves from subordinates. Yet there are exceptions, a small sample of which was on display recently at the felicitation ceremony at the civil services officer’s institute.

The last decade has perhaps been the worst if one indeed regards a decline in moral values and an absolute lack of ethical values as the barometer of societal evolution. Rampant corruption reared its head only to be equalled by the incidents of violation of the dignity of the fairer sex. The Nirbhaya incident of almost two years ago, the public uproar thereafter and the almost incessant continuance of such incidents in the face of an abysmal lack of concern by those who are meant to govern has left a bitter taste in the mouth. And the series of scams topped by the one during the common wealth games that spared not even an occasion of national pride in an international arena left the society drained of any hopes of a turnaround in the happiness index of our nation. And we continue to chug along downhill.

Having handled two sinking ships in my career, tourism development corporations at the central and state levels and then witnessing their spectacular turnarounds convinced me that radical growth can come out of only radical decisions, strict adherence to the right path and most importantly an almost unflinching commitment in sticking to ethical values and impeccable conduct. Unfortunately this is not the stuff imparted to fertile brains in universities of education as well as life and therein lies the malaise. Materialism has conquered almost everyone and the human value systems have become conspicuous by their almost universal absence, except in pockets and that too, not by design but by chance.

These are changing times in the life of our nation. Perhaps we are poised to acquire our rightful place in the comity of nations, yet that may happen only if we follow what all our scriptures have laid down – the ends do not justify the means, the means also have to be right.

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