Your Excellency, and my dear ones and the audience. As Dr. Denis Broun just mentioned, crisis brings out the best and the worst in people.
When the recent Himalayas
tsunami happened, I didn’t tell
any of the volunteers to go and
do something. Without me telling
anyone, there were already
thousands of volunteers who just
plunged into various activities. I
would say this is real ethics, the
real feeling that comes from your
heart. When we inculcate this in the
educational system, bring attention
and awareness of one’s attitude
and behavior, we find a sea of
change in our society.
Just a week ago, there was a crisis in India. During this crises, there were people who plunged in to save others and there were some who exploited even for a glass of water. It is in these moments of crisis that we can gauge ethics, whether it is genuine or cosmetic. Ethics cannot be cosmetic, it has to come out in a genuine manner. Now, how does one bring about genuine ethics in people, or make a person feel that one has to really be ethical.
I just want to narrate an incident. There is a corrupt person working in a bank, he is a trouble-maker and he does not listen to anybody. I asked them to send him to me, so I could have a word with him.
I told this gentleman, ‘Would you like your driver to be honest with you or cheat you?’
He replied, ‘I don’t like my driver to cheat me, it is obvious.’
Then I asked him, 'Would you appreciate it if a colleague is cheating on you?’
He said, ‘No, I don’t want my colleague or friend to cheat on me.’
I said, ‘Look, you don’t want your boss to be dishonest with you. You don’t want your subordinate to be dishonest with you. You don’t want your colleague to be dishonest with you. You expect honesty from everyone, sincerity from everybody; how about you?’
That suddenly made him sit back and think, ‘Yes, I don’t even want my maid servant at home to cheat on me, I don’t want my driver to cheat on me, I don’t want my colleague on whom I have to rely on to cheat on me; then why would I cheat on someone else?’ He had never thought about it like this before; it made him think, re-think! 'When my behavior affects so many people around me, and I am affected by others’ behavior; what I don’t want others to do to me, why should I do to others?'
This is the basic line of ethics.
This sense of awareness when it comes from within, then life is on a different paradigm. There is a very visible shift.
When the recent Himalayas tsunami happened, I didn’t tell any of the volunteers to go and do something. Without me telling anyone, there were already thousands of volunteers who just plunged into various activities. I would say this is real ethics, the real feeling that comes from your heart.
When we inculcate this in the educational system, bring attention and awareness of one’s attitude and behavior, we find a sea of change in our society.
If you have ever been to a prison anytime, I mean just to take a look at it; if you had a word or two with people in the prison, you would see that they are good people. These people who are condemned as criminals, there is a good person hiding inside them, there is an ethical and compassionate person hiding inside them too. That personality needs to come out, blossom and flower.
When I visited prisons, I spoke to thousands of inmates. They said they committed the crime in a moment of an emotional upsurge, when they were not in control, and then they regretted it.
How can we help these people who are corrupt and involved in criminal activities? I think it is possible. If we can educate them on how they can handle their own mind and their emotions then that would bring a big change.
They say, 'Neither at school nor at home has a broader vision about life been given to us. Nobody ever told us to attend to our emotions our minds.’ A sense of inner cleansing can bring about ethics.
There are four pillars of our
society and we need to attend
to all the four pillars - politics,
organizations, and the civil
society. Unless ethics percolates
in all these four different areas
of our human society, we cannot
find the most desired
Stress and violent tendencies in an individual need to be checked. I am sure if these tendencies are checked, and if people are given tools or counseled to get over these tendencies which they have acquired either due to ignorance or through difficult family situations, we can bring about the best of ethics from within them.
If those in correctional houses can be transformed, I am sure the common man can realize and live those ethics in their day-to-day life; it is not so difficult. I don’t find any reason for us to not believe in a more ethical and compassionate society for the coming generation. Of course, the present situation looks very bleak; we see crime and violence everywhere.
In the last year in America alone, there were 10 million acts of crime and violence recorded. If you go throughout the world, we have 7 billion people; I am sure there is a few billion acts of violence that is happening in the society. I feel it is high time we put our attention towards bringing back the ethics, not just in business, but in the social and civic society.
There are four pillars of our society and we need to attend to all the four pillars - politics, business, faith-based organizations, and the civil society. Unless ethics percolates in all these four different areas of our human society, we cannot find the most desired transformation happening.
Once again, I will reinstate the point that ethics needs to be inculcated, cultivated and nurtured. The seed is already present in every human being, it is already there, it just needs a little more nurturing - in politics, business, faith-based organizations, and also in civic society. If all these four institutions work together, we can definitely make a difference in this coming century.
With these few words, I congratulate the organizers, and all of you who have come here to deliberate on this very important topic of today’s Ethics in Business. Thank you very much.