Saturday, April 19, 2008

Integrity and the Future of India

Visiting Japan can change someones life. The way Japanese society and business are structured to be consensus driven and internetworked, the emphasis on "wa", the strict codes of conduct and honour (in both personal and professional lives), the limitless efforts to achieve perfection. I could go on. It's to be seen to be believed.

Honesty and sincerity are some of the key drivers of the Japanese way of life. A very simple thought kept striking me many a time over the one and a half years in Tokyo.

Seeing cars and bikes travel at top speeds on city roads made me think: Its a result of the discipline and confidence one driver has that the other driver will stop at a red signal, that enables one to travel without a care in the world.

Discipline, sincerity, honesty, integrity, humility. Some of the key reasons Japan is what it is today.

To be very honest with you, today if you ask me, between the US and Japan, I love Japan as much as I love my own country, India.

The US: I hate that country. For what it stands and for the way it manipulates the world to do its bidding. For the way it treats other countries of this world as if they are just a means to better the lives of Americans. For the way it treats the entire world as its backyard to do as it pleases to screw up with no sense of understanding or care about the impact on the people of that country (case in point: Iraq and Afghanistan.) The US is the anti-thesis of what Japan is. I have grown to understand and appreciate the way of life of the Japanese and admire it and love it (atleast the parts Iv looked into deeply).

The fact that the US is the dream destination for hordes of people (including many readers of this blog) might colour the opinion of people negatively towards what I have written, but I stand by my words.

The words of former LTCB President Katsunobu Onogi san with respect to the way Japanese business and economy are structured (from the book Saving the Sun) still ring in my ears. He talks of the Japanese economy being an interdependent system with one part of the system feeding off the others and reciprocating in return when needed.

If you didnt get the point, it means: the economy works for the benefit of all. No single entity or individual stands to benefit grossly. Infact, the Japanese way of business is to treat it as an enabler for national growth and the growth of society as a whole, for the benefit of all.

It is my guess that Shinsei is an outcast precisely because it broke this code of honour/conduct/Japanese way of business.

How ironic no? Onogi san before 1999 and Yoshiro san post 1999. Same bank. Starkly different standings.

But you might wonder, why am I rambling about the Japanese way of life and business when the title of my post has nothing to do with it.

Well, here I come to the point.

I have often asked myself what it would take to make India on par with the developed nations of the world. To enable people access to basic facilities like electricity, drinking water, sanitation and health care. To enable them to be in a position to demand more than just basic facilities. To be in a position where my kids can think of choosing their school, college, careers based on interests instead of just following the crowd and doing a degree without any real goal and then getting into a working life, again without any goal.

Its all linked, you know. Progress, prosperity, a good life, a fulfilling life, sincerity in life, integrity of character, honesty of purpose, vision and goals.

As a wide-eyed fresher a couple of years ago, I was told I had to take a finance exam as part of my training. I got down in right earnest and diligently sat through the training slides, making notes, going home and revising, practicing problems.

As exam day dawned, a lot of people got nervous. And they somehow got hold of the question papers and xeroxed them and thus prepared for the test. To be fair to them, its known through the grapevine that thats how a majority of the sample space used to give the test.

I was asked if I wanted the papers, but I refused as I was quite satisfied with my preparations and confident of aceing the test. In the end, I managed to clear it on my first attempt.

A couple of people were infact caught with the papers and no action was taken. Taking action would have shown the testing department in poor light and brought into question the methodology of testing and the checks and balances therewith.

Thats just how we work. A symbiotic relationship between thieves of varying orders.

It has always surprised me that people will go to all lengths to "show" they have the knowledge, defeating the very purpose of providing them with the tools to gain knowledge.

It makes me angry/sad/apprehensive that the future doyens of Indian industry have feet of clay and such a standard of integrity. I suppose they cant be blamed really, for that is exactly how our machinery functions. And if you are not a part of it, they will beat you down. Its called self-preservation.

We are an insincere people. In work, in our personal lives (Im amazed how "committed" and married people stray so easily when the partner isnt looking, rather has no way to look.) What is the purpose of such a "commitment", the "till death do us part" sham routine called marriage, I wonder?

We need to understand that we need to look inwards into ourselves and improve ourselves instead of pointing fingers at other countries and listing out their frailties, as a means of self-defence in the face of criticism. There are advanced countries in this world and while industrialization and academia are important pillars of their growth, so is the human and integrity capital; the industry of the people is what has catapulted them into the position they are in today.

Ultimately everyone has two hands. And one mind. And its upto us to channelize that mind to use those hands constructively.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hay narayan...good post dude

--Dayanand