Posts Tagged ‘Ethics’


Last Sunday I was spending time in a small library attached to a Hindu Temple, waiting for my daughter to finish her lecture and join me. A few shelves of religious/spiritual books, magazine racks, a long table at the center with chairs around, a librarian’s counter on entry to the right and a small office room in a far corner. The ubiquitous sign admonishing all to maintain strict silence hung on the inside and above the entrance.


I selected two books for perusal: Oh MIND Relax Please (OMRP) by Swami Sukhabodananda (SS) and a book of VIkramaditya-Vetal stories. Found a few interesting stories/anecdotes in OMRP that I made notes of. Here’s short one that I liked:

A Zen monk was on his death-bed. All his disciples thronged around him, in sorrow. They asked, `Master! What is your last sermon?’

The monk, instead of replying to their question, asked for a sweet. When the sweet was brought, he looked at it with elation, like a small child. He then ate it, bit by bit, fully savoring its taste, tapping his hands rhythmically. Thereafter, he simply died…

And there were more that I hope to bring in here in the time ahead.

As I was scribbling my notes from the book, I heard a thud. Right in front of me, the lone library staff manning the counter had lifted a pile of books out of a carton letting the empty carton freely drop to the floor. That was the thud. Not done with it yet, he kicked the carton to the nearest wall and turning around plonked the pile of books on the counter-top. You well know a pile doesn’t stay plonked without cascading down. And books are no cats in landing on the floor elegantly and noiselessly. It took a while for the startled readers to resume where they had left off.

I looked up at the stern message hanging over the entrance to check if it exempted the library staff from its demand.

Surrounded by shelves of books, can’t blame the man (library staff) if the monk’s message had not reached him:

(in SS’s words) “Eating a sweet is a very ordinary affair. Even that should be done with total involvement and relish. This was the last message that the monk wished to convey.”

Years ago, I stayed for a short time at a small place in Gloucester and commuted to work by the Underground. Lifts were available at this station to reach down 3 or 4 levels. This middle-aged man made an indelible impression on me that has lasted till date. Unwearily he operated one of those lifts standing on his feet all day. At every stop, he would dutifully caution the passengers lost in their thoughts to be mindful of the gap as they stepped in/out. And there were gaps enough to catch the unwary. His message would ring loud – not too loud – and clear for all to hear, even if he had an audience of just one. All unsupervised, unaudited by any ISO certified. Did it matter if he was not doing it with a dance? I was young and shy to talk to him on what he thought about it – an opportunity I lost.

Coming back to the plain and simple message from the monk, seriously, it’s strange the management gurus/life-coaches/mind-scientists haven’t yet grabbed it with two hands as an operating principle to cure many societal/personal ills.

Any alternative would be too dreary to live by. What do you think?


PS: In hindsight, I hold him (the lift operator) as a humble but thoroughly inspiring example and embodiment of: ‘Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana…’ (B. Gita 2.47)


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A post in FB from Rajendra Inani reads:


November 19 at 4:11pm

Today, got a call today from Accounts Department asking for my address. Reason being, they want to send a cheque towards Superannuation. Upon asking that I have received my full payment 4 years back, I am told that there was some calculation error and they want to send the difference. It is a sizable sum and a pleasant surprise on Diwali.

Hats off to professional and ethical standards at BSIL. There is no way an ex-employee would come to know otherwise.

I believe it’s a long list of employees and may would have got the call.

Well, I’m not from the subject Accounts Department, have no role in this come-back and far far removed from action. I’m also not a beneficiary.

Why, then, do I feel good about it? 

Let’s not forget Raj trying to correct what he thought was a ‘mistake’ of double payment.


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This anecdote comes again from B:


1967 March/April. I was appearing for my Intermediate examination (13th year) at a college in south Mumbai. Those days it was 11 years in school, 2 years of pre-degree in college and another 2 years in a bachelor’s degree course.

It was the day of Hindi exam. As always I did my namaskars to Lord Ganesha (the deity thought to remove all obstacles) and to my mother before leaving the house. A practice widely followed in my generation.

Most of candidates taking the examination were already employed in paying job,now wanting to earn a university degree to further their career prospects. In preparation for the same they would attend coaching classes in the morning while attending to their jobs during the day.

So here I was in the examination hall staring blankly at the question paper in Hindi. Most of us – I and others in the hall – were migrants from south, poor in Hindi, disinterested as well beyond the need of the situation. There was no choice before us as Hindi was mandated and we had to pass.

The supervisor in the hall knew the predicament. He closed his eyes to the candidates freely copying from whatever sources including text-books. And I was staring at the question paper like I was decoding script from the Indus Valley tablets. Before long the roving eyes of the supervisor settled on a-completely-unengaged me. He moved to station himself near my desk and sent out subtle signals for me to “do what you want”,

It was not difficult at all for me to decide – I wrote what I could and came away. To me, a standing injunction against less-than-honest means from my mother, a-not-so-preachy financially weak and uneducated single parent, was simply non-negotiable come what may.

When the results were declared  I was surprised to note from newspapers that I had passed!

The  mark-sheet subsequently issued showed I had scored a bountiful 6 out of 75 marks against a minimum passing requirement of 15. So the newspapers were wrong.It had to be. Though none of it was unexpected I was still devastated.

In sheer disgust I gazed at the mark-sheet hoping for some miracle. And there it was!

There was a special note at the bottom of the nothing-to-speak-of mark-sheet:  Failure in Hindi condoned under section….” Reason: I had passed / scored well on all other papers. The powers that be were taking a kinder view of the matter in their efforts to promote Hindi (as national language).

While we all conduct our lives adopting a certain code of ethics learnt either from elders in the family or in school, we differ in our intensity of compliance.

Oftentimes we cite exigencies:

 ‘We have to move with time,

We have to be flexible and realistic,

Just this once

to permit ourselves infractions that are minor to begin with, insidiously building up into major breaches over time. Every shred starts with a tear.

In the above anecdote B steadfastly holds onto his tenet of not resorting to less-than-honest means to achieve an end as simply inviolable and non-negotiable even in the face of adverse fallout’s. From there it was no longer a difficult decision for him to make.

A courage we wish we had more of.

In an earlier post (see https://tskraghu.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/a-wrong-was-righted-and-how/) B was introduced as my neighbor for years. And also the father of the highly successful and talented Vidya Balan of Bollywood.





Source: openclipart (amroud999)

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Would like to share with you, of course with his kind permission, an anecdote B had told me in a casual conversation – sure to leave you thinking!

Here we go:


It was peak summer day – May of 1991 – that I had gone with my wife to attend the wedding of an office colleague at Goregaon.  Wedding over, followed by lunch, we made it to the nearest public (BEST) bus-stop on SV Road to get back home in Chembur.

At the bus-stop, I set aside a ten-rupee note for the bus fare and stowed away the wallet in my wife’s bag for the fear of pick-pockets almost always haunting these boarding points. After a short wait, we boarded a bus plying between Borivli and Ghatkopar and were lucky to find an unoccupied two-seater closest to the entrance.

The conductor took some time to issue tickets to the boarders ahead of us. Just when he handed us our tickets, the bus had reached its next stop. He rushed to the entrance to control a surging crowd wanting to gate-crash all at once. In a little while order was restored and the bus resumed its trip onwards. That done, the conductor turned to me asking for the fare.  I reminded him of the ten rupees I had already given him and the balance of three rupees due to me, the cost of two tickets being seven rupees.  He struggled for a few moments to recall,  took a hard look at us and gave in. Perhaps we didn’t look like one to cheat him out of ten rupees.

That was that. I didn’t think much of it until…

A week later, one evening returning from work I was waiting near Saki Naka. A bit of explanation is due here – with the queue system completely broken down, it was lot easier to board a bus away from the bus-stop at those spots where the bus was forced by the pot-holes to slow down (the one time one is thankful for them). That’s how I came to wait at a one such specimen adorning the road a little ahead of Saki Naka.

Sure enough, soon after, a bus headed for Ghatkopar trundled along. As it slowed down negotiating the crater, I made my move. Just when I was on the verge of boarding the bus, the conductor positioning himself at the entrance pushed me out with “chal chal – mera thus rupia dhoka diya” (go away, you gyped me of ten rupees). Luckily no damage done – the bus sped on leaving me standing on my two feet and gawking.

The penny dropped. I hailed an auto (a three-wheeler) – a feat nothing to sniff at especially in evenings at Saki Naka – and instructed him to rush me to the bus terminus at Ghatkopar by a less crowded albeit a longer route. The auto did the needful like it was chased by a murderous debt collector.

There I was ready for him when the bus finally turned up.

By a strange coincidence and you must have guessed it, he was the same conductor we had run into on our earlier trip to Goregaon.

As he got down last from a now-empty-bus and looked up, he froze. For, he saw me standing before him offering a ten rupee note in my hand extended towards him.

I ‘chided’ him for making me spend an additional fifteen rupees on the auto fare for making good his loss of ten rupees. Had he let me board the bus and raised the matter with me, I would have made amends without any fuss. I knew these guys kept a good account of their daily collections and are generally honest.

He was completely unprepared for my reparations.

Thoroughly mollified, he took me to their resting lounge – a bare room with a couple of backless benches – and ordered tea from the staff canteen. As we sat sipping the sugary concoction he made polite inquiries about where I lived, what I did for living, etc., etc. The story was shared a little later with the bus driver too.

Finally when I took leave, short of turning into long-time buddies, they accorded me the ‘privilege’ of boarding their bus anywhere and anytime I wished – all I had to do was raise my hand for them to spot me – actually quite against the rules. With my move to Worli soon after, I had no occasion to exercise the ‘privilege’ anytime later.

The above episode cannot be complete without an explanation for the ‘missing’ ten-rupee note; it was simply this: I thought I gave him a ten-rupee note and it did not show up in the conductor’s daily collections.  There was no question of suspecting him even for a moment of any malfeasance. Well, I guess one of us dropped the ‘ball’. As simple as that.

Most of us would have shrugged it off as a totally unwarranted, uncivil and even unfair outburst from the conductor.

B saw something else in it. Brought up on strong middle-class scruples, the mere possibility of having caused someone to lose was unthinkable to him.

Makes one wonder how did this ‘soft’ guy survive in today’s times?. Well. what to speak of survival – he thrived in the corporate world as a HR professional winning more-than-he-can-remember accolades along the way. His triumphant moment: In 2012, at the World HR Congress held in Mumbai, he was conferred ‘Life Time Achievement Award’ sponsored by The Economic Times and Star TV. At 70, he continues to be active – presently as the chief mentor at a financial services company.

The lesson: It does pay to be good – in private and profession alike.

I’ve seen a different dimension (is it really different?) of him in my social interactions – our professional paths did not intersect. Guys, if you ever have an emotionally charged intractable problem in his space, he’s the man to loosen up the ‘Gordian Knot’ for you.

I must know him for he was my neighbour for long years. Also the father of the highly successful and talented Vidya Balan of Bollywood.


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