Dipesh Majumdar

Blog and Paintings

No substitute for honesty

July 9, 2012

We are plagued with an alarming rise of dishonesty and cheating. And we keep witnessing this in our day to day life. It may be trivial or very important. More than the degree of importance, the very essence of this thriving duplicity and corruption and our attitude towards it is a cause of concern.

Recently I went to a Xerox shop to take printouts of 8 pages. I got a shock when the shopkeeper asked for Rs. 40, i.e, Rs. 5 for each page. I replied in defiance, " This is not fair. This is way too much." Then I got to know that he had pasted an A4 size paper on the wall that read: above 10 pages is Rs.3 per page and below 10 pages is Rs. 5/page. I grumbled but paid. Then it struck me, "Why not take another two pages print-out? 8X5=40 vs 10X3=30. That way I will save Rs. 10. When the high-school mathematics is going to be used in life, if not now?" I spoke my thought loud at the shopkeeper but he poured a bucket of cold water on my enthusiastic appeal denying in the most rude manner possible. This turned me off. My attempts to convey this simple logic that I was abiding by the message he put up in his notice board soon transformed into a bitter altercation and he was simply not ready to hear another word from me. Lastly I added one last thing to conclude the heated argument, " You open your shop after the morning prayers, lighting the agarbattis in serious devotion … You decorate the deities with fragrant flowers... that's fine... I appreciate... but then when your integrity and honesty is not firm... what's the use of performing those rituals?" "Jaago India Jaago," the new tagline of the modern India reverberated in my mind as I left the Xerox shop.

They say when you come out of a heated argument, your peace of mind is gone... gone for a serious toss!!! You can no more focus on the job at hand, because it will keep travelling back to the incident and certain things will haunt you. And they are right! For the same happened with me... My mind kept revolving around this incident asking incessant questions... Why did I not say this, why did I simply not call the police, why did I elongate the argument in the first place, why did I simply not curse him that his business be ruined... Oh man how much I hate this guy!!! May he simply die and rot!!! Suckers...parasites of the society!!! Oops, the traffic! My floating mind was brought back on road by a hasty vehicle that brushed me almost, in an attempt to avoid a gaping pot hole! I was driving with only 1 % of my brain now, while 99 percent was busy hating and cursing this man… and now the Government! I let all of it go out... all out! Finally I started feeling better. I was going to attend an interview. It was a long way. The destination was not something I knew and I didn't have a GPS. So I had to search for a long long time before I found the place. I found it at last, and thank God, the bitterness in me had died down by then so I could focus on the job at hand, the interview!!!

Face to face interview it was! I was made to sit on a chair for a long time like a stupid person and finally when they called, I got to know it was telephonic! I spoke my mind loud once again! I said, "Had it been a telephonic interview, I could have attended from home! And I was notified that it was face to face." And their reply... no doubt it sounded the weirdest of explanations. They replied, "The panel is not present. And if you are selected you can attend the HR Round right here. If you had attended from home, you would have to come once again for the HR Round." Well my mind was bubbling with ten thousand questions to attack her right away, but I chose to remain quiet. Especially after that xerox incident!!! The rising questions in my head ended with an abrupt, "What the ****," that exploded in my mind out of nowhere!!! I calmed myself down and headed for the interview.

The interview went well... I had mixed feelings... some I answered and some I couldn't. Well it's so difficult to know everything. It's just too huge. And I have so much work... I can't just open the book all day long and remain drowned in it, cut off and aloof from the rest of the world. I only wish the interviewer knew, I had so many goddamn things to do... " I have my daily chores which include giving my baby the occasional oil massage and bath, sometimes (not always) changing the diapers, playing with him and making him giggle... (oh, how much I love when he laughs... such innocence), writing blogs... just like this one... and it takes time... damn it, sketching, drawing and painting, reading the book on astronomy to find out what's happening on the other part of the universe, watching Wimbledon and of course going to office, doing the routine work, pressing for things I want in life, going on long drives, short drives or simply a stroll with family, playing table tennis... and the list goes on. And on top of that you expect me to know everything on 'Oracle Database.' Little unjustified! No…no…no… I am not rationalizing here… I seriously believe conducting interviews is an art and it should go through a massive paradigm shift. Google has murdered our memories! Now one should check that a candidate can solve a problem given he has Google to bail him out. Don't take away Google and test me... One way of doing that is check for how good I am in my concepts and ideas... don't see if I remember a particular command... some bullshit alter system bla bla bla ... I can always fall back on Google for that. It's much like asking a cook to cut potatoes using his fingers when the knife is rotting on the shelf!

Well with these thoughts now going round and round and round in my mind, I was on the return journey back home and suddenly the falling fuel indicator caught my eyes. I stepped into an oil pump and asked the person there to pour Rs. 1000 fuel. And after asking him, I kept my eyes firmly fixed on the oil-meter just like Arjuna did on the eyes of a bird in that contest of archery. Another person emerged from behind and tried to get my attention... how much did you say, cash or card, diesel or petrol... and I refused to look at him! I kept looking at the oil meter, harder and stiffer now and without even blinking or a breath out of my nostrils, letting only my mouth shout out loud, "1000 Rs. Diesel, cash; Now show me ZERO in the meter and pour that goddamn Diesel." Having been on the receiving end of such petty chicanery for a long time now, I have learned the hard way and I am well versed with all their tricks. One of the tricks is when the second person succeeds in breaking your focus from the oil-meter the first person will start filling your tank. And you are not sure if the meter actually started from ZERO or say, Rs. THREE HUNDRED. That depends on the previous customer’s purchase… if he had purchased Rs. 300 then the meter would start from 300. And you are taken in for a ride!!!! Big time! But right then they stood no chance to fool me! It fuelled my ego, along with my car, and I relish the fact that they can’t cheat me. Now it might be that the second person was not trying to deviate my attention but he was asking those questions genuinely. But who cares? If he is a victim of his counterpart in some other gas-station then let that be it! That’s not my headache!

As I stepped out of the gas station, I started wondering, “Lack of honesty, deception and cheating in all corners of life, at every time! And how much are we going to guard against this… and what is the limit! Where is the end? I remember my father once told that if you give a shopkeeper a big note and he returns you the changes… don’t count in front of him. That’s an insult on his face… a message passed out on to him that you don’t trust him. Very true, my dear father! But I don’t really know how that can be feasible in today’s murky society ” Just a few days back when I was rummaging through the sports rack for Table Tennis balls in some mega mall, I was astonished to find that there were low quality balls inside covers of expensive balls. The covers being sealed, I had to open each one and check… but this infuriated the shop-attendant and he warned me against opening the packets. When I showed him the discrepancy he was mum.

I returned home rather tired and emotionally drained. I was tired of fighting against wrong-doers… tired of preventing others from cheating me… tired of raising my voice and objecting whenever I found any inconsistency. Later in the night I stumbled upon a wonderful blog by Subroto Bagchi. Among other valuable lessons, what touched me the most in this blog is an incident which he narrates from his childhood. His Father had a Government Jeep, but he would not use that to go to office. He would also not use the jeep for his personal family trips. He would maintain, “The jeep is Government Property, and it would only be used for important official works.” Such level of integrity! I was touched and it provided me some important answers.

In this moment of silence and meditation, I understood that Subroto Bagchi has risen to the pinnacle of corporate success… he is a successful author… a revered personality! His ascendance was not an accident or an act of fluke, but an outcome of the seeds of honesty sown in his childhood by his parents. And he has results to show and back all the principles that he speaks or writes about. He is definitely an inspiration!

I don’t believe anyone… any Tom, Dick or Harry… giving lip service. That’s why I don’t visit the spiritual gurus, who sit there all day long, doing nothing, and dish out long lectures for others to follow. I simply hate them! They don’t have any contribution towards society. They thrive on another branch of the species, Homo-Sapiens… the spineless, suave, docile and gullible lot… Yes, they are not even humans, but some degraded derivative! Because humans have brains! If they had brains then we would never borne this huge mass of spiritual as****s who are worse than parasites on animal hides.

Coming back to my thoughts on honesty and integrity again… these basic principles build a strong base on which the whole life of a person and his accomplishments can rest. Weak base means the whole structure will collapse. And that’s true for small businesses like running a xerox-shop or multi-million organizations or even a petty part-time job in petrol pump. Narayan Murthy had it in him… and so he could infuse that iron-like integrity in his Organization and that enabled the tall buildings of Infosys  stand upright, high and handsome and with mighty pride. That is how a brand was built. Some other big and small companies collapsed because they were infested with duplicity, illegal practice and lack of transparency.

Bypassing this basic purport and at the same time succeeding is impossible. In other words, there is no substitute for honesty! Go through it, or get lost!

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Great write-up Dipesh! I'm a fan of this big essay format myself. It's an art to be able to put all the thoughts in a convincing manner with proper transition and keeping the reader's attention at the same time.
About the content itself, yes corruption and dishonesty is rooted deep in India. You can come up with fresh content on just corruption alone that could fill up 100 more blog posts. But that will change very little of the things. The best we can do is to internalize the lessons we learn from the world and 'be the change that we want to see in the world'.