Monday, August 22, 2011

I Am Everything

Otherwise, talking about corruption is just ranting and harping. Such a tried and tired subject.
But once in a blue moon when someone moves Heaven and Earth to fight corruption (nothing less than that), like Anna Hazare is doing these days, then, that is the opportunity to express one's viewpoints on the matter without sounding boring and turning off one’s audience.

If you happen to be in the software profession, which every other fellow in Bangalore is today, then you see more than your fair share of ‘activity’.
Daily emails and forwards about
‘Who Anna Hazare is’,
‘What is Lokpal Bill’,
‘How Lokpal will help curb Corruption’,
‘Why Lokpal is being opposed’,
‘Add Anna Hazare on Facebook’,
‘Follow Anna Hazare on Twitter’
‘Sign up this form’
And sooooooo much more...

Oh! Make no mistake! These are not just talkers of hollow words. There is action too.
People left office in company sponsored cabs to a popular city square – Anand Rao Circle – and shouted slogans, waved banners and sang Vande Mataram.
And the next day employees of various IT companies participated in protest march from Cubbon Park to Freedom Park.

Very impressive.
Only there should have been some sort of filtering process to decide who qualified to participate in the activities and who did not.
For some of them, nay, most of them had no business to be part of any such initiatives.
They had no moral right to raise their voice against corruption.

If I were a caricaturist, I would have drawn a picture of ‘coal calling the pot black’.

Nobody thought there was a need for a filtering process. Like many of those things in life right there before our eyes for us to see, but we are blind to, this was one.

The attrition rate in Bangalore, in 2004, was 11 months. I don’t know about today’s rate.
That is, the average tenure of an IT employee in an organization was 11 months. In other words, on an average, an employee switched jobs every eleven months.
Why? ‘Better Opportunity’.
You start your career at 22 with 3 lakhs per annum. (That was the salary with which my dad retired after 30 years of dedicated service in Canara Bank). It was a lot of money.
3 lakhs per annum is way more than a 22 yr old today needs. But its not enough for him.
Even as he is training during probation, he gets a ‘better opportunity’ and resigns this one for a new job that will pay him 4 lakhs per annum.
It does not matter that the first employer gave him a job when there was recession and it doesn’t matter that he had made vows to all Gods in all temples for campus recruitment.

He completes 10 months there and then he gets this offer from a ‘reputed multinational’.
Manager requests him to finish the project he has undertaken but no, the notice period as agreed was 1 month. Why should he stay longer?
He will now get 6 lakhs per annum.
Just when he is on his way to his new office, first day, he gets a call from another employer who had interviewed him and now announces that he has been selected! What about compensation? 6.5 lakhs. Hmmm...
He takes a right turn at the signal instead of left.

He just completed 1 year in the company and he’s throwing a party! Yes. After all, 1 year is a long time these days!

He is now an expert at the game. He attends 3 interviews – A, B, C.
A offers him 8 lakhs. He takes the offer letter to B. For bargaining.
B has to now offer a little more than A.
8. 6 lakhs.
He takes that offer letter to C.
C offers him 9.2.
He takes that offer letter back to A.
A is desperate for resources. They can’t really afford it, but they offer him 9.5. That’s it? ‘Sorry sir, we can’t offer more’.

OK. He joins A.

When he was planning to quit A after 1.5 years, someone cautioned him “if you change too many jobs, it will not ‘look good’ on your resume and companies will hesitate to take you in future”.
So he decides to stay longer so his resume will show how ‘loyal’ he is.
So he refrains from quitting so it will be possible for him to quit someday (at all).

There is no dearth of glamorous sounding reasons to hide all this shameful treachery – technology roadmap, work culture, better infrastructure facilities, cricket club, swimming pool, company shares, flexible work timings...

One who gets 12 lakhs wants 16. He who gets 16 wants 20. And he who gets 20 wants 23 lakhs.
Is there an end to greed? When you earn 23 lakhs per annum, you surely intend to consume at that rate.
When you consume goods worth 22 lakhs in a year do you really how much you are consuming?
Do you realize the amount of resources you are devouring?
Do you know many people there are in this country and the total resources available to provide for all of them?

One flat and then 2.
Two cars, one splendour and one kinetic Honda all in just one family!

When you cannot curb the greed within you, what right have you to ask someone else to curb theirs?
For is it not greed that makes one corrupt?
You may not be legally corrupt, you may not be legally a criminal, but if you are greedy, are you not morally corrupt? Don’t you and that politician share the same greed?
Then what business have you got to ask that politician not to be corrupt, not to be greedy?

What are you prepared to do for this country? Would you travel by government bus twice a week? Once a week?
Would you stop after buying one house and not go on to buy 2?
Would you resist the temptation to change your mobile phone for a sexier model every year?
Would you stop eating chips and wafers like they needed no growing but dropped from the sky?
You wouldn’t. For all those email forwards of Vande Mataram and all those slogans and protest marches, you would not let go even the smallest of conveniences.

Greed is dormant in all people of all professions – teachers, lawyers, bankers, doctors, singers, actors.
But I think greed is most active in IT professionals today.
They are the best paid professionals in this country but there is none as greedy as them. None as hungry for more as they are.
And they are the ones sending most of these patriotic emails and fighting corruption on Facebook! They are the consumerists and they ask others to curb greed! Such a joke!

At the root of all social evil is reckless consumption and wastage.
At the root of the poison tree is reckless consumption and wastage.
You may pay monthly visits to old age homes, contribute to charity, (or if you are too busy, gift virtual trees and plants to each other on Facebook! ), swoon over an oh-so-helpless puppy that has hurt its leg and carry it to a vet and all and look good in your social circle, but if you continue to consume without any check and waste without a care, then you are merely clipping the twigs and leaves of the poison tree while watering its roots.

Someone at work described with a flourish, her visit to a nearby village and the urchins she had taught and the cricket she had played with them. The next day she dropped into a bucket of water, a new forty thousand rupee mobile phone she would no doubt have to replace soon! Such reckless wastage!
Do you realize the urchin in that village is who he is because you consumed such an expensive mobile phone? And do you realize his condition is going to get worse because you dropped it in a bucket of water?

All of us have different definitions of need and greed, what we must have, what we can do without and so all. Some people look at my pile of books and ask me jokingly if I am not causing trees to be cut down? I tell them, ‘I won’t buy a house, I won’t buy a car, I travel by bus and don’t go to shopping malls, so I can buy a few books without feeling guilty’.
Specifically what we will let go, will vary from person to person, but let go, we must; one thing or the other.
If we can watch our consumption pattern and wastage and gradually bring them down - cut this today, cut that tomorrow, we would be hurting the very roots of the poison tree. For sure.

And what we need in order to achieve that is the curbing of greed.
To curb greed, one small measure after another, progressively, should be part of the agenda of each and every one of us.
For all the problems that surround us – water shortage, power outage, narrow roads, traffic jam, robbery, murder, crime, inflation, terrorism, price hike - we hope for policies, laws and bills to solve them.
No politician, no government, no policy, no law and no Lokpal bill will be able to do anything if we individuals dont assume social responsibility. No environment will become greener no system cleaner and no society healthier if we continue to devour like pythons. Remember that at the root of all social, political, cultural, economic evils is reckless consumption and wastage by the INDIVUDIAL.

The solution to every problem truly, not just theoretically, but truly lies in ‘I’, the individual. Its right there before our eyes, a glaring fact. Don’t know how we miss it.

‘I’ AM EVERYTHING. Now that’s not narcissism.


Sachin Thombre said...

Rare and true insight into the psyche of today's youth. I too wholeheartedly believe that while deterrents are reqd, they are not sufficient unless there's a holistic change starting from me (I). So, while supporting Anna's movement is a great way to let the govt know that we will not tolerate corruption, its more imp to create awareness among youth to develop a personality that doesn't strive on greed, consumerism, selfishness, instant gratification etc. "I am the change that I want to see"

Rishi said...

Nice write up and beautiful ending especially considering that your blog was called Narcissist before.

This is a vicious circle. The part about attrition rate and more salary is so true and definitely many things are ethically wrong there. However in the remaining part I don't understand where one should stop, as many of it is considered as part of gaining prosperity in life. In a socialistic/Communist society may be yes but then human behaviour has proven time and again that those kind of socities are utopian.

I do see a point here but little more idealism than practical. Everyone is not the same but not necessarily mentally corrupt or bad.


Ranj said...

But I am impressed by my fellow countrymen...An old, humble man with a simple speech could actually trigger emotions in people to the extent they take time out of their schedule and they actually care...I always thought no one cared...the few voices here and there that didnt harmonize with the routine rhythm was always lost on the people...You realize, people want to do something...And no reports of violence in such a turbulent environment for 11 days...Ahimsa being followed by the book..."I" AM very proud...Another matter, that I think the bill is naive, ridiculous, undemocratic and if passed will be like the Bangalore Lokayukta bill that has 56000 pending cases to date and in another year we will have a bad law to deal with....

Sowmya said...

Thank you Sachin for visiting.

Curbing greed is a necessity in any civilized human society, not just in s Socialistic, Communistic society!
Thats another thing.
Using labels like 'socialism', 'communism', 'idealism' and utopianism'... they colour usieful innocent ideas and concepts and make people denounce them at once... which we should avoid.

Like I said, lets not rely upon laws to take care of us, lets behave responsibly and render laws redundant...

By the way, those participating in these demonstrations were having the time of their life. My colleague was in the Ramlila Maidan last week. There was free food, fruits, meals, chocolates and channa being distributed. There was the feel good factor about being 'involved in a movement'. And when my colleague fished in his pocket for his Blackberry to take pictures, he realized that he had lost it. One of those conscientious men fighting coruption had stolen his mobile!

Thiagarajan R said...


This is brilliant stuff.I do see little bit of Mohandas Gandhi in you-:)