Monday, March 14, 2011

Ten Different Perspectives and a Dog

“Raj was caught red handed accepting a bribe by the anti-corruption bureau, in a raid led by its chief Madan. During the investigation, it was revealed that Raj had been driven to the wall in terms of his financial necessities.  He had a mountain of overdue loans for money he had borrowed for his children’s higher education, growing medical expenses essential for the treatment of his ill parent’s failing health and his high flyer lifestyle. Raj was a bright student in school, had a normal upbringing and had been working for over twenty years now, growing well professionally in that time span. Raj had never ever lied in his life, never exhibited any violent tendencies or had any other vices. He was the head of one united and happy family – a wife, a daughter, a son, both his parents and a pet dog. News about Raj’s arrest spread like wild fire amongst the business community and society at large. His arrest and imminent conviction was a foregone conclusion, given the amount of direct evidence and the scale of fraud, besides Raj being the President of his group of companies.”
This case-study was presented by an aged professor Mina to a distinguished audience. Mina was from the university department of social sciences and in the midst of a classroom, filled with about a dozen students. Students, selected from a country-wide contest, which had attracted over ten thousand applicants. The final ten students selected, were from varied sections of society - A Farmer, A Lawyer, A Royal, A Teacher, A Doctor, A Musician, A Painter, A Politician, A Student, and A Soldier. The goal of this case-study was to gain a rich perspective on values existing within the society. Each of the students was required to express his perspective on the case study, within a paragraph of a maximum ten sentences, in thirty minutes.
These are the different perspectives that Mina received after thirty minutes, in random order.
A Soldier’s perspective
I come from a very poor family. Our village of seventy odd families have a tradition of contributing at least one soldier per family to the armed forces. Each family feels very proud to have the best amongst their children join the armed forces of our nation, where armed forces service is entirely voluntary. While our village is self-sufficient, the self-sufficiency is achieved only due to the poverty of basic needs and wants. There is no electric power supply in our village for over twenty hours in a day, there is one primary school and one well that is dry for at least six months in a year. In that context, my life as a soldier is an unaffordable luxury that I was lucky enough to be chosen to live with. In the last ten years, thirty one families have had at least one member from their family who has died in combat and it is something that all of us are proud of. Never once in our village has any family ever been involved in bribing or stealing anyone else’s money. I am not able to comprehend why someone would do such a thing. Isn’t he afraid of God?
A Student’s perspective
It is a pity that Raj had to fall from grace due to this one aberration forced on him due to the circumstances mentioned. I am aware that the amount of money it costs today to complete a good education is fairly high. My own education is now partly funded by the scholarship that I received, and from a student loan I would be required to pay back within three years of getting a job. My father and uncle have both had to sign as guarantors. A similar situation will arise in two years time, when my younger brother too goes to college. Considering the circumstances, I feel that Raj, being a human being, must be spared of punishment, and let off with a warning. At worst, maybe his promotion can be put off by another one or two years!
A Farmers perspective
These white collar people are all just like that. They work in plush offices, drive around in expensive cars, dine and wine in hotels and fly around the world with their families. They should be made to toil in the farm under the sun for just one month and that will bring them all back to their senses. They are all jealous that farmers in this country do not have to pay any tax on income. However, they are insensitive to the magnitude of hardships, uncertainty and risks that farmers have to face, every season. So what if Raj had never lied or done anything illegal ever before. Actually, I find this extremely hard to believe. I am sure he would have done that more than once, but this must be the first time he has been caught. Irrespective, I have no sympathy for him. Justice must apply to all as per rules and let his punishment be a the price that he and his family and generations to come pay for their sins.
A Teachers perspective
Punishment is only as good as the amount of healing it achieves to the body, mind and soul. I empathize with Raj and am inclined to have his situation classified more as a victim, and less as a convict. A teacher comes across hundreds of students and situations where acts of indiscretions, are well qualified to be classified under various sections of the penal code. However, we rarely have a situation where such acts are reported and taken forward in the domain of crime, law and justice. On most occasions, we make sure that we differentiate the crime from the criminal and try to heal the criminal within by making him accept the guilt of his crime and mend his ways using positive and constructive punishments, executed within the campus and in good healthy spirit. Unfortunately,  Raj is a mature adult, and not a student. In spite of all the healthy past, I am afraid that we have to be fair to the rules and regulations of the society at large and not make an exception. I think Raj and his family should have faith in the justice system, face the trial and the punishment bravely and courageously, so that they all emerge stronger and wiser from this experience and learning. I also feel that somewhere in Raj’s upbringing, his values were not nurtured adequately and hence got diluted over a period of time. Hope that this incident will serve as something for him and his parents to reflect upon and make a values course correction, an absolute necessity for Raj.
A Musicians Perspective
Raj’s life and situation seems like that of a guitar with over stretched, over tightened strings. It was just a matter of time before one of the strings snapped! One has to remember that life, like music is not a collection of sound and notes to be played with a bunch of instruments.  Harmony of passion and melody is essential. This can be achieved only through a life time of devotion, dedication, commitment and sheer discipline of regular practise. All “short cuts” that seem attractive and apparently successful, do not reveal the compromise of conscience and values, they effect, leading to a success that is glamorous, but noisy and out of harmony. I feel that Raj must take this incident as something to learn from, release the stretch from his life strings to suitable levels and then play the tunes of his life in harmony with his mind and soul. Raj should look as this incident as a minor hitch in his glorious life tune and take it in his stride. His family should gather strength and support Raj to overcome this hiccup in his life and they emerge from it as a stronger, happier family.
A Lawyers Perspective
Corruption and bribery cases are pretty rampant and increasing year after year. Most that get reported, eventually take a lot of time to reach conviction at the end of a tardy judicial process. The conviction rates too are fairly low. Despite conviction, the penalty and punishment too is not something that serves as a deterrent for others to fear. In the midst of all this, the person who actually commits the offense is often shameless and soulless and manages to find a way around or a way through the system to make a mockery of the complainant and justice as a whole. There have been instances when even supreme judges too have amassed wealth and property using unfair means. Raj’s case is therefore making the news not because of the crime or bribe involved. It is just that Raj happens to be a part of a business group that has been largely seen as supporters of the opposition coalition. His arrest and the accompanying negative publicity will provide the ruling coalition with the much needed ammunition to fight back the relentless opposition assault of corruption and inept governance. In my perspective, this case will just be another pound of flesh traded amidst the give and take barter, amongst the political class.
A Politicians perspective  
It is really very sad that when the nation is facing challenges of poverty, illiteracy, inflation, and terror; we have black sheep like Raj spreading like a cancer of fraud and corruption within our society. In the last couple of years we have had lengthy discussions within our party forum as well as at the government and several of its sub-committees on controlling and eliminating this menace of corruption. I have myself aggressively spear headed several discussions and protests for formulating tough anti-corruption laws and enforcement agencies. Raj’s case will become one more strong argument in favour of stringent legislation against corruption. I also take this opportunity to bring to the notice of our respected members of the opposition coalition that Raj was not a politician and they should stop disrupting governance by accusing us of corruption, all the time. I am sure that law will take its own course and justice will be done. One more thing, despite what Raj has done; I am not too sure why his family, especially his wife should suffer. If there is any assistance that she needs to take care of the children or the elderly within the family, on humanitarian grounds, I will certainly not hesitate to reach out and assist.
 A Doctor’s perspective
I am a part of a noble profession where we take an oath of service for humanity and human health. I am not too sure why one of the reason’s cited as the cause of Raj’s financial need to go this extreme of seeking a bribe, was the enormous expenses towards his parents ill health. Executives like Raj generally have their medical expenses covered under insurance. Alternatively, whatever the perception, good affordable medical care is certainly available in many public hospitals, across the city Raj lives in. The human mind is a piece of divine creation that is little understood even within the medical fraternity. So while what Raj did might legally fall into the category of crime, from a medical perspective, these are things that can happen and be driven by many unseen chemical and biological changes too that get triggered by stress and life styles. Unfortunately, Raj might not be able to get a consideration on these grounds, owing to the archaic laws that exist in our country. If there is anything that I could do for his ailing parents, that is certainly an area where I can assist.
A Royal’s perspective
I am the tenth descendant of the Royal family of Zarwa. My late grandfather used to narrate stories to me about how crime and corruption were punished a couple of centuries ago. Anyone found to be guilty used to be either beheaded or thrown off the mountain cliff, without pardon or exception. It was during my grandfather’s regime as a ruler of Zarwa, that he abolished the death penalty. He faced stiff opposition then, but cajoled and convinced his way through by getting a majority of people’s opinion on his side. However, despite that the punishment for a crime of corruption and bribery was pretty severe and unpardonable. All that changed when my father handed over his kingdom to the nation, during the uprising. Today, as a royal, I have very little say in terms of determining the law of the land. As a member of the Royal family, I strongly deplore Raj for doing what he did and expect him to face a stringent punishment. As for his family, while my sympathy and heart goes out for them, I can only tell them this that tough times do not last, tough people do!
A Painters perspective
There are times when despite your baggage of excellent training, established work experience and efforts, a particular painting just goes awry and does not reflect the picture in your mind, truthfully on the canvas. Raj would probably have imagined and painted a picture where all the dark spots and stresses related to money would get wiped out using the white brush of bribe. Unfortunately, it only ended up spreading the little dark spots into one large one – that has now spoiled his painting of life, entirely. In such times, there is no point in trying to apply a whitener and correct the canvas. You need to let go, dump the damaged canvas and start afresh. Letting go is a very difficult thing, especially given the baggage you carry. However once you let go and start afresh, an array of possibilities open up. They sometimes turn around your life’s voyage into the most beautiful painting that even you would never have imagined could be painted on your new canvas. Raj must let go and start afresh. Hope his family will support Raj.
After having read all these perspectives, Professor Mina thought about it. He noticed that all the ten respondents had shared their perspectives, based on their values and experiences, not only about Raj and corruption, but also his family. However, no one seemed to have commented or spared a thought for the pet dog! From a different perspective - ‘Dog’ spelt the other way round, reads ‘God’. Mina remembered the saying, “every dog has his day” and hoped that people in society would think the other way round, one day, some day in their lives, and look at things from a different perspective, than what was obvious to them.

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