Friday, June 19, 2020

The age of the Sociopath

An Active Centre | This swirling mass of celestial gas, dust… | Flickr

Imagine an egoist whose only mission in life is to be successful. Super successful. Lots of money and power. All his actions are taken to serve that very purpose. That is the sole reason of his existence. No right or wrong – everything that furthers his self-interest is right. People are resources and hence expendable in the journey. So are relationships. Moral choices are also easy to make using the same rules – whatever that helps you get closer to your goal. Everything is at stake to achieve the goal. Whosoever suffers in the process is collateral damage. He is the one who wants all the success at any cost without any thought about the society. It is a pretty disturbing personality and I would recommend such a person to take help to get over the condition. I am sure most of us will avoid such a person professionally, socially and any other ally (pun intended).    

Now replace the person in the above with a corporate.

Read the above again, for better effect.

As it turns out, the very personal traits that will put off most people even when reading about it seem to be totally acceptable if it were to be exhibited by a corporate. There is also an added advantage - The corporate can exist forever. What we humans can only dream of - immortality.

You want to use all resources to become bigger without caring for other stakeholders or society in general? Sure.

You want to pay your employees/vendors/suppliers less and less and keep everything for yourself? Sure.

You want to use the flimsiest excuse to inflict pain on the very people who support you every day? Yes of course.

You pay lip service to important causes and exhibit good corporate citizenship only on paper? Sure we in a polluting industry but we will reduce our emissions by half by 2050. Applause.

The bigger issue is how we as a society react to this behavior. Stock prices go up when layoffs and salary cuts are announced. What sort of behavior are we encouraging? The current ESG and other matrices fall way short of what is required to be done. It is important for us as a society and consumers to reward the correct corporate behavior.  Because we ultimately get what we deserve. We should try to deserve better.

Is this the age of the sociopath? I hope not.

PS – the image is a result of google search for “centre of the universe”

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Of Promises and Commitments

The promise. Who comes to mind when we think of the promise? The mighty Bheeshma from Mahabharata? It is certainly grand to take a vow with Agni or the Gods as your witnesses. Or Salman who does not listen to anyone, including himself, once he makes a commitment.

Promise. Commitment. Vow. Pratigya definitely sounds grander!!

If you are a politician reading this – pls go no further. This does not apply to you as making tall promises (with no intention of keeping them) is what is expected of you. Also some consumer product companies – fairness in 4 weeks and healthier you in 1 month. Miracles do happen, but not these ones.

We make promises to ourselves, our nearest and dearest ones, extended social circle and (sometimes) to strangers. Sometimes to God as well. Personally and professionally. Some are public and some private – one on one with no witnesses. Which promises are easy to break? Those made to ourselves or others? Big ones or small ones? With the right intensions or otherwise? Should we change when times change – circumstances forcing us to wriggle out of our commitments. Do we promise easily and often? Do we believe readily when promised? Better to make a few and keep them rather than too many to keep track, and take one more to make fewer ones going ahead. Also better to pick up the pieces where we left instead of scrapping the whole thing.

We listen to stories of the old times when “zubaan ki keemat” (verbal commitment) was enough and no paperwork was required. Collateral in the form of “mooch ka baal” was AAA bond. Commitments were such that armies started marching when your rakhi sister sent an SOS for help. Ramayan germinated when a king promised his queen that he will fulfil her one wish, no questions asked.
Not anymore. A man of his word is a man out of place and time. Conditions apply everywhere. Paperwork has to be fool proof. All commas, full stops and italics in order. Even if everything is in place, God help you to get your agreements enforced in our legal system. Trust deficit because of too many broken promises? Or were they misunderstandings that the involved parties had a totally different take on what was agreed? That’s why the Tata group is extraordinary. They kept their promise to DoCoMo at a great financial cost. It takes great character to keep a promise, especially when the costs are unusually high.

Only those of us who are single can say that they have not made any commitments. Rest of us have our marital vows (not to be confused with woes) to stand by. But then, these are the days of the prenuptial agreement. You better document those promises. Darling – I will get the stars for you. Figuratively, pls don’t put that in the prenup.    

That brings me to my promise of writing fortnightly. My creativity (if you can call it that) was maintaining social distancing with me all this while. With opening up 1.0 in place, some of it has started coming back, some sparks are flying again. I hope I will be able to keep it going, this time around.

I promise!!