December 10, 2016
The recent incident of an ATM money transport vehicle driver fleeing alongwith the van containing the moolah, is just another example of a man’s character gone awry. Simply speaking he lacked integrity. Surely, the man might have been recruited after ascertaining his honesty and good character. But he didn’t have the strength of character to not lose self-control and give in to temptation and make the most of the opportunity, however wrong he was in doing so.
Yet, how often are character, conduct and soft skills considered as important as, if not more than, the core competencies required of a candidate for a job? For, we have ample examples of high level executives making away with information and documents at their disposal, without anyone suspecting them.
A manager in a corporate came to his senior and confessed something serious that happened the earlier evening – his toddler had (playfully) spilled water into his laptop. That his reporting manager took him to task would be an understatement because the junior got a huge mouthful about being careless about the company asset, and a bitter reprimand to be more careful next time (as though he asked his child to spill water). Months later, the same executive, the senior, lost his laptop because of sheer carelessness – he left his car window open when he entered a retail shop near home. Coming back, he saw that the gadget had been flicked by someone. An FIR was filed with the police but it is anyone’s guess that the laptop could not be found. The incident smacked of a casual attitude which acted against the interests of the company, as the laptop apart from being pricy itself, contained several confidential documents privy only to the executive, but the executive didn’t bother to make good the loss; instead he got a new laptop sooner than expected. A case of integrity taking a backseat.
Integrity as a value has to be introduced to a child soon as it learns to grasp and draw things to itself. When a child takes something from another while playing, it is for the parent or guardian to say that it is wrong and take it back, unless the other is willing to part with it. Here the cost of the goods or item is not as important as the fact that is taken away without the owner’s knowledge or agreement. Going further, the child may get toys, pencils and such stuff from classmates or others in the crèche or class, and again it is for the near adults to take corrective action. This and this alone, will drive the lesson of integrity – of not taking or keeping or using for ourselves wrongly, what is not ours – into the mind of the growing child.
Even as we are progressing into a tech-savvy civilisation where parents feel incomplete if their wards are not into a plethora of classes to learn a variety of things however irrelevant they may be to the current lifestyle, they seldom spend even a fraction of the same time to speak about the importance of living justly. Worse, most don’t even think it is important to do so, with the result that the children grow up believing that values and principles are best left to moral books and can be twisted to suit their convenience.
During a recent celebration of a national event in an apartment complex, a boy was given a cash award for scoring the highest in that colony. Soon it turned out that the convenor had missed out a girl who had scored higher than the boy, with the result that she became the highest scorer. To tackle the sticky situation, the association decided to award the girl also with the same cash prize, without taking back what was given to the boy. Surprisingly, neither the parents of the boy nor the boy himself paid up the prize money that he was not eligible for in the first place. It was a wonderful opportunity for the parents to impart the meaning of integrity to their son, but sadly they let it go.
I for Integrity
Children going to undesirable lengths and adopting unfair means to get good marks, buying attendance, employees being absent to office but not availing leave, fake medical claims, tax evasion with false receipts – all are just a few examples of integrity forgotten for good.
It is here that each one of us has a role to play – I have to wear integrity on my sleeve in my day to day interactions, be it amongst family members, in the neighbourhood, at the workplace or in a bigger forum – I have to practice integrity in whatever I do, each day.
Only when I take integrity as my responsibility, I can influence others to follow suit. The righteous parent can be an example for his children, the teacher to her students, the boss to his team, the head of the Company to her employees and the Head of the State to his countrymen, because actions do speak louder than words.
The motto therefore is, I for Integrity, every time and everywhere.
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