Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Recharge moral bearings as the followers of Mahatma Gandhi

Vulgar is as vulgar does Salman Khursheed Indian Express, Monday 12 October, 2009 The recent debate regarding unacceptably high corporate salaries has been engaging as well as somewhat surprising. It is therefore important that the context be understood...
There is one last argument that clever populists throw at politicians: physician, heal thyself! There is talk about bungalows in Lutyens’ Delhi, unlimited phone calls, cars and allowances, so what if the salaries are modest.
I can only suggest please come and be our guests for a week; put up with the hundreds of petitioners for jobs and other help; answer our phone which starts to ring at 5am and does not stop till well past midnight; spend some days in our constituencies and at the same time try to keep yourself from not uttering a single word that the press can turn into a story. Finally just think that whatever we have, the good and the bad, is often for a fleeting moment (short years) and then a tough election makes the rest of the life that is left pretty ugly!
Meanwhile find the money it takes to nurse a constituency and every election, including the one clearly lost before the campaign begins. We accept democracy so why should you not even want to talk about it? Talking never did anyoneany harm and then, as Amartya Sen says, we are argumentative indeed.
Meanwhile it is important to note that the recent talk of austerity in the party is not a political sham or necessarily about a few weeks or months of “abstaining from felicity” in the words of King Lear, but an honest exercise to recharge our moral bearings as the followers of Mahatma Gandhi. Not everything we sacrifice will change the world but it will change us, most certainly. If we do change, those who question our public morality will have to stop using that as an alibi for not doing the right thing themselves. One should not resort to populism to accuse another of populism.
Meanwhile just as a few black sheep should not tarnish the entire herd; the many enlightened corporates should not allow a few myopic or less-informed colleagues to speak for the entire fellowship. Even as the industry associations ask what the country can do for you, it will be nice to know what we together can do for those of our compatriots who have no voice in the money market but do have a place in the market of ideas and dreams. Ultimately these are also the people who will add to national savings and hopefully direct them to the capital market, as corporate India and the aam aadmi collaborate. The writer is a Union minister.

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