Kumar is an efficient and dedicated officer in a nationalised bank. He is recognised at national level for his contribution to rural development. He has refused promotions that would move him away from his work in villages. He spends part of his income for rural development. When discussing the importance of solid waste segregation by the citizens of Bangalore, his opinion was unexpected. He explained how inconvenient it is for a citizen to segregate garbage at source and argued that BBMP should handle it as appropriate after collecting. I respect Kumar as before. I won’t say that he is an irresponsible citizen for one of his opinions. Probably, he did not think on this matter.
Many good people think differently from us on matters we give great importance. We are fired with our individual ideals. Others need not be as exited and committed like us for our causes, but would have their own ideals that we don’t find as noble. Some have zero tolerance for errors in a language, some emphasise on etiquettes, some respect highly qualified people and some respect wealth, power or position. Then, we have people committed to save animals, trees, lakes, and the planet. We “fight” for child welfare, education, women’s position, some religious beliefs and practices …
Each person is right in his and her conviction. We cannot justify a statement “this is the only way it will work and this is the only approach.” In every situation there are several possible actions. If the actions are driven by conviction, they would bear results. With conviction, we would change course and correct ourselves as we progress.
Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?
I’ve been down to London to visit the Queen.
Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you do there?
I frightened a little mouse, under her chair.
Pussy cat can see the little mouse under the throne, not distracted by the pomp of queen’s court.
We face a different situation with lack of conviction.
Election Commission of India has given a directive to Chief Electoral Officers of states to take help of education institutes and 12 other kinds of social organisations to improve voter registration. This is a good approach. President of an education society which runs more than a dozen colleges in Karnataka is well known to me. With full conviction, I requested his support to conduct voter registration campaign in his institutes. He surprised me by denying help as there is a ‘possibility’ of annoying someone in power. The president did not want his institutes to distract from main academic activities. Yes, he wants to teach morals, ethics, civic sense, democratic duties and responsibilities, etc. Alumni of his institutes doing well in politics and government administration are often on dais during important functions of institutes under the society. But, in education institutes he finds no meaning beyond classroom lectures, exams and placements of graduating students.
Principal of a college refuses leave to his staff because “there could be inspection any time,” which is ever true. Later he tells another teacher that he won’t mind if the person on leave came late, but not to quote the principal. “Don’t quote me” is a common non-committal statement. When it comes from people in positions of responsibility, it hurts the organisation. Why do people hesitate in taking a stand? If a parent tells his or her child “Don’t quote me; don’t tell the teacher that I told you so …” how do we expect the child to grow with courage?
Political parties give outside support and confuse governance. They don’t want to share blames, but want advantages of situations.
There are many who give secret support for some causes; keeping the act secret, scared of antagonising other parties. India secretly took help from Israel, but openly condemned that nation because we make a show of supporting the Arab.
As we focus more on convenience, our convictions dilute and our courage wanes.