JAGDISH BALI, OPINIONMAKERS@The Hush Post:Though SatyamevaJayateNanritam – truth alone triumphs, not falsehood – are the divine words accepted as the national motto of our country, yet on ethical scale, most of us would perhaps never improve when it comes to practising what we preach. Night vision CCTV cameras are needed to spy us while eating, sleeping, laughing, and weeping, in examination halls, at bus stops, at railway stations, in restaurants. If we are to go by what senior journalists did while accompanying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to London one would be compelled to use the logic that CCTV should be installed in the toilets too.
Some days back, I was surprised when I stumbled upon a news story narrating how some senior journalists from West Bengal were caught on CCTV flicking silver spoons from a luxury hotel in London. There to cover the WB chief minister’s visit, these scribes, whom we ascribe as ‘fourth estate,’ might have found the silver cutlery more delectable than the luxury food being served to them. One of them was so unscrupulous that he stuffed the spoons flicked by him into other’s bag so that the other was blamed if at all caught. However, he was caught on camera while practising his skill and fined.
The incident reminded me one of the incidents that took place when I was doing my Bachelor Degree at Govt. College, Shimla. Once while looking for some books among the stacks of books at the Minerva Book House on the mall, I saw a young salesman moving his eyebrows quickly twice and thrice to the customer who was holding a thick Oxford Dictionary in his hands. The salesman then signalled to the customer to go out. After a few minutes, camouflaging the same dictionary under the jacket, the salesman sneaked out of the shop and followed the way towards the Shere Punjab. Smelling a rat, I also followed him. Walking a distance of about 100 feet, the salesman turned down the stairs to the Middle Bazaar. There he found the customer waiting for him. The customer gave him two currency notes – one hundred rupee note and one fifty rupee note. So the customer got the dictionary with printed price of Rs 450 for Rs 150. The customer saved 300 rupees and the salesman earned 150 rupees to the total loss to the owner.
Though shameful both the incidents are, there are no less who don’t feel any prick of scruple because they are living in the country where preaching in the day and thieving in the dark has become a way of life than an oddity or exception. The scribes at luxury hotel London might have thought that they were not under any scanner or they might have thought of flicking the spoons in such a way as might not be caught by the angular eyes of the camera. Also, the salesman and the customer at the Minerva might have thought that nobody was observing them. Whatever they might have thought, but it raises a question – is conscience a big nothing? Is honesty and integrity a matter of advertisement? Do we always need CCTV to spy us?
This shows how snobbish most of us are outwardly and how deeply dirty the intentions are! There are no less snobs, who like an advertising agent, preach honesty in high flown words and feel no qualm changing their stance when the time comes for real execution. If your ear hears one thing and your eyes see another, believe there is something fishy. Such people will be scared if they see in the mirror not their face, but their character.
Honesty cannot be a question of convenience. You can’t rob Peter to pay Harry and say you are honest. Follow through on the words you say as Lewis Cass said: “People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.” We need to learn that character is what we do in the dark. Honesty, no doubt, is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. It is the moral compass to measure the strength of one’s character. Honesty pays rewards in its own way – the greatest being a sound sleep.