Monday, February 21, 2011

A mail to the prof on the new ethics workshop

We had an ethics workshop begun this past Saturday. The first session was conducted by the prof who is overseeing the entire workshop. It was a nice enough lecture on sustainable development, but throughout an unease had me in grips, which I vented when I returned to my room and drafted this mail:

Dear Professor XXXXX

This is Vikram Johari. I am a student of Section B, PGP-I and attended the first ethics class conducted by you on Saturday. There are a few points I wish to raise. I hope you would consider them in the spirit in which I make them and not penalize me for raising these concerns.

There is general disinterest in ethics sessions because they seemingly don’t add “value” to the business education that we receive here. I personally feel that business is all about bending the rules and most companies that are leaders today would not have reached that position had it not been for bending the rules of the game. What we celebrate as leadership success often involves shady transactions and sordid deals. Here are a few examples:

1. 1. The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group is one of India’s biggest corporate houses. Yet, their leader was questioned by the CBI early this week in relation to the 2G spectrum scam. Would any of us miss a chance to work at an ADAG firm because of this? I don’t think so.

2. 2. Vedanta, a global steel giant, has been in the news for not considering the legitimate rights of the tribals in the Niyamgiri area of Orissa. But I am sure it would be given Day 1 status if it ever came to campus for placements.

3. 3. Land acquisition has become a major issue in industrial growth these days. We hail Gujarat for offering Sanand to Tata Nano and blame Mamta Banerjee for scuttling growth in Singur. But there are compelling reasons for the poor not wanting to part with their land. But in India’s growth story, these are brushed aside.

I can cite many such instances. My basic point is this: We can have young, enthusiastic students attend innumerable sessions on ethics and sustainable development and feel good about changing the world. But these measures will have little relevance so long we live in a world where corporate competition and greed often cross the boundaries of ethical behavior, something which is couched as the “demand of growth” and which we are supposed to follow in our zeal for realizing a new India. Most of us would end up working for a company that has had skeletons of some sort in its ethical closet. Perhaps we just live in an imperfect world. Maybe this new India has little place for textbook ethics.

A humble request therefore to discontinue these sessions, or at least, not make them mandatory.


Vikram Johari


Halley said...

Any reply from the professor?
Nice thoughts

Vikram Johri said...

Hey, good to see you here. You have a great blog going, very interesting. Very readable!

I am writing a fresh post on what the prof wrote and my final comments on the ethics workshop. Check that out.