Values, Ethics, Society and Mythology

Early this year, I participated in a workshop conducted by a NGO called Foundation for Restoration of Nations Values, and met the metro-man, Dr. E. Sreedharan — the man behind the major metro train projects in India. I found few of the discussed ideas to be overlapping with my own thoughts. 

As we talk about values and ethics, and point out to the wrongs in system; and also talk about restoration of the good that we had in our culture, I try analysing what went wrong and even before that, what was good. 

I think of a few mythological stories where we talk about Gods, I notice that even in that time the focus used to be on performance. For example, in hindu mythology, where the king of devtas, Indra was selected purely based on his good deeds; and if at any point of time another man, who was able to outperform, Indra would replace him from the position of Indra. In simple words, Indra was the designation given to the best man on the earth to supervise the arrangements needed to run the planet. 

And if we talk about the times of now, we see that in todays time also we talk about performance based positioning of system; however, the metric to find the best man on this earth is not so clearly acceptable by all. 

Is it because of growing population? 

Not sure if I can comment on it without sufficient research as in our mythological stories there is a mention of 64 crores devi and devtas; hence, surely that time also there would have been a significant population to come up with this number. 

Hence the issue can be articulated as we do not have a clear metric to find the best man on the earth; a few people may go unnoticed and a few other, driven by their ambitions, use wrong methods also to come to top in their respective fields — and that challenges values and ethics, and leaves a window for allowing wrong happenings. 

Talking about morals and ethics, we can always link it with education and upbringing. If we talk about education, schools blame parents for not being responsible. And as we talk about parenting, the other thing that prominently gets noticed is women coming out to work, leaving none responsible for right upbringing of the child. And we also start talking other related social issues.

I think more deeply, and without making it a women or men issue — lets just talk about the social structure — than at one end we have unemployment problem, on the other we are also lacking rights skills to do many tasks. At one end we waste trained resources (say women after their childbirth) and on the other we ask people to work beyond their normal possibilities. 

It just points out to that we are not linking various parameters together. We are not giving right education or skills training to people so that all can be of some use. And we are not doing a balanced distribution of load that in turn creates issues like stress, imbalance in family, difficult relationships, and poor parenting, etc. 

We are leaving things to individual strength and morals, but we are forgetting that not everyone is a leader; and we do need place for leaders to lead; and we also need a right system for everyone else — for right leaders to perform. As a result we need an environment for everyone to be able to LIVE, along with adding their bit to social, and evolutionary betterment that they do as part of their work. 

Let me emphasise here that I do not advocate blind equality; but I advocate right placement, right utilisation and right caring for all men, women, kids and elderly people in our society

Basically what I am saying is that we need a social reform to preserve families and specially the next generation that we give birth to. 

We all deserve to live a healthy life, have healthy relationship, and we need time for that — and wrong fitment of terms like globalisation, digitisation, openness towards possibilities, etc., is killing a possibilities of the same, and resulting in thinning of moral values and ethics

As I think of possibilities available for everyone, I am reminded of this conversation from one of the TV programs based on the story of Mahabharata, where Karna says that ever since he was a child he is finding his purpose. He added that if he tried adopting to what his father did, he felt misfit, and if he tried doing things based on his abilities and instinct, he had issues related to social acceptance. So figuring out what he’s doing and if its right and good for him and as well as society, and being confident about the same has been a challenge for him. He also said that the life for princes was easier as they knew what they are meant to be when they grow up — like they know that they have to rule and they just have to learn skills to do so; while the same was not true for him. So he always had two things to work on — 1. Learning skills and abilities, 2. Making everyone including himself convinced about the same. 

And if I think deeply of this context and conversation; then I realise that on the name of removing caste system, entrepreneurship and possibilities, etc., we are putting everyone to this great stress of figuring out their purposes of life — even in their 40’s people are driven by their identity crisis — and as a result, they are lacking in the aspect of giving back to society, and to other associated people. 

As I say so, I do not advocate suppressing abilities and possibilities; but I question who is responsible for creating that system where people understand and be guided for bringing out the best in them. Is it the responsibility of government or corporates or individual people — and I doubt that any one body is fully focusing on it or has the full power and ability to make appropriate changes. 

Next, lets also talk about competition, where we know we can't just handle too many competing (beta) products; we should encourage collaboration for making better (alpha) products fast. Question is how to enable it?

I also see conflicts in policies, at one end we need people to travel (and even relocate) and find work opportunities — both as leaders and as labourers — on the other end, we talk about house for everyone ... and I think that for a rich, or a person with average earning it’s still easy to buy a new house in a new place and relocate as family; but what about poor? 

With my limited understanding, I think of PM’s ‘house for all’ scheme, and question if they all (poorest of all) keep going to new places with families to work as labours on various projects, for earning their livelihood, who would live in their house? And if men of the family goes somewhere to earn money and family stays back at home — what is the meaning of family? 

I also question some of the pension schemes — where people get just a few hundred rupees — which is good for nothing in todays world — and I think why can't we use the same money to build a few vocational training houses where these people work, and earn money, and get place to stay, and very subsidised food to eat for the duration that they work there. Government can also build a few old-age homes for such people where they can stay (if no other option) post retirement — where retirement is based on abilities and not age — and be taken care of. 

I think people should have a choice of taking money and investing in their own business and lives, or becoming part of the above detailed system and be participating towards a local cause and be able to live happily with dignity. 

Let me also highlight that while writing my book TURNING POINTS of uncommon people, I realized that many people leave their job and become entrepreneur, as they were not able to find happiness or get their certain health or family related needs met along with heir jobs. 

And as per discussions in various startup forums, we have data pointing toward startup success rate is to be around 1%, to me it just points to that people go to do business as a fashion or because of the difficulties associated with their work, but they really do not have the ability to do a big business. To such people, if we provide a better friendly conditions at work, will they not outperform? 

Taking women empowerment issues also into consideration, the solution is not pushing women to step out to work — but for making policies and also rightly implementing them where men and women, both work for lesser time and also take care of their well-being and families, etc., in a unified manner. 

This proposed solution doesn’t reduce the total work time of trained population class; but it brings more happiness in a social context — and when people are happy, and not generally troubled, they would be more ethical.

PS: This article is part of my book "I Feel... I Think... ~ Pages from My Diary" ... You may buy the book @