ONLY LEADERSHIP IS NOT ENOUGH

Leadership is one of the most essential facets of human life. Each one of us has an enormous potential within oneself to become a great leader. The only difference between an ordinary leader and a great leader is that latter is always morally conscious. Both Gandhi and Hitler were leaders but the only difference between them was that Gandhi was a moral leader whereas Hitler was an oppressive dictator. The point of departure for an individual, from being a leader to a great leader, emerges only when we appreciate the moral aspect of our inherent leadership quality. In times of moral dilemma only the truest of leaders stand firm and make a morally correct decision. Leadership devoid of morality is similar to sun without sunshine. Even Andrew Carnegie believed that the poor produce greater moral leaders than the rich as they are taught better work ethics. The world has always remembered leaders but it has embraced and cherished only its moral leaders. Moral leadership, according to me, is making the morally correct decisions at all times irrespective of the consequences and thereby setting an example for humanity as a whole. To understand the idea of moral leadership we have to appreciate the fact that different ages have proposed different models of moral leadership. Earlier, these questions pertaining to moral leadership were people-centric whereas today such questions have become business-centric. Being a student of Corporate Law myself, I have observed that the questions regarding moral leadership are discussed mostly in the classes of managerial science and not in social sciences. This shift in discussion and understanding of moral leadership from ‘people’ to ‘managers’ has been one of the prominent reasons lack of clarity in the ideas pertaining to moral leadership. Therefore, the subjective experiences of people have recurrently shaped the idea of moral leadership in our fast changing society. Each one of us faces a different moral dilemma at different times making the idea of moral leadership even more unsolidified.

The Sports Committee of my University is a student run body with a faculty advisor acting as an overseeing authority. During my term as the finance officer in the committee there had been allegations of misappropriation of funds against the faculty advisor of the Sports committee by a group of students. They claimed that the faculty advisor had siphoned off the funds allotted for purchase of sports equipment and student welfare. Such allegations were made prior to the organization of a major Inter-University Sports Festival. These allegations shocked the University administration threatening cancellation of the fest. All the members of the Sports Committee, apart from me, decided not to interfere in the affair as any action favoring the teacher could have angered the student community. However, I knew that such allegations were frivolous and were made with an intention to malign the teacher. I fought for the rights of the said teacher against the authorities by producing all the detailed financial statements as evidence during the departmental proceeding. On account of ample documentary evidence I was able to defend the faculty advisor successfully. In this situation I assumed the role of a moral leader by fighting for the right cause irrespective of the repercussions it could have had on my University life. This incident induced in me a spirit to fight for what is just, fair and equitable for the betterment of our society. I realized that mere leadership is not important for affecting a change in this society and what we desperately needed were more moral leaders. I also joined an organization called ‘Kranti’, which is Hindi for the word Revolution, and screened documentaries in my University which discerned the acts of violence by the government against its own people. This platform exposed the students of my university to realize the importance of moral leadership and youth activism in a strife ridden society. It also provided impetus to students of my University to strive for achieving moral leadership. These experiences have shaped my leadership qualities in a morally conscious pattern and also promoted moral leadership in my University.

It is true that people are effected by people itself. The citizens of my country have recently been affected morally with the rise of a new political party. Towards the end of 2013 a revolution stirred in the capital of India i.e., Delhi. This revolution was initiated by a political party called the Aam Aadmi Party, which is Hindi for “Common Man’s Party”. The party was able to secure substantial number of seats in the legislative assembly of Delhi within one year of the party’s establishment. It has overthrown major bigwigs such as Indian National Congress which were embroiled in corruption charges and had been the ruling party in Delhi for many years. The party leader, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, is a Ramon Magasaysay 2006 awardee for Emergent Leadership and is one of the significant moral leaders in India. Mr. Arvind Kejriwal was himself a high ranking civil servant in the Tax department of India but upon experiencing the lack of work ethics coupled with ubiquitous corruption within his department he decided to quit his job. In 2013, he led a Satyagrah (non-violent protest) against the established corrupt government in Delhi by pressing for Anti-Graft legislations and reforms in criminal law. Subsequently, he fought the elections with meagre funds which were donated by common people of Delhi and secured considerable number of seats in the Delhi Assembly. He is set to become the Chief Minister of Delhi in December 2013. Moral leaders like Mr. Kejriwal might not be known to the whole world like Mandela or Gandhi but for the world’s largest democracy he is an angel in disguise and my icon of a true moral leader.

Acts of moral leadership like those of Mr. Kejriwal need not be made known to everyone by the beat of the drum. Such acts propagate itself. All we need to do is to take decisions in the morally correct perspective irrespective of the gains or losses which would be incurred by undertaking such decisions. In the present neo-classical economic system the leaders of the business world are concluding deals which are negatively influencing our environment, society and consequently our sustainability on earth. Moral leadership is an imperative on part of such industry leaders as they are prominent figures who have the ability to steer the way of human life. The idea of a free market economy has resulted in the occupation of all the major resources in the world by few individuals which is actually an outcome of immoral, and sometimes amoral, leadership by the leaders of different countries, corporate entities and politicians.

The bigger question is therefore to seek a solution as to how we can infuse moral leadership in our society? The answer lies in doing away with the concept of “Beg, Borrow or Steal” to achieve our goals. In this present competitive world, moral leadership is absent because we fail to contemplate over the common good of humankind and are overly occupied by our personal expansions. We have allowed, the ‘Selfish Gene’ inside us to take a toll over our consciousness resulting in a lackadaisical approach towards incorporating moral leadership in us. The motto for the moral leader inside us should not be profit over people but common good over profit. Community programs and government schools should lead a combined effort in conducting programs and exercises which will motivate students to be morally sentient even in adverse times. Instead of teaching Professional ethics at college level we should first introduce leadership courses named “Student Ethics” in the curriculum of high school students to infuse moral leadership in the younger generation. Students should also interact with the moral leaders in their community. This will inspire the younger generation to imbibe qualities which will rescue the future of humanity from fading into oblivion.

Advertisements
ONLY LEADERSHIP IS NOT ENOUGH

MY MUMBAI EXPERIENCE

In this city of dreams, I have witnessed events and thoughts which were unprecedented. Every other person who visits Mumbai is usually enchanted by it’s over shadowing aura. But not me. I would be flowing against the tide for subscribing to such an opinion. For me this city is a prime arena for identity loss. With the humungous number of avenues for consumption one can easily face an identity crisis. This is manifested through psychological pressure exerted upon oneself because of the modernized and fast paced lifestyle. In this city of dreams I see not the dreams but only darkness. Mumbai expresses itself to me as a world with a place which relies highly on consumerism. The way of life is not living but consuming. This is quite visible in the everyday life of individuals. Everyone is too busy. Well, I do not blame them, the hectic competitive world has submerged them into the perpetual ocean of nihilism. They are caught in the sea of complications with no escape route. It is said that it is only in Mumbai that a person can avail all the opportunities to rise in life. However, this proposition seems untenable because life is not all about rising without understanding the means. Often we are judged by the ends and overlook the means. It is the means which should justify the end. But in Mumbai all I saw was a rat race towards an existential void. This void increases with the rising inequality of the society. To seek a living by “conventional standards” individuals are compelled to leave there hometown and migrate to this city. The culture shock faced by these individuals can have devastating effect on them. This shock is visible through the change in clothing of migrants. A migrant also prefers to discard his traditional and usual clothes for a more fashionable outlook. Life here is like a ladder and everyone is trying to climb up this ladder a step more than the other. This competition has reached to such a level that those who are unable to sustain the pressure eventually fade into oblivion. I have seen several people rendered homeless by this very city of dream. I wondered, what made them homeless? Or were they born homeless? People living on the streets and pavements. So many of them roaming aimlessly, struggling to survive each day in this monstrous city. Rampant social inequality, deplorable minimum standards of living, exorbitant cost of living along with a rising population influx issue. This cannot be my city of dream.

Mumbai is a city which has immense potential to accommodate individuals but development requires time. Rome was not build in a day. The sudden rise in the local population has rendered the government disabled to provide for an equitable distribution of essential supplies. However, this city has much more to offer in matters of materialism than in terms of individual appreciation. Anyways, this was my experience of the city of dreams.

MY MUMBAI EXPERIENCE

RELIGION AS AN IGNITOR OF PEACE

 “If all had the same belief about all matters of religion, there would be only one religion in the world.”

                       –M.K. Gandhi from his autobiography Story of My Experiments with Truth

 

As I read along the topic for this essay competition, the first voice which revolved in my sub-conscious mind was the beautiful line from a devotional hymn which was sung by Gandhi during his prayer time:-

“रघुपति राघव राजाराम, पतित पावन सीताराम सीताराम सीताराम,

(Chief of the house of Raghu, Lord Rama, Uplifters of those who have fallen, Sita and Rama,  Sita and Rama, Sita and Rama,)

भज प्यारे तू सीताराम ईश्वर अल्लाह तेरो नाम, सब को सन्मति दे भगवान”

(O beloved, praise Sita and Rama, God and Allah are your names, Bless everyone with real wisdom, Lord.)

 

The serenity arising in the heart on account of this prayer for peace and truth has been espoused not only in Gandhian philosophy but has also been enshrined and deep rooted in Buddhist philosophies and Mahabharata (v. 1518) as “Let a man overcome anger by kindness, evil by good; Let him conquer the stingy by a gift, the liar by truth.” It is to be emphasized that the vices and disparities present in the modern society has estranged us from certain fundamental human values like compassion, humility and consciousness in action. Existence of multifarious religions in our country has resulted in bifurcation of communities which used to live peacefully erstwhile. However the cause of evil is not religion but the interpretation of the texts in a concocted manner by few individuals in order to further their personal gains. The primary aim of every socially acceptable religion has been to promote peace and harmony in a community therefore any form of misrepresentation is a way of causing disaffection among brothers and sisters within both inter and intra community. The idea is that God is one and all religions merely direct a path to reach communion with God and therefore any deviation from the path of righteousness can only be traced back to human distortions. To rid this world of unwarranted anarchies we have to concentrate on the universalization of human values irrespective of caste, creed or religion identifications. Until and unless we do so we fail to realize the worth of our living. The differences which originate on grounds of ethnic, linguistic or religious dissimilarities have to be accommodated by all the cultures respectfully and peacefully. Neither Allah nor Christ nor Rama advocated for violence, peace is and will always remain the ultimate goal of human life. I would conclude by stating that a person’s life is futile if he, for once, does not even try to remove the boundaries of hatred and plant the fruits of love in this world.

RELIGION AS AN IGNITOR OF PEACE

THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS

Energy is the golden thread that weaves together the economy, the environment and equity.

-United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

During my morning walk down the street, I saw how the street lights were switched on even when there was enough sunlight. I wondered if we wasted such invaluable resources then building a sustainable world is certainly not possible. Development without sustainability generates a society that abounds in conflicts. The modern era witnessed development at such a rapid rate that a time has now come for us to introspect as to how long can this industrialized world sustain our civilization that I believe will continue generating wealth utilizing available limited factors of production at even a higher rate given a fast rising population. “Sustainability in energy” as I understand is the possibility of a world providing energy equitably to all through appropriate complementary usage of non-renewable resources. To be sustained, in this context, is not the economic but the ecological conditions requiring substantial changes in the economy. The idea is to use ecological gifts in a manner that will lead us into a state where energy shall be available to one and all. This can be accomplished with a more holistic inclusion of the private enterprise sector in the picture. It is my firm belief that if private players can be encouraged to play a greater role in the energy sector by lessening their entry and maintenance costs and with the state partnering with them, we can develop sustainably. Though energy conservation laws have been enacted by many countries, the depletion of energy resources has been continuing at an incessant pace. The regulations imposed by various federal governments on their respective states prescribing ceilings on quantities of non-renewable energy resources that can be exploited by the states have been flouted time and again resulting in overexploitation of exhaustible energy resources. I believe adoption of better energy policies by the governments can help us have sustainable energy for all. Some government policies artificially reduce the prices of the energy resources and embolden inefficient levels of consumption i.e., consumption beyond the usable threshold hence incentivizing exorbitant consumption at cheaper costs. Inviting the private sector to enter the energy field can result in an efficient operation of the market. When private actors are incentivized through proper government policies to enter renewable energy resources market, the current energy crisis can be contained besides ensuring equal access of energy to all. The sustainable model of development in the contemporary era should be one based on intergenerational equity.

With private players in the renewable energy market sector, healthy competition can result in production of innovative technologies and subsequently will also diversify the choices available to the consumers at large in availing energy from renewable resources. It is a well-known fact that non-renewable resources are scarcely available and this directly implies that the prices will be bound to increase in the future due to its depleting quantity. This calls for the shift to renewable energy.

Newer models involving private enterprises and collaboration between the private and the public sectors have to be pursued as they create employment opportunities at all levels and cater to the current industrial needs.

By renewable energy we usually refer to energy produced from water, sun, wind, biomass or such other sources but often we fail to identify some possible yet latent energy resources. Gravity powered energy, lunar energy and Energy derived from natural disasters can be the next potent avenue for sustaining human life in times to come.

The idea of positive responsibility for preservation of non-renewable sources should be incorporated within the energy conservation laws of every country. Positive responsibility, in this context, means the responsibility which an individual owes towards the global community. The government of every state should strive to integrate this notion of conserving energy by making it one of the fundamental duties of a citizen. In this way, more and more people will be morally conscious regarding saving of energy for the future.

I suggest creation of “Renewable Energy Cities” in every country which will be experimental habitats where electricity generated from non-renewable resources will be used. These cities will also counter the climate change problem in an efficient manner and are surely to foster sustainable development. In my country importance of sustainable energy is not stressed upon in primary education which has rendered the common man being unaware of the need to conserve fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy resources. Introduction of such topics not only in schools but also in higher educational institutions will sensitize citizens towards the need for sustainable energy. To sensitize people to the dangers of smoking, every cigarette packet sold in India carries a small photograph of cancerous lungs on it. Similarly, to alert people to the need for energy conservation, I suggest every electronic appliance to carry a picture of “Cupped hands protecting a candle flame against the wind”, an impressive symbol for energy conservation, I feel.

I propose that forums and protocols confining dialogue amongst governments cannot solely solve the issue at hand and the sustainable energy discussion should involve business leaders, nongovernmental organizations, students, scientists as well as academicians. Third world countries, women, urban poor, minorities and indigenous peoples often bear a disproportionately large burden of environmental degradation. It is therefore a pre-requisite to involve them in fulfilling the dream of a future with use of sustainable energy resources. Moreover, a stronger involvement of the developing world countries should be initiated as they retain a major amount of the energy resources.

Hence, it can be concluded that the energy strategies for the future should focus on involvement of competing private enterprises and public-private partnerships to utilize renewable resources of energy. We have only one earth and only one life to preserve it for the future generations; hence it is imperative for the youth of each and every nation to use and promote the use of renewable energy. I also suggest setting up of “Green Councils” which will comprise of young people representing different universities at the state level and they, in association with municipal authorities, will maintain a check on wastage of energy resources by keeping a vigil on usage of electricity at their universities and localities. In this way I intend to achieve the vision of sustainable energy for all.

THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS

AN INCREDIBLE INDIA INDEED

A twenty one year old boy rapes a minor, man beats his wife to death over dowry, baby died due to inadequate facilities in government hospital and so on. This is the news which we see in our newspapers every day. The idea of India Shining has fallen to the grounds and is biting the dust. Successive governments irrespective of their ideologies are unwilling to take blame for any corrupt action pervaded by them resulting in a weak democracy.

The rudimentary problem is that the current legal system is at fault. The democratic setup has led to massive usurpation of powers within the hands of few and the spirit of democracy has been eroded by the formation of a vicious circle between the executive, legislature and judiciary.  The only viable option to replace democracy lies in dictatorship as a form of government. Colossal political abuse by a nexus between bureaucrats and politicians can be put to an end through granting of powers in a righteous leader. The collective interest of few leading politicians along with the western corporate houses has resulted into the diminution of “development for the poor”. The dichotomy is not with dictatorship but with conferring power to a leader who can for the sake of people impose limitations on the people. If a leader is virtuous in nature then his decisions will be beneficial to the society as a whole.  In the present context I mean dictatorship is to control abuses, not to suppress freedom.

Conception behind dictatorship is to form a positive dictatorship and not to suppress or hamper upon the liberties of the citizens. Such a form of government merely provides with the restrictions upon the citizens. The justice delivery mechanism is at grave fault in the present democracies and any form of redressal is almost next to impossible for a downtrodden man. This is due to absence of any authority or overseer who protects such rights of the citizens equally. With the replacement of democracy a stable form of government will be present to address such issues. Even after sixty six years of an independent India development is virtually absent in the country which clearly reflects the inability of the democratic government to instill a firm and bold economic regime. The crux of the matter lies in the acceptance of dictatorship as a form of government and there have been dictatorial governments which have provided decent lifestyles to its citizens. Let us look at the case of Brunei with Hassanal Bolkiah as their Sultan. Brunei people relish one of the premier standards of living in the world. While on the other hand European countries and US are in the midst of budget deficit.

Democracy has been shredded to tiny pieces and we have to move forward with dictatorship being a feasible solution to rid us of the inequalities prevailing in the society. All in all, it is obvious that dictatorship is not ineludibly malevolent, unethical, and tyrannical in nature.

 

AN INCREDIBLE INDIA INDEED

AN UNFULFILLED WISH: A SHORT STORY

As Hari gasped for breath the strain of utter nervousness trickled down his throat. He realized that he was unaware of the consequences of his action. This compulsion was forced upon him and he wanted to break free of the shackles which bound him towards this repetitive action. It was very necessary for him to be clear, accurate and precise this time as he could not afford to lose any more. He knew it. The droplet of sweat seemed like a snowball in the scorching heat of Chennai.  Yet, he succumbed to the social need of being the best and he marked it. Targeting the answer he thought to be the most appropriate with a slim glimmer of hope that he would clear the All India Engineering College Entrance Test. At least this time. Hari had been attempting to clear the test from the past two years but to no avail. This was his final attempt and most probably the only event for which he ever prayed to God. He felt as if the Gods had left him destitute to die in the academic exile with harsh remarks, undesirability and taunts as the only companions. As Hari came out of the test center he knew he was to suffer the ranting of every other person who knew him. Walking back home, a train of thoughts puzzled him. The inner consciousness always spoke to him commanding him that he was not an engineer but an artist at heart. Apparently, Hari had won National Junior Artist Award during his school days. His love for Rembrandt, Da Vinci and Picasso escalated as he tried to emulate their famous paintings in his leisure time. However, fate, parental and social coercion compelled him to become an engineer. His innate passion for art and creativity was repressed by the categorical obligation enforced upon by parents and their unfulfilled wishes. Parents usually see a reflection of their desires through their children’s eyes and sadly Hari was a victim of the same. The usual mainstream Indian narrative of “parents are next to god” would seem quite repulsive in Hari’s case. In a world filled with herd mentality he knew his difference of mind would someday either act as his seat of power in the society or as a cause of his sorrow. The moment he entered his home the usual chat about marks expected, how was the test, will you clear piled upon him. He almost ran out of patience as he felt as a prisoner who was being tortured for seeking information about his exams. As doomsday came by, the anxiety grew and he was compelled to recluse himself as a result of the rise in expectation level of family members and relatives. He always equated himself to the prodigal son. All such thoughts strangulated him and he already felt dead. On the day of the result, his parents came rushing to his room but he was nowhere to be found. The adjacent gallery’s door was seen open with a bottle of Ketzone rolling right next to his still body. The crime of suicide was aided and abetted by the prevailing social and educational environment of the country but no one can be held guilty for Hari’s death. His mother held his body tightly as they realized their grievous loss and as the result flew from his hands it was witnessed that the boy had cleared the engineering exam.

AN UNFULFILLED WISH: A SHORT STORY

Securing American Corporate Investments, The American Way: More Than Just Being Misguided

 

Background

The recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in the case of Jesner et al. v. Arab Bank, PLC has further restricted the scope of holding foreign corporations liable in the Federal Courts of the United States under the Alien Torts Statute (ATS). In plain language, this law means that aliens (non-US citizens) have a right to bring claims within the Federal Courts of the United States for certain violations of international law. This blog will evaluate how the SCOTUS read the impact on “developing economies” as a reason for not allowing foreign corporations to be held liable in US Courts. It is important because the SCOTUS used corporate investment in developing economies as a reason for not holding foreign corporations liable in the courts of law of United States.

Precedents

The scope of ATS has been hotly contested in two earlier cases. In the case of Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, the SCOTUS held that only when “specific, universal and obligatory” international norms are violated only then such claims will be pursued under the ATS. Similarly, in 2013, the SCOTUS in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum held thepresumption against extraterritoriality applies to [ATS] claims” and that the claims musttouch and concern the territory of the United States . . . must do so with sufficient force to displace” the presumption against extraterritoriality. Riding on the jurisprudence laid down by these two precedents, the majority opinion did not allow foreign corporations to be defendants in the ATS suit in Jesner.

What did the court say?

The majority and the minority opinion were delivered by Kennedy J. and Sotomayor J. respectively. Kennedy J. writing for the majority conservative opinion held that the if foreign aliens can sue foreign corporations, who have an American connection, under the ATS then a dangerous trend can develop where American corporations will be discouraged from investing in developing economies especially where the governments are allegedly involved in human rights abuses or the host country lacks proper judicial forums and legal protections. He goes on to add that, discouragement of active corporate investment in developing economies directly hinders economic development of the host state and prevents establishment of human rights. Kennedy J. supports his argument by quoting from the Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae in American Isuzu Motors, Inc. v. Ntsebeza, [O. T 2007, No. 07–919, p. 20] where it was argued that holding foreign corporations liable under the ATS would expose American corporations to instant and continuous peril of claims seeking huge liability which  in turn would “hinder global investment in developing economies, where it is most needed.” Sotomayor J. disagreeing with Kennedy J. replied that there is “no evidence to support the alarmist conjectures” of the majority opinion and dismissed the entire argument as a “hypothetical worry”. She discredits the Isuzu caselaw quoted by the majority by highlighting how the “case was concerned with the availability of civil aiding and abetting liability, not corporate liability generally”.

Unnecessary Worries or Genuine Concerns?

The debate surrounding whether ATS suits against foreign corporations negatively impact the operations of American Corporations seems to be highly erroneous. It is improbable that an ATS lawsuit will “discourage” big multinational corporations from investing abroad in “developing economies”. In a competitive price sensitive globalized economy, the flow of capital is not restricted by national boundaries and rarely, if at all threatened by the possibility of future ATS lawsuits. This is true especially considering that no ATS lawsuit has ever succeeded against a corporation. US corporations have acted as a major force of economic development in certain circumstances, but we should not forget that many US corporations have also been linked to major human rights violations. Realisation of human rights through corporate investments seems to be a paradox considering that we are living in times of­­ – in Prof. Baxi’s words – “human rights markets recession.” The important point is that a culture of corporate accountability which was evolving after the arrival of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights has taken a big blow with this decision. It only stands to reason that errand corporations should be held liable for wrongdoings and efforts should be made to deter corporate impunity regarding violation of human rights. The SCOTUS has virtually closed all avenues for holding foreign corporations responsible for the wrongs committed in a foreign land on the ground of protection of American corporate interest. This has done an irreparable damage to the cause of harmonization of Business and Human Rights.

Justin Jos is a PhD student in Business and Human Rights at University of New South Wales, Sydney. He is also associated with the Australian Human Rights Institute, UNSW. 

 

 

Securing American Corporate Investments, The American Way: More Than Just Being Misguided