Monday, August 12, 2013

A roller coaster ride till the end..

Till its end, life is full of twists and turns. Filled with unknown successes and setbacks, this roller coaster ride always has something in store for you..

Recently, I was reading the memoirs of Natwar Singh, the External Affairs Minister of India in the UPA1 government. By the way, he is a very good writer
and I enjoy reading the experiences of his diplomat days. Natwar Singh joined the IFS in 1952. In his memoirs, he recollects how he received a telegram from the UPSC while he was studying at Cambridge for just over two months, to report in Delhi within a week for an interview. He recollects being nervous for those 45 minutes of his interview as that would decide his life. He finally made it to the IFS. In his notes, Natwar Singh mentions about the joy that his family experienced when they unexpectedly got to know about his clearing the most competitive exam while listening to a programme on the All India Radio. The programme was suddenly interrupted to announce the names of the 15 selected candidates, his name being one of them! Life gives events for achievements and celebrations. After a successful career as a diplomat spanning about three decades, he joined the Congress party and rose to become the External Affairs minister in 2004. But then, came the shocker- he was "found to be a beneficiary" in the Iraq’s oil-for-food scam and was later kicked out of the Congress.

All should wonder whether only one person from India can be held responsible for a scam of such huge magnitude. In fact, Congress party's name too had cropped up, but the issue was buried soon. Unlike the recent times when the spirits of the awakened India are such that every scam like Commonwealth, 2G or Coalgate is torn apart and exposed by the media, this scam of the UPA1 govt escaped the public's eyes pretty quickly. The question is- Did Natwar Singh have a choice to say ‘no’ to this scam and still continue as the External Affairs minister of the country? Was he a victim of the flood of corruption that has drowned this country? I feel like pointing out how life, after giving you the best of the best in your earlier years, can throw you in a jeopardy later, where you have no choice but to either take sides of the truth and fight back the tsunami of corruption or to support the corrupt and try to hold your position, which, as we can see now, eventually leads to a massive downfall. But then, the integrity of a person is only tested in such situations. Are you willing to risk your convenience, pleasures, position, comfort and friends to fight against the tides of evil around you?

Manmohan Singh’s story is no different. Scaling through success during his earlier years- from being the RBI Governor to the man who saved India from the severe financial crisis in the early 1990s, he landed up in a net of corrupt Congress politicians in the UPA2 govt. But was he willing enough to hold on to his ethics and fight back?

But unlike Natwar Singh and Manmohan Singh, where you get trapped in a net, some people simply fall prey to their inner greed. Take for example, Rajat Gupta, one of the most famous global CEOs from India. He too has a story to tell. He belonged to
the Indian middle-class- the son of a freedom fighter who went to jail during India’s freedom struggle. Rajat lost his father at the age of 16 and his mother two years later. Being orphaned in his teens, he faught back and ranked 15th in the competitive IIT JEE examination. He graduated in Mechanical engineering from IIT Delhi. From campus, he bagged the elite ITC job offer, only to reject it later in order to pursue an MBA from the prestigious Harvard Business School. He mentions that the first time he saw an aircraft was when he visited the ITC office to inform them that he would not be joining them! His rise to success is very inspiring. But then, what made him lose his path and do something stupid that ruined all the respect that he had earned?? Life can be a very tough learning experience till the very end of it!