How important it is to be responsible

Sep 30, 2016

“The price of Greatness is responsibility.”
-Winston Churchill.

Almighty has blessed all human beings with a tendency to cope with different challenges appropriately. It is the responsibility that has the ability to move the individuals and nations frontward. Those who equipped themselves with the responsibility factor have contributed a lot for their society and coming generations. Taking responsibly is an oath, which has paved the path for humans to become leaders. Leaders throughout the world mounted up, by taking many responsibilities on their shoulders, so that their nation can develop. Taking responsibility for a nation is like choosing a new path, where many hurdles are faced. And those who confront these hurdles, become the leaders of their nations. 

Let’s look at the responsibility of few stake holders in the society?

Responsibility of Leaders/Role Models
Dhritharashtra had the responsibility of looking after his brother’s children and ensure handing over their due share in the kingdom. However, he became so blind in his love towards his son that he shirked away from his responsibility and became instrumental in the destruction of kaurava’s dynasty. In this regard, let’s look at the instances of two outstanding persons abdicating their responsibility.

Case of Rajat Gupta: 
Rajat Gupta was a role model for all aspiring Indians as he rose from being orphaned as a teenager in Kolkata to head organizations like Mckinsey and be on the boards of Goldman sachs and P&G. He was handed out two year prison term and fine of $5 million for passing board from secrets to the now imprisoned hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam. After the said award/judgment, Gupta himself confessed that he lost all his reputation built over a time. This may deter others from, as rightly printed out by Manhattans India born top federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, breaching their corporate duties/responsibilities and leaking board room secrets.

Case of Lance Armstrong: 
Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven tours de France titles and banned for life by cycling’s governing body following a report from the US Anti-Doping agency that accused him of leading a massive doping program on his team. What on epic fall from grace, from a cancer survivor who dominated the world’s most prestigious cycle race to a cheat who was at centre of most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen?

Armstrong’s astonishing return from life threatening illness to the summit of cycling offered an inspirational story for many of the youngsters to overcome the obstacles in life. In Bhagavad-Gita Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that people follow their leaders. If the, be it Rajat Gupta or Armstrong- people who have to set precedent for youngsters in grooming them in to a dutiful/responsible citizen leading a rightful life, choose to circumvent their process in their quest for name, frame and wealth what sort of impact it will have on society in general and youngsters in particular. They have responsibility to set right examples.

Responsibility of Business:
In today’s contemporary society business has a great role to play. Gone are those days when they used to be guided by the dictum “Purpose of business is to make money”. It is refreshing to note that sometime back, Toyota recalled 8700 units of Camry and Corolla Altis sedans in India as part of a massive global recall to inspect faulty power window master switches (PWMS) which could be a potential fire hazard. Business units/organizations have a responsibility towards its employees, customers and society at large. In this regard it’s worth recollecting what Kumara Mangalam Birla once said:

“A Business is not expected to prosper in a society that doesn’t”.
American tycoons Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are presently busying them selves with giving away most of their vast fortunes to social and charitable causes. Every billionaire, not to talk of Tata’s, Murthy etc, must learn from Cyrus Poona Walla, CMD Serum Institute and Chairman, Turf Authorities in India, who is providing quality vaccines at very economical price to his fellow citizens.

What is the use of so much of wealth when it is not used for the development of needy citizens and for human beings? Business has a larger responsibility towards society. This is not what passes these days for ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ .It is much loftier than that. What is good for the country must become good for the enterprise and business must make this rule ‘the lodestar of its conduct’.

As Swami Vivekananda said, “The life is short, the vanities of the world are transient, but they alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive”.

Know Your Responsibilities:
Prophet Mohammed and Jesus were both uncompromising in their pursuit of social justice and became voices for the oppressed. They both addressed the inequalities that prevailed during their times, speaking out for the disadvantaged and marginalized sections of society. Jesus had endless compassion for the poor and the sick and so did Prophet Mohammed.

But a question might arise as to why people are to be concerned about growing inequalities?

Inequalities Do Not Augur well for the Society At Large:

According to Richard Wilkinson, a British epidemiologist who has spent years researching these effects, which he documents at length in his recent book, The Spirit Level, there are powerful psycho-social effects of inequality. He says. “As status differences grow, we worry more about status insecurity, we get widespread anxiety about self-esteem, and that brings rising rates of mental illness and depression.”Further, in a 2010 study published in Psychological Science, researchers found that people of higher socioeconomic status (SES) were worse at reading other people’s emotions—a skill known as “empathic accuracy,” a basic part of empathy. The study’s primary author, Michael Kraus, now an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, believes these results show how higher social status makes people more self-absorbed.

 “Being compassionate, having empathic accuracy, being trusting and cooperative—these are keys to social connection and, in turn, happiness,” says UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher Paul K.Piff, whose own research has found that people of higher SES were less willing to share money with a stranger or make charitable donations. Indeed, perhaps the dominant finding to emerge from positive psychology research over the past decade is that our happiness (and health) is largely determined by the quality and quantity of our social connections. Perhaps that’s why “pro-social” behaviors and emotions—compassion, empathy, altruism—have been so strongly linked to happiness. Research by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a leading happiness researcher, has consistently found that people report feeling happier after doing nice things for others. Several neuroscience studies have found that giving to others activates pleasure regions of the brain. Research by psychologists Lara Aknin and Elizabeth Dunn has even suggested that spending money on others makes you happier than spending on yourself.

The happiest countries are the ones with the most equality, like the nations of Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden. These countries also rank among the highest in an index of compassion created by University of Minnesota researcher Ron Anderson. By contrast, countries with more inequality, like the United States and the United Kingdom, have significantly higher rates of health and social problems.Wilkinson’s analysis showed that, mental illness is three times more common in unequal countries; infant mortality rates are also much higher, and life expectancy is significantly lower.

Care for Others Is the Measure of Greatness:
Destiny has seen to it that everyone who meets another is given the opportunity to influence and enrich that person. Most times however, being wrapped up in our selfish pursuit of seeking self fulfillment, we lose it. A simple and ordinary meeting with, let’s say, a bus conductor, by giving a smile or a friendly greeting, even though he may not deserve it, not only that person, but other passengers who would come into contact with that conductor, who may have not received a smile from anyone for that day – What a difference it would make. Each is called to be responsible to make life better for the other.

 “Paropakaraya Phalanti Vrikshana,ParopaKaraya Vahanti Nadyaha

ParopaKaraya Duhanti Gaaha, Paropakarartham Idam Shareeram”

It is only to benefit others that trees bear fruits, It is only for helping others that rivers flow, It is only to benefit others that cows yields milk, It is only for helping others that you are given a Human Body.So let us do our bit in making a difference to others lives as well, while striving to better our own.

All great leaders including Dada Bhagwan equipped themselves with strong factor of responsibility, and put their all efforts to facilitate their society. 69 years have passed, since we got freedom from the British, and now are blessed with a state, where we can live independently. In order to have a prosperous society, it is very important to load our selves with a sense of responsibility. Everyone has to contribute to his society positively, and uplift it to the climax. It is not the case that we can’t do, but we just need to step forward to transform it in to a journey. We at present are facing problems from different dimensions; just we all need to equip ourselves with certain responsibilities. Our religion is like a guiding star to all of us, as it is evident from the teachings of Gurus that everyone must try its best to facilitate the society by doing healthy practices. With our collective efforts many societal problems can be eliminated.

Let me conclude with Bhishma’s advise to Dhritharastra to banish Duryodhana saying

Tyajedekam kulasyaarthe grammasyaarthe,Kulam tyajet graaman janapedasyaarthe

Dharmaarthe prithivim tyajet”

Sacrifice one for the sake of family; Give up a family for the sake of the Nation and even the

Nation to uphold Dharma.


-Dr A Jagan Mohan Reddy