In this day and age of chaos – political, social, economic, and spiritual – what is much needed and highly valuable is business ethics, which have gone for a toss. It can very well be gauged that as much as man is surrounded more and more by problems, dilemmas, and confusion on multiple fronts by the day, those who ought to have ethically worked towards easing the stress are actually the ones who make it more oppressive. There is this monstrous rush for becoming overnight millionaires and billionaires. Yes, it’s a world where ends justify means. People set out to become Ambani and Bill Gates and least care about the way that would lead them there. When we delve deeper into this mind-numbing rat race, we find that we have our social, political, and above all, our educational system contributing to it.
We build outrageous pressure on our children and youth right from the word go. Their career ladder is all that matters to us as parents, and subsequently to them as students, for which the first step is a stellar scorecard. Here the focus is on statistics and not on substance. We just wish to produce money-minting machines out of our beloved children. Lest it offends some readers, I must admit that there are exceptions, but few and far between.
We are least bothered about instilling in them true values of humanity, which would eventually make this chaotic world a relatively safer place. I often seem to think about this issue. Being in my thirties, I tend to make an introspection of sorts as to what really changed over the past few decades. Coming from a farmer family background, I recall that in the not-so-distant past (1990s), we wouldn’t spray so many pesticides and insecticides on the ubiquitously grown apples here (in Kashmir). Now, we don’t spray these chemicals under scientific supervision and recommendation. The companies mill out medicine after medicine and ethics take a backseat. Do we care how much these chemicals harm other fauna and flora and the surrounding environment? What do we feed our children in the name of hygienic food? How much do business ethics play a part when we think about all the marketing and end products targeted at children? In today’s world of cut-throat online shopping competition, business ethics and social responsibility have nosedived deeper into the oblivion. We have those quick-fix body building formulae, weight management techniques, tricks to regaining hairline, and many other suchlike businesses aimed at luring people into becoming addictive users rather than well-informed customers.
The prices of all products have particularly skyrocketed during this unnerving pandemic period, pushing the common man against the wall. The prices of generic medicines have gone up and there seems to be no checking and controlling agency to see to it whether all this is being done ethically or otherwise. You visit a doctor and you will see more MRs (medical representatives) than patients queuing up to meet the doctor.
The governments of the day seem to have no or little authority over the agencies that instead of serving the interests of people are subservient to their capitalist bosses. That’s what’s currently taking place in India. Farmers have been protesting for months now against the new farm bills that allow private players to not just hoard the hard-earned agricultural produce but also boss over the price control mechanism. At the receiving end of all this injustice, whether in the form of untimely and unethical inflation or the common man getting peanuts for his agricultural produce, is the common man himself. Democracy and its values have been thrown to the winds. If a huge chunk of population is demanding the laws to be rolled back, then is not it democratically unethical to impose upon farmers these legislations? The government of the day should give in to the demands of the people. Doesn’t democracy mean ‘government of the people’?
There needs to be a foolproof mechanism in place to keep check on unethical business practices. There do take place some checks in cities where there is ample media presence, but the rural areas remain godforsaken in this regard. Social media is a medium to draw attention to issues, but it is amateurish at the end of the day and not everybody is willing to put themselves at risk in a place where snapping of internet remains the order of the day. If we are to progress as a nation and stay abreast with changing times, we must focus on people-centric policies rather than those one-percent, capitalism-centric policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
The writer is a teacher by profession. [email protected] Anjum Husain