October, 2018

Yesterday one of my good friends who is a highly qualified finance and governance professional with many degrees to his credit including fraud detection, proudly shared his pictures addressing at the ‘Vigilance Awareness Week’ of a well-known PSU. Today a half-page advertisement in the newspaper by the Tax Department stared at me “Erase Corruption – Build a New India”. This was urging us to take a pledge as part of the Vigilance Awareness Week. Not a fixed day but an entire week to promote integrity and eradicate corruption. While I do not want to belittle the efforts towards this, the question is – does a day or week or event or drive really serve the purpose ? At best it is a symbolic reminder of something that should be our second nature but has unfortunately vanished completely from our lives. No wonder there are frauds and scams galore across businesses, families, countries, companies, not-for-profit organisations, governments and even the so-called vigilance-sentinels !

As serendipity would have it, last week I was to deliver a talk in praise of someone as part of my project at our public speaking club. The person I chose was my late mother who has instilled a lot of good values in me. This is what I said, little knowing that it is a precursor to the Vigilance Awareness Week :

“Ethics and Integrity” are an integral part of my personal and professional life. Recently I read about N Chandrasekaran, Tata Sons Chairman saying how moral values taught to us in our early life shape our future. Very true. Our childhood was spent in a small rented house for 25 long years. The compound was large with a beautiful garden and several flowering plants. My mom had made it clear to us in no uncertain terms “you are not touching a single plant nor plucking a single rose without the owner’s permission. That which is not yours will never be yours. It is wrong even if you desire for it since it doesn’t belong to you.” She told us such stuff so many times over and over again, that integrity has become my second nature. So much so that when I had to coin a tagline for my firm, I said “Enable. Empower. Ethically”. A small seed sowed back then by my mother has grown such deep roots within me. Sometimes when I talk to my children, I realise the legacy lives in them.

Friends, if you have to bequeath something to your children, bequeath good values and strong sense of purpose in life. You will leave behind a better world for the future generations !”

As I leave you to delve into your childhood, I am sure you will find many such intangible assets that have been bequeathed to you. Delve deep. Dig them out. Shape your lives better.

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