By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
A nice and interesting story: Immediately after finishing her school, a girl left her countryside to attend a University in Paris, France and then find a job. It was a dream come true for this young girl.
However, she was soon overwhelmed by all the changes she faced. Her first problem was figuring out the complicated metro system as everything was automated. There was no ticket office, no ticket staff and no way to ask question. A system that she just could not quite figure out.
Feeling frustrated and sorry for herself, she thought “I am a poor student, if anyone deserves a free ride, it’s me.” So many times she would ride the metro without buying a ticket and would not even think of it.
After four years of hard work, she had a diploma from a prestigious school. She was full of confidence and started to send out applications to all big companies in and around Paris. However, she was perplexed as her applications would get rejected all the time. Gradually her confidence began to fade. Failure made her frustrated and angry as she found out that all her fellow students got absorbed in some company or the other. After another rejection, she confronted her HR Executive and wanted an explanation as to why she was being rejected when she was adequately qualified for the job.
The Director looked her up and said, “We respect you very much. After the interview we were all very impressed with you and your achievements. In fact, you were the best among all the candidates who have come in today.”
So why not hire me ? asked the girl. Well, we checked your credit history and found out that you have been fined three times. I do not deny it, but just for that you are willing to let go a talented person like me? she asked perplexed.
We do not think this is a trivial matter. If it was just when you first arrived, that would be understandable. But it continued in spite of three fines. Struggling to defend herself she said, “I was a student though. I did not have enough money and it was very complicated for me to understand the system.”
No, no, miss, I can’t accept your reason. I am sure before you were caught, you did this many a times. Even after paying the fine, you continued to ride free. Riding without a ticket became a habit. “How can you be so rigid? I can fix this,” she said. Unfortunately, you cannot. It proves two things. One is that you do not value rules and second is that you can take advantage of the gaps in the rules. A habitual offender. So you cannot be fully trusted. A lot of work in our company is based on “trust” so we cannot hire you. I am sure that in many other companies too, you will find the same.
By this time the girl’s anger had faded. She wished somebody had admonished her when she made her first mistake. But what affected her the most were the Director’s last words: “Morality can compensate for an intellectual shortage, but wisdom can never make up for lack of morality.” If you lack morals, no matter how accomplished you are, you will lose the trust and support of others.
If one recollects, some years back a Saudi Princess was caught in the Harrods Stores, London, stealing panties. The Princess was so rich she could buy Harrods but still she was caught stealing. Why? Because I am sure that when she was young, she must have done this prank for fun and her parents must have ignored it and not admonished her. This prank became a compulsive habit embarrassing her and her family.
I always buy the platform ticket when I go to the Railway Station to pick up some guests and I notice that I am always in minority. Hardly anyone buys the ticket. But since my childhood I have been taught to do that and now as a habit I go to purchase the ticket.
In Japan, till class two, no subjects are taught except “moral science.” That is the reason Japanese people are by nature so disciplined. Respecting elders and women, returning things borrowed, saying thanks for any services offered, chivalry and many more. Things if taught when very young gets into our system and we tend to do it without any prompting.