Saturday, January 14, 2006

Corruption Of Mind

January 8, 2006
Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Pay for performance was my dear friend Colin said, when we spoke of the financial results of our old company we both worked for in the mid 1990s. It has been long since we worked for someone else, but when a reader asked me to write about corruption this past week, I had to think of my own take on how to deal with corruption.

Much of my working life I have been a business development guy, traveling world over. I was in many countries when it was still communist or government controlled environment, and worked hard to make the two big companies I worked for many a profitable ventures. I learnt a lot from my experiences and made many friends across the world, and still keep them in cherished position. I am 100% sure that countries such as India where I worked hard on being on the teams working on privatization, have come a long way and millions of people working in the private enterprise. In a recent visit to Delhi, I was told my old employer had a multistory building that it owned. If I think of the little office space they had when I went to India first, it made me proud to think of the enterprise building that a group of us bravely undertook. A lot of my colleagues and myself faced no dilemma in finding new business opportunities for our employers, and we did what we could to find good business deals. We negotiated on behalf of the company and found many partners in then remote parts of the world, where no American company did business. I think we were rewarded well with great tour of the world, many a great friends with their diverse cultural and business backgrounds, and a taste of being one of the first global traveler’s with a budget. One thing in specific that none of our companies asked is how we got the business started in these new business environments, expect that our employers wanted high returns on their money and did not want to get senior managers involved in any controversies. We had a lot of leverage in starting the work in any country that afforded the opportunity, and the risk of our own neck with both our employment and performance. We had to get the deals done to satisfy the budgets, and we had to perform in the environment to get the business deals done. These objectives were in obvious conflict of each other, but were the only way to live happily to work and deliver to the employer.

I survived many years of serious business development in two companies, but ended up leaving both of them after achieving great financial results to both of them and their stakeholders. No regrets from me after all these years of leaving them, and no scoops to be told after all this time. I really am still fond of the times I did work for them. I will always be fond of the great times of business development in the early 1990s, especially in telecommunications.

Corruption is a serious issue in almost all countries. To be corrupt in mind is no different than blatant request for money for getting work done. Have you been to a temple in India? They have three ways of getting to see the god.

Stand in queue and wait until you get pushed to the front of the God and quickly say whatever is on your mind, and get pushed hard to be out of the temple.
Pay money to buy a ticket to see God faster than the general queue, but still get pushed around when you get into the queue, and get pushed out same way as people who don’t pay anything.
The third way is that you have influence where they stop the queue or someone escorts you to the front of the lord, and you have a few minutes in front of God, and you don’t get pushed around in the queue. But you sure make thousands of people in line wait and probably curse you.

I don’t know if we can call the influenced people corrupt. They are simply taking advantage of the available option to make others inconvenienced while they take advantage of the system that allows them privilege.

Same thing happens when you know a person who can help get you the privileges of information or access. By having a friend you get access. In business a friend is an associate or a consultant or a person who is available to make a business proposition. Simply by making corruption a global issue the access privileges of who you know will not go away. Darwin theory is simple, that the fittest will survive. In the early 1900s people brought in many a communist societies that were supposed to be equal in access and privileges to all of the citizens. At the end of the 1900s these so called perfect societies collapsed, leaving the capitalistic societies to continue to flourish. Democracies and capital societies somehow survive as they allow people to make informed choices. So, if I equate corruption to democratic principles and capitalistic societies, people who give to get favors are primarily the conduits to the process of developing the mindset for corruption. I am only a human being, and I will use the resources I have for making the most out of the situation I am faced with. When visiting a temple, developing a relationship, getting permission to do a business, gifts for my family and any potential situation where I am faced with making a choice, I am sure I will use the resources I have to get the privileges in my favor. My mind is democratic and competitive in a capitalistic society. Please don’t let me preach the theory of corruption, and we much be corrupt to get things done, and we must pay for everything. But, let me speak of the democratic mind set, and using resources to get things done. Perhaps the mind will begin to associate the degrees of corruption, make informed choices that what each instance requires and make necessary adjustments in judging the level of corruption it will tolerate. Simply think of this as a informed mind, making informed choices to make informed payments or adjustments to get things done, that are of importance to live life in a democracy.

I don’t support payoffs and favors for getting things done. I don’t support monopolies. I don’t like people asking me for money to do their jobs. I don’t like the discomfort of not being able to afford the ability to do business in any country. I don’t like talking about corruption. I don’t like to discuss how to do business in a new place. I can’t even speak to my old experiences of how I worked in so many places for my two employers, and survived so many deals. I just don’t like to speak of the anything that is not necessary.

Life is full of adjustments. People need money to make things work. Some need it more than the others. Elections cost money. Homes are expensive. Families need money. Food, clothing, comforts, cars and every single thing need to be supported. So, room for corruption exists, and the more we support the process the more expensive things get.

Mind you, it is you the individual that will have to make choices to do the right thing. Don’t push the blame of your acceptance to give as the societies acceptance to take. It is the corruption of mind that leads to the societies making corruption a part of the process. Wait in the queue, and don’t worry about how long it takes to see the Lord. The comfort factor should not make you bend the mind to accept the normality of corruption.

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