Yesterday’s Mumbai Mirror had an article, Rules don’t make a Ram, by Devdutt Pattnaik, which was a completely different take on the current events related to the anti-corruption movement spearheaded by Anna Hazare.
I am a big fan of Devdutt. In fact, a few days ago, I wrote about him in the post Indian Case Study Method. He is a mythologist, and hence looks at the current events through a unique perspective based on Indian mythology. The article is worth reading in original, however, I cannot stop myself from citing some of the excerpts from this article and adding my commentary to them. (Excerpts in italics and commentary in plain text)
If there were no rules, would we be corrupt? After all, only when there are rules can rules be upheld or broken or bent.
If that is the case, then why have rules?
The world without rules is the jungle – where might is right and only the fit survive. Humans made rules so that the meek can inherit the earth, so that even the unfit can thrive. That is how human society came into being.
So naturally, one who follows the rules must be good, and all those who break the rules must be corrupt. Right? Not really.
Both Ramayana and Mahabharata are about human society and rules. In the Ramayana, Ram follows the rules; in the Mahabharata, Krishna breaks them. We are told both are righteous. Both uphold dharma. Both are forms of God. Both fight corruption. How can that be?
Now that really starts me thinking. How can that really be? What is corruption then?
Corruption is not about breaking the rules: it is about rejecting our human side, embracing our animal side, reserving resources for the mighty and dominating the meek. It is about becoming the territorial alpha male who excludes competition and includes no one except those who surrender to him.
In India, every politician follows the rules, so does every bureaucrat and every judge. Despite this, land is grabbed and no one is punished. Riots claim hundreds of lives, no one is convicted. Rapes take place but rapists are released on technicalities.
Hmm. So if following or breaking rules cannot define what corruption is what use are rules and laws. Don’t we already have enough laws?
In this scenario, Lokpal bill is yet another set of laws and rules and auditors hoping to cleanse the country. Will it really stop the Ravans? Or will it create smarter Duryodhans? Will it create Rams or will it hinder Krishnas?
Every person who follows rules imagines himself to be Ram, but his enemies see him as Duryodhan. Every one who breaks rules imagines himself to be Krishna, but his enemies see him as Ravan.
So what is the real issue? What is the problem we are facing today?
The question today is about intent. Intent is invisible, intangible and subjective. Yes, as humans we may have moved out of the jungle but clearly the jungle has not moved out of us.
Stripped and abused, India weeps in the gambling hall, while her guardians point fingers at each other like children in a playground.
Thanks Devdutta for the thought provoking article and great insights it provides. Keep writing and keep enlightening us.