• kewal sethi

what is honesty?

what is honesty?

what is honesty? is it limited to not touching the cash? if my relatives or my party benefits by my actions, am i still honest? if i dismiss every charge against any of my colleagues as unfounded and then have CBI institute cases against them and they spend 18 months in jail before being granted bail, am i still honest? if my subordinates indulge in corrupt practices and i do not care to inquire about them even after information given to me, am i still honest?


karunanidhi slapped a charge on wacko of helping LTTE – a banned outfit - by delivering a speech in its favour. he was in jail for two years after which the charge was dropped. it may be assumed that no money changed hands. was the chrage levied malafide. is it honesty?


jmm members of parliament received money, deposited it in bank accounts. as quid pro quo they voted for the government. action as member parliament is not to be adjudicated upon, says the court. would you call them honest? for allegation that some members of parliament asked questions after receiving money for doing so. they were expelled but no action was taken against these jmm members. is it honesty?


consider it from another angle. i indulge in some dishonest means to achieve a very desirable objective. is it honesty? the supreme court ordered all autos and taxis and buses to go for cng. as a result dilli has got less pollution. is this action honest? did they have the mandate to do so? do the ends justify the means?


is there something like intellectual dishonesty? when you are not true to your stated principles because it suits you, would it be honesty or dishonesty? as opposition leader, you criticise an action as being against human dignity but do that very thing when you come to power. is this honesty?


in a sense, everyone is honest. only the definition of honesty varies. there was a colleague. he would not accept even tea from an industrialist even while he had to deal with him or from a subordinate. once while on tour he had to go for full day without meals but would not accept hospitality from a subordinate. yet when he was in charge of electricity department, he got a special power line laid to his house – government allotted house – so that even when the rest of the area was in darkness due to scheduled load shedding, his house shined. would you call him honest?


englishman has got a proverb 'honesty is the best policy'. mind you it is policy, not an ethical statement. if the policy requires you to be dishonest, he would have no qualms about it. should we believe in this policy? to help your party, you can then follow this policy and if it involves loss to the exchequer, that is not his problem. if you award plum posting to your favourites because they will stand by you when you need them, this policy can help.

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