Everybody is human

On Tuesday, November 12, 2013, Firstpost reported about a blog post by a woman lawyer, in which she stated that she had been sexually harassed by a retired Supreme Court judge in December 2012 when she was an intern with him.

NDTV.com reported that the Chief Justice of India had announced an inquiry into the allegations by three Supreme Court judges.

In an interview to Legally India, the woman lawyer said, “There’s this thing: a person who is a Supreme Court judge – you don’t expect a Supreme Court judge to harass somebody.”

This statement reminded me of a conversation many years back.

One afternoon, our General Manager, my colleague and I were returning to office after having attended a long meeting at a customer’s factory. All of a sudden, our GM, who was driving, asked, “Gentlemen, I want to ask you something off the record. I’ve heard some rumours about AJ and his (female) secretary. What do you guys know about this? Tell me whatever you know. Don’t hold back anything.” AJ was a senior member of our sales team.

I replied, “I’ve also heard the same rumours, but I don’t think they’re true. Yes, AJ is much friendlier with his secretary than other executives are with theirs, but in all fairness, AJ is much friendlier with all his juniors than other executives are. I’ve found no reason to believe it’s anything more than that.”

My colleague added, “AJ is married and has two kids. He’s a very decent person. I’m sure he won’t have an extramarital affair.”

Our GM replied, “Maybe the rumours are baseless, but it’s not right to say he won’t have an extramarital affair because he’s a very decent person. He may be a very decent person, but he is human. Everybody is human. And any human being can succumb to temptation.”

Everybody is human. This is a simple truth that many of us ignore at our own peril!

Any human being can succumb to temptation. Any human being can indulge in sexual harassment, domestic violence, rape, torture, murder, fraud and other crimes. Education, position, wealth, status, etc. is not necessarily a barrier. Consider the following cases:

Jagriti Singh, a dentist at New Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and wife of a MP, was arrested last week for allegedly causing the death of her domestic help and assaulting another.

KPS Gill, former Punjab DGP, recipient of the Padma Shri in 1989, was convicted in 1996 for sexual harassment at a 1988 party.

Asaram Bapu has been accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at his ashram, and is currently under arrest.

Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, the 69th Shankaracharya and head/pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, is under trial in two murder cases.

Rajat Gupta, alumnus of IIT Delhi and Harvard Business School, former Managing Director of McKinsey & Company, Inc. was “convicted in June 2012 on insider trading charges of four criminal felony counts of conspiracy and securities fraud.”

There are many more such examples.

Not all human beings are potential criminals. But, let us all remember:
Everybody is human. And any human being can succumb to temptation.

The message of this blog post is NOT that the aggrieved party should “understand” and hence try to pardon the perpetrator. Any crime and its perpetrator(s) should be dealt with suitably according to the law of the land.
The message of this blog post is: the fact that a person is highly educated and/or well-placed and/or wealthy and/or enjoys a good reputation does NOT mean that person will not succumb to the temptation of committing a crime.
I have issued this clarification in response to Vivek Shesh’s comment.

15 thoughts on “Everybody is human

  1. In fact it is these ‘fatal flaws’ that make us more human than anything else, isn’t it? Nice post reminding us all that none of us can be spared simply due to our so called ‘reputation’

    • Correct, Jairam. Even a person enjoying a good reputation could be the perpetrator of a crime. The victims of any crime suffer irrespective of whether the perpetrator is a habitual offender or a first-time offender.

  2. While the contents of the blog are quite convincing and logical, what is the message for the readers here? Is it that since we are humans and once in a while may give in to “temptations”, the aggrieved party should “understand” and hence try to pardon the perpetrator, at least not for first few attempts or is it that since we are humans and may give in to temptations and hence at least those of us in positions and power and having celebrity status, should be extra careful and be “less of humans” when it comes to temptations and erring. It is very important to make this distinction very clear to the readers at large because since we are humans, we are likely to give in to the temptations of taking the convenient meaning of the blog as a license to “err” once or twice and expect to get away with it.

    Secondly, in your examples, all the people cited are in positions of power or some kind of superiority or advantage and all, but one, are male. I personally feel that when one gets on positions of power or some level of superiority (godmen) or simply the men thinking that they are physically stronger than their fairer counterpart, one begins to believe that due to the position and the power that one wields, all those around should behave subserviently and almost be slaves to their master’s wishes. Most of these sexual assaults are less sexual in nature and more to assert your superiority and power that I-can-do-whatever-I-want. It is this animal instinct of humans that can not be allowed to be “understood” or let go of, not only by the victim but by the society at large. Most often the victims are unable to take on these abled and well positioned bigwigs and that makes the role of the society even more critical and responsible. If anything, this animal instinct makes us akin or even worse than the real animals and that is when we begin to wonder if we are humans at all.

    • Vivek, the message is NOT that the aggrieved party should “understand” and hence try to pardon the perpetrator. Any perpetrator of any crime should be dealt with suitably according to the law of the land.

      This blog post is a reaction to the statement, “…you don’t expect a Supreme Court judge to harass somebody.” The message is: the fact that a person is highly educated and/or well-placed and/or wealthy and/or enjoys a good reputation does NOT mean that person will not succumb to temptation.

      Yes, all examples are about people in positions of power. Only one is female; this was not intentional, but it just shows that we have a long way to go w.r.t. gender equality.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. Please do keep visiting and commenting.

  3. Yes indeed, the Hon. Justice too is a human being with feet of clay!
    The stories of misdemeanour in our higher judiciary – High Courts and Supreme Court are galore. They don’t surface out of fear of contempt proceedings. The present CJI has had the courage of his conviction to set up a three member committee with a lady justice who incidentally happens to be from our locality and known for her impeccable credentials.

  4. That was a wonderful message. I’m sure there’s no one (including me) who has not erred for once or who’ll not err in the future, either knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally.

    • Yes, each one of us must be aware that he/she is human and could err. For certain matters, we should have zero-tolerance for ourselves to start with. I’ve heard it said that, when a person points a finger at somebody else, three of his/her own fingers are pointing back at him/her, while his/her thumb is pointing towards heaven, asking God for a verdict!

      • Very true. But the point is that most people don’t realize it or accept it. We are all judgmental in one way or the other, but don’t like being judged.

  5. It’s very true, Pro. People should not be judged by their social standing or education. Too often the rich and powerful get away scot free, while thousands hang around as under-trials because they have no connections!

  6. It is the truth – every one is human. Circumstances bring out one’s true colors. My favorite example is that of the quiet Mother who becomes a lioness when there’s harm to her child. And so everyone reacts based on their state of mind and the provocation.

    Good post, Pro.

    That Jagriti case makes my blood boil though. That’s downright barbaric

  7. Bottom line. You should be held responsible even for giving into temptation, if what you’ve done isn’t what’s right. No title or level in society ever gives you the ‘right’ or ‘excuse’ to it. And I include myself here, when I say this. Well written.

  8. Pingback: The high moral ground is very slippery! | Proactive Indian

  9. Pingback: day in city | Traditional honours

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