What did you do?

Please spare 9 minutes to watch this thought-provoking video.

What have you done on the various occasions when you saw somebody doing something that you thought was wrong?

On each occasion, did you do whatever you think you should have done?

Did you do whatever you think you should have done on some occasions, but not on other occasions? Why the difference in response?

Little gesture, huge impact!

Govind, who seemed to be in his sixties, was an uneducated man whose writing ability was limited to signing his name in the local language. He was employed by one of our customers, a medium-scale automotive ancillary. He had no designation and no fixed duties. He did whatever job was assigned to him by his employer. Whenever he had visited our office to take delivery of spare parts, he had worn a white half-sleeved shirt, knee-length khaki shorts and a smile!

Usually, Govind’s work in our office would be over in less than a minute. He would hand over the payment to our receptionist, who would then give him the package and the bill that had been kept ready in anticipation of his arrival.

One morning, Govind’s employer telephoned me. He needed a spare part urgently. Since the part number could not be found in the parts manual, he was sending Govind to our office with the damaged part. He wanted me to identify the part and to arrange to supply a new part as soon as possible, today if possible.

About an hour later, when I was told that Govind had reached our office, I asked our receptionist to send him in to meet me. He entered my room, greeted me and gave me the damaged part. I returned his greeting and requested him to sit, but he remained standing. After I insisted that he sit, he sat on the edge of the chair’s seat. He was clearly uncomfortable.

“Mr. Govind, would you like to have tea or coffee?” I asked. Looking shocked, he answered, “No, sir.”
“Mr. Govind, it is now tea time in our office. Do you normally drink tea, coffee, milk, or anything else?” I asked.
“Tea, sir,” he replied.
“With sugar?” I asked.
“Yes, sir,” he replied.
Over the intercom, I ordered 2 cups of tea.

I inspected the damaged part and identified it immediately. Fortunately, we had one part in stock. I telephoned Govind’s employer, who requested me to send one part and the bill along with Govind, who would pay in cash.

As I called our Accountant over the intercom and instructed him to prepare the bill, our Office Boy entered my room and served tea. I could see Govind was extremely uncomfortable, and I knew why! Saying, “Please have your tea,” I picked up my cup and started sipping.

After he had had his tea, I requested Govind to collect the spare part and bill from the receptionist. He stood up and said, “Sir, can I ask you something?”

“Of course,” I said.

“Sir, I was served tea in a cup identical to yours. When my Sahib comes here, is he served tea in the same cup?”

“Yes. Why do you ask that?” I asked.

“Sir, my Sahib and you are high-level people. I am a very low-level man. In our company, only Sahib and his guests have tea in nice cups like these. Everyone else has tea in ordinary glasses. I am confused, sir!”

I smiled and replied, “Mr. Govind, your Sahib is my customer. Since you work in your Sahib’s company, you are also my customer. That’s it!”

With tears in his eyes and his palms pressed together in a Namaste, Govind said, “Sir, today, for the first time in my life, a high-level man has given me so much respect. Thank you, sir!”

This post is in response to Indispire Edition 26. This post was a part of the post Little gestures, huge impact! originally published on November 18, 2013.

When victims of an unfair system become perpetrators of corruption

I am re-posting, with a few changes, Not my problem?, which was my first blog post, originally posted on June 15, 2013. The incident described took place a couple of decades back.

My neighbours had 2 children: a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. All the neighbours observed that only the son was regularly treated to goodies like chocolates and ice-creams by his parents. The daughter never got such goodies. This was blatant discrimination, but none of the neighbours was close enough to the parents to raise the subject with them.

I was puzzled by the fact that the daughter, who was only 12 years old, never seemed to be perturbed about being denied the goodies that her brother enjoyed. The mystery was solved when I learnt that, whenever she was sent to buy provisions from the neighbourhood grocer, he ‘over-invoiced’ (for those who don’t know, this means he prepared a bill for a higher amount) and passed on the over-invoiced amount to her. She would use these amounts to buy goodies without her parents’ knowledge.

An underprivileged person had decided not to accept the unfairness of the system. She used ‘unfair means’ to compensate for the system’s unfairness, but she probably had no option. It was sad that her own parents had unwittingly led her to dishonesty.

There are many persons who do not have access to all or some of the basic necessities of life only because they happen to have been born in an underprivileged family. Wouldn’t such persons want to acquire those basic necessities? If they cannot acquire those basic necessities by fair means, wouldn’t they be tempted (perhaps compelled) to resort to ‘unfair

A person who has successfully achieved something by ‘unfair means’ once would be tempted to do it again, leading to some more such episodes, ultimately resulting in corruption becoming a habit.

How do privileged people like us (yes, we are privileged people!) react when we come across persons who do not have access to all or some of the basic necessities of life only because they happen to have been born in an underprivileged family? Do we try to do something about it, or are we indifferent since we are not directly affected?

We may not be affected by the suffering of today’s underprivileged person. But we certainly could be affected by the corruption or any other crime that today’s underprivileged person is pushed into. If, by helping an underprivileged person, we prevent that person from being pushed into corruption or crime, we are not just helping that person; we are helping ourselves and society at large.


Generally late for meetings?
The ‘not-so-important’ person is unpunctual.
The ‘important’ person is punctual, but she/he gets delayed due to factors beyond her/his control.

Doesn’t work hard enough?
The ‘not-so-important’ person is a lazy bum.
The ‘important’ person is ‘not in the rat race’.

Doesn’t speak up?
The ‘not-so-important’ person doesn’t have courage.
The ‘important’ person is soft-spoken.

Didn’t achieve the desired result?
The ‘not-so-important’ person didn’t put in enough effort.
The ‘important’ person was unlucky.

The ‘not-so-important’ person is drunk.
The ‘important’ person is mildly intoxicated.

Drinks too much?
The ‘not-so-important’ person is a drunkard.
The ‘important’ person is fond of drinks.

Eats too much?
The ‘not-so-important’ person is a glutton.
The ‘important’ person is a gourmand.

Generally gets work done by bribing?
The ‘not-so-important’ person is corrupt.
The ‘important’ person is ‘street smart’.

Plans carefully?
The ‘not-so-important’ person is finicky.
The ‘important’ person is methodical.

Election results?
The winning party wins because of their ‘important’ persons.
The losing party loses because of their ‘not-so-important’ persons.

How come most situations are interpreted in almost diametrically opposite ways for the ‘not-so-important’ person and the ‘important’ person?

Is it ‘different strokes for different folks’? No!

Is it because we believe that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”? No way!


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. (Prompt: Your post has to revolve around the word Magic! What does it mean to you?)


Every day is Mother’s Day!

A few months after an industrialist’s death, his wife sent a letter to the head of their religious sect, stating that she wished to make a substantial donation in her husband’s memory, and requested the religious head to identify the cause to which she could make the donation.

A couple of weeks later, her son received a letter from the religious head, identifying the cause to which the donation could be made.

Extremely upset that the religious head had refrained from writing to their mother because she was a widow and hence considered ‘inauspicious’, the industrialist’s son and daughter told their mother, “Mom, if our religious sect will not give due respect to you, we strongly suggest that we should not make any donation; instead we suggest that you identify another organisation to donate to and to decide the amount to be donated!” The mother’s silence was her consent.

Such children don’t need to celebrate Mother’s Day because, for them, every day is Mother’s Day!

This post, based on a true incident, is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. (Prompt: Mother’s Day special! Your post must contain the word Mom and you have just 5 sentences to complete your story.)