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Reflection – Manaswita Manaswita

by on November 30, 2007

Mr. Ramani’s talk on Wednesday on inspiration and motivation was enriching and uplifting. I think he reflected on some of the great points that we rarely talk about in or outside the class with our friends or peers. I remember, last week I was having chit chat with my friends and we were talking about the fact that some of the big names in the corporate world are college drop outs because they knew what they wanted to do. Struck with the idea and with the urgency to execute their idea, these people started or led some of the great corporations of the world- Steve Jobs of Apple Corporation, Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates, Paul Allen of Microsoft, Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries in India, Michael Dell of Dell or Larry Ellison of Oracle Corporation etc.

As the fierce competition is making the world drift towards the materialistic gains, the mindset of the generation is changing. For us, the great and inspiring people are Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sam Walton etc. I am not saying that their life and achievements are not inspiring. No doubt, they have done commendable work and are champions in their fields of work, the reason why we think them as today’s world leaders and we often talk about them.

In the process we forget that there are other great and inspiring people- living and dead- from different parts of the world. Mr. Ramani’s talk enlightened me and reminded me of a documentary on the current and the fourteenth Dalai Lama- Tenzin Gyatso, which I had chance to watch recently in the South Asian Seattle Film Festival. The title of the documentary was “10 Questions for the Dalai Lama”. The film maker from America had the opportunity to visit Dalai Lama in India and ask him 10 questions. He posed questions on the hope for peace in the Middle East, internet freedom, Dalai Lama’s take on China, should a society give up its traditions for success etc.

The documentary touched me and left me with an aversion for the Chinese Communist Government. Not that I wasn’t aware of Chinese invasion of Tibet, its motive to suppress the traditional practices in Tibet, to persecute Dalai Lama and monks, its restrictions on religion and on freedom of expression, free flow of information etc. The world except China respects Dalai Lama and bestows him reverence and love wherever he goes. Recently he was awarded the US Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honor.

However, there is another part of the story. Ironically, the companies in the west want to do business with China, today’s fastest growing economy in the world. Of course, China is the land of opportunities for all kinds of companies and no company would like to let this opportunity go in vain. So, in China they follow what the Chinese Government dictates and search engines of Yahoo Inc. and Google censor the display of articles related to Dalai Lama, Falun Gong or about the human rights’ abuses on Chinese Government’s stance.

I understand, if the companies want to do business with China then they need to follow the local law but in a way the companies of democratic countries are defying the principles of democracy. Would it be wrong to say that they are supporting Chinese Government’s approach towards the dissemination of information? Is this unethical business practice, when on the one hand the Governments of Western countries acknowledge Dalai Lama’s struggle for freedom and hold him as a reverend figure whereas on the other hand the western companies contradict their Government’s standpoint? This is where the principles, values and business ethics of the companies come into question but we cannot dream of a perfect, utopian society. The companies would keep doing business with China and the prey country- Tibet could just hope for support from West even when they know that they have nothing to offer to them in exchange and Charles Darwin knew it well when he used the phrase “survival of the fittest” in his theory of evolution.

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