This was the moot question that nearly 300 Rotarians from all over our District 3080 converged to discuss at Chandigarh Judicial Academy, Sector 43, Chandigarh.
With diverse perspectives at the fore, the seeds were sown in the minds of the people who attended. To transform the world for the better, the transformation must begin from within...from ourselves. Post this colloquium, if each one of us take the topic on our dinner tables and take the first step...WITHIN...the miracle of change would start happening.
It was an Intercity meet with a difference. The agenda, the format, the line up of speakers distinguished it from a normal intercity format, and rather made every participant look within and probe one's conscience and ask, am I walking the right way?
The Rotary Colloquium on "Living Your Values: Do Values of Life Change with Changing Times?” concluded successfully with everyone affirming a commitment deep within themselves, "I must do something about it?"
Though not all questions were answered. It could not be in a half day session. But the learned speakers provided different perspectives on how one can leave a better world for our children just by following ethical values.
Addressing the Colloquium Hon'ble Mr. Justice Rajive Bhalla of Punjab and Haryana High Court said that values need to be looked at from the personal, societal and global angle and though these may differ from person to person, values must bring to the fore the humane aspect of one’s life.
However, he lamented at the societal "values" of female foeticide which continues as a practice since centuries till today in the northern region and the only change had been in the mechanism of killing the girl child. Mr Justice Bhalla also questioned the value systems of the relentless development of colonies wiping away the greenery and rivulets from our midst and impacting the entire ecosystem, leaving a barren land for the next generation. Everyone has its own value proposition, but what is right from a wider perspective is what one need to look at, he added.
Brahmchari Suvir Chaitanya of Chinnmaya Mission Patiala, a young B.Tech from Delhi College of Engineering who decided to take the Vedanta route, said that the real transformation of the society, the nation and the world begins with the transformation within us. Responding to a question from a student of Bhavan Vidyalaya he said that the values as conceived after much deliberations by great thinkers, rishis and philosophers, continue to be relevant as these transcend time and space, and relate more to one’s behavior.
KPMG India’s partner and head of risk consulting Mr. Deepankar Salwalka, and has investigated most of large white collar crime cases including Satyam and Commonwealth Games, admitted that under pressure of business performance, business ethics and values are getting compromised, but corporate India should take heart since our ability to better detect, build public opinion and development of counter-balancing forces like social media are eventually bringing guilty to justice.
Neville D. Gandhi, Regional Compliance Officer of Siemens Ltd, asserted that it is possible to do business with ethics without any dilemma provided one is determined to follow the ethical way. He presented the case study of world’s largest German company Siemens Ltd, which till 2006 became one of the worst companies to work with losing credibility and being hauled up in US courts for rigging and bribery to obtain contracts, decided to proactively transform the organization and adopted strict discipline based on transparency, honesty, and ethical work practices. Siemens, he said has become today one of the world’s best ethical companies.
Past Rotary International President Rajendra K. Saboo, who had been the thought leader of this Colloquium said that the objective of the colloquium had been to revive interest amongst the youth, business and professional people, about the simple values of life that can only create a better world. The best way to inculcate the values of honorable ethical living is for the present generation to walk the talk and be a role model to them.
Past District Governor of District 3140, Dr Bharat Pandya, underlined the need for personal integrity and doing the right things when no one is looking. As a passionate speaker he cited numerous challenges that face any person whether it is societal, peer or superior's pressure, or the desire to earn quick money, an unethical act would remain unacceptable. He said that the value-based living is best reflected in relentless pursuit of good conduct even when no one is looking.
District Governor Manmohan Singh quoted the scriptures where value-based living is well defined and that the best way for anyone to excel in life is to follow the right course and earn one's living honestly.
He also explained that Rotary Colloquium on values system was organised since October is the Rotary’s focus area for promoting ethical practices in one’s vocation.
Later CNN-IBN’s senior editor, Jyoti Kamal, conducted an interesting interactive session and moderated the questions from the audience that further focussed on personal or professional value system whether it was a question of euthanasia amongst the medical professionals, or miscarriage of justice or outdated laws, or even the media assault on the sensibilities of the people.
I wish to thank all the Rotarians of Rotary Club of Chandigarh under the leadership of President Rtn. Vivek Gupta, with the wise counsel of Past Rotary International President Rajendra K. Saboo, past district governors Kawal Bedi and Madhukar Malhotra, the co-chairs in past president Man Mohan Singh Kohli, and Hassen S. Mejie, assisted by Secretary I.D. Shukla, Kewal K. Seth, Praveen C. Goyal, Baldev Aggarwal, Arvind Mehan, D.P. Singh, Jatinder Kapoor, Sukhjit Singh Gill, Darpan Kapoor, Shuchita Luthra, AP Singh, Manju Chaudhary, Anil Khanna, and of course the staff of Rotary House, that made it a memorable event.