I’m No Saint

Nelson Mandela

Part I and II of this article deal with the evolution and functioning of the online media which many, including probably Mr. Ratan Tata, fail to grasp. Part III of the article deals with the ‘promise of ethical business’ that ‘Brand Tata’ probably also meant, and salvaging that ‘Brand Tata’ now following the recent example of  Toyota, that stands for safety and quality. Toyota looks to have succeeded by placing its promise before its profits.   Part IV highlights the challenges for Mr. Tata as the two compared cases differ where it hurts most, and as it seems that Tata Code of Conduct (Point 13) has been violated.

In my brief four-years of life as a blogger, when I have covered wide areas of topics of my interests, and thereby have written articles on around two hundred topics; one single topic stands apart, as an exception.

I just wish that I didn’t show my catastrophic immaturity and inexperience in writing on Sony when Sony was undergoing the challenges faced by battery recalls that it supplied to the computer (laptop) makers, back in 2006. I have decided not to delete that article (anything, in its true sense, can probably never be deleted online, irrespective of traffic or links it might have created); so that I can remind myself again and again, that catastrophic immaturity and inexperience I had displayed in that article (another version of it, without experienced editorial control in BNN, probably looks worse).

I simply forgot that Sony is not just another company. Similarly the Tata Group, having tested the severe tests of ethics in a nation like India for over a century (142 years, to be more precise), is not just another business group.

The learning I (hopefully) had is: Before opening one’s mouth to say big things covering big issues, one should apply the additional discretion and caution.

Having stated it, we all are fallible to these catastrophic slips. To err is human. If Nelson Mandela could say, without moral hesitations that he is no saint, we all should and ought to follow him. Tata Group might have stood as an epitome of ethics in a country where unethical Governance and business practices is the norm; at the same time there is no harm if Tata Group, on its own, admits that they also aren’t any saints; and thereby initiates the internal cleansing process that must ensure that ethical slips, if any indeed happened this time, is not repeated again in future.

Unlike in academics, which happen to be my profession now; in journalism – journalists don’t have the luxury to follow a wait-and-watch strategy to perform a detailed post-mortem of a breaking story. Seconds matter here in journalism when globally renowned journalists ask legitimate questions on existence of journalism itself in its traditional sense in this digital age (the Hugh Cudlipp lecture of Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the Guardian, on questioning existence of journalism itself).

(It is another matter that many, who would not hesitate questioning existence of journalism in its traditional sense per se in this digital age, would also agree that importance of journalism now, therefore, is even more than ever before).

Real life managers need to take ex-ante decisions whereas we academicians have the luxury to dissect those decisions, at a post-mortem level, in MBA class-rooms over management case studies, or in our academic researches. Reporting journalists are like real life managers.

Practicing journalists, therefore, are not historians at their daily jobs, nor are they academicians. In an article, in the New York Times, Evgeny Morozov sums it up as:

‘If newspapers produce the first drafts of history, Wikipedians certainly produce its latest and — thanks to Google — most viewed drafts.’ (myself being a fan of both Google and Wikipedia, one can legitimately ask whether Wikipedia needs Google that way).

Prof. Eric Clemons pointed out this influence of Google when he acknowledged students telling him that they probably could not have graduated (Prof. Clemons said it about High School students, however I believe this can be legitimately extended in higher education as well) without ‘Google’; the academician merely corrected them by saying – ‘without search’, highlighting the process part of it.

Similarly if I dare to extend this argument of Morozov, I might just say:

  ‘If news media or social media (like twitter) produces the first drafts of history; it is the social media again like Wikipedia (and others like wikileaks) that produce the latest, and the most viewed drafts of it.’   

The most extensive draft of history, which probably can truly be called something similar to a ‘People’s History’, is getting stored with search engines like Google that has all the ‘private’ records of most of our searches historically (only we ourselves individually and Google can access it). However it hasn’t leaked out yet, fortunately for all of us. However I am not sure that how long more it would remain truly private, and protected.

(Wikipedia, by the way, has been debating whether to retain the article on Nira Radia. I requested them to retain it, because there are other sources, without the credibility that Wikipedia offers. The external link in Wikipedia on Nira Radia leads to a blank page, which may provide credibility to the the cover-up allegations).

Part II of this article can be found here.

Before moving to academics, the author worked with a company, enlisted as a Tata Group Company, in its Senior Management Team.

I invite you to visit my blog, Wondering Man (or take a look at my book, Wondering Man, Money & Go(l)d that rightly predicted the housing-led economic crisis of 2008, rise of gold prices to the currency war being played now). You are also invited to join me on Twitter.

Be Sociable, Share!