Mankind continues to become cognizant of scandals and unethical transgressions that dot the landscape of its collective conscience, through the media of the day, from time to time. Men in positions of eminence or power have never been perfect and they never shall be. They are just like the rest of us with all our aberrations, though surely at
times more talented.
Thus when former US President Bill Clinton did the unmentionable, when French soccer star Zinedine Zidane head-butted Italian defender Marco Matterazi in the soccer World Cup, or when a series of sordid tales about golf legend Tiger Woods surfaced, we were shocked but not really surprised. Why then should we look so askance at the news of ball tampering by Aussie cricketers, the large scale data leakage by Facebook, and incidents of power abuse by sundry politicians and bureaucrats of today? People at the pinnacle will always be susceptible to notions of invincibility. Such is the nature of power, especially absolute power, as we well know. Very few remain above board when tempted by the desire to win at all costs, or to make more money, or by other sorts of temptations. They think they will never be caught.
In each of the above mentioned cases the perpetrators obviously thought that they could get away with it. The fact remains that whenever such leaders err dramatically or when they deliberately commit crimes, their stock is bound to plummet and their flock is bound to flee! A book on the life of Australian skipper Steve Smith which was originally priced at 24 dollars is reportedly selling for just 2 dollars this week. Images of Smith's weeping countenance and those of David Warner and family are bound to draw sympathy and placate even their staunchest critics.
Several Indian cricketers like MS Dhoni and Jasprit Bumrah have sympathized with them. But the damage has
been done in inexorable fashion to the careers of both these brilliant batsmen who rank among the top players of the modern era. Facebook's fortunes and its global goodwill plummeted as soon as news erupted of its ‘unholy’ alliance with Cambridge Analytica vide which the social media giant shared personal data relating to its users on a mass scale. One doubts that Mark Zuckerberg fully realised the ramifications of his company being irresponsible
with data that unsuspecting users had uploaded on Facebook, believing it to be a secure platform.
Even more drastic and painful is the leakage of question papers of Board examinations by insiders at the Central Board of School Education, or by whoever was responsible for their safe custody. This proves just how callous people with massive responsibilities resting on their shoulders can be. To deal so frivolously and in criminal fashion with the careers of hundreds of thousands of young students and to make them go through the trauma of a re-examination is a dastardly act if there ever was one. The impacted set of youngsters will undoubtedly buckle up and appear again with vigour and fortitude, but to subject them to this pain is indeed an abominable act.
What has saved humanity from more such instances is the small bunch of people with integrity and values who adorn public offices and leadership roles in business and society with grace and a sense of rectitude. Everyone wants to succeed and win; top sportspersons or industry leaders want to be known as the greatest ever in their fields. But knowing the limits that cannot ever be crossed is what sets ethical leaders apart from the rest. It is the ability to win fair and square without resorting to ‘tampering’ in any form that brings admiration and true success without the fear of public ridicule one day.
Society is quick to denounce mistakes and forget all the joy that entities like the Australian cricket team or Facebook have brought it over the years. But public memory is short and this is not the last set of scandals to come tumbling out of hiding places. ‘Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching’, said CS Lewis. All the more reason to celebrate those who continue to hold the flag of probity aloft!