Friday, September 9, 2016

You Are Being Watched

The Gurukul had students up to its full capacity. The location of the school, popularity of the Kulapati (Head of the Gurukul) and the facilities available had added to its importance as a well known centre of learning. The students came from different parts of the large area surrounding the capital. That the Kulapati was also Raja-guru (King's counsel) added to its importance. The students belonged to different sections of the society. Some of the students were the sons and wards of noblemen and hence came from affluent backgrounds. The aristocracy of their family and upbringing had rubbed on many of them and they considered themselves far superior to other students in their classes. They looked down on other students who came from humble backgrounds. They treated those with such antecedents rather harshly and showed their impatience in having to sit with them as equals in their classes. Such treatment meted out to humble students was bordering on arrogance and reached undesirable levels. One student with most humble nature was being harassed much more than others by these upstarts. The Kulapati came to know of this and decided to remedy the situation. 

When the session was in progress one day, a servant brought a big banana bunch to the classroom. All the students were looking at the banana bunch with anticipation. At the end of the session, Kulapati announced that he was giving them a post-class assignment. It was a practical assignment, he said. All the students would be given one banana each and were required to eat it after the class. This was perhaps the most simple and welcome post-class assignment they ever had! Eating a banana! Many of them were desirous of doing this assignment more than once. But there was a caveat. The banana was to be eaten when nobody was watching them. They should ensure that they find a place where their act of eating the banana was not seen by anybody. They were advised to report their action on the next school day, after three days, due to intervening holidays.

The class was convened after three days. All the students were eager to tell the Kulapati how they did their post-class assignment. Some of them wanted to request him for giving them similar assignments, but with different items to add to the variety. Kulapati asked the first student to make his presentation. 

"I went to my room. Closed the door and windows. Covered the holes and the gaps in them with cloth. I ate the banana in the closed room and came out later. Nobody saw me eating the banana.", said the first student triumphantly.

"Well done!" said the Guru and called the second student. "I did just like the first one. But I went one step further. I lied down on my bed and covered myself with a bed sheet while eating the banana.", he said even more confidently.

"Very good!" said the Guru and called the third one now. "I went to the river. It was full of water. I dived into the river with banana in my hand. When I came up from the water, banana was gone into my tummy!", said the beaming student.

"I went to the nearby hill. Climbed on the top most tree and ate it there. There was absolutely no chance for anybody to see my eating the banana", said the fourth student observing that others were very impressed with his innovation.

Each student gave his account of how successfully he ate the banana without anyone noticing them doing so. Now was the turn of the poor humble student who was most harassed by his classmates.

"Kanaka, how did you eat your banana?", Guru asked him. Kanaka got up and sheepishly walked up to the Guru with the banana in his hand. Other students were derisive with their laughter. The banana had lost its color and become black after three days. Kanaka could not even eat a banana. What else can he do? Others wondered.

"Sir, I am sorry that I could not finish my post-class assignment. You had told us in the last class that the Lord is watching all of us all the time and hence our actions should always be pure and humble. Wherever I went with the banana, I could see him observing me. There was no place where I could escape his watchful eyes. Hence I am returning the banana to you. I may please be forgiven for my failure to carry out your instructions.", said Kanaka while keeping the banana on the teacher's table.

BFSI (Banking, Financial services and Insurance) sector is a term used to denote organizations and companies providing a wide variety of financial services to the communities. Universal banks and allied institutions have been playing a vital role in the life of common man for several decades. These institutions have come to sharper focus nowadays due to higher advent of technology and large sums of wealth and money they handle each day. BFSI sector is the custodians of the society's financial wealth and maintaining its integrity is the essence to hold the confidence of the general public.

Due to large expansion in economic and commercial activity, this sector has grown manifold in the last few years. Their operations have become deeper, wider and complex. A generation of workforce is retiring and making way for a new generation. Workforce in BFSI is being augmented by higher recruitments and training them to shoulder managing these onerous responsibilities. Just as adequate knowledge, requisite skills and right attitude is required in handling these positions, integrity has become even more important.

There are many factors that tempt the younger generation manning these vital positions. The propensity to use short cuts for success is among them. Following established systemic requirements and ensuring that the subordinates follow them as well are two most important functions of managers at different levels in this industry. There are multiple regulators watching actions of these young executives. The systems provide for many layers of supervision and scrutiny. Hence it is all the more necessary that actions are beyond any questions, show transparency and respect for the systems and procedures. There is absolutely no doubt that the competition is severe and there is always a need for innovative methods to beat the competition. But any innovative methods used should also meet the requirements of regulators and stand to scrutiny at a future date. The levels of watch and scrutiny are such that there is no escaping from them.

The above story from the life and times of Saint Kanakadasa who lived during the days of Vijayanagara empire in South India is very much relevant today. Raja-guru Vyasaraja was the Kulapati. Kanakadasa lived in the 16th century and is a highly revered poet, composer and social reformer. His teachings and works are a treasure house of knowledge.

Kanaka was lucky as he had only one Lord watching him when he had banana in his hand. Today's young executives in BFSI industry have many watchers around them. Nothing escapes their scrutiny. Internal auditors, external auditors, superiors and regulators are watching every action by these positions. Above all, the general public is more aware of the implications of their actions and are also watching them. The confidence they repose in these institutions depends on their judgement of prompt and proper actions of these executives. 

Yes. You are being watched!


  1. Very well presented with a relevant story from the mythology. As usual a great read.

  2. Very nicely narrated. It is a good reading.

  3. Very nicely narrated. It is a good reading.

  4. Thank you sir.. Really good narration with an example..

  5. Good comparison, well narrated and made interesting to read.

  6. Awed at the wealth of stories you have with you and the ability to present them as anology to present situations.

  7. The very old story and new connotation. Excellent sir.

  8. Indeed, the simplest of stories serve as the best analogies for lessons in values and value based actions. It reminds me of my own mentor's exhortation that the one person that we all need to be most fearful (or wary or watchful of) is our own inner selves. In other words, our conscience which we can equate with the pristine nature of divinity. Nurtured well over time, it can be the best, independent and all pervading judge of our actions. The benefits of personal discipline, discernment and good mentoring will drive an ethic of good practice over a wide spectrum of real life experiences.

    It also reminds me of another quip that I often share with our students ... the fact that each of us will face our very own "Arjuna moments" ... and perhaps not one but several as we traverse life and its worldly circumstances. The discernment and the blessing to know the difference between "Doing the right thing and Doing things right" ... The need for our own "Krishna" at all such moments to enable the most optimal actions. There will of course be several Krishnas' as we travel and each leaving their own embellishment on us ... However the ultimate Krishna that will deliver us is our own well emancipated conscience.

  9. a lesson for the younger generation well told

  10. very Good related story & guidance for integrity

  11. Amazing life lesson !!!!

    regards, Meena

  12. Daniel S MahantyJune 16, 2017 at 3:59 AM

    Very true, delightfully interwoven with a historical story.