The Centre for Corporate Governance and Citizenship (CCGC) at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), has announced a three-part LeaderSpeak Seminar Series, to be held during the months of December, January and February, featuring prominent citizens and eminent thought leaders, discussing their experiences and presenting their views on the overarching subject of 'Business, Ethics and Society'.
The first of the three-part series held at IIMB on December 14, 2010 featured Hon. Justice Santhosh Hegde, Karnataka Lokayukta known as the 'People's Ombudsman'. He addressed the audience on 'Ethics and Individual Responsibility'.
Professor Vasanthi Srinivasan, Chairperson of CCGC welcomed the gathering. Professor Rishikesha T Krishnan introduced the Chief Guest Mr. Santhosh Hegde, saluting him as a torch-bearer in the fight against corruption, and probity in public life.
Justice Hegde, further demonstrated how five fingers are enough to point out the honest, in this age. Defining the terms Ethics and individual responsibility he said, "If you divide the topics ethics and individual responsibility, it just boils down to one's own character and how we use that character in our everyday work, be it in the public domain or private life".
In an age where greed for wealth is driving man to corruption, the Lokayukta stands out as the nemesis, with Justice Hegde as the driving force. Mr. Hegde lashed out at the prevailing state of democracy in the country, which he described as "By some, for some and of some."
"What happens in the today's elected bodies?" asked Hegde not hiding his chagrin. Members come to the Parliament, mark their attendance if necessary, for their sitting fees to be paid, and raise a question. Then there will be counter voices, speaker stands up and says this house is adjourned. And it costs over 8 crores of rupees per day. What have these people done worth this money? This is the difference between the people of the 1950s and the present. This is the change that has occurred in every walk of our life.
"So this is what we have lost. The character, the culture of 2500 years which we were very proud of," Hegde reflects. "Every year we see our rank in transparency index going down, not in numbers; in fact we can see in numbers we are going up which means we are more corrupt. Lately India was 74th. But now we see we are in the 77th place."
Addressing young students in the packed auditorium Hegde said, "in spite of the 'darkness' - the corruption around, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Young people are my inspiration to fight the battle against corruption. Youngsters can change the system, though in the process of fighting they may have to sacrifice a lot. We cannot change the system by preaching, but only by practising honesty and integrity in our lives".
He asserted that he would continue to fight corruption even after retirement and that he would not form any association or raise funds for it.
Justice Hegde welcomed students to intern in Lokayukta. "You are welcome to our office. We are taking people on internships. You can come in for four to six weeks. You will learn how to manage an office, especially public office. And, this is not like any other government office," he asserted.
After his speech, the students posed a number of questions ranging from the political upheaval in the state to the mining scam, land scams, and the functioning of the Lokayukta office.
Professor Vasanthi Srinivasan, in her vote of thanks, hoped students would follow his advice and intern at the Office of the Lokayukta.