Lying Justified

While we always teach our children that lying is a sin, do we follow this commandment literally? Speaking the truth is a highly subjective matter and more often than not, we lie our way through everything, knowingly or unknowingly. It doesn’t mean that lying is correct but in quite a few situations, lying is more justifiable or acceptable than blurting out the truth.

We’d rather lie than speak the truth when feelings of people are involved. One may not want to hurt one’s close ones or create enmity among one’s family or friends. Such a situation may arise frequently in Indian families because of our cultural restraints and beliefs. When arranged marriages are concerned, it may not be possible to outrightly reject someone with close relations to the family. It can have grave consequences and breed hatred among the best of friends. Lying has its merits even while saving friendships or relationships. One might be put in an untoward situation or place where the suspicious nature of the spouse can concoct events which may never have taken place. We often lie to our near and dear ones about concerns regarding our health. A son or daughter may play down the seriousness of an illness in order to save his/her parents unnecessary grief and anxiety. Thus, we often lie or hide the truth from others in order to prevent escalation of tensions, grievances or suspicions. Spouses may avoid correctly commenting on the weight or abilities of their better half when called upon to pass judgment in order to shy away from pointless conflicts and tussles!

Another justification of lying is quite psychologically motivated. One may have heard the ideology of ‘Fake it till you make it’. This ideology justifies lying to yourself and others to some extent by putting up a brave face when adversity strikes or opportunity knocks. We must often lie to ourselves in order to hang on to the last remaining vestige of self-confidence. If we always worry about our looks, abilities or whatever we think our weaknesses are, we would lose valuable self-esteem. In order to succeed and make the most of life, we shouldn’t reveal our weaknesses to others and more importantly, to ourselves. Therefore, lie to yourself instead of accepting that you lack abilities so that success can knock on your door. How can a small town tea-seller with his insecurities and nervousness become such a capable orator who garners votes among the Indian populace?

Finally, lying can be quite justifiable in terms of emergencies involving crowds. The National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) sift through numerous terror threats on a daily basis. And don’t get me started on the local police department. If all police deployments were revealed to the people truthfully, wouldn’t it cause unimaginable and widespread panic? If a terror threat was revealed instead of making it up as a training exercise, would there not be hysteria and chaos? If somehow a statement from the chief of army were to surface in response to an inquisitive journalist that India may not be prepared for any sort of conflict instead of the textbook reply that the army shall defend the country against all external forces, would you not die a little inside? There are things that we are better off not knowing. Policemen receive various threats of attacks on crowded religious places. Not all of these are serious; actually most of them are mere pranks. However, if even due to a slight slip of tongue, were such a threat revealed, the stampede would kill more people than a terror attack might. This proves that we are better off lying than telling the truth in such circumstances which are a proof to the statement, ‘Curiosity killed the cat’.

One must realize that this doesn’t justify lying your way out of every situation. Lies several times accumulate and it may be tough to keep a track of them. Lying to loved ones may break their trust or even prevent them from taking you seriously. You may be better off telling the truth when you cannot lie convincingly or there is no possibility of a white lie.

This makes us realize that situations aren’t always black and white. There is always that gray area when a person must use his/her own interpretation of the situation and decide whether lying is for the greater good or not. Lies may be big or small but unless it leads to a universally favourable situation, it is unjust.

The Drive to Privatize

There has always been a large hue and cry about how India has always failed to meet its fiscal deficit targets and has failed to keep it in control. This is also attributed to the government invariable failing to meet its divestment targets which are either too ambitious or lack adequate government will. The point is that quite a few government companies and PSUs have become a yawning abyss of money. We go on investing the tax payers’ hard earned money into businesses which have a history of wasting it away without raising any considerable benefit for the general public. Companies like Air India have received government funding for far too long without giving back any considerable benefit.

The governments of recent times have been far too lackadaisical to work on the privatization of Air India. Rarely a day goes by, when we do not here about the troubles of Air India flyers. Pilots on strike, delayed flights, corruption scandals and whatnot, all these have become synonymous with Air India. Its privatization could work wonders for it. One must look at the Singapore Airlines to see how it is owned by the government yet not run as per its whims and fancies. In fact, the government is quite outspoken about how it is not involved in the management of the airlines. This seems to be a viable model for India’s cash-strapped national carrier. While the government may own a majority stake in the airlines, it must disinvest in it to ensure adequate cash flow so that it need not give regular grants to the airlines. Management of the airlines cannot lie with the government as it has been reckless thus far. Appointing professionals at highest levels to promote ethical and operational efficiency is the need of the hour.

While Air India is just one example of how government can benefit from privatization and divestment, the next area is the banking sector. The banking sector has been in need of a fresh flow of funds for far too long. So while its non-performing assets (NPAs) rise, it has been deprived of an opportunity to grow due to the severe fund crunch. The government was never in a position to fund Air India, let alone the numerous state-controlled banks. What it must do is that while it retains majority control, it must give up most of its shareholding to raise greater funds.

drive to privatize

The same goes for other government institutions like Coal India. The government may face a lot of opposition in this endeavor but this government has the political majority to do so. So far it has also shown the will. The real trouble would be to thwart attempts from the trade unions which will surely be up in arms. This requires stringent labor reforms which have been long due. To facilitate privatization, the government must craftily deal with these unions who wish to remain in their comfort zone. For far too long these employees have enjoyed the perks of a government job without exercising even a modicum of responsibility that must come with it. Privatization is the need of the hour. The government has no business in doing business. While it may retain majority shareholding in these companies, it must give up day-to-day management and interference. The organizations must be run like any other company with professionalism that the government has not been able to display.