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Job Anbalagan (Dy. Chief Vigilance Officer (Retd))     28 July 2013

Ethics wins, law fails

Ethics Management works when law is absent or silent  

Laws are passed by legislatures. Code of conduct is framed by employers for regulating the conduct or behavior of employees.  But ethics is written on human hearts. Ethics achieves what law cannot achieve. Your heart tells you what is good or what is wrong.  Ten Commandments were given by God as Law. People tried to keep Ten Commandments in a mechanical manner but failed in keeping the commandments. Religious books or Scriptures teach us moral laws but we fail to keep the moral laws. 

There are a plethora of laws in our nation for regulating our conduct in society. There are also umpteen law enforcement agencies, both at central level and at state’s level. But crimes are ever on the increase.  In our nation, there is a clamor for stringent anti-corruption laws, apart from the existing anti-corruption law i.e. Prevention of Corruption Act, 1985. There are adequate anti-corruption agencies both at the Central Govt. and at the state governments. But still corruption is rampant in our Govt. sector.  Though there is no dearth of regulatory laws and controls, fraud and corruption take place. Social activists take to the street to become popular among the youths so as to be branded as saviors of the nation.  Social activist Anna Hazare clamors for a “strong” Lok Pal to curb corruption in high places as if by the passing of the Lok Pal Bill of the version submitted by him to the Central Govt. would get rid of corruption in our nation by a magic band. Corruption is likened to a snake.  This snake can be killed by a stick in your or my hand and we do not need a monster to kill a snake. Why should create a dragon like organization giving its absolute power to punish the corrupt? Ethics is a stick in your hand to beat and kill the snake. Ethics Management teaches you to not bribe and to not take bribe. If bribery has taken place through a human vessel, it teaches us to cleanse that human vessel that contains poison. Why should we destroy the human vessel that God has created in His own image?  We can reform him through Ethics Management when we fail to reform him through the punitive code of conduct or the punitive law.  We can definitely kill the snake in a corrupt person. Punitive action should be a soothing medicine to heal the wounds of corruption and to get rid of the poison from him. 

Ethics programs Vs code of conduct 

Ethics programs have to be designed in such a manner that the person afflicted with the malaise of corruption becomes a better person and a better employee.  Personal counseling and personal mentoring by an elder should form part of an Ethics program.

In fact, wherever there is no written code of conduct, unwritten code of ethics works. Whenever a new crime takes place, we need to enact a special law to deal with it. But Ethics Management prevents occurrence of a new sophisticated crime that has not raised its ugly head earlier. 

Corporate Houses have to invest more in Ethics Management than in other managerial functions.  A newly recruited engineer or a manager knows how to perform his duty because he has the requisite talent or ability.  But he does not know how to interact with others in a team, how to treat others with respect, how to humble himself before clients or subordinate officials, how to prevent violation of the rules, how to be honest in money transactions, how to protect the company’s business secrets.  He may not find written guidelines or instructions in white and black to guide him when he occupies his seat. Exposing him continually to the ethics and values or to the ethical standards which are expected of him will go a long way in making him an asset to the organization in the long run.  Ethics programs will definitely bring about attitudinal changes in the heart of employees. 

The senior managerial officers or the top management at the level of the Board should follow ethics in their business dealings and in their dealings with the employees at the middle and lower levels.  Issuing instructions on ethics or enforcing code of conduct would not suffice but the top management’s setting an example to the lower level functionaries by ethical conduct would bring about attitudinal changes among the lower level and working level employees.  This does not mean that no written instructions should be issued. Employees need to be given hand-books of do’s and don’ts. But above all, the top management’s ethical behavior has to be transparent and to be emulated by the lower level. Ethics Management has to percolate down in the hierarchy. 

Ethics (compassion) Vs Law of Moses 

The top management as a teacher or a Guru should practically mentor the young executives in taking ethical decisions and in performing duties in an ethical manner. Jesus Christ as a great Management Guru did not mentor His disciples through the written Law of Moses but helped them practically in obeying the Law by setting an example to them by His own life. He fed the five thousands of hungry people through five loaves of bread and two fishes in a desert.  The following is the incident recorded in the gospels.

“And Jesus, when He came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

 And when the day was now far spent, His disciples came unto him, and said, “This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:  Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat”. 

He answered and said unto them, “Give ye them to eat”. And they say unto him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?”  He said to them, “How many loaves do you have ? Go and see”. And when they knew, they said, “Five, and two fishes”.

 And He commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.  And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.  And they did all eat, and were filled.  And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men”. 

Jesus delegated His authority to the twelve disciples in feeding the thousands in a desert. His compassion for the hungry thousands multiplied the scarce resource of the five loaves of bread and two fishes so as to feed the five thousands. The capital invested by Jesus consisted of the five loaves of bread and two fishes. The top management should have compassion for the thousands of clients whom they have to deliver goods or services.  The managers likened to the 12 disciples who have to fulfill the vision of the top management have to distribute faithfully the multiplied goods or services with the same level of compassion in their hearts.  Jesus merely blessed the loaves of bread and fishes broke the same and passed on the same to His disciples who acted in unison with their Master with a single mission of feeding the multitudes. Jesus gave instructions to His disciples to seat the multitudes in groups of fifty and 100 each on the grass in the desert.  The top management has to guide the working managers for reaching out to the millions of the clients with the deliveries of goods or services. When the company faces recession and falls into an economic desert, they have to look for grasses in the desert.  The rules and regulations will not help find the grasses in the desert. A thorough stock taking of assets and liabilities and their true valuation will definitely help find “some” grasses in the desert. 

There should be proper systems for the end-goods or the end-services to reach the millions of clients scattered all over the world. The multitudes also includes the thousands of people surrounding the places of business or production who benefit from the social welfare schemes/projects being undertaken by the company under Corporate Social Responsibility. In some companies, they outsource this task to some third parties or agents.  Their company executives should shoulder the responsibility for this work with the highest level of devotion. Of course, there may not be written guidelines or rules in the CSR activities. But the officials entrusted with this function should perform their tasks ethically.  They can frame rules and regulations to be followed in the projects of CSR where there are no rules or regulations. 

The millions of clients are to be segregated into suitable and manageable groups geographically to be managed by the company’s regional offices.  The company has to reach out to the millions of clients and should not leave this job to the dealers in their marketing wing. The clients being located geographically in different nations have diverse cultures and life styles.  The clients’ interests have to be taken into account while producing goods or services. These days, many companies are interested only in increasing profits for satisfying shareholders who play a major role in the stock market. 

Jesus out of compassion multiplied the capital investment into thousands of loaves of bread and fishes; He simply passed on the same to the disciples. 

If the top management has compassion for the millions of clients, then they can expect miracles of multiplication of the scarce resources/raw materials into end-products or end-services.  In other words, it is the ethics of the top management that is responsible for the multiplication of their scarce resources to reach to the millions in multiplication through a disciplined army of managers. 

Where the Law of Moses did not feed the thousands of hungry souls, the ethics i.e. compassion has worked or served the thousands with the scarce resources.  Jesus summed the entire Ten Commandments into two love commands i.e. Loving God with all your heart and loving your neighbor as you love yourself.  Jesus acted in a realm higher than the Law of Moses and thus fulfilled the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses commanded to not commit murder. But Jesus raised the standard of definition of murder saying that the killing of honor and reputation of a person was tantamount to murder. Ethics Management exhorts us to walk in a higher realm of truth and righteousness.  This is the secret of Ethics Management. 

The top management has to be ethical for their clients and for other stakeholders.  They should not use unethical methods to produce their goods or services. There are many drug companies in the world who are not ethical but want to promote their drugs through unethical means jeopardizing the health of millions. They also use dangerous ingredients and unethical methods in manufacturing drugs in developing or third world nations.  In the short run, they may earn windfall profits following the law of the land but not following ethical standards providing for “right to life”. They may circumvent the law of the land through the loopholes in the law but in the long run, the same arm of law will catch them and they will lose their brand name and customer bases. If the drug manufacturers had compassion in their hearts for the millions of the people whom they do not personally, then they would not have ventured to manufacture such dangerous drugs.  Jesus had not known personally the multitudes and He had known only His 12 disciples. Even His disciples had also not known the multitudes personally but merely segregated them in 50 groups of each.  One Indian bank in its advertisement boastfully claims to have reached a customer base of 50, 00,000 plus through its 1103 branches and its employee strength of 10,000 plus. I wonder whether they have conducted a survey of their customers’ satisfaction on random sample basis. 

Jesus reached out to the unknown five thousands of men, besides women and children because of His compassion. The medium of His compassion was through His 12 disciples who were known to Him and who were highly disciplined. One of them included the most unethical disciple Judas who betrayed Jesus just for 30 silver coins. There may be some Judas in every organization. If the top management is highly ethical, then they can identify ‘Judas’ and shift him to a post where he cannot make money for himself or abuse his position. Let us not get rid of Judas but shift him because he is clever and efficient. 

Mercy or compassion knows no bounds of ethnicity, culture, language and religion. 

Know Your Customer 

A dedicated and disciplined army of managers and not an undisciplined and undedicated army of dealers can translate the mission of the management into action. These days, we find the management jargon “KYC” – Know Your Customers. The management should not expect their dealers of marketing to know their customers or clients. The dealers are supposed to deliver the goods to the company’s customers as middlemen. The MNCs are investing more on marketing their products through dealers than on establishing more branches of their companies to get true feedback from clients. They depend upon the exaggerated feedback reports submitted by their dealers. The company executives in the regional or branch offices should deal with their clients on random selection basis without associating their dealers.  The company executives are supposed to conduct surprise checks on the dealers’ outlets to know what is happening there. The company executives are supposed to act with compassion and not to go merely by the rules and regulations of marketing management. The truth will evade them and they will be carried away by the lie and deception. The dealers manufacture or fabricate reports to deceive the company but act within the purview of the company policy or rule. 

Ethics Management Vs law and justice 

Ethics Management works in a realm higher than the law and justice. A judge interprets law and applies it to the case to be decided by him purely on the basis of evidence. He convicts a murderer to capital punishment only on the basis of evidence justifying his conviction as the rarest of rare cases. At times, he uses the word “leniency”, considering the mitigating factors of the case. He acts within the framework of the law and justice.  However, when the mercy petition is preferred before the Governor or the President, then ethics comes into the picture. Mercy or compassion flows from Ethics Management.  The law and justice system takes the back seat when ethics takes the front stage. The written law is just and good. We find the sentence in judgments delivered by judges.  They say, “Ends of justice would be met” when the accused is pronounced guilty.  When the written law is just, the unwritten ethics is humane.  When the written law protects the rights of people, the unwritten ethics guarantees “right to life”, setting in motion ”well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do”. Ethical standards include standards relating to rights, such as the right to life, the right to freedom from injury, and the right to privacy. (Ref. my blog on“Introduction and Meaning of Ethics Management) 

Case study of Swiss firm Novartis’ 

In a ruling that would help thousands of poor patients continue to buy several life-saving medicines as generic drugs, the Supreme Court on 1st April 2013 held that the modification of a well known cancer-fighting drug is not a patentable new invention. The judgment has allowed suppliers to continue making generic copies of Swiss firm Novartis’ Glivec or Gleevec, which has been shown to fight chronic blood cancer effectively. While the Novartis drug costs more than Rs 1 lakh per month, with doctors often advising patients to take it lifelong, the generic equivalents cost less than one-tenth. The ruling would be a relief to some 300,000 patients in India currently taking the drug. The company attempted to take umbrage at the patent law in India but the Supreme Court acting with compassion for the 300,000 passed its judgment rightly interpreting the patent law and applying the ethical principle of “right to life” to this case. 

The Swiss MNC did not have ”compassion" for the thousands of poor patients in third world nations and they were driven by their profit motive.  If they had reduced their prices to match with the prices of generic equivalents without claiming patent right on their modified products which they attempted to present as new wine in old bottles, then they could have widened their customers’ bases in these nations including India, earning the goodwill of the thousands of dying patients all over the world.  I do not think they had to close their business operations in India if they had to bring down their prices.  They could have multiplied and extended their marketing networks to every nook and corner of the world so as to redeem what they had lost by reducing prices.

 (I can be contacted through my email:


 2 Replies


Nicely explained, Sir.


Now-a-days; more and more emphasis is on enacting NEW LAWS and its ENFORCEMENT by the officers. 


Until ETHICAL ATTITUDE is routed through the roots of the admission process at convent schools; we can't assure ourselves that public will follow ETHICS in its LIFE. The very purpose of education fails the moment a parent is required to pay COMPULSORY DONATION at the time of  admission of tiny-tot in a reputed school to get him educated. 


The Big Question : Reputed for what? Is it converting the student (after taking huge donation)  into an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, a CA or a good businessman (from career point of view) or a good citizen (from society point of view) ?  Can it be expected from such organizations that they will "produce" good citizens who allow admission  after accepting donations?


These are charitable institutions.....compulsory donations are collected so that compulsory charities can be continued....fulfilling their objects for which these have been established.


No strong objections are being raised by the society and the persons behind the law.....because no EVIDENCE is there.  The law requires EVIDENCE ignoring  the INCIDENCE  happening openly.


Until the MANAGEMENT is punished for such compulsion; NO LAW can save the society from  the CORRUPTION. 

Job Anbalagan (Dy. Chief Vigilance Officer (Retd))     20 August 2013

Dear Mr. Surendra Kumar,


Thanks for your wonderful comments which I greatly appreciate.  In fact, I am against unethical methods being followed by Christian schools also who take donations from poor parents. But I hardly come across any instance of conversions from other faiths in such schools.  This is not a correct judgment. 

Job Anbalagan

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