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Ramesh Jude Thomas

The author is president and CKO, EQUiTOR Value Advisory

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BW Businessworld

Is It Right Or A Right?

Laugh at Trump all you want, but he’s not the odious outsider that many of us would like to believe he is

This weekend, junior and myself were waiting at the front end of a busy central Bangalore crossing, when a complete moron cuts across and places himself such that he couldn’t manoeuvre nor allow me to use my green signal. Listening to my very vocal frustration an auto rickshaw driver to our left with a sense of humour shouts across in our direction: “Sir, driving a car requires minimum tenth class pass.”

I thought about it and it brought back to me something a young colleague had brought up during our monthly free speech session. She argued very eloquently about the contradiction between adoption and natural parenthood. The centrepiece of her argument was around why a couple or individual who wants to adopt has to answer a million questions on suitability, whereas natural parents only have to copulate. Fundamentally, why natural parents are any more qualified to bring up children than adopting folks.

It’s almost akin to saying that if you own a car then you have a natural right to drive it. Seems rather silly, and dangerous. But it is an accepted practice in India. Guess why we have an accident every minute according to the news channel NDTV. Even a place like Dubai will happily fail you three times on the simulator before you are granted the right to use their streets.

The real issue worth considering here is why entitlement defines almost every aspect of our lives today. It seems to take precedence over any real authority, defined by knowledge, experience or wisdom. I recall when we were kids playing cricket in the building, the guy with the bat had more rights than the other kids. If he didn’t agree with an umpiring decision he would just take his bat and walk off. So he would often end up getting two lives, by right.

We will see this rampant in environments like ours. A quick look at the stock market will reveal the disproportionate shareholding of family members even in our listed companies. Leading to ugly public spats when succession is being decided. I doubt if I need to cite examples for you. Family constitutions don’t seem to separate between the right to hold a share versus being equipped to make long-term decisions for the company and its stakeholders.

Politics is even more entitled today. Isn’t it amazing that the people who we elect to frame our fairness principles for us (i.e. create legislation) want to reserve the positions of power for family members? True for our Grand Old Party as much as for many regional satraps. And then the entitlement extends itself to breaking the very rules they write.

As you can see this is not restricted to one level of citizenry or another. Like John Belushi says in The Blues Brothers, “It’s you, me, them, everybody.” A deep-rooted social malaise, no less. But why does should this matter?

Typically, entitled societies will inherit, not create. Typically, they don’t have the will nor the ability to question and adapt. Typically, they tend to be consumed by harvesting and do little planting of their own. Typically, they go into decay and decline early.

I am terrified of the results from the next US elections. According to The Economist there is a bunch of backers from the 1 per cent who are hell bent on pushing the narrative to the far right. They will, because they can. So laugh at Trump all you want, but he’s not the odious outsider that many of us would like to believe he is.

On the other hand, look at the Canadian results and the cabinet composition. Are we surprised how that little country of 33 million punches consistently above its weight?

If you were a punter who would you bet on?

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magazine 22 february 2016 donald trump society culture