I am filled with a burning sense of being wronged by a post that appeared in Johnite.net in my name, but not posted by me! It took me completely by surprise. I could only add a “comment” on the post as my immediate response. I realize now, after some deep reflection, that I need to say some things very clearly. The present post is all my own…
The first thing is something Anura Kurpad brought to my attention this afternoon, forthright as he always is – I had been a part of the core committee myself, and yet it appeared that I was only pointing fingers others. I immediately saw the point. So, let it not be thought that I am shirking from accepting some responsibility myself. Thank you, Anura, for doing exactly what a good friend should do.
A couple of people met me, and a few messaged me, “complimenting” me for the write-up. I feel no sense of achievement about the write-up. People have sought to make it sound like some glass ceiling had been broken. There was no glass ceiling. There is no case for compliments.
When viewed in the public domain, the write-up looks like a litany against the deeds of some people with malevolent intent. The narrative is not about persons – it is about the failure of a system. I would like everybody to understand this, before they begin to point fingers, or engage in the familiar nudge-nudge wink-wink routine. Let not voyeurism take the place of soul-searching. The questions we honestly need to ask ourselves is whether we would have done anything any differently if we were doing them, and whether we would feel the same sangfroid if we were the persons being blamed. I am afraid that the answer to both questions is in the negative. These are human foibles, and we are as vulnerable to them as anybody could be. No need to place unnecessary burdens on peoples’ conscience with a touch of righteousness.
The issues and actions that form the substance of that post could be part of the organizational behavior of any organization. If anything, there is a warning in it for those of us working with the Alumni Association (and other organisations in their private capacities) to ensure that our colleagues have the support to be correct in their actions. The sort of advice that Anura gave me today is a good example. We should strive even more now to ensure rectitude and credibility.
I understand, again from what people have told me, that the write up has demoralized alumni who are/were potential donors, and there is some kind of movement to withhold contributions to any cause associated with St John’s. This would be gross, inappropriate and counterproductive overreach. The task before us is to ensure that the donations are utilized well, and their benefits maximized. There are plenty of campus causes that require continual support from the Alumni – Student scholarships, Student placement, faculty exchanges, re-skilling of faculty, research, innovations and community initiatives. I would strongly urge those that can give to do so generously, but ensuring that the cause they are donating for is served. Accountability must be both achieved and sought for. Do not extend a cold hand.
I would like to acknowledge the many non-alumni among the donors, including faculty and religious houses. We should appreciate them for their generosity. We usually reserve our accolades to alumni, leaving the former out. Their sacrifices for St John’s are precious. There are also a few who have been repeatedly but silently giving of their hard earned monies, and some more, to St John’s. They shun any public acknowledgement, and often a private one too. Let us be grateful to them.
As a pioneer batch member wrote in, nothing could be sweeter than corrections happening rapidly, and the establishment of systems to avoid recurrence of such issues.