Episode # 255 – “Business & Professional Ethics” – An inner meaning of Vidura’s stress on “Barter trade”!!!


In the previous episode we had witnessed an exhaustive list of items that should not be traded in terms of money. In other words, Vidura had clearly explained that these items should not be bought or sold for money! Of course we can argue that such things are not possible in today’s ways of doing business, however, we should note that in those days, “Barter trade” was the order of the day in the business environment. People used to trade one product with another and this business model was popular across all kingdoms in our ancient Bhaarata Desha. We should also remember the fact that Vidura is talking about the “Dharma” of the “Tretha Yuga” and not of the “Kali Yuga”. We’ve already seen quite a bit of explanation on this front in our previous episodes and the readers may recollect our discussion on this! At the end of that explanation, Vidura had clearly explained how the “Dharma” would keep deteriorating as days progress and now applying those words of Vidura, as “Yugas” transcended by, the “Dharma” is only getting worse day by day! Hence we’re witnessing today that all the trade happens in terms of money (currency) and barter trade has by large vanished from our economic system (barring few items of course). I’m not saying that it’s wrong at this point, because the entire world is now functioning on the basis of currency trade.

But the sad thing today is that, just because of the currency trade, many people are taking advantage of it to play foul games in a way that they end up cheating other people for some petty momentary gains. For instance, in today’s world we have innumerable “ready-to-eat” products that are sold in the market. It is shocking to read some media reports that many of these companies that process these food items are solely focused on the commercial profit on these products, but they care a damn for the quality of the products that they sell. Little are these companies bothered about the customers’ health and side effects if he/she consumes these products. There were recent reports that one prominent brand that manufactures some “ready-to-eat” and “ready-to-cook” items were found wanting in terms of adequate cleanliness at the manufacturing area! Reports were showing that the workers who are employed at the manufacturing floor, never wore head covers (to prevent the fall of human hair into the product), gloves (to prevent bacteria and virus from the hands in entering the product), etc. If such is the case, where are we heading to nowadays?

This is why we always keep saying that it has now become extremely dangerous to consume food that is not purely home-cooked! Of course we can see that this is one firm that has been caught for such wrongdoings! But there might be thousands of other firms that still continue manufacturing sub-standard products by violating “Food safety” norms prescribed by the government! Where is the importance given to a human life in todays’s scenario? This commercialisation has gone to such an extent today that we’ve taken human life and human health for granted! This is why perhaps it makes us feel that at some point, barter trade was much more efficient in terms of lot of aspects such as health, safety, etc. Now that we’re into excess of commercialization, many organizations today are becoming more and more obsessed with money and profits, that they are even ready to compromise and do anything and everything to fulfil their numbers!

This, we’ve spoken just about one industry and one such incident! There are innumerable examples in today’s business world wherein we talk loud and clear about ethics and how do we maintain ethics in the professional setup. However the bigger question to be asked here is that, are we “walking the talk” with respect to professional ethics? If we really do so, why do we see widespread corruption in almost every walk of life in today’s world? Corruption might not only exist in government offices (as it is the normal perception of all of us), but also might show its ugly face in the corporate sector too! How many companies are we seeing today, swindling huge amounts of money and looting it all, in front of the shareholders’ eyes? How many companies are “cheating” banks that give them huge amounts of loans based on the “trust factor” that it would be repaid back at the appropriate time? Where is the accountability for all this? Can bank loans be “written off” just like that, without any pre-conceived thought or notion? These are the problems that plague today’s business world, as we’ve moved from the barter trade to the currency trade.

Of course I’m not saying that all companies are cheating in terms of money and ethics, but what I’m trying to say here is that the “Dharma” of the business world is slowly deteriorating, owing to the widespread and gross misuse of something called “currency” or money! Of course I also understand that moving forward, we can neither eradicate currency trade, nor the corruption that is associated with it. But as ardent followers of “Sanaathana Dharma”, we should understand that by misusing power and position to swindle money, we are doing a huge disservice to our own society and to our own fellow brothers and sisters! Hence we should take a conscious step forward to realize this truth and take adequate steps to reduce such gross wrongdoings in business.

So for today, let us extend our thought process into this point and let us understand the fact that if we’re swindling others’ money today, our money would be swindled by someone else tomorrow! Hence let us not get into the trap called “money” and let us realize that life has much more to offer than just money and luxuries associated with it! We shall wait till the next episode to witness the next important point that Vidura explains! Stay tuned! 🙂

Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in Kerala, India. A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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