Reflections on India's Independence Day: Living ethically is the key to the greater good

By doing our jobs properly and ethically the country will progress and become great. The paradigm of development should be based on the maxim of Spirituality + Technology = Happiness. It will help us all become ethical human beings. 

Anil K. Rajvanshi Aug 11, 2023
Representational Photo

India is celebrating its 77th Independence Day on August 15. By any yardstick, 76 years is a ripe age for a human being but a young age for a nation. India is a young nation with 1.3 billion population mostly comprising of young people. It is the energy of its young and intelligent population that gives hope for the future of the nation and ultimately the world. 

Yet it is a long journey before we can make this country a holistic and very emotionally satisfying place to live. How to do so should be our focus when thinking about what Independence Day means to us. 

There are billions of problems in this country but the most important one that we should focus on is how to reduce fear. Fear of poverty; fear of divisions; and fear of hatred are some of the fears which divide us and create tensions and strife and do not allow us to live in peace.    

When we reduce fear in our minds then we will move forward embracing all Indians as brothers and sisters and unleashing their talents to make this country great.

Working ethically  

My father Jagdish Rajvanshi went to jail with Gandhiji in the 1942 Quit India movement.  He was only 24 years old and was doing his Ph.D. in Hindi literature at Allahabad University. He, like hundreds and thousands of young people, sacrificed their career and had no fear in doing so since a higher thought and goal was given by Gandhiji. It is these young unsung heroes that we should always remember on this Independence Day.  

We should also learn from Gandhiji and take a pledge that we the older generation should instill higher thought and noble goals in the younger generation.    

For the last 5-10 years I have been discussing these issues with young students in various colleges and Institutions of higher learning. And that is how to inculcate and implant the ethics of work in them so that all of us can become good citizens.  Because when all of us work ethically then we can help the country progress and usher in the true meaning of independence.   

Fear of failure

Somehow, we make our children focus only on passing exams. Right from early childhood they are made to concentrate on passing exams and the fear of failing the exams is their biggest fear.  

Since the focus is only on passing exams, the children and young students are made to only cram the subject matter and nothing else. Thus they are never taught about ethical behavior, truthfulness and how to become good citizens. 

To my mind, these are the most important qualities in any human being. Ethics of work means doing work honestly and diligently. One can learn everything on a job when one does it with honesty and ethically. 

Honesty comes when one looks deeply inside oneself. Mistakes will happen but with honesty and good intentions, they can be rectified.  All organizations look for honest and diligent workers. Unethical behavior creates problems for both self and the organization or system.

Unethical behavior starts when we tell lies. This starts generally from childhood. Fear makes children lie. When they are beaten up in schools and homes then they start lying to stop getting punished.  Beating in homes is because a lot of the frustration of parents is taken out on children and to avoid being beaten up, they start telling lies. Children also lie because of Insecurity – to impress others, peers, and friends. Lying not checked early becomes habitual. Greed also fuels unethical behavior. Fame, power, money are all outputs of greed. It is also an outcome of insecurity. 

Greed reduction

Greed can be reduced by practicing spirituality. Spirituality is looking deeper inside and evaluating oneself honestly. It is not a religion. Spirituality gives us wisdom and helps us to differentiate between what things are important and which ones are not so important. Sustained spirituality gives us happiness. 

Greed can also be tempered by fostering ;junoon' or passion. If we work ethically, it entails looking at things deeply with intense focus. This leads to junoon. Introduce junoon in whatever you do. It is like meditation. It makes the pinpricks go away since the laser-like focus is on the work at hand and leads to peace and happiness. Very honestly evaluate what you want in life. Don’t follow what others are doing. It should be based on emotional satisfaction and happiness.  

Unfortunately, large-scale greed has been influenced by the US since the bottom line is how to make investors rich. This greed has affected the financial health of the countries. Thus rich have become richer, and the poor have become poorer. This is happening all over the world and has also led to unsustainable lifestyles and environmental degradation. There are innumerable examples of this behavior world over.  

What can we all do?

In a manifestly corrupt society like India, it is sometimes difficult to live ethically. Laws are fine. It is their implementation that is faulty. Greed makes us find loopholes in the system. So, do your work ethically and diligently and new paths will become visible. Making any decision should be guided by the thought that the outcome should be for the greater good.

Ethics should be a part of every course from school onwards. Examples of ethical behavior should be taught and stressed continuously in schools, colleges, and homes. Gandhiji said that change should start with us.  Each one of us should therefore do our job ethically. Doing our work ethically will also show how to do it efficiently since we will look deeply into it and evaluate it.  

By doing our jobs properly and ethically the country will progress and become great. The paradigm of development should be based on the maxim of Spirituality + Technology = Happiness. It will help us all become ethical human beings.                  

So on this Independence Day let us pledge that we will do our work ethically and honestly.  Only then we can make this country great and, in the process, be an example to the world. 

(The writer, an IIT and US-educated Indian engineer,  a 2022 Padma Shri award winner, is the Director, of Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute, Phaltan, Maharashtra. Views are personal. He can be reached at

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D S Bharara
Fri, 08/11/2023 - 22:49
I have always been a follower of working ethically and honestly and your article has further strengthened my resolve to continue doing so and to advise all I meet to strive and follow your advice. Jai Hind !!
Anil Rajvanshi
Mon, 08/14/2023 - 19:10
Thanks Bharara for your nice words. Warm regards.