When leaders are confused

Reported by: |Updated: November 5, 2019

While the PMC Bank fraud came to light, I was reading a novel End of Saamba Dance written by Sridhar Ramachandran. I was surprised to find many commonalities between the fiction world and the real world, and that spurred me to finish the novel quickly. The novel is about a visionary industrialist who starts from very humble beginnings and goes on to build a multi-national industrial group spanning steel, automobiles, textiles, etc. He starts off as an honest entrepreneur, but on the way to success, somewhere he succumbs to greed and grandeur, and lands up on the wrong side of the moral border. I will not share more details as I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment of reading the novel, but the same gradual shift from morality to immorality is seen in the PMC Bank case as well.
In the novel, the more the entrepreneur grew his business, the bigger his aspirations became, which somehow pushed him to take immoral decisions including hiding information and lying. Same seems to be the story emerging at PMC Bank. Another similarity between the novel and the bank is the inability of the leaders to recognize the risks and see only a rosy future where problems get resolved by themselves and not via the acts of the leader. Neither the entrepreneur in the novel nor the bankers at PMC Bank saw any immorality in lying, hiding and fudging in pursuit of their ambitions. Succumbing to greed and optimism is a known human weakness…..perhaps leaders are more likely to be afflicted.
The common belief is that religion is a guide for morality. What I find is that most religions give us a context where growth is either non-existent or gradual. Rapid economic growth is spurring thinking outside the moral box today. Likewise, I suspect, rapid technological growth will also spur thinking outside the moral box, and this is a really scary thought.
Perhaps, there is an unwritten law that rapid growth pushes the human mind to cross the moral borders….this deserves thinking and investigating among philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, entrepreneurs, regulators and others.
The end of the novel was satisfying, and I look forward to a satisfying outcome of the PMC Bank case as well. The moral of both stories – fiction and real – is clear: Leaders that have big ambitions but fuzzy morals will take you straight to hell.



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