By Minoo Masani

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When I was Ambassador in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in the 1940s the wife of the Dean of the diplomatic corps, which means the senior most ambassador. Sir Neville Butler, found a cure for Brazilian unpunctuality. m. m. m. punctually dinner was served and the gates were closed. Brazilian dignitaries who were late were told to go home as they were late for dinner. They never came late again! During the last many years I, along with a couple of my colleagues, have interviewed candidates for senior management positions.

We have at least twenty-five but we are still not satisfied and are happy when someone dies and a holiday is declared. How absurd! I remember when I was a schoolboy, when a teacher or somebody died we boys left our schools gleefully shouting ‘holiday-holiday’. A friend of mine has calculated how much an Indian government employee works throughout the year. It is disastrously low. According to him it works out to 1440 hours here in India in con-trast to 2180 hours a year in Japan. But even this is misleading.

In 1941, when Mahatma Gandhi had to select one man at a time to break the law in India as a satyagrahi, he ignored all the politicians of the day and chose Acharya Vinobha Bhave since he considered him to be the most disciplined man he knew. Gandhiji was right. It has been said that Alexander the Great conquered the world, but he could not conquer himself. That is, a conqueror of men, lacked self control. How sad. 16 SAYING ‘NO’ Discipline consists in saying ‘yes’ to reasonable rules and orders but saying ‘no’ to wrong or op-pressive orders.

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