“Taking moral responsibility” – what does it mean?

The General Elections to the Lok Sabha 2014 has just been declared over. The results have been a vent of all bottled up expectations. Lots of young people (in age & mind) went out to vote because they were frustrated. Everyone wanted change! Why not? Look at all the stagnation over the last few years, what else did we expect? Change was imminent!

But what surprised me most were the funny reactions happening over the last few days. Some of the senior journalists (not all) have been pushing people (the ones who have lost) to take moral responsibility. Many senior politicians have also used the same phrase “taking moral responsibility” just too many times! What does it mean? What must be the actions that truly reflect it?

It looks like “taking moral responsibility” means “resigning”. Sorry to say that it seems so obviously wrong! At least that’s what it means when we listen to the news. The politicians, journalists and political analysts seem to be reiterating this. Resignations are flying off the shelf! Every party that has lost the election has its leader putting in their papers. And we see people (senior journalists) on television praising such acts as signs of leadership. The singular message for anyone who thinks rationally is this: there is no understanding of what “taking moral responsibility” means and nobody seems to understand what “good leadership” is? What must a good leader do during a time of crisis? Is there not good quality research output describing what a good leader can do during a time of crisis? Are there not enough advisors who can guide leadership through these challenging times?

“Taking moral responsibility” or “taking responsibility” means “I want to do something about what has happened” or “I want to make sure I do something that will ensure this situation does not repeat itself”. It definitely is not simply throwing up the hands and saying “I tender my resignation”. Here are some more thoughts on what “taking responsibility” means: https://rajshankar.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/taking-responsibility-what-does-that-mean/ (Co-incidentally I wrote it one day before the counting started)

It’s time a lot more people in India really understand what “leadership” really means so that we can sieve the real leaders from the crowd.

The next time anyone (politicians and journalists amongst others) uses the phrase “taking moral responsibility”, please use it for its real meaning, not as yet another gimmick to gain attention.


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