A few years ago, I had an opportunity to meet Ratan Tata in a conference in a conference in St Gallen Switzerland. He was the speaker in a session and I was a delegate. When I reached the hall there were a handful people and Ratan Tata was there. I told him we started our career from the same place. He looked startled. I told him that he started his career as the chairman of Nelco and I started as an Assistant Engineer. He was excited and he asked me if I knew about Abhyankar, Mahasur and others. I told him that I worked under them designing UPS, DC Drives and AC Drives.
Last month, he was in news for two reasons. He addressed somewhere in Uttrakhand and talked about how he refused to pay bribe and never got to start a Airline. It was telecasted and several channels had discussions on morality in business. A couple of weeks later the Nira Radia tapes were released and Ratan Tata featured there too. His stature seems to have fallen a bit after the release of these tapes.
Personally, I have very high regards for Ratan Tata. However, one lesson emerges from the episode. To practice morality and ethics is a perfect virtue. However, to sit on the moral high horse may not be a good idea. For when you fall from it, you seem like a villain when you are a hero.
In academic environments, we tend to climb the moral high horse. At the same time heating, copying and plagiarism is quietly practiced by students and teachers alike. The BPUT exams require one invigilator for every 20 students. This indicates the expectation of the unethical behaviour when the situation demands. One professor friend from UC Davis, recently told us he does not invigilate in exams; he expects the students to be honest when unsupervised. I wonder when we can expect that from our students.