Today, Mr E Sreedharan is a well-known personality not only in India but also in the world. The way he executed the Delhi Metro Rail project, is a matter of wonder in engineering as well as the management field. He is a simple man with deep spiritual roots and lives a value-based life. This is a great message to those who believe that in present times crookedness is necessary for success. I think that more important than this physical contribution to India, is his contribution towards changing the mindset of our people. I hereby narrate my first interaction with him.
This happened in November 2001 at Centre for Inner Resources Development (CIRD) in Vasundhara colony of Ghaziabad. CIRD is the name of my spiritual master’s ashram, which was established just a year back. His name is Swami Bhoomananda Tirth and his main base is in Kerala at Trichur, under the name of ‘Narayana Tapovanam’. In November 2001, Swamiji had organised a two-day programme for senior management executives on the subject ‘Beyond Excellence’. I was one of the participants in this programme. There I found that Mr E Sreedharan was also a participant and that he too was Swamiji’s disciple. Naturally, this gave me a sense of joy as well as elation, as I had great regards for him on account of his contribution to the Indian Railways.
At lunch, on the first day itself, we happened to be together at the dining table. After a brief introduction of my background during the meet, I posed a question to Mr Sreedharan about the secret of his success and I also put a condition that I would be happy if the answer could be in one line. To this, his response was even more interesting. He asked why I wanted a one-line answer as he could give the same in one word. This raised my curiosity even further, and I was keen to know that single word. Then very gently and with great sobriety he said, the secret behind every success is the ‘integrity’ of the leader and his people. This was enough for me and I needed no further explanation.
Now it was my turn to contemplate over this magical word called ‘integrity’. All of us know this word and mostly give the certificate of integrity to our subordinates and expect the same from our superiors also. But are we really integrated in the true sense? I realised that ‘integrity’ is not a word; it is a textbook, which has to be read, understood and lived all through our life. A state of total integrity is perhaps our imagination, and we can only try to achieve it to the maximum extent. But if we do so, we have done our duty towards ourselves and the society. This contemplation also took me to the ‘Bhagwad Gita’ in which the first three verses of chapter sixteen give twenty-six virtues of a perfect man. Normally, one feels that being honest only makes us perfect. But the reality is far away. One has to cultivate several good qualities in order to be successful in this world. If one doesn’t, he has to face failure and in that situation, he attributes its causes to his existing good qualities instead of the missing good qualities. That is why the belief that crookedness is necessary for success prevails. The fact is that even those who have such beliefs are worried about the loss of values in the society.
I believe that this one word of Mr E Sreedharan needs a lot of debate, discussion and clarification. Integrity is essential not only for mundane success but for spiritual success too. Any compromise with it is a self-defeating proposition and eventually all will become victims of the same. The sooner we realise it, the sooner shall we be able to achieve our true potential, both in the outer as well as the inner fields. Truly, the secret of success everywhere is ‘integrity’.