After taking over as Development Commissioner (Iron and Steel) at Calcutta in July 1994, I paid a brief visit to Madras on my way to Trichur. On my way back, initially the flight was announced to be on time. The passengers passed through the Security Check and were waiting in the lounge for boarding announcement. However, after some time an announcement was made about the plane having developed some technical problem and the consequent delay. The passengers were advised to come out of the lounge, get new boarding passes and also some refreshment from the snacks-counter. Naturally the passengers were very upset at this announcement and reluctantly left the lounge to follow the instructions. I too felt the same way but within I was keeping my cool. After going through the drill of surrendering boarding passes and getting new ones, we stood in a queue for light refreshments. We were expecting something better to be served so as to partially take care of our annoyance but what we were given only added to it. One of the passengers standing in the queue lost his temper and started abusing not only the Indian Airlines but the whole of India. Of course, most of us were doing so silently. Fortunately soon the plane was declared to be fit and our hopes of reaching home the same night revived.
Well, the point I am making here is about the outburst of the gentleman in the queue at Madras airport. Such outbursts are not uncommon. We come across such incidents almost daily. Only the victim and the target of the outburst vary. If such outbursts are carefully analyzed, one would come to the conclusion that we all are victims of one another. ‘A’ may curse’ B’, ‘B’ may curse ‘C’ and ‘C’ may curse ‘A’. The net result is that sometimes we are victims and sometimes the cause of such outbursts. We forget that after all the quality of human beings in a given set-up is the same and that we ourselves are no better than others. If we are not prepared to see any faults in us and remove them, what right do we have to expect perfectness from others? In such situations, it is very difficult to understand to whom we should address our outburst.
I am not saying that inefficiency or bad service should be accepted. But mere cursing does not help. In all probability such outbursts make the system worse. The right approach would be to understand the situation coolly and if found that it has arisen as a result of wilful neglect or callousness on the part of an individual or system, the same should be dealt with in an effective manner. That way we will not only save ourselves from agony and anger but will render a service to the system as well as to other possible victims. In short, the problem should be addressed to a definite target, and not in the air which helps no one. The second lesson to be learnt from such events is to consider whether we ourselves are not a cause of such situations, when it comes to our dealing with others. As a matter of fact, this is a better way of addressing the problem and, if all of us do so, there will be no occasion for situations which upset us. We may also be a cause of such situations and if others cause so much agony to us, why should we not avoid such situations? This approach will not only help individuals but also the system. Thus, whenever a situation upsets us, the problem should not only be addressed to the relevant authorities with an objective mind, it should also be addressed to oneself. The purpose of all progress is to feel more peaceful. But if instead of feeling peaceful, we feel upset and anxious like the friend at Madras Airport, the purpose of the progress is lost. So next time you come across a situation which upsets you, remember to address it correctly. That way you will help yourself as well as the system.