637 – Implementing Morals

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Implementing Moral Values

Governments across the world face a key challenge in implementing moral values which can lead to protection and promotion of the social and economic well-being of its citizens. There are two major issues which undermine people’s quality of life across the world and more specifically in India. They are Corruption and Alcoholism.

Corruption is defined as “the misuse of public power for private benefit”. Corruption undermines the growth and development of a country and results in sub-standard quality of life of its citizens. Unfortunately, corruption is not a new phenomenon and has prevailed from time immemorial in one form or the other. Kautilya in his book ‘Arthasastra’ dedicates an entire Chapter on dealing with Corruption.

A recent study has revealed the following percentage of Corruption across the globe.

Denmark 10%
United Kingdom 19%
America 26%
Japan 28%
India 60%
China 60%
Pakistan 68%
North Korea 92%

Alcoholism:  A global study reveals that 38% of the world’s population consumes alcohol regularly. In India it is around 30%. Alcohol consumption in India has risen by 55% over a period of last 20 years. The average age of initiation of alcohol use has reduced from 28 years during the 1980s to 17 years in 2007.  The overall value of production lost to harmful alcohol use is estimated in the region of 1% of GDP in high and middle income countries. Alcoholism is one of the major contributors of poverty in India. Alcohol affects not just the drinker but also pushes the entire family, depending on him for livelihood, to poverty for generations.

Article 47, Directive Principle of State Policy, Constitution of India, directs the States to take measures to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health. This article directs that the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.

The irony is that upto one-fifth of budget of State Governments is funded by sale of alcohol. Hence State Governments have been non-serious in their approach in enforcing prohibition. They just merely call for abstention of consumption rather than promulgate a ban. There also exists a rigorous opposition to prohibition by various vested interests.

Corruption and Alcoholism continue to be key electoral issues in India. All political parties promise eradication of Corruption and Imposition of Alcohol prohibition in their manifestos. If they are voted to power based on their commitment, they find it very difficult to implement them. History is replete with instances where corrupt people create law and order problems and escalate them and misguide gullible citizens to protest Government initiatives. People have accepted Corruption as inevitable and have also begun to accept Alcoholism as part of life style.

Thiruvalluvar in his couplet 637 advises that even if the moral practices and life-style prescribed by our scriptures are noble, implementation of them in present day world, may be challenging, as people’s value systems, undergo a constant change.

செயற்கை அறிந்தக் கடைத்தும் உலகத்து 
இயற்கை அறிந்து செயல்

Seyarkkai Arindhak Kadaith-thum Ulagaththu
Iyarkai Arindhu Seyal

பரிமேலழகர் உரை: 

செயற்கை அறிந்தக்கடைத்தும் – நூல் நெறியான் வினை செய்யும் திறங்களை அறிந்த இடத்தும்; உலகத்து இயற்கை அறிந்து செயல் – அப்பொழுது நடக்கின்ற உலக இயற்கையை அறிந்து அதனோடு பொருந்தச் செய்க. (கடைத்தும் என்புழி ‘து’ பகுதிப்பொருள் விகுதி. ‘நூல் நெறியே ஆயினும் உலக நெறியோடு பொருந்தாதன செய்யற்க, செய்யின் அது பழிக்கும்’ என, இயற்கை அறிவால் பயன் கூறியவாறு.).

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

நீதிஸா²ஸ்த்ரப்ரகாரேண ந யுக்தம்  கார்யஸாத⁴னம் |
தே³ஸ²காலானுரோதே⁴ன கார்யஸாத⁴னமுத்தமம் ||