Friday, June 24, 2011

For the Litigious, a Kamban's Perspective

Like many, I am a big fan of Kavichakravarthi ("Emperor of Poems") Kamban's Ramayanam. A rich language, Tamil, under the hands of Kamban is an assured feast for anybody, anywhere, anytime. 

As the Indian Economy grows at a healthy pace, social turmoil grows as well. Wealth and so does greed grows. An overburdened judiciary is further burdened with numerous lawsuits, some genuine, most frivolous by the litigious-minded. 

Recently, I came across the news of the Head of a leading corporate law-firm in India being ordered to be investigated for criminal extortion by a Delhi Court. One of the main plaints was that he was engaging in "proxy-litigation" to force a builder to kowtow to his demands that includes making huge payments as settlement. As quid pro quo, this Head offered the carrot of withdrawing the cases he foisted against the builder. This builder, though, immediately preferred a plaint  and the matter is now sub judice.

Every society had to undergo a "churning" as it grows from an agrarian based economy to a modern Industrial economy. Honorable Justice Markandey Katju of the Supreme Court of India used to harp on this theme repeatedly. As a result, some of these entities may indulge in frivolous lawsuits that make them feel in control, while intimidating and crushing the liberties of the individuals and organizations they go after.

This is where a poetic verse from Kamba Ramayanam, caught my attention. It is a very simple, yet, profound verse that Law Schools in India can probably teach their future Corporate Lawyers, who seem to hardly acknowledge the actual "roots" of the ancient Indian society, its ethos and charism. Unfortunately, these thoughts are often considered to be passé and are side-stepped in an unfettered quest for hegemony using the noble tools of litigious power, accented only by the greed of Rupees, Dollars, and Euros earned. Talk to them, they will say, "we are like that only!".

"யாரொடும்பகை கொள்ளலன் என்றபின்
போரொடுங்கும் புகழொடுங் காது

This verse from Kamban exhorts, "When you desist from enmity against anybody ('யாரொடும்பகை கொள்ளலன்'), it stanches conflict, not your fame ('போரொடுங்கும் புகழொடுங் காது')." 

In other words, a little humility and shedding bellicose attitudes will go a long way to enhance the prestige and image of even litigious-minded people. 

Ultimately, it's not how many buildings that were bulldozed to ground that counts, rather, how many bridges that were built. 

Victory and Pyrrhic Victory are entirely two different things. And so is War and War of Attrition. 

Kamban could not have said it better!

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