Saturday, August 25, 2012


There is an old saying that shooting stars always fall. This adage has been proven time and again.  I greatly admired some persons who have recently fallen from grace. To see them fall/fallen makes me feel very sad. Rajat Gupta, Fareed Zakaria and Lance Armstrong are some of my heroes who have become zeroes. They all had a meteoric rise in their careers. But then like meteors they fell to the ground. It was a rapid but short stay in ascendency. Their growth was spectacular but they came crashing down with their reputation in tatters.

They are all unquestionably great achievers. Brilliant, persevering and ambitious. Rajat Gupta came from a humble background but scaled great heights. He became the CEO of the world's largest and best management consultancy firm. He rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty. Known to be a devoted husband and a loving father of three daughters, what went wrong?  Why did such an intelligent person have to indulge in insider trading and be so careless about it?

Fareed Zakaria was also a brilliant student. He studied at Yale and Harvard. He is a prolific writer and India's show piece to the US world for his excellence in reporting and news coverage. He was with Newsweek and then Chief Editor of Time magazine. He has written many books and some of them were best-sellers. Why did he have to plagiarise? Did he imagine that he would get away with it?

Lance Armstrong, six times winner of Tour de France, the toughest cycling competition in the world, has been recently accused of continuous usage of drugs over the years and he is being stripped of all his titles. He suffered from cancer and heroically fought the disease and wrote a best seller and inspired thousands of people by his courage and stoic determination. He battled all these charges all these years but now has given up fighting anymore. What made him take to doping to win competitions? And if it is true, did he not know that he will be exposed sooner or later? What made him to continuously take drugs before cycling competitions?

The answers are there for all of us to see.

Arrogance, over-confidence, ego and greed. All negative qualities which must be abhorred. There is a saying in Sanskrit- "vinasha kaale, vipeerata buddhi" which explains the behaviour pattern of these shooting stars. The very mighty fall when they become egoistic, arrogant, over-confident and greedy. History is full of such examples. In the above episodes, there is a lesson for our present younger generation. We see many of them very successful in India as well as abroad. Fame and wealth have come to them very fast. They must preserve what they have gained and scale greater heights. Modesty, integrity, sacrifice, helpfulness, empathy and concern with and for the down-trodden should be their guiding values. Then they can be called truly outstanding and remain at the top and not crash down like meteors.


A Virtual Vegetarian said...

Stars...........don't know if they ever were, because the most important thing in life is INTEGRITY/HONESTY. Mama always told you that honesty is the best policy and here are examples of cheaters or people who were (un)lucky that they never got caught early in their life so that they their lies/unlawful behaviour could have been exposed.

It is very unfortunate, but a lot of the people at the top have some pretty dirty laundry in their closets

Saranya said...

you have rightly picked the qualities or rather the lack of it which has caused the downfall of many such great people.I think one of the key thing is to practice the art of contentment.

gs said...

Hello AVV
I will not be so harsh to Rajat Gupta or Fareed Zakaria. Basically they are good people who unfortunately later on in life fell to temptations or cheated. As far as Lance Armstrong is concerned, I have to go by what I read in his book and my personal experiences while reading his book. To me he appeared as an outstanding athelete with extraordinary grit and determination. Maybe I was wrong in my judgement. There is of course a strong point when you say that honesty and integrity are very important. It is also true that many people in top positions have many skeletons in their cupboards.

gs said...

Hello Saranya
There is a bit of a dichotomy here. Contentment is fine but it has to come after significant achievement. Being content too early kills ambition which is not so good. Success cannot be achieved without being ambitious.

gs said...

Hello Saranya
Last night I came across an appropriate verse by Kautilya with respect to contentment (your observation on this blogpost) which I quote as under: "Yasya putro vasheebhooto bhaarya chandaanugaamini, vibhave yascha santushtasya swarga ihahaiva he." The meaning in English is - Earth is heaven for one whose son is obedient, wife is faithful and whose heart with whatever money he has earned is content.