Friday, September 10, 2010

The Anonymous Whistle-blowers

During our college days, we all have either experienced or heard about ragging. But occasionally some of us have been rescued by the timely intervention of anti ragging squad. No, I am not going to discuss ragging in this blog as I am still not sure what is the exact definition of ragging? Rather I will discuss something that has really put me in moral dilemma. I would like to share it with you to see if we can find a solution. Going back to the earlier example, the anti-ragging squad is usually tipped off by one of the juniors i.e. the sufferers. In order to avoid the wrath of the seniors, that junior informs the administration more often than not anonymously. He does this to avoid being ostracized by seniors or sometimes even by some juniors (some consider it as fun). Juniors undergoing ragging do shower silent praises on such a person. After all he is nothing less than a savior for them. He does what most wanted to do but didn’t have the courage to do so.

So, friends welcome to the world of whistle-blowers (WB). In simple words, a whistle blower is a person who raises a concern (i.e. blows the whistle) about wrongdoing occurring in an organization. Let us name the class of WB we came across in the above paragraph as Type I. Now we will consider the Type II. The college is same but the setting has changed. As is the case there are strict punishments at the college for cheating in exams or putting in proxy attendances. Initially only 5-10 guys indulged in it. But following their success, lot more joined in. Some did it indiscriminately and some occasionally (if you can really differentiate between two killers with 5 and 25 proven charges respectively against them).  There were odd instances of a few being caught but still it did not prove to be a big enough deterrent. You can safely say that such practices had gained social acceptance in that college. This is not too different from the real life scenario where corruption is so pervasive that people have accepted it to be an integral part of their lives. Now the Type II blows his/her whistle. Even this time the act was anonymous.  As a result the administration wakes up from its stupor and a long, arduous as well as painful process begins. Suddenly in a democratic country, a minority weighs too heavy on the majority. In a peaceful set up, “live and let live” principle is violated.

But if you felt that only two types exist then wait. Here comes the Type III. Seeing the pain inflicted by the Type II, a ‘sadist’ Type III emerges. S/He sees this as an opportunity to settle old scores. The anonymity clause means that s/he can hope to inflict maximum damage, can be explicit and most importantly can get away with it ‘anonymously’. S/He knows that the administration has no choice but to investigate the matter as Type II was proven right.
Now I’ll share my dilemma. Most if not all of us will support Type I and condemn the Type II (unless we are the seniors or the Type III). But what’s your take on the Type II WB? Does he really solve a problem or creates unnecessary ones? After all there was social acceptance. Or is s/he right only if s/he has never copied in life or put a proxy or even does that suffice? After all these unfair practices could well be the symptoms rather than the cause of some deep seated malaise in the system. Or was s/he morally right but impractical? And how do you differentiate between the messages of Type II and Type III? We do have extensive WB protection acts and detailed rules to encourage WB to come forward and expose corruption. But even then will the Type II find acceptance and feel protected amongst his peers? 
These are some of my questions. Hope to hear from you all. 

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