Indian Elections and the Law of Integrity

Over the last one month, the screen images continue to focus on that greatest show of Democracy on Earth, the on-going national elections in India. Close to a billion voters being wooed by a fractious, cacophonous political lot.
Indian elections
I notice contrasting articulations.

On one hand, I see political parties investing a lot of energy and resources to disseminate what they stand for. Their manifestoes drip with great intentions that they are committed to fulfill if voted to power. Candidates vie with each other for that once in five years photo opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder clutching their copy of this ‘intention bible’.But when a politician is confronted with non-fulfilment of earlier electoral promises, he is quick to ascribe causes. Of how the opposition was non-supportive in the parliament. Of how resources and funds were not made available. Of how, inspite of all such great challenges, he continues to remain totally committed to usher in development, both economic and social.

On the other hand, I see the man on the street expressing his disenchantment with the political class, even the political process. Of his ire at the lack of fulfillment of election manifestoes in the past. Of his perception that election promises are meant to garner votes and quickly abandoned thereafter. Of his perspective that politicians exist only to feather their own nests in terms of aggrandizing power, influence and money, giving scarcely a thought to the welfare of the citizenry. Of his fervent hope that at least this time around, the politicians coming to power might be motivated to focus on development, both economic and social.

I muse about this lack of alignment between the politician and citizenry even though both speak of the same goal viz. development, economic and social. Do I sense a loss of faith in the workability of our political system? What is at the core of this failure?

My thoughts shift to the Integrity model which I had read about recently. Authors Werner Erhard, Michael Jensen and Steve Zaffron present this model to demonstrate how Integrity, as defined by them, is intrinsic to the workability in any situation.
As per the authors, Integrity is all about our word being whole and complete, both to ourselves and to others. What is the meaning of word being whole and complete, one may ask. It means “Honouring our word” which is keeping our word and in case we are not able to do so, be willing to be held responsible for clearing any mess caused by that. The Law of Integrity states that as integrity (honouring the word) declines, workability declines, and as workability declines, the opportunity for performance declines.’

As I look at the Integrity model in the context of the Indian elections, I wonder about the contradictions the political process throws up. Could it be that the contradiction we see of espousing integrity but not honouring the word is a trait that exists in each one of us? So,what is it then that stops us seeing this contradiction? As I think of this, the following thoughts fleet through my mind.

Do we see Integrity as some kind of a virtue to aspire for rather than an underlying condition for performance? When we see integrity thus, we rarely think twice before sacrificing it to ‘succeed’.
• Do we suffer from self deception when it comes to our own out-of-integrity behaviour as we are quick to put the blame somewhere else but fail to see how our own failure to perform is linked to this violation of the law of integrity?
• What is it that stops us from admitting that we will not be keeping our word? Is it from a fear that we would be responsible for ‘cleaning the mess’ and thus look bad in front of others?
• Do we realise that having given our word, any attempt to subsequently link that to a likely benefit for us makes us look untrustworthy?

As I think of the divergence between words and deeds that has rendered our political system (which also includes us!) untrustworthy and undermined its workability, I am left wondering at the kind of political language that may be used by both politicians and citizenry alike. A language that would align the commitments. A language that would ensure that owning upto our commitment failures and taking responsibility of the clean-up becomes the norm…….

In learning………….. Shakti Ghosal

Acknowledgement: ‘Integrity: A positive model’ by Werner Erhard, Michael Jensen and Steve Zaffron, Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 10-061, Revised May, 2013

Author: Shakti Ghosal

* A PCC Credentialed Executive Coach mentor and trainer for leaders & performance. * A qualified engineer and a PGDM (Faculty Gold medalist) from IIM Bangalore. * Four decades of industry experience spanning Engineering, Maintenance, Projects, Consumer durables, Supply Chains, Aviation and Tourism. * Top level management positions to drive business development, strategy, alliances all around the globe. * A visiting faculty at the IIMs. *A passion to envision trends & disseminate Leadership incubation globally. , * . +91 - 9051787576

40 thoughts on “Indian Elections and the Law of Integrity”

  1. I’m very happy to uncover this site. I need to to thank
    you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every bit of it and i also have you book marked to check out
    new things on your blog.


  2. Just came here as a result of a recommendation from Sue Dreamwalker and loved this post of yours. First one I have read. So going to spend some time exploring your posts but know I will like what I read. For my blogsite is called Learning from Dogs and I write on a wide variety of topics but all loosely under the umbrella that dogs are integrous creatures and man has much to learn from them.


    1. Hi Paul,

      Welcome and thank for your visit and acknowledgement. I am delighted to know that you were pointed to my site by my dear friend and fellow-thinker Sue.

      Thank you also for inviting me to your blogsite. I would definitely visit.




  3. The disenchantment is I feel being felt all over with our views on our political rule…. We blame the politicians each party is classed as no better than the last.. When will we understand that until we alter our own ways of living and our own laws of integrity that our governing worlds will only mirror what we project out..
    If our way of living and lives are to be changes.. then it is we who need to change it.. By altering our selves..

    Wonderful post again Shakti thank you..
    Regards Sue xox


    1. Dear Sue,

      As always that’s beautifully articulated. I loved that phrase you used, ” …our governing worlds will only mirror what we project out..”

      You also conclude by saying, “….it is we who need to change it.. By altering our selves..” While this is a great perspective to hold, what is it that we need to do to make this happen? What changes could we bring to our thoughts, our being and our actions to go down this path?

      Thank you for the very thoughtful comment, Sue.



      1. Its a simple one Shakti…
        I would ask you a question..
        What above all else is important in your world, your immediate world of self and family?
        Then I would ask what do we do to nurture and bring harmony within our own families..
        We need to realise we are all of one family.. And no this will not happen over night.. But people are getting so caught up and conditioned that they want More!.. More of What?.. What money can buy? What is is buying? Debt. hard work, cheap labour for THINGS!..
        The Tsunami shows how things in an instant can be swept away..
        We need respect, love, compassion, care.. All of these things we put into our families..
        Above all else we are ALL of us striving to find Happiness.. We think Money, brings it because it brings us what we desire within the material world.
        We came to experience so so much more.. but have got wrapped up and trapped within the wheel of greed and consumerism .. We are the cause of the chaotic world of greed, by our wanting of things!… Our demand of cheap, results in exploitation of those seeking to just earn a living..
        Thats why the monetary systems as I see it sooner or later will plunge us into a new way of being… It will not be easy.. Unless we see it for what it is.. Changing us for the better.. Where by communities pull together with their resources..
        Disasters always have that effect.. People will say I lost everything, but they gained something else… People’s hearts are awakened when in a disaster, as they reach out to help another..
        This is what we are lacking.. We go around saying ‘I’m alright jack’ and do not care about the starving in Africa, or the floods which have swamped some poor village.. But when it hits their pockets.. they have to rethink..
        People are now turning more and more to growing their own food… Self sufficient ways of living, Simpler ways of being energy efficient..
        People gradually are waking up to a new way of being.. Its slow, but its gaining momentum.. And all of a sudden in certain parts of the world begins an uprising.. Why? because people are seeing they can be more.. Not always wanting monetary gain, but freedoms to BE…
        We are in this technological age whereby information is passed around more quickly, As this happens people are more informed, and react en-mass to situations..
        For Me personally, I was once in the Rat Race, climbing a ladder of success.. Now I am in the business of helping people, and growing my own food, and just wanting to be Happy and live a simple life..
        This is I think what most of us want.. Simplicity less stress, and worry.. Less hours working for the THINGS that at the end of the day most of us could easily live without..
        And here I go,, another Ramble… 🙂 but I love our interactions as I air my thoughts without thinking! 🙂
        Blessings Sue


      2. Dear Sue,

        Do you realise that when you ‘air your thoughts’ without thinking thus, you are sowing the seeds of other thoughts which would usher in the change you speak of!

        I suppose societies and civilisations need to go through the stages of materialism before they can evolve into the stage of Simplicity gained through higher Consciousness and Being. But the world as we see it is populated by Mankind at different stages of such evolution. I wonder therefore about what needs to be done to support those societies which are lagging to move quicker and catch up. I believe this is not merely about supporting folks to evolve faster but really about reducing the disparities which, if not done, would only undermine all that has been achieved in the more evolved societies. So my question. What could the more evolved societies do to support the others?

        As always it is so refreshing to have such conversations with you Sue.



      3. Encourage co-operation instead of competition.. Where by communities and business come together and Re-Think ideas that bring skills and resources together to help build together for the benefit of all..

        Homes for instant are being built today not far from where I live.. But they are not energy efficient. Working to conserve Nature and her natural resources . And not bull-dozing millions of acres of Rainforest ..
        I Recommend a book by Gregg Braden The Turning Point..
        The book tackles real issues and Gregg has research lots of Data as to what is happening in this ‘Shift’ and as a Scientist he explores how Mankind is changing and what he can do to change and adapt..
        I have read the book.. I am sure you would enjoy it.. Its full of data, facts and touches on Climate change, Technology, Energy, Spiritual, But its asking the reader to look at what is tipping them as we experience the world in what he calls the New Normal..
        I will leave you a link here as he explains his thoughts as he touches on solutions..


  4. Such an interesting post an an in – depth analysis here.

    I really enjoyed the reading… Very well done.

    Thanks for sharing, cheers, Aquileana 😛


    1. Thank you! Well the post is hardly an in-depth analysis. Far from it really. I wrote it more to showcase the Law of Integrity and how it impacts different aspects in our world.

      Cheers, I appreciate your commenting here.



  5. Excellent post, Shakti, well written with vivid details. I enjoyed this very much. I’m afraid I’m becoming a cynic, doubtful that any politician can have or retain integrity when involved in politics. You pose a valid question in your line “…the contradiction we see of espousing integrity but not honouring the word is a trait that exists in each one of us?”
    Well done.


    1. Hello Marilyn,

      Thank you for your kind appreciation.

      To me the politician is but a facet of our own self. I therefore an emboldened to believe that as we continue to climb up the ‘Integrity’ slopes and honour our own words, we would start seeing this impacting positively on our politics and political system also.I further believe that the conversation network that our words , as we honour them, would generate would be wide and far reaching.

      Appreciate your taking the time to comment here.



    2. I feel similar to Marylin here, both in suspecting cynicism in myself as well as wondering if this lack of parity in word and deed is typical human laziness. Like everything else in our personality’s makeup, we have only to awaken to the impact of our thoughts and actions in order to begin to offer the world something of significant value – ourselves as models of integrity. To expect this of any system, however, seems fantastical. Collective humanity still has a very long way to go. And let’s not get started on politics in the US! Peace, Shakti.


      1. Dear Bela,

        I believe the ‘lack of parity in word and deed’ has more to do with us not wanting to stand out as the sore thumb. needing to conform and thus gain more acceptance of others etc. and not really laziness. We remain unaware that a disparity between our what we say and what we do actually lowers our own performance and effectiveness and not the other way round as we sometimes believe.

        As we continue on the path on which we increasingly relate our Integrity to our word to our own selves, we stand to see our own performance and effectiveness go up multiple times.

        Thank you Bela for your lovely comment as always. I so appreciate.



  6. I’ve been told by people in the past few years that my expectations for others to operate with integrity is a sure-fire road to disappointment. That’s okay. I’ll still expect honesty, virtue and integrity.

    A few years ago, for 9 months, I was under contract as the Chief Financial Officer for a School District with a budget of $100 million. I discovered the CEO was skewing the truth to facilitate favoritism, personal goals and glory. I tried to talk about this with the CEO and was told, since I was temporary, I needn’t concern myself about these matters.

    I called on a well-experienced colleague and asked for his sage guidance. He told me that I had to accept that the world has changed. It now accepts dishonesty. What?! He assured me that I had to accept this new standard…the only thing that was “bad” was getting caught.

    I told this colleague we are part of that attitude if we accept it and don’t speak up. As I drove back to my office, I knew I had a professional obligation to speak with the Ministry of Education because this CEO had cut me out of any contact or participation with the Board. Using the excuse that I was only there temporarily, the CEO told the Trustees they were not to be in touch with me or visit me in my office because I was not being given all the facts and figures. In other words, I was only a body filling a position to satisfy the Ministry of Education.

    I really dreaded making the call to the Ministry for many reasons. However, besides being legally and professionally bound to protect the District and the taxpayer’s money, I had to maintain my integrity. I didn’t care what direction the crazy world was going.

    I was grateful that my reputation in the Province was well established and the Ministry would know the matter was serious.

    The Ministry listened, but they couldn’t take action. The Board had to act. I don’t know how it finally happened but this CEO was fired a few years later. A number of employees suffered a lot during that time.

    Keeping our attention, intention, focus and determination in the realm of integrity may seem lightweight, but I believe in its influence. Our minds are very powerful. We “feed” a lack of integrity by only criticizing or bemoaning the situation. It’s a challenge to remember to put forward positive ideas or suggestions rather than criticize. But I want to keep my attitude of confident expectation for positive outcomes. I may be let down occasionally, but I revel in the times people rise to the occasion.

    My small efforts likely have miniscule to no effect. But it does rub off when we live it. It gives me a more loving attitude by not wallowing in the negative.


    1. Dear Amy,

      That’s a great personal experience. As you look back at the situation and the actions that you took, would you have done anything differently? I for one would doubt that very much. Why am I saying that? I believe you were then and remain even now conditioned to strive for a “wholeness” of the structure you were in. As you saw the skewed actions of the CEO, you saw it adversely impacting this wholeness. You sensed that in the absence of your taking some action, the workability of the school district in terms of performance, budget etc. would get adversely effected. Workability flows out of integrity.

      We may ask, is it possible to have 100% workability? I think not just as it is not possible to be Biblically true to one’s word 100% of the time. In any system , there would be weak people and structures low in Integrity which lead to loss of workability. But as more of us become conscious that our individual and collective performance could improve from integrity, I believe things would start to look up…..

      I believe Integrity would always remain a mountain with no top. A mountain that we would always keep climbing through our lives.

      As always, truly appreciate your sharing your story here.




  7. Thought provoking take on Indian elections as correlated to Integrity. We do strive to achieve professional integrity but perhaps the term may find itself misplaced in politics the world-over.


    1. Hi Dilip,

      You are right, as of today it does look difficult to visualise Integrity in Politics. And this of course is the underlying reason for so much of distrust and un-workability that exists around us. But as I see this, I can also visualise a great opportunity and first mover advantage for a political structure that embraces the discipline of “honouring its words”. With the kind of technology and disseminability of information that exists today, this need not be too difficult if one decides to engage properly. The AAP party in India showed glimpses of this…..

      Thank you Dilip for your great comment. I appreciate.



  8. Shakti, We have a large percentage of the disenchanted in the United States. Our congressional members have accomplished the least amount of any congress before them. It is indeed so bad that I’m changing my party affiliation before the mid-term elections to ‘independent.’ I don’t want to be exclusively identified with either party. Almost everyone I talk with are of the opinion that all of our electorates haven’t a clue as to how it is to live in the ‘real world’ and they are simply ‘feathering their own nests’.
    The ‘lack of fulfillment of election manifestos in the past’ that you speak of has taken our country by storm. The crimes began when the first President Bush sent our military into Iraq and has been going on ever since.
    I could go on and on about free elections and are they doing us any good – as ‘good’ here in the United States. The mud slinging has already started for Nov and the Supreme Court has ruled anyone and everyone can give any candidate as much money as they want and none of the statues of a free election will be harmed.
    In my opinion, all three branches of our government are broken and it’s going to take something powerful to fix what’s wrong. Sheri


    1. Dear Sheri,

      I hear both pain and a loss of faith in what you say. Indeed Democracy and the path we use to access it may be strewn with imperfections. But does the world have a better choice regarding Governance and people welfare? I believe that all things considered this still remains our best bet. So rather than getting into a victim mindset, we need to ‘stand in the Cause of the matter’. One possibility would be for each one of us to engage more with the political structure and propagate the aspect of “honouring one’s word”. Much easier nowadays to do though technology and social media. Not from any ethical or high pedestal standpoint but from the sheer necessity that our word can ensure great workability through building of trust. This holds the potential to allow much better conformance of promises made in manifestoes and better understanding of why some promises could not be kept.

      Dear Sheri, I truly appreciate the time taken and the thought behind your comment.




      1. Shakti – I’ll never give up on democracy and government by the people for the people. My entire career was spent with that focus in mind. Since I’ve retired, I continue to monitor numerous legislative issues and act upon them as I see fit. I can’t imagine I’d ever become alienated or so discouraged that I wouldn’t have a voice. Sheri


  9. The words politician and integrity would rarely be uttered in the same breath here. Politicians are increasingly seen as being in politics for their own aggrandisement, with them and their parties willing to do or say anything to remain in, or regain power and all the trappings that go with it.

    The election later this month for the European Union will probably see the traditional Westminster parties being trounced by UKIP, whilst in Scotland we have a referendum in September on leaving the UK. The political systems here has fossilised and refused to change with the times and the expectations of ordinary people. The gap between rich and poor increases with many families now depending on food banks. This will be an interesting year in the UK.


  10. Hi Shakti,
    Thank-you for sharing your thoughts and your excellent point about it being each person’s responsibility to maintain integrity, not just the ‘other person’ or the leaders. As you said, this would cause a great shift indeed.
    Blessings to you and India.


  11. Hello Sir.. How you doing .. remember me 🙂 Its been a long long time since I have come or blogged for that matter …

    I am just amazed at the amount of money spent over elections in our nation.. all that money can be put to some good use.. rather than all this DRAMA..

    if only…


    1. Hi Bikram,

      Great to see you here again. I am doing fine, thank you for asking.

      Indeed election time does lead to a lot of money being spent and these amounts go up every year.The fact remains that elections do yield good economic activity for many service providing sectors. But rather than seeing this as a wasteful expenditure, Another way of looking at this spending is that it is supporting the livelihood of many people:)So there is an element of good happening here also.

      Thanks for commenting.



  12. Integrity seems to be left behind when many are elected. Words and deeds also often part ways based not on what will benefit the electorate but what will help the politicians get re-elected.
    That’s very disheartening to anyone who wants the system to work. Best wishes to you and your country in its efforts to gain the leadership that will benefit its people.


    1. Dear Judy,

      You are right. We are frequently witness to words and deeds getting separated. But is this occurrence not in every walk of life, why single out only politicians? What concerns me is not really this separation but more the aspect of “honouring” our word. Which requires us to get back to all effected parties (The electorate in the realm of politics) that we are not able to keep our word and that we remain responsible for all consequences arising from not keeping it.

      My musing is about what mindset and structure we need to evolve to ensure that this ‘honouring of our word’ becomes intrinsic to us.

      Thank you for your comment and your kind good wishes.



  13. How I wish the word ‘integrity’ could guide our so called ‘leaders’,whose only competition is that how much mud they succeed in putting on each other!! How I wish we could point at one single person who possesses the integrity to carry forward our floundering democracy and lead in the true sense of the word! I have never been cynical, I am known to be an optimist but elections of 2014 eloquently speak for themselves! Words and deeds have surpassed all ethics! Is there any glimmer of hope left? I still wish for positive.


    1. Hi,

      You are right and I do hope your wishes come true.

      But when we look for ‘leaders and leadership’ in others, do we look at our own selves to ascertain how much of integrity and ‘honouring our word’ we ourselves display? How willing are we to stand in the cause of the matter? Could it just be that the ‘hope and wish’ we speak of needs to start with each one of us?

      Thank you for your lovely comment, I truly appreciate.



  14. I’ve often wondered over here in the U.S. what election time would be like if politicians were forced to run on their good deeds and achievements rather than bashing each others bad points. Would that change anything? Would they tend to do more good than bad? Makes me think of all the people who swear their lives changed because they kept a gratitude journal. Why? Because it made people see life differently through what they placed their attention on.Whatever the answer I do know we are in desperate need of a new way of governing the planet and I totally agree, Integrity should be first and foremost. People are so done with the lies…Hope it all works out for you guys over there. Blessings to you my friend….VK 🙂


    1. Hi VK,

      As always, loved your ‘first off the block’ comment.

      You make a great point. What if…. elections were fought over ‘what we had said we will do, what we did and did not and what consequences we took care about those aspects which we could not do’? What if…. we no longer felt the need to run down those aspects of where our opponents did not keep their word, so engrossed we become with keeping our own?

      Your thoughts about the ‘Gratitude journal’ are powerful VK. But this journal remains intrinsic to us at the individual level. What could be done to demonstrate ‘Gratitude’ and the consequences thereof at a group, organisation or even a societal level? That would be a great shift indeed!

      Thank you my friend for making my day with your empowering comment. I truly appreciate.




      1. If you figure that out Shakti you will save the world! I see a very powerful media shaping the worlds views on life from a negative angle. They are overpowering and it is very frustrating. How do you convince someone who is being hammered 24/7 with negative views, about the value and power of gratitude? It is beyond a difficult task but we have all taken it on and so we just keep plugging away. I keep hearing people say we need to crash and burn completely before we finally get motivated to change. Really? Could that not be yet another myth we have sadly wrapped our arms around? Again that myth takes the power away from ourselves and puts it in the hands of “Them”….It is a very hard nut to crack my friend. I drive myself crazy trying to find an answer but I never seem able to do so 😦 And so we just keep trying to inject a higher frequency into the mix and pray hard…Blessings…VK


      2. Hi VK,

        We do need to cast ourselves in the role of World saviours, should we not 🙂 Such a perspective would allow us to ‘stand in the cause of the matter’, so to speak. As we do this, we shift out of the negative and blaming space and into the space where all possibilities and options become available to us.

        You are so right about how situations occur to us and the shaping of our views getting impacted by media. With newer technologies coming in, such impact would only get more sharpened. To me the possibility is thus not really about how we could prevent this from happening.Rather we need to look at the possibility of how we could increasingly shift the media more into ‘standing in the cause of everything’ rather than in the effect ( leading to blame game, sensationalism etc.) as it nowadays is conditioned to do. So how do we make a start? By strengthening such a mindset more and more in the social media and blogging space. I remain certain that this would have a ripple effect on media over time.

        VK, thanks again for this very thought provoking comment. I appreciate.



      3. I totally agree Shakti but here is one more thought to leave you with. The more we urge people to break free of television and social media in general, perhaps they will rediscover nature once again in their free time and then we are well on the way to winning this battle.Nature is at the very heart of all of this… Have a great week my friend…VK


    2. Very good point about running an election based on prior deeds and achievements. I also appreciate what you said about gratitude and what we focus on changing our perspective, thus our lives, Thanks.


      1. Hey BP….Thank you for your kind words. The whole world will change dramatically when the majority finally understands the power of our thoughts and how we can use them. It is slowly happening now, we just need to speed things up 🙂 Blessings to you….VK


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