No, this is not about the Von Stroheim classic, though it could be…

A couple of weeks ago, the Department of Political Science had an afternoon discussion on the Lokpal bill where, among others, Jaiprakash Narayan was present. One of the M Phil students, had made a presentation on what UoH students understood by ‘corruption’, and how it came about. One respondent traced it to just this: Greed.

There is this amazing scene in the Von Stroheim film. I saw it years ago (in the days when I was catching up on early cinema and sitting through Potemkin and other such silent greats, and when I should of course have been more gainfully employed). There is nothing really left for the protagonists to fight over- they are in Death Valley, with desolation stretching for miles in all directions and there is no possibility of survival. So no benefit to the man who takes, nothing really to lose for the man who loses. And yet, greed, more the pity of it.

The person at the Pol. Sci. seminar was quite right- so much of corruption that we see around us is due just to greed plain and simple, though not always as pointless as in the movie.


10 thoughts on “Greed

  1. I was led to this blog through the Single Girl Child Scholarship search. The above piece made an interesting read.

    That’s Greed in the context of corruption. This is greed for money. Money , money and more money… endows with power, the power to destroy, the main reason for the powerful being feared rather than respected.

    But there’s good greed too. Good Greed drives. Reminds one of Gordon Gekko’s speech in the Movie ‘Wall Street’ :

    ‘Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed’ .

  2. …….it is heart-wrenching ….Pandemic corruption is like “incurable skin disease” which needs to be detected at an early stage of spread for proper treatment. Unfortunately this did not happen in UOHYD as was observed by you. Therefore, it extended speedily. Corruption must be eradicated – Better late than never. Presently the Andhra Pradesh High Court and Supreme Court are also involved in investigating corruption and control measures. But it seems to me “uohyd” being a public funded Central University, is not afraid of Judiciary – this my genuine concern.

    MNV Prasad, Professor, Dept. of Plant Sciences

  3. It is very interesting… Greed may be genetic or environmental. Perhaps we can write a big grant proposal…

    There is greed for money and power (are they independent?) but no greed for knowledge or happiness. It is just like addiction: we get addicted to nicotine but not to rasagulla… May be we are programmed for greed for money…

    Most of the rich (the few I know) just make money for the sake of making money. They hardly have time to spend or enjoy the money they earn. They have only very vague idea about why they are struggling to earn more and more and more…

    We need to realise that wealth is a non-renewable resource and need to be used wisely. However, when the wise men (and women) think that only they can be entrusted with the public wealth, the problem begins… Wisdom comes in many forms and “connections” is one of them.

    Your wealth comes at the cost of another. The American economy, I mean the banking system, is based on greed, and as another poster claimed, on the strange notion of that “greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind …”. The greed brought the great depression (in the US) only about 100 years back (it was really great, based on what I have read and what I have heard) and appear to be back with a vengeance (today). It does work for some time, for some people.

    In my long career, I am yet to see greed for knowledge.

    Corruption is a social evil. It must be tackled on a social level. Greed is an innate (?) quality and need to be tackled in the school and college and university (why not?). Greed kills your other qualities. Killing corruption just needs a strong will.

  4. ‘Greed’ is one of the six forbidden things described in Gita and Artha Shastra. ‘Contentment’ is the medicine for greed. Otherwise, it develops like a psycho-somatic disorder. While echoing the views of senior faculty commented, I would rather say that our academia lacks ‘value education’. Ethics should be part of the syllabi.

    Money gives material comforts. To enjoy more comforts, one may either become greedy or striver. Greed is the prime eligibility to get ‘corrupt’. But money is not only the factor that makes one corrupted, there are several other things also. A strong willed man never indulges in earning ‘extra’ money and refrain himself from the path of corruption. Strong will comes through strong character. Swami Vivekananda says – ‘Character has to be established through a thousand stumbles’.

    Dept. of Sanskrit Studies

  5. It may be just interesting to mention here that one neighbour in the campus, the IIIT, has a course called “human values” running every year. It is a good programme (I have attended it once) but somewhat diffuse in nature. Many participants attend for the 2nd and sometimes for the 3rd time!

    Compared to its size and funding levels, IIIT is doing far better.

    Perhaps it is time we consider seriously introducing a course like that!

    – C K Mitra

  6. Sir,

    Its a great suggestion. I personally know IIIT (LTRC) since 1998. They impart such training in the name of ‘jeevan vidya’, but to be frank, I never attended. IIIT maintains three types of mess in which one can relish ‘satvik food’, ‘yogic food’ etc. Unfortunately, in our University, you have to compromise with quality of food.

    Perhaps, VC sir may give a serious concern over these issues. After all, good food influences the psyche of a person.

    It may be possible to inculcate the theme of ‘greed for knowledge’ in faculty as well as students, after taking some measures. As a matter of fact, there are some faculty who are already greedy for ‘knowledge’.

    I believe, the discussion is on track only, as we try to explore several ideas constructively to root out ‘greed’, the mother of corruption.

    – Prasad

  7. Etymologically, greed, “to have”, also connects with words (I think in German, but am not sure) that mean “sickness”, “disease” (“corrupt” originally meant “unhealthy” as well as “uncouth”). So yes, we can think of “greed” and “corruption” as “disease”.

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