What is right…???

After all, what is right?

This question, seemingly simple, is a most complex one to unravel. And as we attempt to answer it: we are dragged further and further into the conundrum; from which many times there is no escape, no clear answer. At the most, we can compromise at some level, decide for ourselves : enough is enough –  and beat a hasty retreat. All the while convincing oneself that if we survive, we will live to fight another day: and find the “real answer; the absolute truth; what is actually right – on that other day!!!

Take the recent case of Sridevi’s death in Dubai. Morning shock  as she was loved by many cinegoers. First we hear that she died of a cardiac arrest. The press reports are full of surprise : she had no history of any cardiac problems! But  Doctors had opined …they have to be right? Soon comes the version of 29 surgeries in California; Botox injections galore; diet and hunger suppressants; medications to alter BMR;  so much torture to make the body beautiful, that the heart could not sustain and gave up. Within hours the reality changes: a new death certificate from Dubai does the rounds of social media where death is due to “drawing(sic!)” – all official; signed by the Physician in charge. And then :  drowning in bathtub is not the real culprit. Drink abuse. Husband should have stopped her. People suspect foul play.

Even when the body was brought back there was an eruption on the social media: after all she was just a performer; made money from acting; no known social commitments: does she deserve a State funeral? Are we demeaning the national flag which is wrapped around bodies of soldiers who die for the country? What is logic of wrapping this actor’s body in the tri-color? Again someone decided based on how they saw the situation. Some others object, as their interpretations vary. What is real? what is correct?

As observers,  relying on social media and reflected “reality”, we are confused. What happened actually? what is right? This is true of the Nirbhaya episode. Of the Ryan school killing. Ayushi Talwar’s murder. The infamous Tandoor Murder case with Youth Congress President Sushil Sharma’s involvement. Remember: No one killed Jessica? In a crowded restaurant, she is shot in front of hundreds: but prosecution eye witnesses turn hostile, one after the other. Manu Sharma is acquitted as the Sessions court concludes there is no evidence!! After public uproar, High Court hears the appeal and then Haryana Congress leader’s son is finally sentenced. But Manu Sharma still approaches Supreme Court as …no one killed Jessica!!!!

These are all high profile cases, but think about day to day issues also. Do we ever get a proper handle on “reality”? Do we get clarity on what actually transpired? We have all witnessed road accidents, and heard the multiple versions of who did what, when, how and finally what happened. Even when a smallest altercation takes place between 2 people: if you listen to their independent versions, you will end up with 2 totally contrasting perspectives. Think of the frequent arguments between spouses: does either ever feel I am wrong? ( We may say so just for buying peace temporarily,  but do we believe fundamentally that I was wrong?)  It is always ” But then you…”  “And then I ….” All sound and fury which never seems to converge! The differing views of the “reality” are so entrenched that it is impossible to judge who is right? what is real? and who has propriety on their side.

In business organizations today we actually encourage different points of view and call for groups/boards to discuss and decide the course of action. The underlying faith is that differing points of view and perspectives being brought to bear on an ambiguous situation will reduce the uncertainty of a futuristic decision. But the very process of discussing: does it not presuppose differing realities with each person;  and, a social reality we all must create jointly? Do we launch a new soap in an crowded market? Will this flavor of a new cream biscuit be accepted by the consumer? Will whole wheat noodles appeal as a more healthy alternative?  What is the strategy to win against competition? All complex realities with no clear cut right and wrong answers. And so we bring in cross functional teams, with their multi functional perspectives and try to understand what is the “real” way out? what will work? what should be the answer? what new reality do we want to pitch for and champion?  Finally the game is about defining what is THE right way ahead.


Ask any Muslim Jehadi or a Tamil suicide bomber and they will aver what they are doing is right. Others may have a different perspective on this but then, that is “their” reality. When marketing spends are approved and a particular advertising is launched, there is faith is that it will work and generate customer pull for the brand. Reality , like market share or consumer voice, gets monitored and validated!!!

I believe the mistake we make is in searching for a single rule, a single tenet, a single principle: an absolute reality. As children we believed and behaved as though everything fell into right or wrong: black or white. As we mature we understand that all things don’t fit neatly into such boxes or labels. Most things in the world are not black. Most things in the world are not white.  Living and learning should teach us the new reality:  most things aren’t wrong or right. They are just different. Maturity is knowing that there is nothing wrong with different. We can let things be different, we don’t have to try and make them black or white, we can just let them be…..

My conclusion is best captured  by Joybell C author of The Sun is Snowing  (Sic! read the title again) “And when I was a child, I thought that God was the God who only saw black and white. Now that I am no longer a child, I can see, that God is the God who can see the black and the white and the grey, too, and He dances on the grey! Grey is okay.”

It is fine- Live your own right: vikas

30 Replies to “What is right…???”

  1. As always, an awesome choice of topic… truly thought-inspiring thoughts indeed… 🤘🏼🤘🏼🤘🏼
    And that to me is the greatest quality in any thought… like fire, it should spread, generate more thoughts, more fire… the light/warmth being by-products in the process, a bonus so to speak…
    Thank you… 🙏🏼 🙏🏼 🙏🏼

    Let me begin with a riddle.
    There was once a king, who for some reason, sentenced his favourite minister to death. After much pleading, he was given a leeway.
    He was kept in a prison with two doors, one leading to the gallows and the other to freedom. On each door was a guard; one of whom always spoke the truth, while the other one always lied. Both the guards knew where each door led.
    There was no way to know which one told the truth or lied, or which door led to where. The minister was allowed to ask only one question to any one of the guards, and then pick a door.
    Well, like every nice story, this too has a happy ending. The minister got away by asking one of the guards the following question:
    “If I were to ask the other guard where this door led, what would he say?”
    An exercise in logic would prove that, irrespective of all permutations of guards and doors, the answer will invariably be incorrect. And thus the minister could make the ‘right’ choice and survive.

    Now the (roundabout) point being, one needs to take all possible facts and perspectives into account to come to the right choice. Any one person/group’s perception about what’s right is not enough to decide what actually is ‘right’. The collective ‘right’ should be an intersection of all the individual ‘rights’ involved.

    In smaller groups of similar people, say corporate teams or housing societies, it may be possible to find such an intersection, a common ground so to speak.
    In larger diverse groups, societies, countries etc, a common ‘right’ is difficult to establish. And there the majority rule prevails. What appears right to majority of people at that given time becomes the common right. Things outside this established ‘right’ then become dishonourable, or taboos, or even crimes. (Sridevi’s body being draped in the national flag would go in this category, it didn’t feel right to most of us).
    And that’s probably why the sphere of what’s acceptable/right changes from place to place, country to country, and most significantly over time.

    This probably is an oversimplified, and kind of idealistic way to look at things. Well, 6 years into our marriage, and between just the 2 of us, we still haven’t figured out the ‘right’ fan-speed or the ‘right’ AC temperature and many such things…

    Now there’s also another not so straightforward or intuitive solution to the earlier riddle:
    Instead of simply asking any guard “Where does this door lead?” as a straight question, the minister could’ve asked…
    “If I were to ask you where this door led, what would you say?”
    The answer that he will get in response to this question will always be the correct one.
    (The logic behind the first solution is to multiply a positive with a negative, not knowing which is which, but you can be sure the product will be negative, and decide accordingly.
    This second solution is about multiplying a positive/negative with itself, not knowing which one it is, but being sure the product will always be positive.)

    Once again, the roundabout point is about everyone questioning their own perception of right/wrong, sort of introspecting.
    Everyone has their opinion/view about pretty much everything, and in most cases, pretty firm ones. But if questioned about “Why” they think/believe so, the foundation may not appear as firm. It comes down to each one’s upbringing, good/bad experiences, influences, social circumstances, even hearsay.
    Now there’s no way to have an absolutely uniform influence system across everyone. (or else we’d all be in the “droid army” in Star Wars). So also are the chances of having an absolute right/truth.

    But maybe instead of judging the world based on one’s own defined set of ‘right’s…
    … if one digs deeper to see (or at least try to see) why something seems right to us, or why the other person could also be right even if he doesn’t agree with us…
    … then the world would be a much happier, much agreeable place…

    I’ll end with a funny anecdote from my first semester in college. My friend Ravi was arguing with two other friends about something. After much debate, he ran out of things to say and in frustration exclaimed, “हे काय लावलंय यार तुम्ही? तुम्ही नेहमी तुमच्याच बाजूने बोलताय…” (That’s not fair, mates… you’ve been arguing from your side only…). Every one of us in the room, listeners, debaters alike, instantly erupted into an unstoppable laughter.
    24 years down the line, nobody remembers what they were arguing about, but this epic dialogue has forever become part of our batch folklore.
    Hilarious part apart, but it may be a welcome change if everyone, once in a while, stepped to the other side and tried to understand other person’s reasons/view. We may just find out that “We are all alright, we are all alright”. (The 70s Show)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ameya
      as always you have added great value to any reader who goes through your comments
      You have made it into a habit to write such pithy comments that some regular readers look FW more to your comments than to my original blog
      Seriously you should think of blogging yourself
      your examples /anecdotes/ references are so fresh and wide ranging that it always is “new news” which takes the reader to a direction not thought of….the road less travelled
      thanks for taking so much effort to pen your thoughts
      Keep them coming and like the proverbial “house of cards” with countervailing force and pressure on one another we acn reach much greater heights.

      I will come to the King’s story in a minute
      But if you look at the Queen story
      ( about speed of fan and/or AC)
      6 years is too less my friend
      after 34 years V and I are not able to agree
      and your Sharad Mama and Pramila Mami argued about AC even after 60 years of married life
      Feeling guilty of sleeping in ACs when parents did not have the facility; V & I gifted an AC at Swarali
      got a bombay based mechanic to just land one day and fit the Ac as we knew if we asked they would say it was not required
      Imagine our surprise when we learnt the AC is NEVER switched on
      and Baba who enjoyed the comfort; had to await travel and staying in our houses to experience the coolness of AC as Aai would never let him switch it on in their own house.
      The sweet ending of the story is that Priyanka who now lives there is able to use the facility created ages ago
      so who was right?
      we who wanted our parents to have an AC
      Aai who could not tolerate AC
      Baba who looked FW to the comfort
      or Priyu who is finally doing justice to the instrument
      Questions which were not answered by Aai and Baba and will probably pass with us to our funeral pyres
      Viva la differing interpretations of what is right? what is good? and what is to be done

      You yourself talk about the joy of living and the kaleidoscope created by varying hues of ‘right”
      and we see this daily
      the Farmers’ morcha for loan waivers and minimum fair prices for agri produce is the latest case in point
      when 35000 ( to 60000; depending on which report and whose version you believe) farmers march to Vidhan Sabha
      There is a social revolution in the making
      But the average Thanekar is only worried about traffic disruptions
      and then tweets how he reached office in super time due to better traffic management and so has no problem
      Forgetting the issue at stake: Loans and Procurement Prices

      The most interesting sidelightI felt was Eknath Shinde visiting the protesters
      and then later insisting that he went as Uddhav Thakerays’s emissary
      and not as a Minister in Maharashtra’s cabinet
      and then Ajit Nawale of AIKS saying “support is is welcome but he (Shinde) is a member of the Government. Only support is not fair”
      So who is right? and where does fairness begin?
      Questions Questions Questions

      Like the question that the King’s minister in your riddle had to ask
      Truly an exercise in Lateral Thinking worthy of Edward deBono
      Is there one solution to the riddle or are there multiple possibilities?
      what is the right thing to do in this circumstance?

      Being a psychology major and an HR person for 35+ years I have always accepted multiple realities
      and every person’s right to choose his own “right”
      All approach life’s issues and problems from their own perspective
      and reach answers with which they are satisfied
      I do not subscribe to a concept of Universal Truth
      which is why I love your first paragraph where you compare thoughts and opinions to fire
      and encourage the bush fire to spread far and wide
      Today when AI and robotics threaten to take over the world as we know it
      I for one am happy that this Aristotelian Dialogue would continue
      and both entertain and ennoble all of us

      We HR folks are often known as Dr No in corporate life
      we show the rule and say why what you want cannot be done (rules/policy/manual/precedent etc etc)
      In General Motors ( my last job ) I used to challenge my HR team
      ” whenever any employee comes to you before he states his problem or issue
      say ‘My answer is YES. Now what is your question?’ ”
      Of course I was laughed at and told I was off y rocker
      but can we do that in real life?
      can we tell all we meet “My answer is Yes. Now what is your question?”
      Do we have the openness and transparency to face life freely and without taking a priori positions?
      think about it
      My answer is Yes

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great article as always…raising questions and eyebrows!
    I think as children we were conditioned and taught in stark black and white what was right and wrong. But now in my grey days as I write in black and white, I think that for quite a few situations grey is the way……one of the ways to remain sane in a complex and conflicting world. Hope you remain motivated to keep penning such interesting topics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deepa many thanks for your glowing comments
      Most of growing up is unlearning what we have been taught in childhood
      Parents Teachers Relatives Peers Seniors Society all fill our heads and hearts with so much of ash and chaff that most life goes in fighting against what proclivity prompts and what conscience permits on one side as against what I wish and dream to do
      Grey is the new White for some of us
      Wonder when we all will grow up fully and be ready to totally stand up for what is right
      keep writing in and encouraging me

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What is Right!!

    My compliments for choosing a very pertinent topic and sharing your deep churning on the same.

    “What is Right” is the question we face very often. To me ,there are 3 distinct categories ,demanding different levels of response.

    Category 1 consists of questions like : how did Sridevi die? Or, did the Namo government indeed allow Nirav Modi to escape? Or, did Chidambaram really cheat the country? What is Right?

    Well, we all are interested in getting the right answers to the above questions. Thinking a little more, however, the real answer is not going to affect my day to day life. Skepticism has also set in due to past experience that we may not really know the right answers even after decades ,as it has happened in the Bofors case. Does this really matter to me?

    Then there is category 2, where I need to take actions based on what is right. For example, my employee complaints about his Manager. I talk to the Manager and find that he has his own story to tell which also sounds reasonable. Who is Right? I cannot and should not avoid finding the right answer, as I need to act in a fair manner to create the right atmosphere in the organization. Often, for paucity of time ,or due to other priorities, we do not go deep enough to find what is Right. Such an approach , over time, can have a devastating effect on the morale of the staff.

    Take another instance: I am driving down to the airport . Being already late, I am quite fast and end up jumping a signal. The policeman stops me. I have 2 options: Pay “speed money “ and proceed to catch the flight or go through the formalities with the police in a straight forward /honest way and miss the flight. What is Right? Now , I am in category 3 situation. It is very important for me to understand what is right for me , to be able to take decisions which I will not regret.

    Here, what is right will be different for every individual. While I would love to be honest, do I have the inner power to face the consequences of standing firm?

    And if many of us develop this inner power to stand firm for the truth and honest ways, the incidents in category 1 and 2 may not even arise!!!

    Well, that will be going beyond the realm of today’s world. Would we all, however, not like to have such a world?

    Well, I need to take first step myself…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JLS
      many thanks for your detailed comments which embellish and add value to the original blog.
      Your conclusion reminded me of a fav sher of my father
      Khudi ko kar itna bulund
      ki har taqdeer ke pehle
      Khuda bande se khud pooche
      “teri raza kya hai”

      Unfortunately the type of strength required to stand firmly on the foundation of one’s own rock solid value system is the privilege of very few. Not privilege in terms of nobility or birth. But by their own choice and the way they live their life and think their dilemmas.

      cant agree more with you that each and every “I” needs totake the first step
      a la Robindranath Thakur I would sing
      “Where words come out from the depth of truth
      Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
      Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
      Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
      Where the mind is led forward by thee
      Into ever-widening thought and action
      Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

      Wo subah ka intezaar hai
      wo subah kabhi to aayegi


      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Vikas Sab,
    It is wonderful thought. If welook at spiritual angle. According my limited knowledge there is nothing called wrong nothing called right. It is purely depending on how we perceive the things. However what we see outside is totally mithya meaning it is not true at all. Truth can eirher be seen or may be possible realise for someone who can see everything from inside. That is inward view. Hence everything in this world is not true because it will keep changing its properties what ever way we measure living or non living things. I may not be good at expressing it but I believe everything is in this world is not a truth.


    1. Vinod
      When you talk of what is right spirituality is intricately linked to this. Perception indeed plays a significant part in the way we look at things and the way we act. So I understand when you say all that you see in the world is NOT true.
      Our whole life goes in finding the truth and living the truth_ AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.s to the root of this. Life is challenging because of this. And it my oinion is is interesting because of this dynamics.
      Thanks for joining the debate and expressing your views.
      keep writing in
      appreciate your thoughts


  5. You said it. What is right is a question which keeps us thinking for long time. Our mind becomes like a laptop which is ‘hung’ with curser showing thinking sand clock.
    Earlier people decided the question on the basis of virtues. Now they decide on the basis of freedom – “she may have used medicines, that was her decision, she did not harm anybody. So what’s wrong?”
    The criteria for deciding what is right are also evolving. No doubt shades of grey there.
    You write so well, the flow is engaging the reader, keep writing and publish a book. It will be a treasure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vivek
      yes the focus in today’s times had indeed shifted from the virtues /values debate to issues of freedom and independence. This is driven all the more by the new generation who ( unlike us) is unwilling to take anything on face value and always questions everything and puts it to an independent test. In some ways this is “right” and good as alternate perspectives emerge and multiple POVs are exchanged and debated. But sometimes this also leads to a lot of confusion as no one road emerges as a clear direction: while de facto one does need to choose an alternative and walk the path as decisive action is all the more required in the conflictual times of today.
      sometimes I think we should learn the easy going nature of our children and not agonise and lose sleep over “what is right”
      Beatles sang so correctly long ago “When I find myself in times of trouble
      Mother Mary comes to me
      Speaking words of wisdom
      Let it be
      Let it Be”

      Thanks for your kind words about my writing style and suggestion of a book: your love for me always pleasures the cockles of my heart
      and I keep raising my game to be worthy of your affection
      Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou
      vikas the foolish

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Vikas.

    My two bits on this topic – when things are grey and unclear, it implies the need for more thinking, more data/info, more analysis and the patience to hold off conclusions and decisions until clarity emerges, the “aha” moment is reached and the “right” path/decision becomes obvious. Unfortunately as the pace of life increases, this practise becomes increasingly difficult and we tend to just “move on with life.

    To shine light on the “grey colours” in life, we have to use the “grey matter” in our heads a lot more. 🙂 oh no. !! A tiring thought indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kiran
      you hit the nail on the head.
      Today decisions can be only based on data and analytics. And while we have a host of tools and techniques to do this “the world is too much with us” and we are swamped. Even Big Data gives us less and less discretionary time. And we are perpetually in a catch up mode. Progressively the style being adopted is to rely on mechanization and automation to beat the clock.
      But all innovation is necessarily a result of using the “grey matter”. Challenging times to live in.
      The concern with data and analytics from my pure “human/humane” perspective: who is running the ship? Is there a Captain who can discriminate and choose? And how do we ensure he chooses “right”?
      The jury is still out on that one


  7. I completely agree sir. Things, events, happenings are just there. Human mind colours it with their own individual perspective and defines it in their own way. Duality is the basis of existence and there is no way to transcend it with limited mind. Absolute truth lies beyond duality in my opinion and difficult to get hold on. Businesses specially the modern corporations try to achieve objectives that are against the natural law and hence for them their right is almost always wrong for the society. Cross functional team to decide etc are to mask the guilty feeling, may be.


    1. HCP
      with your vast experience and that too in respectable large corporations you come with a very sharp insight indeed. In today’s corporate world are we heavily into “masking the guilty feeling”? Really a good challenge and all of us must introspect where we stand vis a vis this proposition.
      Your deep philosophical bent shines through in the other great point you make about duality being the basis for very existence and our inability to grasp this with our limited faculties. Could this be the genesis of the “duvidha” we all face? Is this why we cannot understand reality? Va;id challenge. Worth thinking about.
      thanks for writing in my friend and adding value to the debate


  8. Rightly bought out..
    Even the criminal commits a crime because she/he feels it is the right thing to do at that time and situation. This could change with time and situation…at the court when they are quizzed. Ending in accepting that the act of crime was probably not right.
    Conflicts and / or collaboration also takes place between unlike/like minded people..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True Suresh
      Just a few days ago I read a WA message
      Society: Do as you please
      Society: NO But not that…
      Crime is defined by society
      and there may be some areas which are inviolate
      like for example rape of a 5 year old girl
      Nothing can justify or explain it away
      Whites and Blacks are easy to distinguish
      when it comes to the greys is the real challenge

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Good one, Vikas dada! There are so many perspectives to any issue/topic. Its best to keep one’s mind open to all possibilities and be humble enough to accept that one’s own perspective may be flawed orone-dimensional. However, when it comes to something one believes in strongly, it’s best to go with gut feeling and not get influenced by divergent opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nilu agreed
      My angst is against people who self righteously proclaim they are the only ones with the path to Allah
      However strong is one’s faith I feel we must keep some space for divergence
      and even when we follow our opinions accept equally others have a right to follow theirs
      that is my only “aagraha”
      I have always been a proponent of following your own drum beats
      but that does not give me pre-eminence to foist my music on other walkers
      Now even Johnny Walker has changed their icon to Jane


  10. Today right or wrong decided by social media. Those who does the wrong tries to prove its right. And the Grey has lot of chance to become Black or White depending the situation.
    Like at Yellow Signal it’s expected to lowered down the speed to stop at red. But we tries to escape when it’s yellow , suddenly signal turn red and cops stops us and we try to prove it was yellow and so on.


    1. Agreed Girish
      My point is that only
      It is relative and we all think we hve the truth
      But we need to accept that the reality of the cop is a reality for him
      and the faster we respect that the better


  11. Vikas, A good one!
    Right is relative but truth ( who knows it?) is absolute!
    And you are absolutely right…. Grey is the norm in a world filled with white lies and black truth!


    1. Vish
      the paradigms of olden times are no longer valid
      Good and Bad
      Right and Wrong
      are engaged in a beautiful waltz
      making it well nigh difficult
      to separate the two
      we cling to absolutes for our comfort
      but who knows who will be laughing at whom when the game is over?
      so my philosophy is to enjoy he dance while it lasts

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Fantastic! Loved every bit of it and there’s so much one can relate to. I think it takes a lot of time and energy to convince people of the ‘grey/orange/red etc’ and ego is the biggest cover one can pull on one’s eyes. Does Having the ‘right’ attitude solve part of this? If yes, what is the ‘right’ attitude?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Valid question Ameya
      am sure Hitler and other dictators felt they were “right”
      and wanted to instill this “right ” attitude into others
      when we get into the realm of social reality there are o easy answers
      but I am only hoping people realise when they are on level ground and when they are stepping on others’ toes

      life is enjoyable only because there are no stock answers to questions like these ones

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Good one……but the flip side is true too…..many thrive on exploiting the shades of grey…..when things are obvious….. possibly being true to others and not merely focussing on self interest would lead us to the best ‘right’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Preeti
      I am honored that yours is the first comment on this blog
      somehow in an absolute manner I must say it feels RIGHT
      nothing relative about that

      Jokes apart: yes there are many who thrive on the dark side of the moon
      and exploit the greys
      But really if you think about it: what remedy do we have
      we can reflect reality : mirror what we feel
      But the other person can easily sidestep saying that is your reality
      my mirror shows me a different image?
      So then what is obvious?
      is there a common reality?
      We know adultery; incestuous relations; bigamy all had social sanction at one time in another context
      reality today evolved differently
      so what makes something right or wrong is a tough question to answer
      But life’s exam does not also provide too much choice many times
      hence possibly CJC talks of the God dancing on the grey
      Fortunately our human dilemmas are not that dichotomous
      and so most of us can enjoy the game called life

      But it would do well to remind ourselves from time to time
      no one gets out of this alive
      So laugh at yourself
      and have fun

      Liked by 1 person

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