Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bow down or bow out?

Today's post is a story.

There was once a country that had been colonized by certain powers-that-be. These powers-that-be felt glorified by their power to make the country bow to their wishes. The country was primarily agrarian and the harvests were typically very lucrative in open markets. And historically the colonizer had reaped profits from these harvests. Throughout the year, they'd send their representatives to come and check on the people, regularly, and try to teach them the right ways of farming. But to ensure that the people adhered to their code of conduct of genuflecting to them, they used brute force. Novel methods of forcing people were employed and out of fear, the country bowed low.


As time progressed, however, these powers-that-be were told that brute force was no longer in vogue and that subtlety was more respected, they backed off from their obtrusive, blatantly arm twisting tactics of exercising control to something more discrete. They decided to exercise control only in the harvesting season. by trying to build a pecking order story around themselves when it came to harvests. Yes, markets were free. Yes, farmers were allowed to sell their produce in open markets and the best produce got the best price, regardless of the buyer. All these rules applied in a weird twisted Henry Ford way (Remember - you get the choice of all colors as long as it is black?) So, the rule was that the colonizer would get right of way, at their prices and their whims on the produce. Once their granaries and coffers were full, the remaining produce could be sold off to the market, if any. All other market players were expected to wait for the colonizer to finish so that they could get their scrapings. And wait they did, for if they did not wait, they didn't get any produce. And yes, people knew that what the colonizer was doing was wrong and completely against normal economic theory. Those who did not agree to this plan - well, no one disagreed. Like I said, they bowed low, out of plain fear.


Over the years, they genuflected. When asked why, they said that the rains were undependable. It rained one year resulting in a bounty and was dry in the next, resulting in a failure. No open market would promise to buy produce when cyclical characteristics were so haphazard each year, and when uncertainties allowed no projections to ever be correct.

"But what about being cheated in years when you have a great crop and the market is willing to pay you more?", someone asked.

"Well, let's say that loss is the price we pay for security in down years", a farmer replied. "Besides, majority of the people here don't get wonderful crops. They get average harvests and average harvests typically get average prices in the open market. At least selling to the colonizer adds some snob value, if not anything else. So, people are very keen only to sell to the colonizer, and they bee-line up to the colonizer's granaries to offload their produce and get their money. So the country has decreed that we would sell to no one else but the colonizer and unless he gives us permission, we won't visit the open market. "


But one farmer (Mr X) was different. He consistently grew a good crop every year and felt himself stifled by the country's policies. He felt that arm twisting and pressure tactics served no one any good and that free markets by and far were the most efficient means to ensure profit for hard work. So, he decided one day, not to bow down to the colonizer. Everyone expected him to face the ire of the collection agents, with probable bloodshed. They sat glued to the TV watching what the news covered about the talks between this farmer and the colonizer. The dialogues went on for a while that seemed like eternity! The colonizer began to get agitated. They threatened to boycott the farmer forever. They threatened never to support him in case he had a crop failure. The farmer looked upon all of this calmly. And with a mild smile said, " Do your worst. I believe in myself and my skills. My losing you, would be your loss and not mine. But if you are so insecure about yourself, such that you need to frighten people to get your way, since you feel that other buyers in the open market will manage to get a better deal, I suggest, that you take a vacation and introspect on what you need to change about your image. Maybe you need a downward revision in your perception rating, and that would bring your true core and your perceived core on par. Maybe I am wrong, and you do have a stellar image on par with strong core values. Allow the farmers to then take a decision, based on what they value. As for me, rusticate me if you will, for I will, no matter what you do, go to the market."


So saying, he left the negotiation table, went to the open market with his produce and got double of what he had cumulatively received over all the past years. Feeling cheated, and knowing that X's precedent was on their side, several other farmers who had confidence in themselves ventured into the open market, despite threats from the colonizer. The trickle converted to a cascade as people realized the hollowness of the threats and the lack of core values in the colonizer. Eventually, prosperity prevailed and everybody lived happily ever after.


So, when forced to bow, everyone has a choice. Not everyone chooses not to bow, since they perhaps feel insecure about the unknown future, that could come about, if they did not bow. But as they say, fortune favors the brave and blaming country policies for genuflection, are unfounded claims! You always have a choice of whether to bow down or bow out.

11 comments:

Gyanban said...

Good post, and congrats on the tangy pick.

I think purely from a content stand point one can have an interesting discussion.:-) you see the other side of bowing down is resilience, perseverance,resistance,and we have enough examples in history where such virtues have attained their goals...

Veibha said...

good one!!!!

veibha said...

reminds me of caillou....

Never Ending Memories said...

Good one..

Never Ending Memories said...

Very nice post and well said..

indianhomemaker said...

Congratulations on the Tangy Tuesday Pick :)
Very positive post and I agree with the message. Most bullies are cowards. It's worth it to bow out and stand up for oneself. Those who grovel, definitely get kicked.

Sai Pondalur said...

Я не понимаю, блогам, написанным на английском языке.

Anonymous said...

Remember me.. Its EARTH again :)

Howz ur placement going??

Sidharth Negandhi said...

Good one! Though not many are as courageous you know

Sindhu Subramaniam said...

@ Gyanban - I understand your perspective, as long as the resilience lasts up to a certain point of time. If the answer is bowing down forever without having the strength to say no at some point, I guess the perseverance and resilience are grossly misplaced.

@ Never Ending Memories - Thanks a lot. I liked your latest post on Emotional Attyachaar. I agree with your views. But at some level I guess people who approach these channels are to blame, since they allow the media into their private lives and then complain about it. A similar show is 'The Moment of Truth', where personal questions are asked and the contestant needs to respond truthfully to get money. I guess at the end of the day, people can stoop to any level for their 15 minutes of fame!

@ indianhomemaker - thanks a lot. BTW - loved your latest post on Mothers and daughters. Brings out the emotion very beautifully.

@ Earth - good to see you back after soooooooo long. Where have u been???

@ Sid - welcome to the lilac avenue. Thanks for the comment. And we all know that someone was brave enough to stand up :) :)

The Survivor said...

I thought first that this might been related to the current situation of price rise.

The story does makes a valid point.