Monday, June 02, 2008

Work after a long holiday

An enigma as old as the world is, what came first, the chicken or the egg? There have been many more unresolved questions, like for instance ,what poet Kannadasan would pose through his lyrics:
Kodi assainthathum, katru vandada?
Katru vandadum kodi assaindada?
(Did the tendril sway to the wind or
The wind blew, by the swaying of the tendril?)
Nilavu vandadum, malar malarndada?
Malar malarndadal nilavu vandada?
(Did the flowers bloom after the moon appeared or
The moon appeared to behold the flowers bloom?)

An immediate conundrum at a time when the courts in Tamil Nadu are going to reopen after a month old holiday is, did we deserve this long rest because of our hard work; or, do we owe the society strenuous work, because we have had a long spell of rest? It all depends on how you have spent your holidays and how you are looking forward to your resumption of work in courts.
To many of us, holidays are a welcome relief from the tedium of routine. We would have spruced up our office/chamber, cleared many a dead wood, thrown out unhelpful juniors, chucked the office of selfish seniors, sent reminders for un-cleared bills, dispatched spouse and children to native village and enjoyed the freedom of solitude or if you have been an ideal family person, you would have spent quality time with your family, taken them out to salubrious places and come back home, raring to go back to work. If you have been a cricket enthusiast, there were not better times. A 59 -match fixture was played with remarkable competitive spirit, when men attired in different hues rubbed shoulder to shoulder, black and white men rolled and rollicked proving that through their veins ran the same red blood, men of Pakistan and India played on the same side encouraging each other, a Punjabi, an African, an Australian, a New Zealander, a Sri Lankan, a sprinkling of Madrasis, led by a Bihari breathed a homogeneous Chennai spirit, cheered by huge crowds transcending parochial sentiments . All the initial objections to the commercialization of sports (echoed in these columns, as well) seemed to get dissolved and showed remarkable prospects of great entertainment for future. All that SAARC could not do to bring together the countries of this region, cricket promises to do!

See what we always expect of our sports persons,- absolute dedication, keen competitiveness, camaraderie and above all, team loyalty. The cricket game proved one more thing. The teams that made to the finals had the best, inspirational captains for the respective sides. A man, who had hung up his shoes, powdered them white and got back under the arc lights to guide a whole bunch of tyros to perform like world champions; Another captain, a cool guy who breathes icy air through his nostrils at + 40 C, led from the front, seeing the players on level and never adopting a patronizing air to his colleagues. These games seem to be great eye-openers for many a failing that afflicts our profession. We get paid well but our own loyalty to your clients is suspect, when we opt to boycott courts. We turn up at courts ill prepared with shoddy home work. We make possible an easy walk- over, by conceding too meekly to bullying tactics of our adversaries. Our leadership ought to belong to the learned and the well- mannered. When we have good men to lead, we do not cede to them the authority to take responsible decisions and follow them. Our own dedication to our calling requires professionalism.

Nani Palkhiwala said, “in the legal profession, we have not lost the way, but also seem to have lost the map, to quote the words of G.K.Chesterton. What we need are lawyers who are prepared to stand as sentinels of democracy, as standard-bearers of the public cause they believe in. I am reminded of the words of Arethur Koestler, ‘If the creator had a purpose in equipping us with a neck, He surely meant us to stick it out’. The lawyer has to act as a catalyst. The responsibilities which to-day lie on the shoulders of the lawyers are far greater than at any earlier time in world history.” We hear in many of the speeches that our profession is a noble one and get pounded with recurrent advices that we shall strive to help the poor litigants. There is a gross hypocrisy about how we want to project our calling to be and how we fashion our own lives as lawyers and judges. Who does not want a situation when the entire legal fraternity is held in high esteem and we ride on the high crest of public adulation? Between thought and action, between ideal and reality, there will be always a hiatus, but how broad the wedge of difference shall be, is the area of concern.

We may have the experience of constantly breaching our New Year resolutions, but that does not mean, we shall not have the resolutions themselves. Here is again the occasion to start with new resolutions. Some of them could be: keep the quest for legal knowledge high and make a constant commitment to learning through books and journals; be available to clients’ just causes for legal assistance and turn in adequate work for the remuneration that we demand and secure; encourage settlements and minimize litigations; take interest in some community work, be it social, religious, cultural or political, outside the court campus. The first love for persons in legal fraternity shall be courts; his learning, of law; his dedication, the litigants. Shall we then have a check list of what we shall commit ourselves to do when we resume work?

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