The Blame Game

pointing-fingerOscar Wilde once said – What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

People end up reminding me of that quote too often. On a dull cloudy Monday morning, during an official meeting, someone passed a blame. It was subtle. Well crafted. I snapped. It was one of those WTF moments. What allows people to be so shamelessly naked and still claim to be draped in Cashmere yarn? We had an internal gossip meeting later on and my British colleagues asked a simple question – Why? They were apparently in a shock. They told me that they have never done that. To err is human and why is it so hard to just say “I am sorry” instead of pointing fingers – they asked. I had no answer at that point of time, but it set me thinking.

Was it an Indian thing? The naked guy definitely was. Is this kind of a behaviour an outcome of the competitive and cut throat environment we are brought up in? Is it because we have always seen our elders keep their ego above right and wrong? Is it because our parents always teach us to be good than the rest of the herd and in the process turn us into evil money generating cynics? Is it “actually” an Indian thing or is there another layer below it?

Well, it could be. Consider my job. I few bad ratings and I could be easily thrown out. I just have to rub someone on the wrong side. The rating system is royally out of shape like Rani Mukherjee’s waistline. There won’t be any repercussionsย for the company because the laws which hold an employee to his job are as fragile and dumb as Paris Hilton. There won’t be any compensations. So, what do I do when I commit a mistake? I try to hide it. Plain and Simple.point I have a car loan to pay. And sometime later on in time, a house loan too. I can’t afford to commit mistakes.

Have we just dissolved away the idea of attaching a moral and ethical value to our acts and simply end up putting a price tag on everything?

Its all right to put price tags on “things”, but now there are invisible price tags on the repercussions of our actions too?

Isn’t it a shame? We belong to a land where people stood by each other and fought the war of Independence, fought for what was morally right(Its another story that they killed each other after the war was won, but lets not get there).

AND, maybe its not an Indian thing. Its a human thing. Its just that it is we(in this case), who were caught with our pants down. What if I switch the working environments and the living conditions? Will my British colleagues end up in a whirlpool of moral upheaval and cynicism? More importantly, will my Indian colleagues shed the price tags from their acts and stop pointing fingers if they knew that things would be very stable? I am not sure if there are answers to these questions, because human nature is as unpredictable as the weather in Manchester.

gollum lord of the ringsOf-course, there is an “Utopian” scenario too. Think of a team where all the members are good friends. They all understand that they have to together make the project work and have a common goal. They like each others company and are ready to help. I have worked in such a team and believe me, it is at that point when cynicism is taken over by trust and responsibility of one’s own acts and the social conditions/wrong upbringing are thrown at the back-burner. But then, that’s rare.

Its human to point fingers. Nations have pointed fingers at other nations and completely destroyed them. We point fingers at God even when we slip on a banana peel. When Gollum pointed finger at Sam and said – “He took it!!”, he was not just influencing Frodo. He was creating a path to reach the ring. No matter how contrived and shrewd he might have looked at that point but he had his own justified-to-himself reasons. Everyone has.

But is there a way out? Or is it just that we are all Gollums in our own way?

62 comments on “The Blame Game

  1. Amit, I don’t think it’s an Indian thing, but it’s possible that Indians have not mastered the art. After all it is an art, the blame game, isn’t it.
    Also I think that if one is not subtle enough then one becomes more vulnerable. I do not know the exact circumstances of this particular incident, but at times the sorry works better than an obvious attempt to cover up. In fact at times the guilt is so obvious that there is no point covering up.
    Alt times the person committing the mistake often thinks the mistake far bigger than it actually is. It may be something very minor, something that could happen to anyone, but an insecurity might make one feel that it’s a big mistake.
    Just my thoughts.

    • I think cover ups only work when they are very well defined and crafted. There should not be a loose end.
      The incident was very small. It was stupid in fact to try to cover it up.
      We cover up only when something is at stake. Tell me, why would I lie if I know that the truth won’t bring any harm? But sometimes, its just bred into us. The Ego takes precedence over everything else.

  2. To me it is our well breed human thing! I donโ€™t have to trouble my fingers to point country, caste, occupation, society and other etc etc for my own actionsโ€ฆ If a need arise to blame someone for my blame game, then I should point my fingers straight to my eye ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yes, I agree. We just have this habit. I don’t think blaming someone is wrong given the right circumstances but blaming someone to cover up your own inadequacies is the worst thing one can do.

  3. Amit, Blame game is not entirely an Indian thing but I have to agree that quite often I have seen Indians at work place doing it more as compared to other colleagues. I have seen that ‘I apologize’ doesn’t exist in their dictionary. There have been meetings to just tell them on how important it is to be responsible for your own actions and not put it on someone else.

    Moving on to your post, ” The rating system is royally out of shape like Rani Mukherjeeโ€™s waistline.”

    ๐Ÿ˜† Why did you blame a woman? Why? Why? ๐Ÿ˜†

    • Yes, I agree. Not even at work, look at every aspect of our society. We just don’t know how to accept our mistakes.
      And cummon, what do you expect me to say? ๐Ÿ˜› All our heroes are very fit. I could not think of anyone fat! ๐Ÿ˜›
      Aur, hey bhagwaan! Rani ki burai kari to saari auratain isse personally kyun le leti hain!! ๐Ÿ˜›

      • Solilo I had the same question…! ๐Ÿ˜› Women – from my observations – don’t like us (men) calling celebrity women fat. ๐Ÿ˜› kyun kyun??

      • Ha..ha..ha.. Amit & Priyank, Let women be curvy. Why do you guys like skinny babes? ๐Ÿ˜† Why? Why?

        Amit, How about Sashi Kapoor’s waistline. It was the same in 80s too.

        Priyank, Rani Mukherjee is not fat. *Solilo goes in search for Rani’s recent dhaansoo picture*

      • Solilo : We like curvy girls because that is how God intended them to be! ๐Ÿ˜›
        God made us to be curvy and muscular! ๐Ÿ˜›
        And Shashi Kapoor was soooo thin when he was in his prime! Look at Rani! Do you remember – Nach Baliye from Bunti aur Babli? She looked like a cylinder! ๐Ÿ˜›

  4. Hi Amit,

    Apologizing is unfortunately not an Indian thing.

    Its not easy for Indians to say sorry, take the example of Munnabhai 2 movie. We don’t have right ways to do that in daily Hindi usage either. Someone saying ‘เคฎเฅเคเฅ‡ เคฎเคพเคซ เค•เคฐ เคฆเฅ‹’ (I don’t know how the Urdu word ‘maufi’ is written in Hindi) or using the word ‘เค•เฅเคทเคฎเคพ’ is seen too dramatic or filmi. So we resort to English words. Unless we use our own words, we won’t feel it. Secondly there’s this inherent cultural stigma associated with apologising.

    Covering up or blaming is a universal act. The only difference is that its easier to cover up something or blame someone else in one’s first language. Manipulations involving human psychology needs several criteria for success – body language, spoken language, cultural context etc. Therefore, Indians (or foreigners) are easily caught doing it compared to say native British in UK.

    cheers, Priyank

    • Yes, that is so true! I would be more ashamed if I say – “mujhse ghalati ho gai” instead of “Sorry! My bad!”. I feel bad from inside! ๐Ÿ™‚
      And, yes, the tone gives you away and also the kind of impression how have on the person you are trying to fool.
      What you have talked about is an entirely new angle(the usage of native language). Thanks for adding it here.

  5. Dont think this as an Indian thing… surely not… its an universal thing to point finger on somebody and cover up the mistakes… as I am working in such a project where we have interact with US people I get know that… they are not far behind us in this.. as you have said its also because of putting our ego before the good it will seem like we are running front in it.. thats what most of elders here do..

    • Oh yes! I know that story. Many of my friends who are in US have told me some horror stories.
      We are all the same at the grassroot level it seems. But don’t you think Indians leave all the competition behind?

  6. To blame someone is the easiest way to get away from the point of scrutiny …. then the person you blamed will blame someone else …. it goes on and on …

    And about apologizing …. When we are in school , we happen to use the word “Sorry” almost every other class …. then in college , we restrict ourself from the much usage of this word …. a sense of ego creeps in ….. And when we go further in life , most of us develop a false thinking that saying “Sorry” is an instance of one of the most shameful acts ….

    P.S. What goes around , comes around …. The final blame might come back on you … No where to escape then !!!

  7. Blame game can be a total piss-off, especially in an office environment.. We had a few people who always got away with finger pointing in school but the rest of us (those who got screwed) saw to it that he got it back =D

    • Yes, exactly. Even if I find something good and challenging to do, someone might just come and blame me for something he is not able to explain himself. Its a total turn off and sometimes the job seems so thankless.

  8. It is not just an Indian thing it is universal.. but we have some kind of Mastery over it.

    Only in our country we can blame the victim of being in the wrong spot rather than punishing the criminal.

    It happens in teh offices and everyhere else too.. nobody wants to look bad.

    • Haha! Yup! The famous : “The girl was raped because she was not wearing proper clothes” can be heard only in India.
      People have justifications for everything!

  9. It is a human thing but since I have lived in India for the major part of my life and have only met people from other countries on and off…I can say for certain that we are the ones who indulge in this more often..

    somehow we seem to relish it in a kind of twisted manner..

    I agree with Oorja’s statement above
    Only in our country we can blame the victim of being in the wrong spot rather than punishing the criminal.
    sad huh?

  10. I am working with an organisation that has mostly volunteers from US ,Australia and to some extent from South Africa ..they indulge in this too albeit they do it much much more subtly..

    one cant help but feel lost after a while..Indians however, come across as more petty when they do it, I dunno why..

    On a lighter note :-maybe we have not mastered the’ art ‘ yet?

    • I think its because of the kind of environment we are brought up in. How many times have we seen our parents saying sorry? Its just considered bad.
      We close pubs earlier because police can’t protect us.
      We blame girls when they are raped.
      We beat up people from another state because we are not able to find a job because of our own inadequacies.
      Its crazy!

    • Yes yes! Big time! All the companies are busy utilizing the scenario to their benefit. Cutting salaries, increasing working hours, cutting down benefits, stopping promotions!
      Its the Golden period.

  11. I don’t think it is an Indian thing at all.. It happens with everybody.. as far as I have seen.. The only difference probably is that in some cases, Indians do seem to have an inferiority complex , especially while working abroad, in a client set up…. they find it difficult to just apologize and get on with it because they are trying so hard to be brilliant… Instead, they end up doing a bad cover up job and end up looking worse..

    • I don’t think its an inferiority complex. Its a habit. And remember when you are working for someone, you have to ensure that you give an impression that you are doing a good job, even when you are not.
      Imagine, Ramu, the house servant. What happens when he breaks a plate? He hides it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Nothing like Indian or non-Indian about any of those things, It all depends on that particular incident and the situation which includes that particular individual(s).

  13. It is unfortunate, everyone plays the blame game at some point, when they are pushed to the extremes. But those with a short fuse are the ones that get into the blame game more often than the rest. I think people with simple “Jiyo aur Jeene do” attitude don’t get into blame game often. I like to be that type and I try to be. But I think the conditions are probably the ones to blame ๐Ÿ˜‰ he he ๐Ÿ™‚ See, I couldn’t help myself not to blame on things!

    • I don’t think “pushed to extremes” is a valid reason. Its more of a habit for some people. Its like breathing. They just can’t live without it. I understand that it starts as a reason to defend what’s dear to you, but then it slowly turns into a habit. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Blame no one.
    Expect nothing.
    Do something.

    This was written in the New York Giant’s locker room. Our company is using it since then to motivate employees.

  15. Felt sad for you man for a little moment but I know that you can handle it very well and by the time, i finished this, i am sure about it.

    I have seen this several times already and I feel that one day a petent will be given to Indians for this voluntarily.

    Mistakes will be done by all but as far as I know, others dont care about it till it comes out and once it comes out, they will accept it and takes the outcome. When it comes to our guys, they care about it from day 1 and try to manipulate others from day 1 that it is happened because of fellow collegue and by end, everybody starts believing it.

    For sure this mentality came because of the situations we are being brought up and i dont think it will change in near future also.

    The project you mentioned is ours ?

    I just wanted to one more thing that, did they already started behaving with you normally or not because it also comes to our guus naturally. Once they have some benefit with you, they wont remeber any thing which is happened before. When it come to profit, we are like Gajini’s ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ha! Don’t feel sad for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just had a lot of fun in that meeting!
      I think it comes to the fact that I will say sorry to a person when I know that I would be forgiven and given another chance. Its that simple when it comes to it.
      No its not our project. Its my current one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Really good post Amit, here’s my two-penneth…

    Is it self-aggrandizement, self-consciousness, or self-preservation? I guess it’s likely to be a mix of all three in most cases…

    When I started my first job I was painfully concious of what others thought of me; I would never openly admit to an error because I was concerned about how it would affect people’s perception of me. As my self confidence grew, so the need to appear perfect ebbed; the side-effect of this: I learnt that people are more likely to respect you when they admit your faults and promise to improve.

    “to err is human, to forgive is divine”…

    I used to work for a manager who would have been wholly ineffective if he hadn’t one day uttered the throw-away comment: “the best developers are those who have made the best mistakes”. A manager who encourages his staff to accept they will make mistakes but that this will, in the long-term, make them a better developer, will foster a team with integrity and a desire to improve. My current management believes that all staff are instantly replaceable – you err, you’re out. This breeds the sort of culture you refer to; one where every individual has to think of themselves first – even the most altruistic person must eventually turn to self-preservation.

    • Thanks Mat! And Welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚
      I think its more of self-aggrandizement than anything else. I completely accept your point when you say that as your self confidence grows, so does the habit of admitting your faults.

      But then, the people around you make a whole lot of difference. What if you know that there are people ready to pull you down as soon as they get the slightest opportunity? What if you have seen a person committing a mistake and your manager punishing him harshly?

      I have worked under all sorts of managers – Harsh, indifferent, encouraging, plain dumb. Your job turns into a thankless one if your Manager is not encouraging. But at the same time, I must add that there is a social conditioning factor too which starts much before we join our jobs. “Apologizing” is considered derogatory in our society. You move a step backward if you do that. This is imbibed in us since childhood and I must say that I am also not completely immune to it. Sometimes, I too find it very very difficult to apologize. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I am learning! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Its a culture which is hard to kill till there are people to manipulate us and make us realize(like our current management) that we are replaceable. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. excellent article dude….

    The “blame game” has been mastered by most software engineers……

    I have seen so many examples of it….
    not only desi but also firangi……

    but yes, we are way ahead of competition in this department…..

    it is really hard to stand up and say “sorry”…. it really is….

    again I say, excellent article……..

  18. The project I asked is not about theme of this.

    I asked about the project you mentioned in the paragraph before you mentioned about Gollum ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. We get the brunt of blame game all the time in my office.. anythng goes wrong by marketting department or training department, blame is on medical department! Batao!!! ๐Ÿ™„

    • Yeah! The famous inter department blame game. That is quite interesting too! ๐Ÿ™‚ Even my sis keeps on telling me about how the various departments in her company keep on fighting like cats and dogs!

  20. Though it is a human thing but I think largely it is an Indian thing. As have always been saying that as a nation we are big time into blame game. We hardly ever see what is happening inside our home but we always have time to talk about what is happenign at neighbor’s place. We react to events happening out of India but hardly ever set our house in order.

    On a personal note, I have always come out stronger when I have accepted my mistake (in professional arena) and for the times when I did not I always ended up feelign guilty.

    On a lighter note, HO is always right, field is never performing and commercial is the biggest villan around ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. I don’t know how I missed this one! Some of your best posts are opinion posts, like these and I wish you write more of them.

    I always follow this principle – when you blame some one, one finger points at him, one finger points at God and three fingers point right back to you! That is always true. When you start blaming others, you are already trying to cover up and not taking responsibility. And, people take a long time to realize that it is better to accept responsibility and speak the truth in such moments and see how the mistake can be corrected. The first act of correcting yourself is to accept that you have done a mistake. I don’t quite understand why the top management is not able to look through this. May be they do, and are quiet for a reason!! That’s worse.

    Destination Infinity

    • Well, Thanks! And I wish I have enough time to write them! ๐Ÿ™‚
      Sometimes, when you know that things have gone wrong because of a certain person, its all right to blame. Believe me, the world is full of such as*holes and sometimes its important to make them realize that the rest of the world was not created to clean their shit. Blaming in such a scenario is justified.
      But what I hate is that people start blaming to cover up their mistakes.
      And the top management is there to look at only one thing – Profits. Nothing else matters.

  22. I think in an office environment, the work at hand should be given more importance than covering up your mistakes. Afterall thats what you are there for. It is much bigger than anything else. Also keeping your conscience clean is important. You may be successful in blaming someone and getting off the hook but in your heart and mind you know that it’s your fault and you may end up making more mistakes and blaming more people ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yes, after all we are paid to do the job. This is not some high school competition where you have to come first. Most of the times I have seen people behave like small kids. ๐Ÿ™‚
      As, the saying goes – What goes around, comes around.

  23. Its Oscar Wilde. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Cool header! have u bought CSS upgrade?
    I dont think its an Indian thing. everyone tries to save their skin. what is needed an opportunity and a scapegoat.
    U have made a reference to Gollum sometime before too no? LOTR kitne baar dekha hai?

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