Stripping of honours…
I read with great interest, the following Editorial in The Financial Express of 2nd Feb 2012 :
Four breezy years after being appointed chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin was awarded a knighthood for his services to banking in 2004. Share prices had soared in the interim, RBS looked really solid and Goodwin looked like he was creating great market value. When the global financial crisis hit, it was inevitable that his reputation would take a beating like that of other bankers. But he attracted special public opprobrium. In 2007, he spearheaded an expensive takeover of ABN Amro even as the US subprime bubble was popping waste everywhere. After the titan had to be bailed out, reporting the biggest loss in British corporate history for 2008, Goodwin got into another indecorous fight—over holding onto an exorbitant pension worth around $980,000 a year. Now the UK honours forfeiture committee has stripped Goodwin of his knighthood. Both the Financial Services Authority and the Treasury Select Committee have after all found that RBS’s failure played an important role in the 2008-09 financial crisis. But because FSA didn’t actually take any action against Goodwin, critics see cause to cry political tokenism and expediency here, while other benighted bankers remain unchastened.Not that India makes a habit of handing its highest awards to bankers (arts, science, industry, public affairs are more favoured), but it is interesting to ask whether we should also have a system for revoking the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan etc when the awardee’s reputation does a backflip. The establishment could make errors in recalling awards, but some are always arguing ‘errors’ in awarding them anyway. The British gave the knighthood to Robert Mugabe in 1994 and took it away in 2008, but the Zimbabwean president would never have been honoured in the first place if the establishment had been paying attention to human rights voices.
I wrote the following letter to FE in response to the above :
Dear Sir, This refers to your Editorial titled: ”Scape Goat” (FE 2ND FEB 2012) regarding the Ex CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland Fred Goodwin,being stripped of his Knighthood after finding that RBS’s failure was one of the main causes leading to the financial crisis of 2008-09. This shows how the high and mighty can fall from grace,off their pedestals because of their wrongdoings. Though critics term this action of FSA and TSC as mere “tokenism”, perhaps it is a clear warning signal to other knighted Bankers who may be still feeling smug, that they may also face similar stripping, as a consequence of their questionable roles in the downfall. Yes, as rightly suggested by you, it is high time that India takes a leaf out of UK’s law books to develop a suitable system of stripping awardees of our honours like Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan and even Bharat Ratna for that matter, in case some instances of malfeasance or misconduct, are found at a later date. They should not take it easy once they are honoured and need to remember the popular idiom–“uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” which in simple terms means that: people with serious responsibilities have a heavy burden and so they should not risk their reputations.–J.S. BROCA,NEW DELHI
Today’s (7th Feb 2012) FE has published my letter in the Letters to the Editor column,as under :
Apropos of the editorial “Scapegoat” (FE, February 2), the ex-CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland Fred Goodwin being stripped of his Knighthood after the find that RBS’s failure was one of the main causes leading to the financial crisis of 2008-09 shows how the high and mighty can fall from grace, off their pedestals, because of wrongdoings. Though critics term this action of FSA and TSC as mere tokenism, perhaps it is a clear warning signal to other celebrated bankers who may be still feeling smug, that they may also face similar stripping, as a consequence of their questionable roles in the downfall. Yes, it is high time India takes a leaf out of UK’s law books to develop a suitable system of stripping awardees, be they Padma Shris, Padma Vibhushans and even Bharat Ratnas, in case some instances of malfeasance or misconduct are found at a later date. They should not take it easy once they are honoured and need to remember the popular idiom: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”. In other words, people with serious responsibilities should not risk their reputations.
JS Broca, New Delhi
To read my letter directly on FE’s website,go to the foll:link :