Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Will I buy from reliance if they are as guilty as accused

Reliance Group of companies - combined set of companies owned by both Anil Ambani and Mukesh Ambani - is the largest corporate conglomerate in India. Even though the group has been split into two between the brothers, for coherence sake I will be referring to the combined group as Reliance in the discussion below. From a humble beginning in the late 60s it has grown into the behemoth it is currently. It is one of the few corporate success stories that have caught the attention of International Business World.

As with any big company Reliance (the group of companies) also had to face several allegations during its growth. Normally, in the case of any company, a good percentage of these accusations would be results of corporate rivalry or mere jealousy. But there has been quite too many accusations to be merely ignored as jealousy induced ones. I for one person do not know the reality behind these accusations. But I have to consider the volume and seriousness of some of these accusations before I make any kind of judgment regarding them.

My issue here is not whether Reliance is guilty or not, rather another independent problem. Suppose I come to the conclusion that Reliance is guilty based on whatever evidence I get. Now I have to answer another question. Should I avail of Reliance services or not? Simple isn't it. Not quite. If the answer is in the affirmative then I would indeed be indirectly promoting Reliance and would be promoting whatever they are doing and whatever I had judged to be as wrong.

Now why can't I just decide to not avail of Reliance services if I am convinced that Reliance is guilty of whatever they have been accused with? Here comes the ubiquitous issue of money. Reliance Services are among the lowest priced services that are available in the market. My company - zyxware is not yet a customer for reliance. Recently I have been shopping for health insurance for my employees. I have been reviewing the offerings from the different health insurance providers in India. Guess who is the cheapest - Reliance General.

If I go for any other company other than Reliance, I will inevitably end up paying at least 10,000 Rupees more than what I have to otherwise. My business self asks me to go for Reliance to get the cheaper rates. My ethical self argues that I would be promoting Reliance if I do so. My logical self has an interesting argument - if I ruin all my money on trying to defend my ethical self, I would end up having no business self to support my ethical self.

So the question under discussion is not whether Reliance is guilty or not but instead whether people can/will make financial sacrifices, or for that matter any other sacrifice like extra effort, when sticking to ethical policies. The answer cannot be given in black and white. Different people would allow their endurance to crumble at different magnitudes of the sacrifices involved. It however has to be noted that people can change this limit of endurance for the sacrifices by conscious decision making and practice. But before that they have to identify with the need to stand by their ethics and values. For that they have to have a strong value system which can be used to make their decisions. And for that they have to start thinking about such issues.

I have not decided on the Insurance provider yet. I have to talk with a few more people about the pro's and con's of the different providers and their services. I might even end up going for Reliance. But the issue had got me thinking about the philosophical problem involved. If people start applying their ethical and moral values to their everyday decision making, they can slowly start implementing some of the things that they believe is right. By practicing that, ultimately they would/should be able to stand by their values at any cost. I hope I can do that as I slowly evolve my system of values and framework of ethics through the experiments I run with my life.


  1. "If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work"
    But where do you draw the line? Thats one tough decision, good luck with the insurance:)

  2. Yes It is a battle of concepts - morality vs economics. Morality does not have muscles while economics does :)

  3. I guess I am effectively a customer of reliance. I am a partner in another firm Stock Shop India, a stock brokerage firm and there the phone connection is from reliance as they offered free calls between all the branches of the brokerage firm we are a branch of.