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The Big CEO in the sky

india Updated: Feb 07, 2007 00:54 IST

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Morality and business have always looked at each other nervously — unless, of course, one is talking about entrepreneurs who manufacture, say, the chastity belt or other paraphernalia that deal with the good life. But on certain occasions, Mammon and the Almighty (till now the favourite salesman of morality), come together to set up shop. Together, money can be made and funnelled into morally upright enterprises. Take New Jersey Dominican nun Sister Patricia Daly. Instead of shunning the men in suits, she is spearheading a network of faith-based organisations that have pooled $ 110 billion of funds and is cajoling companies in which these organisations have made investments to push their case during shareholder meetings. In other words, it’s the old Trotskyite routine of entering a system and heralding a revolution from within.

It makes terribly good materialistic as well as non-materialistic sense. Businesses that don’t get the big money from the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, of which Sister Patricia happens to be the executive director, are the ones that are pushing ‘immoral’ causes — companies backing planned parenthood (with sinful contraceptives, no doubt) or supporting gay and lesbian groups.

While the gospel may be driving profits that in turn go into ‘good work’, one man’s moral crusade could be another man’s heartless drive. Hopefully, Sister Patricia will not follow down the old Pope’n’Emperor joint venture that made the Catholic Church an MNC on the lines of Enron or Union Carbide — and resulted in Protestantism. Indian companies, of course, already have a moral-cash register tie-up going for ages. The problem may be in branding: too many gods, too little self-righteousness.