By Ruma Dubey
The Japanese maybe small in height with a sense of calm and quiet around them but they are made of steel – the best kind of steel in the world. It is very rare to read about scandals and corruption their society. Well, they are humans and prone to all the vices of mankind; yet somehow they are made different.
We say this after reading the news today of Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki announcing that he will step down as CEO over false tests though he will remain as Chairman. Along with him, the executive vice president Osamu Honda is also putting in his papers due to usage of wrong mileage testing methods. Suzuki said that it had used wrong tests to calculate mileage for models going back to 2010, submitting figures compiled from indoor tests performed on individual parts, rather than vehicle coasting tests.
Prior to this, last month, the Mitsubishi Motors Corp. President Tetsuro Aikawa stepped down along with the Executive Vice President. The reason was the same - fuel economy testing scandal. Chairman Osamu Masuko said that he will be giving up all compensation that he earns from then until the company forms a new management team.
Japan’s transport ministry said that, except for Suzuki and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., all other carmakers self-reported no misconduct in their mileage testing. Mind you, this was an internal examination by the companies – the ministry had asked 41 companies to self examine. Suzuki and Mitsubishi admitted to the fraud on its own internal investigation and not because there was an external probe. Yes, this urging by the transport ministry was loaded - it was an indirect warning of asking the companies to come clean, almost like the last opportunity becasue if found guilty later, the consequences would have been very severe.
As against this, we recently had Volkwagen where USA’s EPA found that the company had intentionally programmed their diesel engines to activate some emission controls only during the lab testing. There, the CEO, Martin Winterkorn did not resign voluntarily; he was under tremendous pressure to step down from the shareholders and over 100 legal suites filed against him.
Or take the case of General Motors. It recalled some 8 lakh small cars due to faulty ignition switches, which could shut off the engine during driving and thereby prevent the airbags from inflating. Some 30 million cars worldwide were recalled and 124 people died. Shockingly, this fault was known to GM for at least a decade prior to the recall being declared. GM CEO Mary Barra continues, she has not resigned.
And in India? Well, even when found guilty, forget resigning, they turn around accuse of foul play and frankly, no one will ever trust the self-examination. The degrees of integrity are poles apart.
We have Central Pollution Control Board, which is supposedly the watchdog but really, it does not do much. So when cars are made, they have to conform to the BS standard but there is neither any strict inspection nor any maintenance programme to test and reduce air pollution once they get onto the roads. Simply put, there is no in-use conformity testing programme, meaning we never know whether they are adhering to the original emission standards.
Yes, we have adopted the Bharat Stage norms, based on the European emission norms but its just that – no authority checks if these norms are indeed being met. It is only by 2017 that the entire country will adopt the BS – IV norm while entire of China already has BS-V.
Thus for us Indians this is not a story to worry at all about if ethical and morality traits of a company do not matter.
But as human beings on this earth, we all could learn a lesson or two from the Japanese.