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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
Legal Article


Shilpa Bhasin Mehra

Wikipedia defines 'International' as - " involvement of, interaction between or encompassing more than one nation, or generally beyond national boundaries." For example, international law, which is applied by more than one country and usually everywhere on the Earth, and international language which is a language spoken by residents of more than one country.

The general impression that people and companies have about themselves is that they are international. The word seems to be a very popular one these days and complimentary in its connotation too. But when one puts aside the physical façade, is one truly international?

By having offices around the world, you can be international as far as the geographical meaning of the word goes. But in many international organizations, the brain behind is usually one. So you may have an office in Ghana or Nigeria, but are thinking in the French way, because the head office is in Paris and the Managing Director is French. So is that company truly international, where everything is with a s'ilvousplaît with a marked disdain for other languages and cultures.

My take on this is that what makes any company or individual really international is the thinking behind that company or individual. You could be a small regional company, yet the thinking and working culture could have a global approach. The sensitivity to other cultures, the power of adaption, the willingness to assimilate different thinking, the pro-active approach to change with different needs and jurisdictions, familiarization with the local environment are some of the key pre-requisites to being international. I marvel at some international companies that may have their head office in Seattle or Houston, operating in remote areas of the world, totally in sync with the local culture.

When one sees the conflicts around the world, it is because countries have a national approach and not an international one, what is in fact required to foster world peace and progress. International looks beyond national boundaries, local cultures and native languages. Philanthropy is international, because it means "love of humanity" in the sense of caring for, nourishing, developing, and enhancing "what it is to be human". When Bill Gates or Warren Buffet give away billions of dollars, they don't divide their contributions country wise, or based on colour or caste, religion or culture. A needy is a needy, an orphan is an orphan, in the eyes of a philanthropist. These according to me are truly international citizens, role models for the rest of us.

In law, we have principles of natural justice that are respected in most countries. These are important basic principles that apply to every situation: such as the hearing rule; the bias rule and the no evidence rule. These rules are meant to be applied irrespective of colour, caste, religion or other divides. With the internet revolution, the world has indeed shrunk. As we modernize in technology, we also need to modernize our thinking, where we can live in world peace and respect the other people around us, keeping aside narrow minded concepts that only divide the world and cause conflicts.

The saying "A child is the father of man" is very true. I see small children in a nursery playing together. They cannot understand the language of the other children. Their clothes, food, culture and colour may be different yet they seem to be happy playing together. These nurseries are incidentally call "play schools" since the children come here to play and enjoy. As we grow older, we are supposed to get wiser, but sadly, we also get influenced and prejudiced by forces that restrict our thinking in terms of country, religion and nationality.

The need of the hour is to be truly international citizens. We need to stop segregating people on the basis of their nationality and religion. Corporates need to be international in the real sense of the term and not simply by having offices across the globe and writing on their website..leading international company.

As Bob Marley sang- "Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war and until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation, until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes. And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war. And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained...."

Let us resolve to be truly "international" in every sense of the term...giving it the widest interpretation.

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