Open Page

Now for Murthy’s Law

Hand turns dices and changes the word "Shame" to "Blame"  

Murphy’s Law we all know. “If anything can go wrong, it will.” It was formulated in the late 1940s, and an update is in order. So make way for Murthy’s Law: “If something can go wrong, it will … and you are going to be blamed for it.”

Who is Murthy, you ask. He or she is the person who, in general opinion, is best equipped for taking blame.

As children, we gave no time for Murthy’s Law to come into effect for the sound of shattering glass would be directly accompanied by “Momma, Tannu has broken the tube light.” Or, “Chakori is eating the chocolates.” It was only as time passed and we encountered problems graver than broken tube lights and empty chocolate jars that we realised there are forces at work which will place you squarely in the cross hairs of fate.

Almost anything can get the law going. At the office, it can range from a typo in the banner which welcomes a “Hor’ble Minister” to your company’s gala event to an HR mix-up that resulted in a long-suspended employee getting a surprise promotion.

On the domestic front too, the needle of suspicion inevitably swings in a narrowing arc before coming to rest in front of you. Sometimes there is no vulgar finger pointing, and the people involved are too well-bred for name calling, but everyone knows who did it. When your darling niece’s wedding reception ends in an embarrassing fiasco, even your nearest and dearest ones will pointedly speculate: “Wonder who selected the caterer?”

Brace for impact

Since that is how the cookie crumbles, it makes sense to be prepared while the cookies are still in the jar. There are tested ways to soften the impact of Murthy’s Law.

There was a U.S. President who took blame head on, with a little sign on his desk reading: “The buck stops here.” Such conspicuous gallantry is okay when you occupy an exalted position. But given how you and I are placed, we need sounder strategies to save our souls.

The first thing you can do is take a bath in Teflon and practise sidestepping blame with a deflective: “That family meeting (which ended with raised voices which could be heard two floors down) was organised by mama.” Substitute mami, dada, dadi, chacha, chachi … the further away from you, the better. Another method, widely practised at workplaces around the land, is based on simple logic. The more work you do, the more chances you offer the world to pounce on your errors. So take the elementary precaution of doing as little work as humanly possible.

While such individual efforts can provide some relief, what the world needs today is to revamp the system of looking around for a scapegoat. If everyone cooperates, we could institutionalise the entire process. The need of the hour is for a CBO, a chief blame officer. Since he or she is the one who will get paid to be hauled over the coals, the rest of us can lead our normal lives.

Being blamed is not a sign that your vaastu is defective or that people are ganging up against you, and indeed it is not god’s way of punishing you for past misdeeds. It is simply Murthy’s Law.

jairam.menon@gmail.com

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 1:08:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/now-for-murthys-law/article33828183.ece

Next Story