Revisit the Real Priorities of TS
Jul 02, 2009 09:38 PM
Revisit the Real Priorities of TS
Last year, we started hearing about much fuss being made by a few general
council members about election problems in India, rules, governance,
accountability issue and others, which drew attention of members world-wide
due to the discussions here. There was no discussion about transparency,
poor membership situation outside India, aged leaders, need for younger
leaders. Of course who can forget the ultra-secret attempt to disenfranchise
members around the world and move the power to the general council members
to appoint the president and make the president a puppet.
To get a clear picture, one needs to look at the timing and the players
involved. It happened after the election in which Radha Burnier was not be
defeated by the lay men's and women's hear say allegation that she was sick
both mentally and physically. Those involved in the issues in the earlier
paragraph are the defeated candidate and his major supporters in the
election campaign. Many see the actions immediately after the election as a
reaction to the loss in the election and the final end-run being the
Many members see the issues mentioned in the first paragraph, are issues
that are more of personal interest to the general council members than that
of the organization and the mission of TS. We do not know all the self
interest issues behind them.
We should remember that TS has a unique organizational setup, behind which
much thought and wisdom went into in the early days. Each Section and Lodge
is fully autonomous, thus providing wide latitude for the creativity and
action within the few overall rules of TS. The autonomy is fully guaranteed
by the fact that the general council cannot remove the General Secretary of
a Section. International president cannot interfere with any Section and
gets involved only when there are disputes between sections.
Membership in India is progressively growing whereas, outside India it is
stagnant or declining. To illustrate how sad the situation is, in two
countries, no new lodge was chartered in half-a-century - a record.
I have maintained that membership is the most critical issue that needs to
be addressed urgently. The responsibility is squarely on the General
Secretary. Membership issue can be dealt with only by making lodges vibrant.
With out highly motivated members in lodges, how do you make them vibrant?
So the fundamental problem is in the backyard of these general council
members. Without fixing them, their attempt to talk about International
matters, is not seen credible by many members.
One of the issues that some sections had to grapple with is handling of the
property owned by the lodges and meant for the use of the lodge. Not
infrequently, when financial issues arise with the management and
maintenance of the property, the national leadership takes the most easy
route - sell them and convert them into cash. At times, such decisions seem
to be taken without fully consulting and coordinating with the local
membership, which then is seen by the local members as an arbitrary
decision. Such decisions can disappoint long-time members and discourage
them from being active in the lodge and some times make them even leave TS
after decades of membership.
There is also another problem with the above. He who pays the piper calls
the tune - as the old saying goes. The control of the purse, gives power to
the national leadership to channel the income in activities which they
believe would be appropriate for the lodge. Such decisions interfere with
the autonomy of the lodge. Also since the National Leadership is far removed
from the scene of action, they do not know what works in the local
circumstances. More importantly, such decisions are likely to be seen as
high handed by the local membership, which de-motivates the local members,
thus affecting the vibrancy of the lodge and in turn the mission of the TS.
The readers of this message may know of such instances in their countries.
It is high time that the national leaders start looking at their backyards
and recognize the real priorities which are directly related to TS and its
mission and start addressing them, rather than try to bring up the
red-herrings and spend time and effort on the red-herrings.
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