Utility Of Honesty in Trade by K.B. Khushalani

An award winning essay by K.B. Khushalani


  1. Honesty, more natural than dishonesty

The fundamental principles of Human Existence are Truth and Honesty, for, everybody is more honest than dishonest; the   greatest liar utters more truths than lies. This is part of the general fact that there is more goodness in the World than badness or Evil, though occasionally we find appalling crimes, which are rather aberrations or freaks and do not proceed from the intrinsic nature of the World. In fact, a perfect liar is really a ‘ truthful man”, for, we can then always. say that truth must be other than what he speaks. By a liar we mean an occasional liar, and he is really a dangerous man. So is it in the case of Honesty- By a dishonest man we al­ways understand one who is occasionally dishonest. Thus honesty is more natural than dishonesty, and that is why it betrays its nature from beneath the darkest cloaks, and we can’t once suspect that the man is dishonest. It is exactly because of the same reason that crimes are detected, for, every hap­pening leaves its traces, and, try as we may, we will not be able to hide them. Again that which is natural is beneficial, for it works in a graceful manner; and honesty, when allowed its free play, works wonders, specially in the long run. In trade; one has to depend on the good-will of many, and honesty is the best means to the end. Honesty should be practised in all walks of life; it is a strength and a support in all matters of routine; it has all advantages and only one apparent dis­advantage, that sometimes one feels that there is loss, but really that  is temporary and   in   many cases only apparent.

There are often trials and, when one successfully stands them, he comes out nobler and brighter. Every trouble means a fur­ther rise, and the greater the opposition it offers in surmounting, the better are its results. The fruit is simply delayed, but never denied, and if and when withheld longer, it is paid with in­terest. One has only to be patient and watching; he should muster up courage and should never be disheartened. All obstacles are meant for training; they are cleverly designed and intentionally set, each for its purpose, and each variant in design, and different in colour to suit the particular case. All this is for Honesty generally; in trade, its results are direct, cheap and comparatively earlier than elsewhere.


  1. The manufacturer and the consumer

There are two more classes of people who have dealings in trade, but are not traders. A trader necessarily is one who purchases certain goods and sells them at a profit. He is the middle man between the manufacturer and the con­sumer, the two classes of people under consideration. Both these have one sided dealings, the one sells and the other only purchases, and, because of their restricted dealings, they are not so tactful as the trader

The manufacturing class includes the artisan who prepares articles with his own hands on a small scale.  He is generally poor, and his business, like that of the manufacturer, depends upon the quality of the manu­factured articles.   He can retain his customers only if he continues using good raw materials and producing good stuff.

  1. Psychology of the consumer

The consumer is a purchaser on a very small scale, but because of his existence in large numbers, he is the most important member of the trading circle, and, because every article has ultimately to go to him, his pleasure, and, choice is considered supreme. Both the manufacturer and the trader try to adopt their policy according to his taste. He purchases articles for his or his friends’ and relatives’ use. He wants good stuff and at a reasonable price; he frequents only those places where both these conditions are satisfied; and thus he always prefers an honest shopkeeper. He is reliant and will continue attending the same as long as nothing happens to break his faith which, if once broken, requires a very great effort to restore.  To make new customers, they say, is difficult, but to retain them is still more difficult.

Thus perpetual honesty is required to attract new customers and to retain old ones. Carelessness in this matter never pays the dealer, but will rather harm him. One may give away anything of one’s own accord or on demand, but never when he knows he is being cheated; he then feels much pain and many are actuated to revenge, when they know that they have been cheated. Further the consumer likes to make purchases from such shops as maintain fixed rates, for he is not a trader and naturally not so well versed in the line. Therefore be may not know the current prices of articles, especially of those that he occa­sionally requires. In a fixed-rate-shop he may have to pay a slightly higher price, but he feels sure that lie will not be cheated for a big sum, which is generally the case in shops where no uniform rates are charged, and where the shop-keeper tries to snatch as much as he can from the customer, the more so when he gets the clue that he has no definite knowledge of prices of the article.

The shopkeepers are usually clever enough to understand this at once from the manner of his enquiring. From what has been said above, it is absolutely clear that the shopkeeper can cheat the same man only once. A dishonest dealer can make successful business, when he gets every day new faces to deceive, and has to deal daily with different men not known to one another and not expected to meet one Another; or, if at all they meet’ they should not speak about the purchases made by them on that day or any of the previous days, so that everybody else remains in the dark and never knows about the dishonesty of the man unless he gets a chance to be cheated himself. This however, is an utterly impossible condition to realize. Or dishonesty may pay, where people are suppressed due to pres­sure of one’s superiority or where heads are corrupt; but such conditions do not exist in the business world, and where they exist, they never last long.

  1. Honesty the best of all Qualities of a trader

As in other fields it is hard work and intelligence that establish a recruit, so in trade it is Honesty that can establish him. Cheerful temperament, a tendency to accommodate the customer in his choice and demand, agreeable manners, respect for the customer, self-respect and, last but not least. honesty in dealing are some of the qualities required for successful business, and, among them all, honesty stands Supreme, and makes up for all the deficiencies and defects of the trader. One needs to realize how difficult it would be if all people were dishonest; one could not then move an inch. One cannot then trust anyone with anything even for a  moment, nor can he pay him anything in advance.

  1. False fears due to lack of self-confidence & experience

There is a general cry that the time for honesty is over, and that it is not valued now-a-days. There may be a grain of truth in the .statement, which amounts but to an acknowledgement of the struggle between honesty and dishonesty, or between truth and untruth which appears eternal, though. victory in the long run is never in doubt for honesty and truth. Under no case can dishonesty over-power honesty. Our fears against honesty are often merely theoretical, un- grounded, baseless and false. Our troubles are either; imaginary, self-created or self-invited. None of them that grumble against honesty has ever practised it, and never has he tasted the sweetness arising from it. His opinion is the opinion of others, who in turn cannot claim it as their own. Thus an idea, emanating from a few unworthy individuals, is passed on by several lips to several ears and obtains a strong grip over a large majority. A votary of dishonesty, when asked to state if he has put in serious efforts to follow up his trade by honesty or given a fair trial to it would certainly answer in the negative. People adopt the easiest course, they would like to go by the shortest route, they want to be rich in a day, and that is why they adopt dishonest means. The path of the honest dealer is weary in the beginning but joyful in the end, troublesome at the outset but easy in the long run, and tedious at the start but sure in due course. It is, of course, certain that he who starts his business on the lines of honest dealing will meet with opposition, but he should stand it bravely and every difficulty will melt away in due course leaving the way-clear for him. Generally every one who starts a new business meets with certain difficulties and obstacles: the success in the enterprise depends on the grit and tact of the actor. It is said that an honest man is offered more difficulties, but we should not at the same time forget that he has behind him, as an outcome of his honesty, a greater force to support him. This force is sure to succeed. The honest dealer may take long to establish, but when once established none can dislodge him. His success is lasting; the customers secured by him are permanent, and his profits regular, sure and more definite.


  1. Honesty promotes, dishonesty impedes all business

Never can anyone lose in business because of his honesty, and when such a report is received, one can take it for certain that there must be some other defect or defects in the organization, and that were it not for honesty, the concerned party would have incurred greater loss and at a much -earlier date than otherwise, for, as said above, that which takes long to establish takes long to dwindle. Honesty in fact makes up for many defects in staff, in management, in organization and individual abilities; it protects from grave fears. Weak administration, careless management, deficient organization, expenditure disproportionate to income incurred for unnecessary show, squandering of money by responsible persons connected with the concern, improper investment, defective accounts and dishonesty on the part of some one or other are the salient causes of failures of business, heavy losses and bankruptcy. A majority of failures occuring in petty concerns are due to defective accounts, but a still higher proportion of failures in both petty and big concerns can be attributed to dishonesty. Dishonesty is a termite, a canker, a pest that can eat up the very tissue of any undertaking, retard its growth and finally destroy it in toto. It needs to be guarded against from the beginning to the end


  1. Dishonesty – its effects on the employees

Dishonesty of the master induces the servant to be dishonest: it becomes a vicious circle ever widening itself by absorbing freshmen every day, and like an infectious disease catching hold of every one coming in contact- Every act of cheating by the employer produces a reflex effect on the employee, who, by his intimate contact with the former, is enamoured of the alluring gains easily got by the cut-short methods, and is tempted to adopt them for his personal benefit. He has none else to rob except his master; and he starts with double vengeance to make up for the time ‘uselessly passed in honesty’, he feels least for his master whose profession is cheating; and he knows that he has his share in the earnings of his master, which he wants to have over and above his pay as a reward; for sharing his sins and consequent smothering of his own conscience. The poor employer is doubly affected: his tricks-being sufficiently known by this time, his customers have started leaving him, and he finds his business on the wane on one hand, and on the other he is being robbed at home. He realizes his folly too late, or he may not realize it at all throughout his life. The vice invented by him has caught and entangled him. Similarly many partnerships have been ruined by dishonesty, If the same trader had put in all his efforts to prosper by honest means, he would surely have done better.

  1. Causes of Occasional Thriving of Dishonest Men and Losing of Honest Men

 We have often seen a dishonest man thriving and honest man   losing.    We then   get   perplexed.  But let it be clear, that under such circumstances the dishonest man flourishes for his ability and skill and never for his dishonesty, while the honest man loses not for his professing honesty but for his incapacity, inefficiency and general weakness. If the former were to adopt honesty, in addition to his other qualities, he would thrive still more, and if the latter takes to dishonesty he would fall further. For fair comparison, either the same man or two equally competent men, or say nearly equal in qualities, should be made to start similar business under similar circumstances, but by different means, honest and dishonest, and it needs no prophet to say that honesty will bring betterprofits. Unfortunately the capable men are not. guided and trained in the honest methods with the result that they adopt the unnatural ones – which by its usage has become natural and easy or so-called easy course while weaklings who are really unfit to adopt any method, adhere to honesty for fear of being exposed, caught, or sent to gaol.

  1. Honesty in Trade compared with Honesty outside

There is a vast difference in professing honesty in trade and elsewhere.  In trade it is easy. without complications, never harmful but always beneficial, whereas when followed outside trade, it invites opposition, entails trouble and requires greater nerve on the part of its adherent to stick to it. Though, even in the latter case, it is bound to lead to pros­perity, it may be a little later than expected. In trade it is in the interests of all those who have dealings with one another that everybody should be honest. Those who practise dishonesty do it for their sole personal gain which they wrongly think results from dishonesty. But, outside trade, there are certain spheres in which those having dealings with each other want one or the other party to be dishonest for their own personal and selfish benefit, and because of their pressure, some people are led into dishonesty. In trade it is entirely different, for, all the customers without a single exception will undoubtedly be pleased by their supplier’s honesty.

  1. Extent of probable saving to the business world from wholesale honesty

To realize the utility of honesty it will be worth while to consider, what an amount of misery would be saved to the World, if dishonest men were removed from it. Of course, it is an Utopian idea, but is taken up here simply for argument’s sake. All auditing would then be unnecessary; accountants may remain, but auditors as a class would cease to exist. All watch and pro­tection against theft would be unnecessary. The World is spending millions merely and solely on watchmen and guards. Every individual has to adopt means to protect his property, and this too would be unnecessary. Dishonest men are a drag on the world, they are a drag on individuals and a drag on the merchant class as a whole.

  1. Honesty the best policy

It is said that honesty is the best policy, and no­where is the significance of the saying so fully realized as in trade The Proverb is very expressive and important in the respect that it treats with the material side of honesty and lays no stress on its moral aspect. The enunciator of the proverb has made honesty stand on the merits of its use­fulness, and states it as a profitable policy, and all that has hitherto been stated is simply in expounding this maxim. Besides, all great men have emphasised its usefulness and they cannot all be wrong.

21.Scope of Honesty in moulding the future

Viewing things broadly we cannot help coming to the conclusion that our World is connected-with other lokas or worlds and that lives do not terminate here.  Each individual leads an eternal life of which the present one is but one out of many phases; its length or duration is but a tiny part of the Infinite whole. This is the scientific view of life and is not only accepted but propagated by great Scientists like Sir Oliver Lodge, the late President of the Royal Society of Science. That being so, it is but a logical conclusion that our actions will not only bear fruit here, but will mould our career in future births and effect our economic life there, as is the present moulded by the past Thus, even with a view to improve our future business career, we are required to be honest.

  1. Honesty enhances social status and expands business

A dishonest man is held very low in the esteem of the society, and intimately connected as human beings are, we cannot for a moment disregard its opinion. Society can set aside any individual, it can non-co-operate with or do away with any undesirable fellow, but an individual cannot do so even though he may not like a particular society. Has not everybody seen the effect of social pressure in bringing round and moulding the worst type of people? Individuals have to submit to the social will, even though it be wrong; much more so, when it is right.  An honest man, who has established himself in the opinion of the public by his honest methods, finds himself safe in the hands of society, and his customers increase day by day. Every man attending his shop will bring a few more. Every trader has to depend upon the goodwill of his class and the general public, for the very word ‘trade’ means free transaction in commodities for mutual benefit. Thus honesty raises social status, which in turn expands one’s circle of acquaintance and increases his business.

  1. National reputation affected by dishonesty

As individuals have to care for public opinion, for gaining which they put forth the most strenuous enorts that sometimes cost them their lives, so do nations have to care for and establish international reputation. Observance of honesty in international trade dealings is one of the most efficacious methods for maintaining such a reputation. A few fraudulent merchants are a blot on the nation ; they not only spoil their own case but prejudice all those who have dealings with them against the entire trading community of the nation they belong to. Besides, they create wrong impressions and false notions about their people, which, apart from affecting the international reputation of the country, gives a definite set-back to its trade with the consequent loss of revenue to Government and income to the people.  It is beyond the scope of this essay to suggest the methods necessary to be devised to guard against such dangerous people, but it will be sufficient to state here that all possible means should beadopted to prevent successfully any kind of dishonest tricks with outside merchants, and specially the habit of cheating in quantity or quality.

  1. We should extend our vision to other classes of trading circles

The merchant or the shop-keeper spoken of so far is but typical of the business world. From wholesale dealers to the hawkers and pedlars, there are all grades and sorts included in this class. We have to think not only of him but extend our vision so as to include all business men from frequenters of stock exchanges to agents, brokers, touts, contractors and canvassers of every description, and from big hawkers on to the village ryot[1] who is also seller and buyer.


  1. Divine punishment[1]

Folk stories about honesty and its benefits are told in every language. Poets and prose writers have eulogized on the one hand its charming effects and, on the other, censured dishonesty. The average man believes in them, but forgets them when the time for action comes. Nature adopts its usual methods and reminds him by some punishment; she has no power of speech, but has greater power to act, and so she teaches man by action and never by words. Every one of us must have heard of several cases of sudden fires, thefts, earthquakes and such other heavy calamities to individuals or classes or locali­ties. Sometimes one fails to unearth the cause, but often it is so apparent, manifest and definite that none can ever mistake it, and it is from such instances alone that men understand. Dishonesty, like all other bad qualities, brings its results and the punishment is as sure as Death. Man may for the time being rob others, and amass many treasures by thousands of tricks and dishonest methods, but nature snatches them with one stroke in a moment, exposing him and his acts mercilessly. The reason that honest dealers are also sometimes subject to such calamities deprives in no way honesty of its beneficial blessings, for it may be that they may have been penalized for some other crime of theirs, belonging to the past. It may also be that the punishment has been lightened, because of his professing honesty. lt should then be taken as. an admonition.

  1. Religious injunction

Besides, there are commandments in every religion prohibiting cheating of others. Honesty talked of by all. religious books is really speaking honesty in trade, for all dealings in money and goods come under trade and we will not be far wrong in saying that general honesty means honesty in trade.


In a few words, honesty establishes business, helps in maintaining and expanding it; it leads to prosperity and peace of mind, enhances social status, international reputation and is sure in its effects though seemingly slow


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