The central problem of human being is the search for identity and meaning for life. As the historian Toynbee puts it, ‘we have explored the space and reached planets but we have not explored or reached ourselves’. The achievements of man have brought him no peace or contentment. In the language of the Bible, only ‘weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth’ have been the achievements of man so far. Nevertheless, the life in this earth goes on and the man continues to claim his supremacy in every possible ways, irrespective of good or bad. In this process, he has mastered several such acts, which are unbecoming of human being. Forgery is one such act mastered by the man to show his supremacy to fool his own community. What is forgery? Why does man resort to forgery? What is the solution? These are the basic questions addressed in this article.
What is forgery?
Forgery is a willful act of fabrication or alteration of a written document with the intent to injure the interests of another, may be an individual or organization, in a fraudulent manner. Typical examples of forgery are making insertions or alterations in otherwise valid documents and appending another's signature to a document without permission. In the real sense, forgery causes distortion in the communication process to benefit the forger.
In the organizational context, by false making or material alteration of writing where the writing has the apparent ability to defraud and apparent legal efficacy with the intent to defraud, the act of forgery committed. These inherent potential of forgery damages the interest of the organisation. Broadly, the following types of forgery are prevalent in the organizational context:
1. False making -- The person must have taken paper and ink and created a false document from scratch. Forgery is limited to documents. There can be no such thing as a forgery of art or forgery of machine because these items are not written documents. "Writing" includes anything handwritten, typewritten, computer-generated, printed, or engraved.
2. Material alteration -- The person must have taken a genuine document and changed it in some significant way. It's the writing itself, which must be false, not the document. This element is intended to cover situations involving false signatures or improperly filling in blanks on a form.
3. Ability to defraud -- The document or writing has to at least look genuine enough to fool people. Forgeries of completely ridiculous things, like titles to swamp land in a particular place, deeds to land on the moon, or a license to kill, do not qualify as having the apparent ability to fool most people.
4. Legal efficacy -- The document or writing has to have some legal significance affecting at least another person's right to something, usually some property right, broadly defined to include intellectual property like the form of a signature. Legal significance is distinguished from social significance. A writing of social significance cannot be the subject of forgery; e.g., a letter of introduction. Similarly, if an old book by a famous author is found with their signature inside the front cover to make it look like an autographed edition, then it would not amount to guilty of forgery because this has social, and not legal significance. But, if they are sold as autographed book at an auction, the it will amount to forgery as of false pretenses.
5. Intent to defraud -- The specific state of mind for forgery does not require an intent to steal, only an intent to fool people. The person must have intended that other people regard something false as genuine. A forgery is complete upon having created such a document with this requisite intent. The test is whether anyone might have been defrauded.
Why does one resort to forgery?
The mind, the seat of all vanities, being the author of forgery, it requires a deeper analysis to understand why does man resort to forgery at all.
There are four inner instruments (antakarana) in man having its own function. They are:
The mind that thinks or imagines;
The intellect that discriminates and decides;
The ego that mistakes itself to be the self, doing and enjoying things; and
The memory that recollects past experiences.
This Antakarana, and the five senses (organs of hearing, touch, seeing, tasting & smell) along with their cause, constitute what is called the subtle body. Ultimately, this subtle body is responsible for every human act. When it comes to forgery, it is very interesting to see how this subtle body acts.
One method of understanding this is through the common ‘systems’ approach. A system consists of input, process and output. The input here is the genetically inherited and acquired qualities in man. The output in this system is meant to satisfy the human ego. Human ego is nothing but a bundle of desires. The desire to create wealth, the desire for fame and name, the desire for career advancement, the desire for a lavish spending, lifestyle and so on, to ultimately satisfy the ego, which so desires. The mind, with the help of intellect and the memory does the complete processing, while the human senses help in providing all inputs required. As long as the desires are reasonable and normal, the system works perfectly without causing any damage to the environment. The problem comes only when the desires are unreasonable and abnormal. When the desires cannot be fulfilled in the normal way, the human mind resorts to all possible ways to achieve the objective of fulfillment of desires. The mind is very clear about its objective of satisfying the ego. In that process, the intellect fails in helping the mind to discriminate between good and bad, right and wrong, fair and unfair, ethical and unethical, legal and illegal and so on. Even if the intellect discriminates, with the help of the memory, the ego, the all powerful, overpowers the intellect. It is at this stage one resorts to an act like forgery. So much powerful is the concern of mind in satisfying the ego that the intellect acts only to support the mind. The memory gives all its input towards achieving the objective and the entire process is focused on a single direction of satisfying the ego or fulfilling desires.
What is the solution?
Thus, the entire process becomes a self-centered with the sole objective of satisfying the ego (bundle of desires). The solution perhaps lies in managing the ego (Ego management!). One way in this direction is to have ideals, particularly higher ideals. To fix an ideal in life man must look beyond the self-centered boundary. He should conceive a goal beyond the precinct of the narrow mind. The intellect must aim for something higher than the mind’s pretty attachments and desires. The higher the goal, the greater the potency in action. The goals set by higher ideals produce fruitful results rather than those of lower ideals towards accumulation of wealth and indulgence in earthly pleasure. The necessity arises to man to resort to an act like forgery is because of his ideals being lower or entirely absent.
Secondly, as it is said, the control of mind is possible only through the mind; control of desire (again, ego management) is also possible only through another desire, a stronger and a positive one. The ‘organizational ego’, the desires of the organization should be the higher desire for everyone working in that organization. Therefore, the act like forgery in any organization can be eliminated only by making the individuals to imbibe the organizational ego, and allow it to overpower the individual ego. That way the organisation’s interest will be protected and acts like forgery in any organization could be eliminated.
In the ultimate analysis, as Swami Vivekananda said, “The difference between virtue and vice is that of a degree, the difference between heaven and hell is that of a degree, all the differences in this world are of degrees”. Similarly, the difference between a normal act and an act of forgery is also that of a degree. But in the case of forgery, this degree is very costly to the organization at its own cost and counter productive as well.