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BUSINESS SUTRA A VERY INDIAN APPROACH TO MANAGEMENT EBOOK

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PDF | On Mar 1, , Seema Sambargi and others published Book:Business Sutra-A very Indian Approach to Management. Business Sutra: A very Indian Approach to Management is a radical, nuanced approach to management, business and leadership in a progressively polarized . Business Sutra - A very Indian Approach to Management is a radical, nuanced approach to management, business and leadership in a progressively polarized .


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very Indian approach to management, I. wondered. Since the most popular mode of expression, in India, was the mythic, I chose to glean business wisdom from. Brilliantly argued, original and thoroughly accessible, Business Sutra presents a radical and nuanced approach to management, business and leadership in a. As of today we have 78,, eBooks for you to download for free. No annoying ads, no Business Sutra: A Very Indian Approach To Management.

My interactions revealed how divorced modern business practices are from all things cultural. Very few managers saw culture as a. It explained why industry is increasingly at odds with society. It became clear that professionalism and processes are aimed at domesticating people, and so could never inspire entrepreneurship, ethics, inclusiveness or social responsibility. I also realized how ideas that I found in Indian mythology helped many to join the dots in businesses very differently.

The most difficult thing about this designation has been to see how people receive new ideas. After over a century of gazing upon Indian ideas through orientalist, colonial, socialist and capitalist lenses, we are today far removed from most Indian ideas presented in this book.

While many are thrilled by the rediscovery, many are eager to dismiss it: It convinced me to write this book. Design of the Book The word sutra in the title of the book has two very particular meanings. A sutra is a string meant to join dots that create a pattern. The book strings together myriad ideas from Jain, Hindu and Buddhist traditions to create a synthesized whole, for the sake of understanding the India way. Likewise, it strings Greek and biblical ideas separately to understand the Western way and Confucian and Taoist ideas to understand the Chinese way.

Each of these garlands is man-made and reveals my truth, not the Truth. Sutra also means an aphorism, a terse statement. The book is full of these. They are like seeds which, when planted in the mind, germinate into a plant. The nature of the plant depends on the quality of the mind. Indian sages avoided the written word as they realized that ideas were never definitive; they transformed depending on the intellectual and emotional abilities of the giver as well as the receiver.

Thus, an idea is organic. Many sages chose symbols rather than sutras to communicate the idea. What appears like a naked. Both are right from the point of view of each individual. There is no standard answer. There is no correct answer.

The point is to keep expanding the mind to accommodate more views and string them into a single whole. This approach can be disconcerting to the modern mind seeking the truth. I call this book a very Indian approach to business for a very specific reason. An Indian approach traces Western ideas to Indian vocabulary. Here, dharma becomes ethics and yajaman becomes the leader.

It assumes the existence of an objective truth in human affairs. A very Indian approach to business reveals the gap in the fundamental assumptions that defines management science taught in B-schools today.

It celebrates my truth and your truth, and the human capability to expand the mind, thanks to imagination. Not all will agree with the decoding of some of the popular mythological characters in this book. It may even be contrary to religious and scholarly views. This is not simply because of differences in perspective; it is. More often than not each character in mythology is seen in isolation. But a mythologist has to look at each one relative to the rest, which helps us create the entire mythic ecosystem, where every element is unique and there are few overlaps, just like a jigsaw puzzle.

The point is not so much to explain mythology as it is to derive frameworks from it. Business is ultimately about decisions. When we take decisions, we use frameworks, either consciously or unconsciously.

This book is full of frameworks, woven into each other. While frameworks of management science seek to be objective, the frameworks of Business Sutra are primarily subjective. The book does not seek to sell these frameworks, or justify them as the truth.

They are meant to be reflective, not prescriptive. They are not substitutes; they are supplements, ghee to help digest a savoury meal. The aim is to expose the reader to more frameworks to facilitate better decision-making. Apply it only if it makes sense to your logic, not because someone else won when he applied it.

You will find no references, no testimonies or evidence, not even a bibliography. Even the case studies are imagined tales. The aim is not to derive knowledge from the past, or to seek the consensus of other thinkers, but discover invisible levers that play a key role in business success or failure. The number of non-English words may be mind-boggling but English words are insufficient to convey all Indian ideas.

New ideas need new vehicles, hence new words. There are layers of meanings in each word, crisscrossing between sections and chapters. A book by its very nature creates the delusion of linearity, but the subject being presented is itself not linear. Think of Business Sutra as a rangoli or kolam, patterns created by joining a grid of dots, drawn for centuries every morning by Hindu women using rice flour outside the threshold of their house. The practice is now more prevalent in the south than the north of the country.

Every idea in this book is a dot that the reader can join to create a pattern. Every pattern is beautiful so long as it includes all the dots.

And no pattern is perfect. Every pattern is usually an incomplete section of a larger pattern known to someone else. No pattern, no framework, no dot has an independent existence outside you. Unless you internalize them, they will not work. Currently, they are shaped by my prejudices and limited by my experiences; to work they have to become yours, shaped by your prejudices, limited by your experiences.

So chew on them as a cow chews cud; eventually milk will flow. If it does not, it is still perfectly fine. As the sages remind us: Ideas presented can always change, or be further elaborated, or explained differently, by different people in different times and different places faced with different challenges.

For now, every time you disagree, and wish to argue, and are driven by the belief that there must be one truth and only one truth, find peace by reminding yourself: Within infinite myths lies an eternal truth Who sees it all? Varuna has but a thousand eyes Indra, a hundred You and I, only two. Kartikeya being athletic jumps on his peacock and flies around the mountains, oceans and continents.

Ganesha simply goes around his parents. In some versions, Ganesha simply. When asked for an explanation for this audacious declaration, Ganesha tells Kartikeya, "You went around your world: I went around my world: What matters more? The Western lens clubs India and China as the exotic, where the symbolic is preferred over the literal.

It seeks the truth and believes there is only one life with one goal. It is most concerned with the what of business. The Chinese lens clubs India and the West as Indo-European, for being overly speculative rather than. It seeks order and believes in keeping out chaos. It is most concerned with the how of business. The Indian lens clubs China and the West as materialistic for valuing things rather than thoughts.

It seeks peace as the mind is very aware of different goals of different people in different contexts or different lifetimes. It is most concerned with the why of business. In this chapter, we shall gaze upon these beliefs and learn to appreciate the diversity of human thought. Only when the horizon is broadened can we begin our journey into the gaze-based approach to management. The ideas presented here are neither politically correct nor academically certified, as sweeping generalizations need to be made to ascertain a pattern, which is buried under layers of forms.

This book will also not.

Any attempt to answer these questions will burn the ship at the port before any exploration can begin. The approach may not please those who seek validation of their religious, scientific or secular beliefs. For the rest, this book will open a new world of seeing.

It will reveal that people today, stripped of modern technology and language, continue to see the world exactly as their ancestors did a thousand years ago.

We are still seeking the heaven of heroes, the paradise of the faithful, the nectar of immortality and the order of celestials. Western Beliefs Two mythic streams feed the river of what we call Western thought today: The latter is also sometimes referred to as Abrahamic or Semitic. Greek beliefs thrived in the Greek city-states and the Roman Empire.

Abrahamic belief, expressed formally in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, has many tributaries from across many ancient civilizations of the Levant the Near East , Mesopotamia, Persia, Arabia and even Egypt.

What separates the two belief systems is the value they place on the individual over the collective, on defiance over compliance. What unites these two belief systems is belief in one life, and hence the sense of urgency to do the great thing, or the right thing, in thisour one and onlylife.

Hence, the goal! The goal for the Greeks was Elysium, meant for individuals who lived extraordinary lives. It was the final destination of mythic heroes such as Achilles, Odysseus,. Theseus, Jason and Perseus. Those who lived ordinary unremarkable lives were sent to the Asphodel Fields after death.

Those who angered the gods were thrown into Tartarus, condemned to do monotonous tasks, like Sisyphus who was condemned to roll a rock up a mountain all day, only to find it rolling back down at night.

This was hell: The gods lived on Mount Olympus, controlling everything. These Olympians achieved their exalted position after overthrowing older gods, the Titans, and so constantly feared overthrow at the hands of humans, who they kept in check through the Fates.

To be extraordinary, and win a place in Elysium, humans had to defy the gods. They also inspired the very efficient and rather ruthless Roman Empire that saw itself as the harbinger of civilization. Both the Greeks and Romans were wary of all authority, be it at home dictators or outside the Persian Emperor and the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Authority was equated with the capricious Olympian gods, who had to be resisted. When the Roman Empire collapsed around the fifth century, Christianity became the dominant force across Europe.

Christians believed in one all-powerful God, who created humanity, and rules, for the betterment of humanity. The goal now was compliance, not defiance, which led to a place in the Promised Land on earth and Heaven in the afterlife.

Unfortunately, humans kept breaking these rules. The Bible is full of stories of prophets and kings struggling to follow the Commandments laid down by God. There is constant reference to the martyrdom of the faithful who stand up for the faith. Their holy books, the Tanakh, are full of laws and negotiations of the prophets with God seeking to ensure humans lived the right way. This came to be known as Judaism.

This became the belief of Roman slaves, later Roman nobility, and finally the Roman royalty, but with one crucial difference: This was Christianity.

This belief also rose in Arabia in the seventh century where Jesus came to be seen as just one of many prophets, the last being Muhammad who transmitted the word of God through the.

This was Islam. It is important at this juncture to clarify that from the Indian point of view Western thought stretches beyond Europe and America to include the Islamic world, for the quest for objectivity shapes Islam too. Just as Europe was torn between the Greek way and the biblical way and later the Protestant way and the Catholic way, the Islamic world was torn between the Sunni way, with its roots in Arabic tribal egalitarianism and the Shia way, with its roots in Persian dynastic culture.

Every denomination is convinced the other is wrong and that they are right. Everyone harbours a worldview that accommodates only one truth. Divinity in the Abrahamic faiths is always articulated as the Word of God and divine laws are always presented in written form such as the Ten Commandments that. The covenant is valued greatly. The bond with God is not assumed; it has to be ritually enacted through circumcision or baptism. This reveals the deep-rooted need for documentation and written memorandums of understanding.

Every time Josephine concludes a conversation with Mukul, her counterpart in India, she sends an email summarizing the contents of her call. When Mukul does not do the same, Josephine finds it annoying. She reminds him of company policy, compelling him to comply. Despite many shared beliefs, Christians persecuted the Jewish people across Europe and fought Muslims over four centuries, from the tenth century onwards, in what. Within Christianity itself there were many schisms, with the Churches of Rome in the West and Byzantium in the East vying for supremacy.

Every side believed in one God, one life, one way of living life, but they differed violently over who had the patent over the right way. The end of the Crusades saw the start of the scientific revolution in Europe, inspired by the rediscovery of Greek beliefs.

Truth imposed by authority was rejected; truth churned by reason was sought. The scientist was the Greek hero on a lone quest, those who opposed him were the Olympian gods. The scientific spirit inspired discoveries, inventions, and industrialization. It laid the foundation for colonization and imperialism. Scientists did not find any rational explanation for the existence of inequality and social unfairness.

They blamed it on irrational ideas like God whose existence could not be measured or proved. With the scientific revolution, society no longer needed anchors of faith. Knowledge mattered, not belief. Everything had to be explained in tangible material terms.

The goal had to be here and now, not in the hereafter. The goal had to be measurable, even in matters related to society. Thus rose economic theories that saw all the problems of society as a consequence of faulty wealth generation Capitalism and faulty wealth distribution Communism. Both promised a heaven, one through development and the other through revolution. But not everyone was willing to give up religion altogether.

Those who were firm in. The Church became the new Olympus to be defied. Scientific evidence was demanded for their dogmas and their claim of divine rights. Failure to present it led to the Protestant Revolution, spearheaded by the newly emerging class of merchants, industrialists, and bankers.

They valued autonomy over all else, and sought equal if not higher status than landed gentry, who for centuries had been inheriting both fortune and status, without any personal effort.

The Protestant Revolution was marked by great violence, especially the Thirty Years' War that devastated Europe in the seventeenth century. It marked the end of feudal orders and the rise of nation states. Many Protestants made the newly discovered continent of America their home: Here there. Everyone was equal; everyone had a right to personal faith in the privacy of their homes; work was worship, and wealth born of effort was seen as God's reward for the righteous.

This was the Protestant work ethic, a unique combination of biblical value for compliance and Greek disdain for authority. Much of the political system of the United States came to be modelled along the lines of the pre-Christian Roman republic, complete with a senate in times of peace and a dictator in times of war.

The American system ensured the victory of democracy, secularism, and most importantly Capitalism. It is from this context that management science arose. Not surprisingly, the recommendations of management science resonate with not just a scientific obsession with evidence and quantification but also biblical and Greek beliefs.

The vision statement is the Promised Land; the contract is the Covenant; systems and processes are the Commandments; the 'fifth' level leader who is professionally ambitious and personally humble is the prophet; the invisible shareholder is the de-facto God.

The innovator is the Greek hero, standing proud atop Maslow's hierarchy of needs, self-actualized, and secure in Elysium. All this makes management science a secular expression of beliefs that have always existed in the West. Kshitij always smiles when his partner from a very reputed global strategic firm meets him in the club. Kshitij reveals, "He is always selling something or the other. Two years ago he told me about the importance of a matrix structure where no one is too powerful.

Now he is selling the idea of creating a special talent pool of potential gamechangers. Then he kept talking about getting people aligned to a single goal.

Now he talks about flexibility. They can never make up their mind. Each time they are. They claim to be global, but are so evangelical. But we have to indulge them; their way of thinking dominates the world. It comforts investors.

An Indian view of management

Chinese Beliefs The West, with its preference for the historical, would like to view current-day China as an outcome of its recent Communist past. But the mythological lens reveals that China functions today just as it did in the times of the Xia and Shang dynasties, over five thousand years ago, with great faith in central authority to take away disorder and bring in order.

A pragmatic culture, the Chinese have never invested too much energy in the religious or the mythic. What distinguishes Chinese thought from Western thought is the value placed on nature.

In the West, nature is chaos that needs to be controlled. In China, nature is always in harmony; chaos is social disorganization where barbarians thrive. The mythologies of China are highly functional and often take the form of parables, travelogues, war stories and ballads. The word commonly used for God is Shangdi, meaning one who is above the ruler of earth.

The word for heaven is Tian.

But God in Chinese thought is not the God of biblical thought. Rather than being theistic faith in. The words Shangdi and Tian are often used synonymously, representing morality, virtue, order and harmony. There are gods in heaven and earth, overseen by the Jade Emperor, who has his own celestial bureaucracy.

They are invoked during divination and during fortune telling to improve life on earth. More importantly, they represent perfection.

So, perfection does not need to be discovered; it simply needs to be emulated on earth. The responsibility to make this happen rests with the Emperor of the Middle Kingdom. This is called the Mandate of Heaven.

It explains the preference for a top-down authoritarian approach to order that has always shaped Chinese civilization. The Chinese respect ancestors greatly. They are believed to be. In the Axis Age roughly BCE when classical Greek philosophers were drawing attention to the rational way in the West, and the way of the Buddha was challenging ritualism in Vedic India, China saw the consolidation of two mythic roots: Taoism became more popular in rural areas amongst peasants while Confucianism appealed more to the elite in urban centres.

These two schools shaped China for over a thousand years, before a third school of thought emerged. This was Buddhism, which came from India via the trade routes of Central Asia in the early centuries of the Common Era. Taoism is about harmonizing the body and mind by balancing nature's two forces, the phoenix and the. It speaks of diet, exercise, invocations and chants, which bring about longevity, health and harmony. It is highly personal and speaks of the way Tao through riddles and verses, valuing experience over instruction, flow of energy over rigid structure, and control without domination.

It speaks of various gods who wander between heaven and earth, who can be appeased to attract health and fortune.

Business Sutra.pdf

The division of the pure soul and impure flesh seen in Western traditions does not exist. There is talk of immortality, but not rebirth as in Indian traditions.

Confucianism values relationships over all else: Great value is placed on virtue, ethics, benevolence and nobility. This is established more by ritual and protocol, rather than by rules, as in the West, or by emotions, as in India. Thus, the Chinese and Japanese obsession with hierarchy, how the visiting card should be given and where it should be placed, and what colours should be worn at office, and what items can or cannot be given as gifts.

The gwanji system of business relationships that this gives rise to is very unlike the caste system, as it is not based on birth, or bloodline, or even geography, but can be cultivated over time based on capability and connections. Buddhism met fierce resistance as it is highly speculative and monastic. It denied society, which followers of Confucianism celebrated.

It denied. It spoke of rebirth, which made no pragmatic sense. It was seen as foreign until it adapted to the Chinese context. The Buddhism that thrived in China leaned more towards the altruistic Mahayana school than the older, more introspective Theravada line that spread to Myanmar and Sri Lanka. In keeping with Confucian ideals, greater value was given to petitioning the compassionate Bodhisattva, visualized as the gentle and gracious lady Kwan-yin, who is more interested in alleviating rather than understanding human suffering.

In line with the Taoist way, the minimalist Zen Buddhism also emerged, but it was less about health and longevity and more about outgrowing self-centredness to genuinely help others.

The famous Chinese novel, Journey to the West, describes the tale of a Chinese monk travelling to India assisted by a pig the Chinese symbol of fertility and a monkey inspired by Hanuman? Tangibility plays a key role in Chinese thought. Central to it is the idea of China, the geographical entity. It is the Middle Kingdom, the navel of civilization, connecting heaven and earth, bringing the order of the celestials to humanity.

Over two thousand years ago, the first emperor to unite the land burned books and killed scholars for the sake of stability; this has happened repeatedly in history ever since. Nothing discomforts the Chinese more than chaos, confusion, and disorderliness, what is generally termed 'luan'. To maintain a calm exterior even in the face of the most severe crisis is indicative of moral courage and inner strength. Any breakdown, social or emotional, is indicative of luan; to break down is to lose face.

To lose face is to dishonour the ancestors, most revered in a Chinese household. Disharmony is disease in the Taoist scheme of things. Even when there is health and order, Confucius advises people. Order for the Chinese waxes towards the centre of power where the emperor resides. In the social hierarchy, the 'white' aristocrat was envied as he lived in orderly cities, closer. In the periphery, there is chaos, hence the need to build the Great Wall and consolidate military forces to keep the barbarians in check by force and domination.

Order in China has always been enforced with ruthlessness, albeit with grace and subtlety, focusing on 'pressure points' for maximum result.

The following tale from Sun Tzu's seminal military treatise The Art of War, popular in management circles today, reveals this.

Sun Tzu believed in winning wars without fighting, and this demanded not overt acts of heroism but outwitting the opponent with patience, sensitivity and discipline. He claimed he could turn anyone into a soldier. To humour him, the king took him to his harem and asked him to make soldiers of his concubines. Sun Tzu took up the challenge and asked the women to stand in a. The concubines giggled in response and did nothing.

Sun Tzu repeated his order, this time with a warning that those who failed to do so would be executed. The women giggled again. The third time, he made the command and the women giggled, Sun Tzu ordered the execution of the king's favourite concubine.

Everyone was horrified by this. But what followed was far more remarkable: The king was grudgingly impressed and he appointed Sun Tzu as his general.

When asked his views about the world, Saud who had worked in various branches of a multinational company made the following comment, "In China, roads are built before cities. In India, cities are built before roads. In China, people submit to the wisdom of the. In India, people do not believe the state has their interests at heart.

I find China more organized but am unnerved by its ambitions and lack of transparency. I find Indians exasperating as they have an opinion for everything but decide on nothing. In China, the state controls everything, while in India there is much more freedom of expression.

Indian Beliefs Over two thousand years ago, Alexander, the young Macedonian, after having conquered the Persian Empire, reached the banks of the river Indus.

There he found a person whom he later identified as a gymnosophist: Alexander asked him what he was doing. The gymnosophist replied, "Experiencing nothingness. What about you? Both laughed. Each one thought the other was a fool. But while the gymnosophist would have allowed Alexander to stay the fool and discover wisdom eventually, at his own pace, on his own terms, Alexander would have wanted the gymnosophist to change, not waste his life without a goal, for the gymnosophist believed that we live infinite lives while Alexander believed we live only one.

Belief in rebirth is what defines the Indian way, and distinguishes it from both the Western and the Chinese way. Faith in rebirth has huge implications. Rebirth means the denominator of your life is not one but infinity. When you live only once the value of life is the sum total of achievements, but when you live infinite lives, no matter what we achieve, its value is zero. The point then is not to control life but to. Rebirth means that birth is not the beginning and death is not the end.

The events of past lives impact the present while the events of the present life will impact the future. A child is born with karmic baggage, and not in innocence with a clean slate.

Every experience, good or bad, is a reaction to past conduct either of this or a previous life. It means we alone are responsible for all that has happened to us, is happening to us and will happen to us; blaming others is not an option, nor is complacency.

Rebirth demands we accept the existence of infinitely diverse, even paradoxical, contexts existing simultaneously as well as sequentially. Everyone sees the world differently.

Everyone's perspectives are bound to change over time. It means allowing for intellectual, emotional and material variety, for depending on karmic baggage, different people will have different fortunes, opportunities, capacities and capabilities. Belief in multiple lives establishes a worldview that is comfortable with the absence of binary logic, where there are no fixed goals, continuously changing plans, dependence on relationships, celebration of trust and loyalty, uneasiness with rules, actions dependent on crisis, preference for short-term results over long-term vision, and a reliance on resourcefulness that gives rise to contextual, non-replicable improvizations: This is the Indian way.

A European food company that had made high-end cuisine accessible to the common man entered India, determined to provide the same service and product to customers in a new market.

But then they realized most Indians do not eat beef and pork. And what was a common man's budget in Europe was a rich man's budget in India, especially since the restaurants could be housed only in the more affluent quarters of major Indian cities. What was food for the commoner in Europe became food for the elite in India. Western ideas, be they Greek or biblical, had their origin in cities such as Athens, Babylon, Jerusalem and later, Paris, Berlin and London.

Chinese ideas reveal a preference for cities such as the Forbidden City of the Dragon Emperor that offers the promise of greater order. Indian thought springs from villages on the fertile riverbanks of the Indian subcontinent where change takes time, like lentils boiling over a slow fire fuelled by cowdung cakes.

Business Sutra: A very Indian Approach to Management

India is relatively isolated from the rest of the world thanks to the mountains in the north and the sea in the south. These barriers have been penetrated primarily by trade routes and occasionally by invaders.

More people came in than went out. The spices and textiles of India were sought all over the world; what Indians sought was only gold, earning the reputation of being the gold-eating gold sparrow, or sone ki chidiya.

With prosperity came the cities of the Indus valley, of the Mauryas, Guptas, Bahmanis and the Mughals. But these rose and fell, either due to climatic changes Indus valley cities or following invasions by the Greeks, Huns and Mongols. The villages offered refuge to escaping philosophers and artists. There, the wisdom of India was nurtured, assimilating ideas and technologies that kept coming in from time to time, ideas such as centralization, imperialism, writing, coinage, stone sculptures, monotheism,.

These mingled and merged with prevailing ideas. The accommodating rebirth framework ensured everything was included, nothing excluded. What was not good in this life, or in this context, was allowed to exist as it could be good for another life, or another context. Indian thought yearns not for an efficient way like Western thought, or a more orderly way like Chinese thought, but an accommodative and inclusive way.

This is best explained as follows: The biblical way celebrates rule-following leaders. The Greek way celebrates rule-breaking heroes. India celebrates both: The Confucian way celebrates social responsibility while the Taoist way prefers individualistic harmony.

In Western thought, nature is danger: Greek tales speak of wild nymphs and satyrs who create pandemonium and need to be tamed, while biblical tales repeatedly refer to women and serpents who embody sexuality and temptation and need to be overpowered. In Chinese thought, nature is power, the regenerating phoenix or yin that needs to be channelized by, or harmonized with, the Emperor, who is the dragon or yang.

In India, nature is both: Embodied as the Goddess,. For Ram, she is Sita. For Krishna, she is Radha. For Vishnu she is Lakshmi, for Shiva she is Shakti.

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This idea of the Goddess in Hinduism is very different from the Goddess of modern Western literature that reimagines divinity along feminist lines. The Indian will answer, "Both are Vishnu. The Indian will answer, "Both are God. We also have many gods, who are manifestations of that same one God. But our God is distinct from Goddess.

Depending on the context, God can be an external agency, a historical figure, or even inner human potential awaiting realization. What God do you refer to? They seek clarity. Indians are comfortable with ambiguity and contextual thinking, which manifests most visibly in the bobbing Indian headshake. Steve wanted to enter into a joint venture with an Indian company. So Rahul decided to take him out to lunch. They went to a very famous hotel in New York, which served a four-course meal: There was cutlery on the table, such as spoons, forks, knives, to eat each dish.

In the evening, Rahul took him to an Indian restaurant where a thali was served. All items were served simultaneously, the sweet, the sour, the rice, the roti, the crispy papad, the spicy pickles. BTW, my husband and mother-in-law, both Indians, had a hearty laugh about this later on.

I told them about it. Don't mind that foolish woman, the mother-in-law told me, she and her people are just greedy for money. My husband pointed out that Mrs. Asha Singh, although the same age as myself fiftyish! Well that made sense. My doctor sahib my husband is quite a rock of wisdom. Yet I couldn't understand, for the life of me, how Asha could make the mistake of turning the gesture of helping a friend into a business transaction. It might have made things so much clearer for me.

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of this most enlightening book recently and it has done a lot to explain to me why the 'Western' i. USA and western European approach towards business transactions is so very different from the subcontinental or Indian approach. Wasn't it Kipling, the wise old man, gave us that awful adage that east is east and west is west and 'ne'er the twain shall meet'?

He was a bit of a pessimist, if you ask me. If only he'd dug a little deeper, he might have understood that the very different approach Indians have to business, among other things, is because of their very mindset, which is part of the cultural baggage they have inherited.

For people of Western origin, it's the same. We're all only human and the twain have been meeting forever doing business together, getting married, producing children and doing any number of things but in order for the encounter to go smoothly, understanding, awareness and insight are required - these things are so essential. Devdutt Pattanaik, is a terrific teacher and storyteller.

Using clear language, simple illustrations and apt examples, he shows us how the Indian approach to business can be interpreted from an attitude which is rooted deeply in the psyche and can be interpreted using clues from the rich treasure house of Indian mythology.

He rightly points out that western approach is rooted in Biblical to some extent thinking or rather a form of it, on one hand and by classical Greek thinking on the other.

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The Biblical approach glorifying, but eclipsed by Greek thought which glorifying man. He shows us how the Western approach is always concerned with 'what'. The Indian approach, rooted as it is in it's mythology, is more concened with 'why', while the Chinese approach, rooted in its own peculiar mosaic of philosophies, is supremely concerned wth 'how'?

Basically, Devdutt had decoded mysteries that it could have taken many a scholar a lifetime to unravel. I'd been offended at the thought that Mrs. Asha Singh was treating me as a mobile cash dispenser. But I now realize that that wan't the case. Heck she was putting me at the level of a goddess. Devdutt Pattanaik explains clearly in the book how ubcontinental people approach an investment or business transaction as they would a religious ceremony.

The investor yajaman! In this case, Mrs. Asha Singh was the devotee, I was the goddess, her 'svaha' was the discount coupons and no wonder she was displeased when her taathastu was not only delayed, but reduced as well! I'd originally thought we were two friends supporting each other but that the whole exchange had turned sour because of Mrs. Asha Singh's greed. She reminds him of company policy, compelling him to comply. Within Christianity itself there were many schisms, with the Churches of Rome in the West and Byzantium in the East vying for supremacy.

Every side believed in one God, one life, one way of living life, but they differed violently over who had the patent over the right way. The end of the Crusades saw the start of the scientific revolution in Europe, inspired by the rediscovery of Greek beliefs. Truth imposed by authority was rejected; truth churned by reason was sought. The scientist was the Greek hero on a lone quest, those who opposed him were the Olympian gods.

It laid the foundation for colonization and imperialism. Scientists did not find any rational explanation for the existence of inequality and social unfairness. They blamed it on irrational ideas like God whose existence could not be measured or proved. With the scientific revolution, society no longer needed anchors of faith.

Knowledge mattered, not belief. Everything had to be explained in tangible material terms. The goal had to be here and now, not in the hereafter. The goal had to be measurable, even in matters related to society.

Thus rose economic theories that saw all the problems of society as a consequence of faulty wealth generation Capitalism and faulty wealth distribution Communism.

Both promised a heaven, one through development and the other through revolution. But not everyone was willing to give up religion altogether. The Church became the new Olympus to be defied. Scientific evidence was demanded for their dogmas and their claim of divine rights. Failure to present it led to the Protestant Revolution, spearheaded by the newly emerging class of merchants, industrialists, and bankers.

They valued autonomy over all else, and sought equal if not higher status than landed gentry, who for centuries had been inheriting both fortune and status, without any personal effort. The Protestant Revolution was marked by great violence, especially the Thirty Years' War that devastated Europe in the seventeenth century.

It marked the end of feudal orders and the rise of nation states. Many Protestants made the newly discovered continent of America their home: this was the New World, the Promised Land.

Everyone was equal; everyone had a right to personal faith in the privacy of their homes; work was worship, and wealth born of effort was seen as God's reward for the righteous. This was the Protestant work ethic, a unique combination of biblical value for compliance and Greek disdain for authority.

Much of the political system of the United States came to be modelled along the lines of the pre-Christian Roman republic, complete with a senate in times of peace and a dictator in times of war. The American system ensured the victory of democracy, secularism, and most importantly Capitalism. It is from this context that management science arose.

Not surprisingly, the recommendations of management science resonate with not just a scientific obsession with evidence and quantification but also biblical and Greek beliefs. The vision statement is the Promised Land; the contract is the Covenant; systems and processes are the Commandments; the 'fifth' level leader who is professionally ambitious and personally humble is the prophet; the invisible shareholder is the de-facto God.

The innovator is the Greek hero, standing proud atop Maslow's hierarchy of needs, self-actualized, and secure in Elysium. All this makes management science a secular expression of beliefs that have always existed in the West. Kshitij always smiles when his partner from a very reputed global strategic firm meets him in the club.

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Kshitij reveals, "He is always selling something or the other. Two years ago he told me about the importance of a matrix structure where no one is too powerful. Now he is selling the idea of creating a special talent pool of potential gamechangers. Then he kept talking about getting people aligned to a single goal. Now he talks about flexibility. They can never make up their mind.

They claim to be global, but are so evangelical. But we have to indulge them; their way of thinking dominates the world. It comforts investors. A pragmatic culture, the Chinese have never invested too much energy in the religious or the mythic. What distinguishes Chinese thought from Western thought is the value placed on nature.

In the West, nature is chaos that needs to be controlled. In China, nature is always in harmony; chaos is social disorganization where barbarians thrive. The mythologies of China are highly functional and often take the form of parables, travelogues, war stories and ballads. The word commonly used for God is Shangdi, meaning one who is above the ruler of earth. The word for heaven is Tian.

But God in Chinese thought is not the God of biblical thought. The words Shangdi and Tian are often used synonymously, representing morality, virtue, order and harmony. There are gods in heaven and earth, overseen by the Jade Emperor, who has his own celestial bureaucracy.

They are invoked during divination and during fortune telling to improve life on earth. More importantly, they represent perfection.

So, perfection does not need to be discovered; it simply needs to be emulated on earth. The responsibility to make this happen rests with the Emperor of the Middle Kingdom. This is called the Mandate of Heaven. It explains the preference for a top-down authoritarian approach to order that has always shaped Chinese civilization.We're all only human and the twain have been meeting forever doing business together, getting married, producing children and doing any number of things but in order for the encounter to go smoothly, understanding, awareness and insight are required - these things are so essential.

Great value is placed on darshan, that is, on how we see the world and our relationship with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Asha Singh next time I see her. Asha Singh next time I see her.

According to Devdutt Pattanaik, mythology is as much objective and pragmatic as the principles in management. Conversely, when institutional beliefs and individual beliefs are congruent, harmony is the resultant corporate climate.

But I now realize that that wan't the case.

TOBY from Michigan
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