Corporate Lessons from Ancient Indian Sastras
In the Northern Zone of India, which gave birth to the Aryan ethical code, the debt of a father has to be passed on to two generation below, if not settled. Thus honesty in the settlement of debt was therefore a promulgated policy of the Aryans. As far as adopting an objective approach to perform any task, Lord Krishna laid down rights and obligations of each and everyone.
A manager must look upon the task that he has been set or that he sets himself, not in terms of personal gain or profit but in terms of fulfillment or satisfaction that he gets out of them.
Bhagavad Gita also addressed “Karma Yoga” which means that one has to perform the task without attachment – Objective approach. This is contained in the following sloga of “Bhagavad Gita”.
Karma yoga states that without attachment perform the work that has to be done, for man
attains highest, by doing work without attachment. (Objective approach)
“Tasma dasaktah Satatam
Karyam Karma Samachara
Asaktho hyacaran Karma
Manusastra says that for existence of an orderly society, the desires (Kama) for material enjoyment and pleasures (artha) should always conform to rule of Dharma. Dharma has been explained to be that which helps to be that which helps the long term upliftment of all living beings. Further, Kaudlya in his Arthasastra a laid down the duties of kings and ministers, which served as a governance manual for several centuries. Later the Mughal emperor Akbar gave us a clear and stable commercial setup for regular ethical functioning.
In the southern Dravidian culture of India, the St.Poet Thiruvalluvar defined the business conduct in his couplets as under:
“Behold the businessman who looks after the interest of others as his own: his business will flourish”. Thirukkural No.120. Further, the Ancient Tamil Sangam literature stressed the need for straight forwardness in trade.
In the Eastern region of India, Lord Buddha used to advocate the Rig Veda Sloga which “The trader is like honeybee, which sucks the honey without harming the beauty of fragrance of the flower”. In the words of Rabindranath Tagore from the same Eastern region, greed degrades our values; there is enough for everyone’s need, but not for the greed. Swami Vivekananda emphasized the purity of the means than the focus on the end.
In Western India Chatrapathi Shivaji demonstrated the best lessons on political governance. The greatest personality of the last millennium Mahatma Gandhi who hailed from the western region stated that there are three simple business rules. ‘One – Treat the customer as God, Two – Be honest, Three – Respect hard work in any form”.
There is no dearth of lessons from ancient India on character and governance. In spite of having such rich ethical background emanating from cultural heritage, India has been given a low grading by several global governance rating agencies in terms of macro rating.
However there are several Indian corporates with extra ordinary corporate governance grades in terms of micro rating.