Management with a Human Face: An Indian Perspective - Part 3

... Continued from Part 2
3. Enquiry into Ethos

Ethos helps us to recognise the fundamental truths. It presents us ideal role models like Harishchandra (an ancient King of Hindu mythology; ancestor of Lord Rama). Along with his wife, Chandramati, he was going to Kashi (now known as Benares, a holy place for Hindus, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India), to fulfil his promise to Vishwamitra, leaving his kingdom behind. In addition, Nakshatraka, a disciple of Vishwamitra, was pestering them to pay back the loan due to Vishwamitra. At that time, Chandramati told Harishchandra, “We have fallen into the ocean of sorrow. If we continue the journey courageously, we can cross it. So let us do it”. Thus, both provided moral support to each other. Likewise, everybody should develop such an understanding that gives encouragement to others. This reveals how people in ancient days faced all problems with equanimity. For the sake of upholding Satya (truth), King Harishchandra had to put up with all sorts of hardships. He had to relinquish even his wife and son. He finally had to take up a job in a burial ground. Around that time, a very wealthy person expired. People came to the crematory grounds to consign his mortal remains to flames. Normally, a log of wood is placed on the torso of the corpse to prevent it from bending upward while in flames. However, the relatives of the wealthy man pleaded with Harishchandra not to keep the log on the torso. As the corpse was burning, it suddenly raised. Harishchandra mistook that life had got revived in the corpse, but when he went near it, it fell back again. Then Harishchandra reflected, “People get deluded that kith, kin, possessions and riches would go with them after their death, but in reality nothing trails”. 

4. Positive Work Values

As a manager, one should not give importance to one’s own gain only, but focus on the spirit at work. One should think about the ways and means of improving the plant.  If a person gets a first job with a starting salary of ` 15,000, he should not immediately weigh it against his qualifications. Instead, he should take up that job, do his work sincerely and do all that he can to satisfy the employer. Then the employer, of his own volition, will increase the salary. Therefore, it is vital for everyone to shape their desires properly. In the present times, people entertain too many desires. In this context, it would be appropriate to recall the popular saying, ‘Less luggage, more comfort, makes travel a pleasure’. Since life is akin to a journey, in life too one must have fewer desires. 

One should never get a bad name (tainted reputation). A manager in an organisation should be good so as to be liked by majority of the employees. The employees should not look forward to a day for the manager to quit the job or exit the world. If the manager uses his powers correctly, the workers will support him. Both the managers and the workers must possess the ideal work ethic. One should not bother excessively about one’s salary. Instead, one should impress the employers and senior colleagues with one’s work. But today in India, there is a popular feeling that people work less but want more salary in return. This affects the rising prices. The only way to control prices is by receiving less wages/salaries and working more. This is very conducive for Sustainable Development.

5. Self-Enquiry

When one enquires into the origins of conscience, it leads to consciousness. Conscience is within oneself, while consciousness is everywhere. Consciousness dwells within oneself in the form of conscience. One has to merge conscience in consciousness. This can be explained by an example. Assume a balloon filled with air; the air outside and inside the balloon is the same, though they are separated by the balloon. The air everywhere is akin to consciousness, while the air inside the balloon is akin to conscience. When the balloon is overblown beyond a certain limit, it bursts and the limited air inside the balloon merges with the air outside. Similarly, the limited conscience has to be expanded so that it finally merges in consciousness. Below the conscience lies another facet, which is known as conscious. We become conscious of the phenomenal world through our senses but we perceive the conscience through our heart. Then we have to broaden the spiritual heart to perceive or recognise consciousness, which is beyond the heart. With the expansion of the heart, one can visualise the unity among all things. For example, the food consumed may be different, but the innate need of hunger is principally the same in all the creatures of the world.

An Example: Work Ethics in India and Japan

Everyone should work and take pride in work as a worker. Then only one’s worth would get enhanced. For example, Japan first learnt everything from America and gradually it has surpassed America. This is because Japan symbolizes hard work and modesty. Japanese concentrated on the spirit at work. In Japan, if workers start a job, they would not go home until they finish it, even if it becomes late at night. On the other hand, some people elsewhere (meaning other societies) would be eager to go home as per clock, even if it amounts to leaving the job half done. Japanese do their duty sincerely and such work ethic gives them self-satisfaction. In the early years, Drucker was focusing more on the unhelpful facets because of which businesses did not progress in the expected manner. He subsequently recognised the need for organisational change. He emphasised that without positive aspects, business would not prosper and as such negative aspects would have to be surmounted. Positive aspect is Shraddha (meaning dedication, commitment, perseverance, etc. in this context). As commitment to work declined, factories began to incur losses, which also could be cited as a cause for price rise. Japanese have patriotic feelings and they work for the development of their nation. The workers take lesser wages. They do not get obsessed about wages. Because of low wages, the Japanese have been able to control the prices of their goods. The unique feature in Japanese workers is that they have the ‘spirit at work’. They are more concerned about it. Today in India, the spirit at work has deteriorated. Workers work less but expect more wages owing to which the prices are rising.

Likewise, persons may be different (in terms of physical appearance and worldly attainments) but pain and pleasure are the same. By means of will power, one may control pain while another might fail to do it because of lack of the same, but essentially pain and pleasure are common to all. Again, pain and pleasure are interconnected, for in pain there is pleasure and in pleasure there is pain. Without pain there is no pleasure; and vice versa. Sunshine may fall on a tree and cast a shadow. Both are arranged next to each other. One can thus recognise that shadow is created because of sunshine. Thus, sunshine and shadow indicate the existence of each other. Likewise, pain and pleasure are also interconnected. For example, if stomach pain is diagnosed as appendicitis, it has to be operated. For this, the stomach is cut open and the part causing pain is removed through surgery. Therefore, in order to treat pain, one has to put up with the pain caused by surgery performed by medical doctors. Thus, both pain and pleasure are interrelated. So also, in management, balance is considered necessary. For this, one needs the awareness of the Atma. This awareness can be attained by means of ‘Enquiry into the Cultural Ethos’ of one’s own nation.

Continued in Part 4

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