AIMS International Conference on Value-based Management

August 11-13, 2010

Management and Business Ethics through Indian Scriptures and Traditions
Yog Raj Singh Ankur Bhatnagar Shriram Institute of Management & Technology, Kashipur 1. Introduction
As mentioned by management guru Peter Drucker, “More and more people in the workforce- and mostly knowledge workers- will have to manage themselves.” The average working life is likely to be fifty years for knowledge workers. But the average life expectancy of successful business is only about thirty years. If they want to survive for long, they will have to change their structure, their work, their knowledge and the kind of people they employ. While the knowledge workers need to identify themselves, their strengths, the way they work, and their contribution. Today, the culture that facilitates psychological and spiritual development of the individual and community besides creating a cohesive community which coordinates the creativity, well-being, self realization, and inner and outer unity of a person with himself and with the stakeholders, environment, society and the humanity as a whole.

2. Business Ethics
Business ethics determines rightness and wrongness of actions of a businessman. The study of what is ethically permissible and of what is positively virtuous; in regard to business activity is what we call business ethics. “Management ethics” is that discipline which deals with what is good and bad, or right and wrong or with moral duty and obligation. It governs the way bi=business carries its operations. Business ethics applies to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of individuals and business organizations as whole. In the increasingly conscience-focused marketplaces of the 21st century, the demand for more ethical business processes and actions (known as ethicism) is increasing. Businesses can often attain short-term gains by acting in an unethical fashion; however, such behaviors tend to undermine the economy over time. Today most major corporate websites lay emphasis on commitment to promoting noneconomic social values under variety of headings. In some cases, corporations have redefined their core values in the light of business ethical considerations (e.g. Bharat Petroleum’s “beyond petroleum” environment tilt). “A business that values nothing but money is poor kind of business.” - Henry Ford, 1863-1947 American Industrialists

3. Indian Context
India is a country of high values and ethics. It is a land where people of all religion and cultures, with difference in languages, beliefs, social background stay together. We see that the various scriptures written by great men of ancient times, of all the religious backgrounds, speak more or less of the same concepts. Also, all their teachings, preaching and writings can provide as a guide for “Effective and Ethical Management.” In present world, where “making profit” at any cost is the main motive, and where people opine that “either you can be ethical or do business”; these teachings from the holy books and other scriptures are a good answer to them, guiding us how both – Ethical and management – go together. Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969), US General, 34th President of United States said “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both”. Now, let discuss how some of the golden words of the scriptures guide us even today’s corporate scenario.

4. The Ramayana
One can easily co-relate the modern-say management lessons with Lord Rama’s teaching in ‘Ramayana’. Lord Rama presents the masterpiece example of “leading by Value”. How a manager has to tackle the situations is well presented by him. When Vibhishana asks him how will defeat this huge army with your limited resources? He explains using the example of chariot, whose four wheels denote: character, courage, ethics and valor; the four horses denote: gusto, strength, energy and passion; and their four reins denote: forgiveness, compassion, consistency and equanimity. Thus the weaponry: knowledge, strategy, intelligence, skills, commitment and a restraint of ego- these are the weapons which can help us win any kind of battle. “Emotional Intelligence an embodiment of all these things mentioned above is what makes victory possible against any opposition. You need to be consistent in your approach to different people, no meter whom they are and where they are coming 305

are so contained in the Bhagvad Gita. by the business operation with the respect and honestly that they would like those people to show to them. can do wonders in the company. ‘The holy Quran also puts forth the principle of “equal opportunities” which relates to the modern management as all members of an organization shall have equal and fair to the modern management as all members of an organization shall have equal and fair chances to grow. and be rewarded accordingly. neighbor. leadership. Also. weaknesses. attitude towards work. decision making. when you have taken a decision put your trust in God. Business are run on relations and Lord Rama in Ramayana has proved that a manger who can nurture good relations with the employees. / ma Kampala 306 . The Bhagavad Gita The guidelines. A good manager is one who can even get his work done from the rivals as we can take for instance. nature of individual. when he was asked to convey Rama’s message to Goddess Sita. and anyone in whose contact the organization and the management comes in. The Holy Quran The holy Quran also sets out the institutional framework for achieving promised results. Duryodhana went for his large army while Arjuna went for his wisdom. Obedience and respect for authority is the basic fundamental requisite. planning etc. the quality of performance of the present duty suffers on account of the mental agitations caused by the anxieties of the future. excellence in work. The teachings of Jesus Christ and the Ten Commandants as given in the Bible. the influence that the Bible has upon ethical business practices is also dependent upon the individuals who lead the organization. The modern management concepts like vision. and lost the battle and his kingdom. continuously ignored the suggestions of his managers. All researchers promote the values of the honesty and trust as being critical to the building of business relationships. By titling the performance towards the anticipated benefits. contribute. It is necessary for those people who are given the job to complete a task to obey all legal and reasonable orders and perform it reasonably. Various ayats in the holy Quran guides us. for God loves those who put their trust (in Him). and to the wayfarer. This is presented in the ayat: {49:13] ‘O people we created you from a single male and female couple and then divided you in nations and tribes so that you may recognize one another. opportunities and threats of the Lankan army. Angad (whose father was killed by Rama) actually helped in battle. teachings and values taught by Lord Krishna to Arjuna during the battle of the Mahabharata. These can be illustrated in the following verses of the Bible: “Do into others as you would have them do to you” has the underlying lessons for the businesses that they should treat their stakeholders. Vibhishana and that of a “bad manager” in Ravana. are those who work in the organization itself (they are the closest “neighbors” of the business). Other aspects of the modern-day management can be seen by: the “High Motivation” provided by Jamvant to Hanuman when he had forgotten his powers: “Swot analysis” is done by Hanuman in analysis the strength.AIMS International Conference on Value-based Management August 11-13. financial issues and the like are of sheer importance. Good businesses succeed because of the ethical bond they form with employees. “Love the neighbor”. But waste not (your wealth. health. treating the stakeholders with respect.. As in the following ayat: [3:159] ‘pass over (their faults). as Holy Quran instructs in this ayat: [4:59] ‘Obey Allah and his Messenger and those in position of authority among you. clients. including Vibhishana. Sugriva. 7. Verily the most honorable among you in the sight of Allah is he who is most “righteous” of you. in terms of business. has significant impact on business Ethics. 5. “thou shalt not steal”. achieving goals. the ayat: [17:26] of the Quran: ‘And render to the kindred their due rights. This shows that in terms of “resources”. but also they will have to see these values reinforced in practice. It is not the fact that the ethical values might be incorporated within the business code of practice. how ethical concepts are implied in modern-day management. The term ‘love’ in this verse refers to form the basis of the family type of cultural environment that many businesses strive to achieve in the workplace. (“Karmanya Vadhikaraste ma phleshu kadaachan. are all discussed in the Bhagavad Gita with a sharp insight. speaking about the “Elimination of wastage”. The Holy Bible As mentioned earlier. talents. In addition to the above. these verses present the ethical value of ‘honesty and trust’. Honesty in terms of advertising. This shows the excellent managerial skill of Rama and Sughriva while Ravana being a “bad” one. meaning of work. Ramayana gives us example of a “good manager” in Rama. “Thou shalt not bear false witness”. the “Strategic Alliance” formed by Lord Rama and Sugriva in which the former helped in regaining his lost kingdom while the latter helped in providing resources and help find Sita and win overt Ravana. and ask for (God’s) forgiveness for them: and consult them in affairs (of moment). The very popular Shloka 47 of chapter 2 in the Bhagvad Gita. the corporate definition of ethics lies in knowing about actions that are good and bad and also. opportunities etc) in the manner of a spendthrift 6. motivation. 2010 from. marketing. ‘The importance of “jointconsultation” and “team work” is also revealed by the Quran. Gita also tells us about the “commitment towards work” through the law of detachment. as (also) to those in want. When Duryodhana and Arjuna were asked to choose among Lord Krishna’s army or his knowledge. Then. a manager must choose wisely and utilize optimally just as Arjuna did. time.

in terms of Social responsibility. First says. Other Scriptures Various Upanishads. A short story reveals the “attitude towards work” in which: a lady asks three workers. They call upon one not to cause injury to others or covet the wealth of others. Even as society appears to be getting increasingly corrupt and criminal. In the Yaksha Prashana episode. his teachings and lessons are being followed even today and he is worshipped by so many people. at every stage in a man’s life he is confirmed by the necessity to choose between two courses of action. This principle explains that mere “work ethic” is not enough in as much as a hardened criminal has also a very good work culture. for the second. work which is not oriented towards service. Conclusion We cam see how relevant and important aspects of Management and Business Ethics we can discover from our scriptures. marketing and management. but for the good of many”. This shows attitude towards work. 8. Nor was the general manager’s contribution to the organization insignificant. it is “hell”. daivi sampat or divine work culture means fearlessness. need to be paid heed at and let go 307 . it’s the expectation of result”. “subordination of individual interest to general interest” is well depicted in Shlokas 31-38 of Chapter 2 in which Lord Krishna guides Arjuna to fight “not for his own benefits. Ethical issues which are a big challenge being faced by management. In managerial terms. the Vedas specify that the poor and the needy shall be duly protected. At the end of the millennium. not for satisfying his own greed or desire. modesty. 9. Apart from helping humans in self-discovery. purity. management consultant in strategy and business. Smrutis. For instance. it is a “duty” while for the third one. Morals are more important than money. We have seen many people advocating the concept that one can do either business or ethics. mentioned among his principles. To add a lot of interest to your principal. 2010 heturbhrma te sango astav akamani”). Vedas also stress that “work itself does not cause frustration. sreyas may be regarded as the hard option while preyas is the soft option. absence of fault-finding. In Chapter 16 of the Gita Sri Krishna elaborates on two types of Work Ethic viz. who were cutting stones for the construction of the temple. winter 2005. absence of envy and pride. materials. The Kathopanishad is one of the most popular of all Upanishads. It was a question of principles. Gita eulogizes Karma i. desire-centric. And yet. Azim Premji. and asuri sampat or demonic work culture means egonism. One is sreyas which seems painful in the beginning but painful in the end. you need to stick to your principles. Every action should produce results: good action produces good results and evil begets nothing but evil. The Vedas contain various concepts such as knowledge management.”. improper performance. Henry Fayol. one should always act well and be rewarded. This is also mentioned by Jesus Christ in the holy Bible and also in ayat [43:32] in the holy Quran. They give the clarion call for value-centric business practices. All the three men are doing the same work but for the first one. What is needed is a “work ethic” conditioned by “ethics in work”. Good actions always yield good results. self-control. and not to its fruit or result. Yaksha asks “which path to choose?” and Dhramputra answers: The path that great men of yore had traversed in the past is the path we should follow. nor should you become inactive”. chairman of Wipro systems and Wipro InfoTech. once called for a meeting. Second says. quality system. because he had inflated a travel bill. “No doer of good ever ends in misery”. it is a “blessing”. The mantra in this Upanishads mentions. The amount involved was not huge. A senior general manager of the company was leaving. of values. And in terms of the Value system through transparent ethical practices in the best interest of the society at large. change management. The “ability to take decisions” is the real test of a manager’s caliber. To sustain your competitive advantage in an increasingly corporate world. Issue 41. Krishna also advices. The Taittiriya Upanishads lays down the qualifications of those who are worthy of being looked up to as precedents.Nikos Mourkogianis. in regard to temporary failures. “The winner of any corporate competition is the company whose moral purpose best fits the prevailing environment. Your right is only to do your duty. Neither the result of your action should be your motive. So. “I am building the temple”. and other ancient Indian scriptures also contain teachings which can be directly or indirectly applied to management ethics. Vedas. Thus.’ I am working to get money for my family” while the third says. delusion. But this is not the fact. but something else causes frustration. sacrifice. absence of greed.AIMS International Conference on Value-based Management August 11-13. straightforwardness. self-denial. etc.e. he was leaving because of one act of misdemeanor. human endeavor of action (Karma Yoga) is better than renunciation of action (Karma Sanyasa). time management. One may say that Jesus Christ was crucified even after being righteous but the real fact is.” I am doing this horrible job of cutting stones”. many are beginning to realize that you cannot aspire to create value without deeply cherishing a sense of values. relationship marketing. you need character. gentleness. we are back to basics. The individual value system of the various employees together shape up and determine the value system of an organization to which they identify themselves with. The Vedas stress upon moral and ethical conduct and appeal to every one to be guiltless and blemishless. calmless.

Seyyed Hossein (2003). Raj (2006). must inculcate these values from the very beginning. Princeton University Press. and Civilization. The Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible. Gauri. Reference 1. (1990). Through core values and principles. This lines of Achille Silvestre.I. Cardinal of Roman Curia.” ISBN 0739114247 11. The Bible: A Very Short Introduction. organized under the theme “Business Ethics and Legality”-. Robert P. Nilgiri Press. 12. Islam: Religion. HarperSanFrancisco. Dr. 2. IN: Que Publishing. Lexington Books. Tom. 1990) ISBN 0-911206 Nasr. “Ethics and religion must not stay at home when we go to Oxford University Press. Mahulikar. The Upanishads: A New Translation Vol.lifepositive. at 3-4 (5th Ed. 4. 2005. Singh. are worth noticing which he mentioned at a congress of the Union of Industrialists of Rome . Ramayan Institute 308 . Head. ISBN 0-19285343-0 8. Easwaran. 456. 2000. Goldman.AIMS International Conference on Value-based Management August 11-13. http://www. R.trcb. Effect Of Ramayana On Various Cultures And Civilisations. 2010 unnoticed. Bhakti and Philosophy.html http://1stholistic. ISBN 9781586380199 10. http://www. 6. Indianapolis.htm Swami Nikhilananda. ISBN 0060507144. we can reach the zenith and we students being the prospective entrants in the corporate world.htm /lppublicevent. ISBN 0-7897-3419-2 9. 5.valuequotes. 3. Eknath (2007). John. The Ramayana of Valmiki: An Epic of Ancient India: Balakanda. History. Riches. ISBN 9780691014852. 7. The Bhagavad Gita.

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