Culture lag

India has so much to be proud of. Why are we not taking her seriously?


When you are at peace with yourself and facilitate ease in your atmosphere, your work culture improves automatically. All managers should constantly be thinking of ways and means of creating an easy, informal atmosphere. Whenever you walk into your office, you always get a salaam; but do you look behind the greeting? Is it really genuine?


Most of these pleasantries that we exchange; saying ‘thank you’, ‘how kind’, ‘have a nice day’… all tend to come from a superficial level. It’s like the mechanical, usually meaningless greeting — ‘‘Have a nice day’’ — that you get from the airhostess while disembarking. The entire work environment is marked by such superficial, sometimes even hypocritical greetings. How can you expect such an environment to be productive?


The President of the World Bank once asked me, ‘‘What is the secret of your success? How do you get so much work done with so little money?’’ I said it is not just money that gets work done but something more… It is the freedom in your workspace. Just in one year’s time 3,000 volunteers adopted 25,000 villages in India; they made roads and provided proper drinking water among other things. And all with less than Rs 2 crores at their disposal.


Though difficult to believe, it became possible only due to the dedication and inspiration of the workers. But if someone isn’t inspired from within, a healthy work culture is just not possible. Goals are attained either due to inspiration, or due to emergency deadlines and fear psychosis. If fear psychosis is created (and many of our organisations run on fear psychosis), it may help attain deadlines but is not a healthy practise. To achieve deadlines, the insecurity must be dropped rather than the motivation.


The mindset must also be attended to. And it manifests at two levels; the authoritarian mind, and the labour union mind. The authoritarian mind finds everybody wanting; it says, ‘‘Only I am right, nobody can perform as well as I can’’ and so does not take on responsibility for making others work. This happens at the managerial level; the authoritarian mind does not trust anybody. And if it doesn’t trust anybody, how can it inspire someone to work? Delegation is critical to success, but is possible only when you step out of the authoritarian mind.


Conversely, the labour union mindset constantly complains that the manager is not good, he doesn’t let me function. The labour union mind thinks ‘‘I can’t do anything because so-and-so is in-charge; it is this so-and-so who is responsible for me not doing my work.’’ It always tries to pass on the onus of responsibility. The labour union mindset must learn to take total responsibility and to revere dignity of work, whatever its nature.


We need to shed both, the authoritarian mind and the labour mindsets. And, instead, we must imbibe a determined, practical mindset. When you are allocated a task that you believe is mortally impossible, once you take it on, you will see that it happens; and it happens because of your Atmik Shakti, your Sankalpa Shakti. What you call Sankalpa is your determination. For instance, I had announced that I would go to Pakistan. But even on the day I was supposed to fly out (a good fortnight later), I had no visa and everybody was discouraging us. But at 4 O’clock we get the visa, at 6 O’clock I take the flight and go. There are many such instances; not once, but over and over, time and again it has happened.


The human mind says ‘‘only I am functioning, I am in charge of everything’’; but there is actually something else that is at work, that gets the work done. You can move ahead against all odds and achieve what you want, however impossible; as long as you have faith. Your conviction will make things happen. Even nature supports you when you have conviction.


This country lacked conviction for ever so long; it was Guru Gobind Singh Ji who gave conviction back to us, who inspired us to work like warriors. It is the warrior in you who can achieve anything, not the ‘‘you’’ who just lives in your own comfort zone. Unfortunately, our current corporate culture is clogged with that comfort zone and we are habituated to living with it. We do not want to be adventurous, to stretch ourselves a little more than we think we can.


In China, there is one village that just makes buttons. The buttons that we all have on our shirts are made in China. One may say, ‘‘Button is a small industry, what’s so big about it?’’ But the expertise lies in the way in which the industry has grown and empowered the village. Specialisation in different things, however trivial, is something that can boost our economy, our self-confidence, and the morale of our people. We need to bring morale up.


In fact, there are seven things that India can be very proud of.


First, is the tourism industry; we are the greatest tourist destination in the whole world but yet people prefer going to Thailand rather than coming to India. You know why? Because there is a fear in the mind of people, ‘‘Oh, India is full of snakes and dead bodies, there is violence everywhere.’’ This is because we keep projecting our negative side in a bid to buy sympathy. I don’t know whether we get the sympathy, but we have certainly killed our tourism industry. There is no less violence in New York or Bangkok than in India. But we project it in such a way that our tourism industry is almost dead.


Second, yoga and meditation. Today, yoga is a $27-billion industry in America alone; but 99.9 percent of that industry is being handled by the Americans. India has virtually disowned yoga. Third is Ayurveda. We have the world’s best medicinal system, the largest variety of flora and fauna are available here. But we have ignored this industry too.


Fourth, music and dance; fifth, food; and sixth, clothes and jewellery. While awareness of clothes and jewellery has grown in the recent past, our vast and colourful varieties of music and dance, and of food are virtually unknown. Nowhere else are such varieties to be found; and if presented well, can boost the image of the country in a big way. But we have not yet explored these areas.


Seventh, is IT, not just Information Technology but also Inner Transformation, ie, the spiritual wealth of our country. We must educate our children. Tell me, how many of you have read Yoga Vashishta? It is a treasure, which carries a wealth of details about consciousness. New YorkUniversity has printed this commentary, all these movies that you see (Matrix, etc.) are based on Yoga Vasishtha… But still we have not read it. All the knowledge about Self and Brahma is in it.


These are the things that we need to put our attention to boost our economy and the image of our country.