Building A Caring Society
(Hindu Dharma and Management: Article 2)
Dr Satish Modh
There have been many paradigm-shifting milestones in management theory. It was the American Industrial Engineer Frederick Taylor's work in early 1900's using stopwatches to conduct time-and-motion studies that tried to optimize workers' actions and tools to heighten productivity and created scientific management. The technique has lost its glory over a period of time and new management concepts are coming and fading away since then.
In its ideal state any non-traditional system tries to push authority down to the process owners: the workers. These systems try to remove knowledge disparities between managers and workers, and empower people to develop to their fullest capabilities. But any movement to be successful, it has to have support from the top and percolate downward to involve every one.
Business magazines have been reporting about the merits and demerits of the quality models developed by the Gurus: Ed Demmiry, Joseph Jiran, Genichi Taguchi, and Philip Crosby. They have also explored how tools like Kaizen, Kanban, and Kansei- apart from process reengineering and a host of other concepts- would fit into our environment.
Since each of these methods has definite strengths and weaknesses, they all seem complementing rather than competitive. Unfortunately, all these Gurus and practitioners are a combative lot, ever willing to debunk the next person. Add to that the undeniable truth that no one’s prescription is a panacea.
All this noise has not resulted in a ground level acceptance by Indian mangers and workers. Simple truth is, we will have to find our own path and our own solution. We can not make our nation a nation of our dreams by copying what others has done.
The world economy has become competitive, so has the need of competitive advantage in business. The only way India can achieve economic super power status is by integrating the basic principles of business along with caring attitude in each and every activity. It is vital for getting a competitive edge by implementing a care culture in our country so that we can not only compete globally, but also meet challenges in the home markets.
Merely giving old doctrines new names, creating artificial problems, or coining of new names as solutions of problems will not solve our problems. What, then, can save us; not all the mantras of globalization, not the most strategies of restructuring exercise; not a scrupulous adherence to core competence; not downsizing, not de-layering, not diversification.
A community is made up of its individuals. If the individuals are perfect, the community works smoothly. But if the units are wrongly composed the entire healthy growth and strength of structure in total collapses.
Man is essentially an imitating animal. We always imitate our leaders and heroes in their dress, in their moral values, in their actions, in all the branches of their activities. We fix our measure of perfection always by watching the standard of life of these ideals. Students can be disciplined only when teachers are well behaved; officials can not be kind and honest when people at the helm are corrupt. Children’s behavior depends upon and controlled by the standard of purity and culture of their parents.
Total removal of religious texts from primary and secondary education system – under the notion of being secular – has compounded the problems of modern India. Moral and ethical education has been left totally in the hands of parents or religious discourses which have no uniformity and continuity of concept building. This is so because such discourses are not structured to provide education to developing mind of a growing child.
The purpose of education is to initiate and stabilize new and functional attitudes and values in individuals for mutual co-operation and understanding so that they learn and respect society’s values and act accordingly. Educational institutes have a vital role in imparting ethical and social values in the young mind. Though the subject of ethics has a global or international appeal, every culture has some unique features, which needs to be embedded in such education.
Education serves two main purposes i.e. dis-identification and self-identification. Dis-identification is achieved through right knowledge which is gained by reasoning, discrimination and unqualified egoism. Here egoism is described as the identification of self with the instruments of perception. Self-identification is achieved through:
Identification with societal or organizational roles
An awareness of our inner experiences
Realization of our true self
Self-realization differs from self-actualization. Self-realization implies realizing our inner being where as self-actualization signifies the awakening and manifestation of some of our latent potentialities. Emphasis of modern education and training on enhancing individual personalities without the insight and balancing support of self-realization proves to be counter productive. Instead of promoting genuine empathy or sincere other-directedness, modern education and training tools tend to contribute towards manipulative and masked behavior.
If at all self-actualization is to be reconciled with the goals of developing harmonious and integrated personality; the only safe way is to be aware of our inner self. It would require ample strength of character, replenished by tendencies inherited from our past customs to be able to do so. Most important is the development of a human being, which exerts considerable influence on all his decisions and ethical characteristics.
A question needs to be asked. Are management and professional institutes imparting good and proper professional and managerial values to their students?
Students, when they join any organization, are influenced by new organizational settings. If the values are not imparted to them and are not shaped by the institute, prevailing environments will shape them. It is the moral burden of institutes to shape the student’s attitude.
The process of evolution of an individual from student to a professional consists of:
1. . Inner directed thinking: - to evaluate and balance himself in the working environment.
1. . Decision-making: - day to day problem solving and outward projection.
1. . Implementing: - based an inner evaluation and day to day experiences he projects an outward personality.
There are hundreds of professional institutions, which produce thousands of graduates every year. Most of the curriculum in professional and management institutes attempt to address middle part to give a student the knowledge to pursue a particular profession. These institutions concentrate the bulk of their efforts on curricular and grading system, ignoring the ethical development of their students. Absence of such education could probably be the reason why malpractice and wrong conduct have become such an accepted part of every day life.
Professional medical colleges, Law colleges, Engineering and Management institutions have special obligations to develop the ethical and moral understanding essential for conduct of students in their respective fields. But let alone universities, even primary and secondary schools have so far not made any attempt to teach ethics to their students.
Professional students need to be told what they and their organization would become when they follow path of ethical action. They need to be told about the fruits of unethical action. Students will be directed by their own mental frameworks but they would be steered by a good idea of what they believe to be right by it self.
Some people may argue that one can not learn to be ethical in college or university classrooms. Some professors and pedagogues feel that they are not psychiatrists or ethicists. Their job is simply to teach people to think straight and to provide them with the best available knowledge and tools for doing so. They must understand that ethics education is not only about character building but it also attempts to share knowledge, build skills and develop minds for ethical behavior. A background of ethics education assists future decision-makers in business and profession when facing a decision with a major ethical component attached to it.
But this skeptical outlook over whether ethics can be taught and learned in classrooms is misplaced. In India, the classrooms have been used since ages to teach what is right and what is wrong along with imparting knowledge and skills to their students. There have been aberration in this; may be since last couple of centuries when a western education system has been thrust on its people.
The orientation towards ethics would help in developing positive relationship with other people at work places and would be better equipped to deal with human emotions. It will help future decision-makers in preventing the creation of cultures of corruption at the outfits they will help run. It will help in building a culture of trust and care. Most of all, ethics education would provide pathways for building a caring society.
The caring attitude, along with the efficiency of production, of productivity, will be the most critical factors for the survival of Indian industry and development of India as a nation. It is the negation of indifference and a surge of caring that will provide us a competitive edge.
As we cope with the muscle flexing of self appointed moral keepers of the world; the care imperative becomes crucial. To create a resurgent India, nothing but a care revolution is required. We Indians will have to work out, now, that care is going to be the one imperative for achieving our long-term goals.
Care attitude is the result of compassion and action, not of some mystic system of procedure. Care attitude is reflected in the way people operate. Caring is actually nothing more than common-sense principles. It is not goodness; it is doing what we said we would do. The basic failure is that many organizations do not adopt these principles. They do not realize that caring itself does not cost anything. What costs you is doing things indifferently and then correcting what has been done.
Care should be perceived as more than just another concept or technique; it is a way of life that can transform a human being and free him/her. At a second more fundamental level, it will compel all of us to inject and reinforce our concern for others into our own lives before we take it to the outside world.
Pause, for a moment to contemplate the power behind the paradigm of care as a core competence. If, for example, customer care is defined as meeting customer requirements, then, it covers everything. It encompasses not only the product and service but also processes and people. Indians need to be trained to realize that they must respect the customers.
Postulating that care can be made the basis for every activity in daily life, it suggests that society itself can be transformed by the care revolution. For Indian society, care will bring a transformation that will force it to examine first, its own efforts at maintaining and improving society’s living standards.
Once a person succeeds in acquiring care culture, he/she will also begin to demand care from services like banking, communication, railways, and airlines. This will push him/her forward finally to demand care in his/her environment - on the street, in his/her habitat, in community service. And the cumulative impact of all these make him/her demand and give care all around. That should really be our ultimate goal.