What is Indian Ethos?
Indian ethos refers to the core values, beliefs, and principles that have been a part of Indian culture and tradition for centuries. These values are deeply rooted in the spiritual and philosophical traditions of India, and are reflected in various aspects of Indian society, including religion, art, literature, and philosophy.
Table of Content
- 1 What is Indian Ethos?
- 2 Indian Ethos in Management
- 3 Indian Work Ethos and Principles of Indian Management
- 4 Principles of Ethical Power for Organisations
- 5 Nishkam Karma and the Business World
- 6 Teachings From Scriptures and Traditions
- 6.1 Teachings From Mahabharata
- 6.2 Teachings of Gita and Work Ethos
- 7 Eroding Values and Emerging Ethical Issues in Contemporary Indian Management
- 8 Case Study: TCS Personifying Ethos as Envisioned by Ratan Tata
Indian Ethos in Management
According to Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, ethos can be defined as a set of beliefs, ideas, etc., about social behaviour and relationship of a person or group. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, on the other hand, defines ethos as ethical ideas and attitudes that belong to a particular group or society.
In light of these definitions, Indian ethos can be defined as a set of ideas and principles that are rooted in the ancient philosophical tradition of the Indian subcontinent. The scope of Indian ethos is wide as it has been enriched over thousands of years by numerous philosophical traditions.
In this chapter, we will keep our discussion limited to the applicability of the general themes of Indian ethos in the modern business environment.
These general themes are:
- Every human being is divine in nature and, therefore, possesses infinite potential to achieve excellence.
- A holistic approach to life includes the unity of the divine, the individual self and the universe.
- The intangible is as important as the tangible because there is unity and divinity in everything
- Inner resources, i.e., wisdom, vision, insight, foresight and divine virtues, are more powerful than outer resources, i.e., material possessions, fame, etc.
- Selfless work leads to the benefit of the world and purification of the individual self.
- Excellence in work can be achieved through self-motivation and devotion without attachment.
In addition to these general themes, the following are some of the principles of Indian ethos that have practical significance in business ethics:
- Paraspar devo bhava: Every individual has the divine inside him/ her. We are all same in essence.
- Atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya cha: All actions should be conducted to fulfil the dual objectives of the welfare of the larger society and the individuals themselves. Here, the term ‘welfare’ denotes both material and spiritual welfare.
- Archet dana manabhyam: People should be worshipped not only by material things but also because of their inherent divinity.
- Atmana vindate viryam: The divine within each individual is the main source of all strength and inspiration for excellence.
- Yogah karmasu kaushalam, samatvam yoga uchyate: An achiever works with a calm and even mind.
- Yadishi bhavana yasya siddhi bhavati tadrishi: What we think is what we achieve and become. The end can be achieved by giving attention to the means.
- Parasparam bhavayantah sreyah param avapsyatha: The highest good of both the material and spiritual worlds can be enjoyed only through mutual cooperation and respect for fellow beings.
- Tesham sukhm tesham shanti shaswati: The ability to see the divine in all beings and enjoy infinite happiness and peace.
In Indian ethos, there are six human shortcomings, which if not controlled, can lead men away to the wrong path. These shortcomings are as follows:
- Lust (Kama)
- Anger (Krodha)
- Greed (Lobh)
- Attachment (Moha)
- Pride (Ahankar)
- Jealousy (Matsarya)
In addition, Indian ethos focusses on a balanced and ethical life. The Vedanta, generally regarded as one of the most important authorities of Indian philosophy, obliges us to regard human nobility and acknowledge divinity in every individual. Therefore, no human is an outsider and none is separate from eternal essence.
Now that you have a general idea about the Indian ethos, let us study its applicability in ethical business practices. In other words, let us explore Indian spirituality in work. The relationship between religious views and work is not something new. For ages, individuals have strived to define their work in religious terms. Spirituality behaves as a regulative model. It creates an installed system of good values that speaks to an ‘internalised character’ to act and be persuaded in specific ways.
The regulative model will give a standard to judge and administer ethical decisions made and activities conducted in the workplace. Spirituality provides a constitution for life under which inspirations, choices and activities that fit within an individual’s regulative model are apt and implemented, while those that go against it are abandoned.
Workplace spirituality is present in several organisations. For example, companies like Coca Cola, Boeing and Sears have incorporated spirituality in their workplaces, strategies and cultures. Other organisations like The Body Shop and Tom’s of Maine have incorporated spirituality in their strategies within the framework of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
However, some organisations are unsure about what constitutes workplace spirituality and how it influences organisational culture. It is imperative that an organisation not miss the essence of spirituality that it wants to implement. Spirituality is neither a business opportunity nor a management tool. It should not be used to develop corporate reputation.
Indian Work Ethos and Principles of Indian Management
The impact of Indian ethos on the workplace has been a subject of interest of management experts for long. An academic discipline by the name of Indian Ethics in Management (IEM) has emerged as a result of this interest. IEM brings all management practices that have their roots in Indian philosophy under one umbrella.
The principles of Indian management are value-oriented and take a holistic approach to life. In other words, the Indian work ethos consider work a medium of fulfilling the spiritual as well as material goals of life.
It takes into consideration questions such as the following:
- What is work?
- Why does one need to work?
- What is the right way of work?
- What is the right work attitude?
Now, let us discuss some of the important management principles that have been derived from or influenced by Indian management practices. These management principles are listed below:
Indian ethos suggests that the ultimate goal of all actions is purification of the soul and achievement of the ultimate stage of eternal truth, conscience, and bliss (Sat-ChitAnanda). Therefore, all work in an organisational environment must be done keeping this ultimate goal in mind.
Attaining Material as Well as Spiritual Goals
Indian work ethos considers work a means of achieving material as well as spiritual goals. This is contrary to Western management practices, where though the importance of work satisfaction is well recognised, there is not much recognition of spiritual goals.
Indian ethos emphasises expanding the sphere of human consciousness to gain wisdom. Conscious management means being completely aware of all actions taken and their probable repercussions.
Cooperation Rather Than Competition
Indian ethos focusses more on achieving goals through cooperation rather than competition. Cooperation involves recognition of common goals. Cooperation is also a very important conflict-resolution technique in Indian ethos.
Humansiation of Organisations
Indian ethos focusses on creating an organisational environment that promotes the holistic growth of an individual. Holistic growth includes material well-being, attainment of wisdom through self-analysis, expansion of consciousness, ability to assume personal responsibility, etc.
Meditativeness in Decision Making
In order to make rational and enduring decisions, it is essential to achieve a state of stillness of mind. This state of mind can be reached through meditation. Meditation helps a person to understand problems from a holistic point of view and find the best solution for them.
Intuitive Decision Making
Intuitive decision making is the process of making decisions with the help of instincts rather than logical process. Intuition refers to ‘direct knowledge’ — knowledge that is not the result of reasoning or inference.
According to Indian ethos, intuition, if properly developed through meditation, can be very efficient in making prompt and enduring decisions. Many modern studies also corroborate this claim. For example, research psychologist Glary Klein suggests that 90% of our decisions are made by intuition.
Focus on Duty
Indian ethos emphasises execution of the respective duties by individuals. Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, Verse 47 says:
Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani
The literal meaning of it is: You have the right to work only but never to its fruits. Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.
In other words, the duties assigned to an individual must be performed with complete dedication without any attachment to results or any desperation to control them. The idea is also known as Nishkam Karma, a concept that we will discuss later in the chapter.
Principles of Ethical Power for Organisations
Ethical utilisation of power is an important aspect of spirituality in the context of an organisation. Blanchard and Peale stated five principles of ethical power for organisations, which are as follows
- Purpose: Organisational purpose illustrates the meaning and direction of the operations of an organisation. It is the driving force behind what an organisation does.
- Pride: A healthy self-esteem is a foundation for all organisational achievements and a key component in driving a moral business. High self-esteem can help an organisation to do what it understands to be correct, notwithstanding the external factors that might force it to do otherwise.
- Patience: Patience can be a great source of ethical power in an organisation. However, patience is not very common in the age of the Internet where people are hyper-connected and instantaneous results are always expected. According to Blanchard and Peale, patience reflects the conviction of an organisation on its values and principles.
- Persistence: Persistence and willpower are useful for the attainment of organisational goals and ethical power. Persistence involves maintaining consistency in the principles, values, objectives, activities and behaviour of an organisation. It is about being committed to certain objectives and values. It gives ethical power to an organisation and creates trust among stakeholders.
- Perspective: Perspective is about being aware of the bigger picture and deciding on what is truly important. Perspective motivates an organisation to focus on its long-term objectives rather than on being myopic. Therefore, setting the perspective requires holistic awareness, which is quite similar to the Indian ethos of meditativeness.
Nishkam Karma and the Business World
Nishkam Karma, or selfless or aspiration-less action, is an action performed with no desire of the results as it is not performed for selfish reasons. Nishkam Karma is the central theme of Karma Yoga, the path of selfless action. It is opposite to the concept of Sakam Karma — actions carried out with selfish, self-centered motives.
The concept of Nishkam Karma is a subject of immense interest to the researchers of management practices who find it very useful in the productivity-driven work environment. Nishkam Karma suggests that work should not be binding; rather, it should act as a liberating force.
It also suggests that when work is done with complete devotion and without being attached to the results, it liberates an individual from unnecessary stress and burden. The expectation of results and the bid to outperform others is a constant source of stress to the workers of an organisation.
However, if the concept of Nishkam Karma is understood in the right perspective and work is performed in the right spirit, the work can be a source of immense enjoyment. This can also boost productivity and excellence in work.
Teachings From Scriptures and Traditions
India is a country of high values and ethics. It is a land where people of various religions and cultures, with difference in languages, beliefs and social backgrounds, live together. We find that various scriptures reflect the wide philosophical traditions of Ancient India.
These scriptures serve as a guide to effective ethical management and business practices. In the present world, where making profit seems to be the main motive of life, these teachings from the holy books and other scriptures are a good source to guide people on how both ethics and management can be used together to lead an enriching life.
According to Professor Klaus K. Klostermaier, a prominent researcher on Hinduism, since ancient times, India has been famous for its wisdom and thoughts. The ancient Persians, Greeks and Romans were eager to learn from its sages and philosophers.
When, in the eighteenth century, the first translations of some Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita became available to the West, European philosophers rhapsodized about the profundity and beauty of these writings. Here they encountered a fusion of philosophy and religion, a deep wisdom and a concern with the ultimate that had no parallel in either contemporary Western philosophy or Western religion. Indian philosophy is highly sophisticated and very technical and surpasses both in volume and subtlety.
Sir William Jones, a prominent Anglo-Welsh philologist, wrote, Whenever we direct our attention to Hindu literature, the notion of infinity presents itself.
Indian scriptures are one of the most ancient and comprehensive religious writings in the world. They have many sacred writings, such as the Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas, and epics like the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita.
The sacred literature in Hindu religion is clearly divided into the following two categories:
- Sruti: Heard literature
- Smrti: Remembered or traditional literature
The Mahabharata is classified as smrti, and since the Bhagavad Gita comes under the Mahabharata, many scholars conclude that it is also smrti. However, other scholars argue that the Bhagavad Gita should be regarded as sruti.
Despite these contrary beliefs, one cannot ignore the high esteem with which the Bhagavad Gita is regarded. In the pre-modern era, it was considered a part of Prasthana-traya (triple foundation) along with the Upanishads and the VedantaSutra.
In addition to the Bhagavad Gita, there are many other Gitas, such as Anu-Gita, which is also depicted in the Mahabharata; Uddhava-Gita, which is in the Bhagavada Purana; Siva-Gita, which is depicted in the Padma Purana; Devi-Gita, which is depicted in the Devi Bhagavad Purana; etc.
Let us discuss more about the teachings from the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita and their relevance in today’s business world.
Teachings From Mahabharata
Maha means ‘great’ and bharata means ‘India’. Thus, the Mahabharata is the story of the great India. It is the longest epic of the world written in verse with over 100,000 stanzas. The complete version of the Mahabharata has 64 volumes and gives a comprehensive picture of India’s cultural heritage.
However, the Mahabharata is not just an amusing story, it offers great lessons from life that can be implemented in the real world also. The characters and situations in the epic are so diverse and many in number that almost every situation that a human being faces in his/her life can be explained within the storyline.
For managers, it is a great source of information for understanding human action and psychology. Today, the business world is not unaware of the significance and teachings of the Mahabharata. Therefore, let us discuss the major management lessons that can be derived from this great epic and their relevance in today’s corporate world.
These can be listed as follows:
The Mahabharata gives us an important lesson that victory in a war can be achieved with an effective strategy. In business, a manager strives to achieve business goals by making strategies, considering the limitations, managing teams efficiently and managing projects.
In the Mahabharata, Karna subdued other kings to get their wealth. On the other hand, Arjuna, Bheema, and Yudhisthira focussed on acquiring Divyastras (divine strength) and strategic wisdom. Like the Pandavas, a successful manager should also focus on achieving the most important goals in order to strengthen the organisation and make it grow.
In the Mahabharata, the Kauravas had few allies. On the other hand, the Pandavas focussed on gaining allies to gain more support. In business, managers may be under pressure to grow the business, but at the same time, they should also focus on reaching out to more people and making allies.
This is because allies can lend support and push you forward in your bad times. In addition to this, while working on a big project, allies can contribute in achieving targets more efficiently.
Show Leadership Quality
In the Mahabharata, the Kauravas had only one leader, Duryodhana. Therefore, the Kaurav sena was guided by a one-man leadership hierarchy, and the whole army was under the command of one man. Unlike the Kauravas, the Pandavas had different generals directing different operations in the war.
It is a good leadership quality to share your responsibilities when targeting a huge audience. It is very effective to have different managers looking after and managing different departments. It helps to keep things clear as each person is answerable for his/her own tasks.
Therefore, the Mahabharata is one of the best sources to teach us the lessons of decision making and delegating responsibilities. The Pandavas were very good at leadership. They knew how to motivate their soldiers, benefit from the weaknesses of the enemy, and seek guidance and assistance from others.
All these are essential leadership qualities. Putting the right resource at the right place is very important as only then can you utilise those resources optimally. If the leader is not able to motivate and provide direction, the team can not function efficiently. The Pandavas, in spite of being small in number, knew this art very well.
Maintain Team Spirit
In the Mahabharata, the Kauravas were greater in number than the Pandavas. However, the number was worthless as they were not motivated. It is important to motivate a team to work towards achieving a common goal instead of a personal one.
War cannot be fought with one warrior. It needs an armed force that can put its every bit to win the battle. Similar to a war, in businesses too, a manager may find several situations when the involvement of the entire team is required to achieve the set goals.
Every team member needs to be having equal time and importance. A manager needs to hear everyone out and train them how to work in coordination. Without team spirit and coordination, one cannot think of succeeding.
The Kauravas were not working as a team. All their leaders including Bheeshma, Drona, Karna, Shalya, etc., were fighting their individual battles. On the other hand, the Pandavas had only one team with one goal. They used to participate in the decision-making process and were a big strength for each other. In the business world too, it is important to have a team that can get things done.
Forget Individual Motives
In the Mahabharata, the Kauravas had individual motives. It was only Duryodhana who wanted the war. On the other hand, all the Pandavas had the same motive and that helped them to achieve the common goal. The Mahabharata presents an excellent example of how to align individual goals and skills to achieve group goals.
The practice of aligning individual goals and skills with the group can help a manager in generating maximum output. By fulfilling the goals of the group, individual goals would be achieved inevitably. Therefore, it is important to make an effort in achieving the common goal, especially in the context of an organisation.
The Kauravas lacked commitment. They had personal prejudices and were doubtful about the results of the war. This affected their level of commitment to win the battle. On the other hand, the Pandavas were passionately committed in achieving the common goal even if it meant laying aside their personal goals.
Similarly, in the real world, if the employees of an organisation are not committed to achieving common organisational goals, it would become difficult for the managers to achieve their targets.
Encourage Women Empowerment
In the Mahabharata, the Kauravas followed a male-dominant hierarchy. Even though Gandhari was an important character in the Mahabhrata, her husband (Dhritrashtra) or sons did not listen to her. The Kauravas did not approve of the participation of women in decision making.
On the other hand, the Pandavas trusted their women and often took their advice. There were several important female characters such as Kunti, Draupadi, Hidimba and Subhadra on the side of Pandavas who played an important role in the storyline of the Mahabharata.
In today’s business world also, women are capable of achieving economic independence, managing resources and bringing innovation through their creativity. Women are not only generating employment for themselves but are also providing employment to others. With the spread of education and awareness, women have proved that no field is inaccessible to them. Therefore, for an overall growth of an organisation, it is important to understand and utilise the capabilities of women as well.
Teachings of Gita and Work Ethos
The Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord) is attributed to Maharishi Vyasa, the composer of the Mahabharata. The Gita comprises 700 verses arranged in 18 chapters.
The Bhismaparvan (the sixth of the 18 sub-divisions) of the Mahabharata describes the battle between the Pandavas and Kauravas for the throne of the Kurus. The Bhagavad Gita narrates the dialogue that takes place between Krishna and Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
The Bhagavad Gita symbolises a general ideal of spiritual warriorship. It teaches that freedom does not lie in rejection but in self-controlled action, which is performed with knowledge and detachment. Before the final battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna could not decide whether it is right to fight and kill those who are his relatives and old friends. He was also doubtful about the reasonability of the war.
To remove his doubts, Lord Krishna answered his questions on the nature of the universe, the method to attain God and the meaning of duty. The Bhagavad Gita contains a magnificent dialogue between man (Arjuna) and creator (Krishna).
Here talks about the qualities of mind required to know the truth. These qualities are explained as follows:
amanitvam adambhitvam ahimsa ksantir arjavam
Acaryopasanam shaucam sthairyam atma-vinigrhah
These lines mean absence of conceit and pretence, refusal to hurt, glad acceptance, rectitude, service to the teacher, inner and outer purity, perseverance, mastery over mind.
indriyarthesu vairagyam anahankara eva ca
These lines mean being dispassionate towards sense objects; absence of self-importance; knowledge of limitations of birth, death, old age, illness and pain.
ashaitir anabhisvangah putra-dara-grhadisu
Nityam ca sama-cittatvam istanistopapattisu
These lines mean absence of the sense of ownership; absence of obsession towards son, wife, house and the others; persistence equanimity towards all pleasant and unpleasant events.
mayi cananya-yogena bhaktir avyabhicarini
vivikta-desa-sevitvam aratir jana-samsadi
These lines mean constant devotion to Me (Krishna—the eternal existence, characterised by non-separation from Me; preferences for a solitary place; and absence of an inclination towards socialisation.
etaj jnanam iti proktam ajnanam yad ato ‘nyatha’
These lines mean accepting the importance of self-realisation and philosophical search for the absolute truth; whatever there may be besides that is ignorance.
The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita are as relevant in today’s world as they were when they were first revealed. The present-day management paradigms like vision, initiative, inspiration, brilliance in work, accomplishment of objectives, significance of work, state of mind towards work, nature of individual, decision making, etc., are all mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita along with explanations that can be universally applied.
Management denotes a body of knowledge that enables an organisation to deal in different situations consisting of people, process and environment in the most efficient manner. The Gita teaches us that the dominant concern of our existence revolves around doing work (karma yoga) in the most efficient manner.
The Gita offers a framework for stimulating supreme motivation. A careful study of the Gita and its perspectives can lead today’s managers to create progressive and highly stable organisations. Let us now discuss the major teachings of the Gita that are relevant in today’s business world. These can be listed as follows:
Notion of Time
One of the major problems that modern organisations face arises out of their notion of time. For example, many software companies in India provide quarter-on-quarter guidance. This means that they inform their stakeholders about what is expected of them in the next quarter.
Although such schedules aim to gain positive outcomes, they also tend to increase stress and force managers to take the short-term approach to manage business. In the Bhagavad Gita, the first lesson taught by Krishna to Arjuna is about training the mind to the eternal and cyclic notion of time. (Chapter 2, Shlokas 11-13).
A good understanding of the notion of time helps managers feel less pressured to meet performance targets and develop conviction to engage in activities that aim to create a balance between short-term and long-term goals.
Performance Metrics and Assessment
A major problem in modern management is the attitude towards performance assessment. Most managers use duality in performance metrics and assessment. For example, all results are classified by using the framework of duality, i.e., good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, desirable vs. undesirable, performer vs. non-performer, positive vs. negative, and so on.
Based on these parameters, managers form only positive expectations from this world of duality. Therefore, they start forming wrong notions that only good things are going to happen. They do not expect negative outcomes and fail to understand why negative instances occur.
By living in such an unrealistic world, managers usually develop stress, which affects their professional as well as personal lives.
One of the major contributions of the Bhagavad Gita is to develop a real understanding of the risks of living in this world of duality. In Chapter 2 Verse 14, Krishna teaches Arjuna how to cope up with the ups and downs of this world of duality.
Later on, in the same Chapter, Verse 48, he says ‘samatvam yog uchyate’, which means developing a sense of equanimity to produce a calm and complete personality. If managers learn to develop a sense of equanimity as mentioned in the Gita, the quality of a manager as a leader will improve manifold. This will ultimately help in increasing the overall quality of the management.
Work and Efficiency
It is one of the most important insights offered by the Gita to modern-day managers. There are four aspects that Krishna articulates to define work.
- ‘karmanyevadhikarah’, which means the doer has the right to work.
- ‘ma faleshu kadachan’, which means the doer has no control on the results (fruits of action).
- ‘ma karmfalheturbhuh’, which means the doer has no control on the root causes of the fruits of action.
- ‘ma te sangostvakarmani’, which means one should not be attached to inaction.
There could be instances where one would say that doing work without desire is not possible. However, there are times when we do this consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes, when we do something with complete focus and concentration, we often get lost in the work.
Here, getting lost in work merely means that we stopped to see the results or fruits of the action for a while. This is the whole logic behind the lines said by Krishna: forget yourself in the work forever and enjoy doing it.
Today, managers need to understand that too much of result orientation can lead to sense of fear and discomfort, which may ultimately lead to failure. The shlok says that results are the matter of the future, but work is a matter of the present. If a person is behaving under the influence of something (desirable result), he/she cannot own the work, and when he/she cannot own the work, he/she cannot enjoy it.
Based on these guidelines from the Gita, managers can take away some important lessons, such as the following:
- Developing a sense of neutrality is an important requisite for being successful in today’s business scenario as it may help a manager to work more efficiently.
- Following the principles of ‘karma-yoga’ can help the contemporary managers to bring a paradigm shift in the overall quality of work.
Eroding Values and Emerging Ethical Issues in Contemporary Indian Management
The ethical standards of the society are not immune to evolutionary changes. As a society matures, the underlying social norms change, and this in turn raises various ethical questions. In addition, as human societies grow increasingly complex and the business environment changes rapidly, new ethical issues energe.
These issues, if not dealt with the maturity they demand, have various potential repercussions on the society as a whole. The emerging ethical challenges become clearer when we try to answer questions such as the following:
- Should men and women be treated equally while recruiting them for jobs such as construction engineering, firefighting, law enforcement, which are traditionally dominated by men?
- How can we address remuneration parity between male and female employees?
- How can we ensure privacy and confidentiality of information in the digital age?
- Do businesses have social responsibility?
As we can see, new social norms have blurred gender disparities; the Internet has provided a lot of opportunities as well as information security nightmare; businesses are increasingly going ‘flatter’ and less authoritative.
This all has resulted in organisations facing new ethical challenges. Some of these challenges are as follows:
Eroding Traditional Values
As the workplace is getting increasingly global and diverse, traditional social values are being replaced by global values. Therefore, organisations or individuals who cannot adapt to these changing values may face the threat of extinction.
With females increasingly showing interest in jobs traditionally dominated by men, the gender divide does not seem to have much relevance anymore in the modern workplace. Gender equality is a blow for organisations or individuals accustomed to a patriarchal setup.
The Internet has increased connectivity dramatically and empowered people. However, in the process, it poses significant regulatory challenges as it is impossible to keep track of all digital activities of all the users. In addition, keeping track of the activities of the users (also called ‘digital footprint’) can be a threat to individual privacy and freedom.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics
The development of intelligent machines has been possible because of these technologies. As robots are becoming increasingly intelligent, these technologies are raising many ethical questions that were previously inconceivable.
In addition to these emerging challenges, business ethics seems to be eroding in many Indian organisations.
This is mainly due to the following reasons:
- Poor treatment of customers
- Lack of compliance with safety and other regulatory norms
- Breakdown of trust between customers and businesses
- Increasing cases of financial frauds and scams
- Ignorance of ethical values and culturally best practices
- Failure to enforce contracts
The emerging ethical challenges coupled with eroding values call for a more efficient system in India to regulate unethical business practices and effectively handle the emerging regulatory challenges. In addition, attitudinal changes of customers and business organisations are also required to address ethical issues.
Case Study: TCS Personifying Ethos as Envisioned by Ratan Tata
Mr. Ratan Tata writes: I would hope that my successors would never compromise and turn to soft options to meet their ends.
Ethics is not just about whether you take bribes or not. Employees expect impartiality, gratitude, appreciation and loyalty from their leaders for their work. The best ethical leaders inspire their staff by setting examples themselves and help the staff when they need it. Mr. Tata is hailed as an ethical leader of the highest calibre.
The following are the reasons why he is regarded so highly by others:
- He Preserves a Grand Vision of Possibility: Tata Group reached revenues of US$100 billion in 2012 with more than 50 per cent of them coming from outside India, in the process becoming the first Indian company to do so. Rather than rest on his laurels, he set an ambitious target for the company to achieve sales of US$500 billion within the next decade.
He also envisions India to be successful and unified in the future. In his words, I am proud of my country. But we need to unite to make a unified India, free of communalism and casteism. We need to build India into a land of equal opportunity for all. We can be a truly great nation if we set our sights high and deliver to the people the fruits of continued growth, prosperity and equal opportunity.
- Clarity About His Beliefs: The secret behind Mr. Tata’s remarkable success was an unwavering belief in his values. He didn’t believe in making compromises with his principles that helped him to shape Tata Group into a huge company that it is today.
He has championed the highest standards of ethics, impartiality, integrity and social consciousness. He is one of the few individuals in India who holds an untarnished reputation in a country much maligned with corruption.
- Humility: Ratan Tata is an epitome of humility. Even in his interviews, he comes across as humble and finds it difficult to talk about his achievements in life and management. He terms his management style as simply being fair and being accessible to his staff. In particular, he says, I would like to believe I am operating honestly. That is something I am proud of.
Mr. Tata has tried to replicate and inculcate his philosophy and personal beliefs in all his business ventures, especially when it comes to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). TCS is an Indian MNC that provides information technology services and consulting and business solutions.
Its headquarters is located in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Based on Mr. Ratan Tata’s values and beliefs personifying the Indian ethos of humility, hard work and enterprise, TCS quickly became a global brand.
TCS’s Communication Strategy
TCS is the biggest software and services company in the Asian market. It founded the Global Network Delivery model, which became the industry norm. Moreover, TCS enjoys a global presence that no other company in India can equal. Actually, TCS is present in more nations than most airlines. This inspired the core innovative idea of ‘TCS – Truly Global’.
Under this innovative idea, TCS created a four-ad campaign that would highlight four vital aspects of the company – its enterprising spirit, global delivery system, preparation specialisation and research impetus.
The four-ad campaign focussed on four key areas of interest. The taglines of the ads were as follows:
- ‘IT’ put India on the world map. But who put ‘IT’ on the Indian map? (TCS spearheaded the Indian IT software and services industry.)
- When does the day end when you’re working around the clock, round the world? (TCS invented the global delivery system.)
- Money makes the world go round. But who makes the money go round? (TCS is recognised worldwide for its financial services, IT software division, etc.)
- Do you ever think of software saving lives?’(TCS is financing research in this crucial area.)
TCS’s ‘Truly Global’ ad campaign presented the company as a leader in the IT software industry highlighting its global stature in terms of its operations, stature, ethos and motivation for it to become a pioneering company. This was keeping in line with Mr. Ratan Tata’s vision for TCS.