Chairperson's Message

Convocation Speech, IIM Calcutta 29th April, 2022

Respected Chief Guest Shri Ashish Chauhan, distinguished and honourable guests, our dear graduating students, their families, Director, Professor Uttam Kumar Sarkar, Deans, Program Chairs, our loved and respected Faculty colleagues, dear Staff members and the IIM Calcutta community.

My pranams to all of you.

Sitting amongst us, and gracing this occasion are our most revered Faculty colleagues. Teachers one and all. Men and women, who consciously chose the most noble of all professions – teaching. It is the hallmark of true teachers that they never seek acknowledgement, but we, who received from them the most valuable gift possible in life – knowledge, we must whole heartedly convey to them our deepest appreciation for this gift and their selfless work. Do please stand up and join me in acknowledging this singular contribution in the life of each and every student and all in the IIM Calcutta community. Thank you, dear teachers.

In late October 2017, the government offered me the chance to be associated with the IIM Calcutta family. I accepted this position as Chairperson of the Board of Governors. Time has flown. This is the fifth Annual Convocation that I have the honour to attend.

My dear graduating class, today you graduate from IIM Calcutta and enter the world of professionals. All your hard-work and toil is being recognized and culminating in you becoming the newest members of the family of the IIM Calcutta alumni – an incredible distinction and a coveted privilege. Please accept my heartfelt congratulations and admiration for all of you.

Today, I wish to place before you some critical thoughts for you to reflect upon. These are not all my thoughts. Many are gleaned from books I have read and people I have met. But what is important is that these are significant, in that they will help you ask yourselves deep questions and hopefully unleash insights, and to synthesize disparate ideas into a harmonious whole.

I would like to speak to you about “Leadership”. I asked myself, who am I to advise? And I do not wish be prescriptive. So, today, I will be different and will share with you a list of questions that will help you gain insight on what it means to be a leader. So here goes:

  1. What is leadership?
  2. Can leadership be learnt? Can it be taught? Or is it that either “you have it in you” OR “you don’t have it in you?” OR is it that “leadership is gained by experience?”
  3. What are the core qualities for being considered an effective leader? Example, courage, fearlessness, integrity, transparency, compassion, being consistent, be a giver?
  4. Can leadership be sustained?
  5. What is the impact of “our purpose” on the “quality of our leadership”?
    1. Does the quality of leadership differ as the purpose varies across the selfish spectrum? Let me explain, our purpose can vary from being selfless to selfish in varying degrees.
    2. Example: Should our purpose be doing good through oneself rather than for oneself?
  6. Is leadership dependent upon power, authority and position? And therefore – to be a leader is it essential to have followers – and this leads me to further ask, is “leadership”, the exclusive preserve of charismatic people at the top echelons of organizations?
  7. Is leadership about fighting for a cause or is it how to keep the focus on the cause that is being fought for?
  8. Is therefore leadership more about “what needs to be done”, than “what I can do”?
  9. And this leads to the very important question – what is the distinction between being a leader and exercising leadership?
  10. Just as there is shared responsibility, is there shared leadership?
  11. How important is the ability in a leader to examine their values? Question their assumptions? And use this inquiry to hone our judgement!!
    1. For this it seems that an open mind is necessary – and I wonder, what it means to have an open mind. Is it when our commitment to curiosity is more than our commitment to our prejudices or let me make it harder, is it when our commitment to curiosity is more than our commitment to our convictions.
  12. Is there a concept such as “a complete leader”? One who exercises leadership in all spheres of life? Can this happen if we are less than authentic in the different spheres of our lives? By authentic here, I mean, how much is the overlap between our thoughts, our words and our deeds in each sphere of our life?
  13. Is a true leader one whose absence is felt but his presence is like oxygen – essential but non-invasive?
  14. And finally, is leadership about leading people from the “known”, to the “unknown”?

The questions I have tried to outline are not ordinary and those of you who would want to get their hands on these can download it from the IIMC website – I have been told the text will be shared there.

I know how proud you must feel to be part of this institution that values academic excellence and individual achievement. To this, I would add an aspiration that I have held in my heart – IIMC be an institution that contributes significantly to social good through socially relevant and impactful research. And this leads me to ask the following questions: Is development considered as social good? What is development? Is good governance social good? Is building human capital social good? You will agree that GDP and GNP are ethic neutral, they lack moral content. Illegal and even criminal activity can create economic results. The Gross National Product does not allow for the health of the children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our courage; neither our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

While as a society we still struggle with economic poverty, I wonder if you have ever thought about:

  • Why do we as a society suffer from the poverty of “speaking up” – when your voice is needed?
  • Why do we as a society suffer from the poverty of participation in civic responsibility?

These questions make me wonder if the need is to build human capital in quality and at a scale that it results in building social capital – isn’t this development? And the subsequent question – is there a way we can measure development that is not ethic neutral and which doesn’t lack moral content?

About a 100 years ago, Gandhiji, my great grandfather wrote about the tensions between economic growth and social justice. He did not believe in the state controlling all means of production, yet he was concerned about how capitalism would achieve social justice. He described this challenge in the form of the seven deadly social sins that he hoped the world would rid itself of. They are:

  • Wealth without Work
  • Pleasure without Conscience
  • Knowledge without Character
  • Commerce without Morality
  • Science without Humanity
  • Religion without Sacrifice
  • Politics without Principle

These words have even greater resonance today than they had about a century ago. Rapid technological change will challenge our abilities to manage the social pressures that come with it. Let’s think about some of the first words of the seven social sins – knowledge, science, commerce, wealth, and pleasure. These are in many ways the bedrock of economic growth and the keys to human progress. Then think about some of the last words – character, humanity, morality, work, and conscience. These are the social principles and human values that underlie social justice. It is crucial that even as we use knowledge and science to power the engines of commerce to create wealth and pleasure, we exercise restraint by not taking unfair advantage of our knowledge, by acting ethically, by being aware of the privileges we enjoy that others do not, and by reflecting on the consequences of our actions on our societies.

My great grandfather often worried about the hardness of the heart of the educated. We all have a streak of generosity within us but somehow in the busy lives we lead we forget this essential truth. We are taught by our parents, as I was by mine, that in the ultimate analysis, a life well-lived is measured not by what one does for oneself but by what one does for others.

The tremendous improvements in information and communication technologies and the digitization and automation had other unexpected effects. Of all the wealth created in the world over the last 20 years, a large percentage of it has gone to the top 1% of the population. The bottom 50% has hardly benefited. This is not surprising given the economies of scale and network effects of automation and digitization technologies. Economies of scale simply means that as companies get bigger the cost of providing services decreases. Network effects means that a company’s services are more valuable the more the people who use that service. Whereas in the past, growth increased both wages of workers and shareholder returns, most of the rewards in the new economy have gone to shareholders.

As my teacher, Prof. Srikant Datar of Harvard Business School reminds us:
“The policy ideas that can address the above problem will not happen without the most successful individuals engaging with these societal challenges. In this effort, entrepreneurs, managers and management education will have to play a big role. We will need to marshal several of the knowing, doing, and being skills that he wrote about in Rethinking the MBA – leadership, innovation, creative, and integrative thinking, understanding the role, responsibilities, and purpose of business, and issues surrounding risk, regulation, and restraint. If we can get this right as I am hopeful we will, perhaps the new economy will help us achieve the lofty vision of inclusive growth. If we do not, the tensions and tribulations it will create will test the very fabric of our societies. It is our choice to make.”

What I am going to now say, is what I shared with the graduating students in the Convocation of 2021. But I believe that fundamentally important matters can be and should be repeated:

Let me share with you my observations and I should not claim that they are wholly correct. Please use them if you feel attracted and motivated to explore them:
In your professional as also personal life, you will encounter many battles. They are all, in one way or the other, leadership battles – the most crucial will be those, which are the “unequal battles” – unequal assets, unequal power, unequal influence etc. In such battles, in my experience, the two most important qualities that helped me progress are: be brave, fearless (शौर्य) and be patient (धैर्य). Most such battles are lost due to impatience. Your own strength (of character) and intelligence (विवेक) will give you the “Will power” that is needed to endure such battles. And finally, you will need to have on your side, “Truth (सत्य), humility and modesty (शील, विनम्रता), selflessness (निःस्वार्थ). But here I will use the unusual meaning of selflessness which is “doing good for others” (पर्हित).

To make these qualities, your own, requires (साधना) – which can be loosely translated in English as – deep, introspective, disciplined, relentless long duration study. If you have these qualities, there is a very high probability that you will not lose these unequal battles. Battles which are between साधना versus साधन (assets, power, influence etc.).

As you set forth, and progressively take leadership positions you will need to wrestle with the changing nature and scope of your responsibilities. I urge you to always introspect and consider ways in which you will inspire yourselves to rise to the challenges of responsible, accountable leadership, to behave wisely, especially in the face of powerful pressures to do otherwise, and to develop a clear set of moral commitments, personal values, and ethical principles to guide your actions.

It is my desire that IIMC nurtures all the above qualities among its students – to be humble, to have the courage to do what is right, and to gain the trust of society. I desire for IIM Calcutta to make integrity, ethics, and values a central part of their curriculum for all programs. It is my dream that one day IIM Calcutta graduates must be known to be more empathetic, better able to balance human and business aspects, people-oriented, able to understand human processes and circumstances, and socially responsible. I wish for our alumni to say that IIM Calcutta made them a better person and human being, and taught them to respect others and to care about how others’ live.

Life flows like a river – Kawa no nagare no youni – 川の流れのように
It is a famous Japanese song sung by the famous singer Misora Hibari. Its lyrics are almost spiritual. Some of you may want to listen to the song, so here I share the URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_Ns_B23LT0

There will be difficulties – adversity builds character OR what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Again as the Japanese say it:
雨降って地固まる (ame futte chi katamaru)

I am optimistic about the future. We have adaptive institutions, thoughtful citizens, and are a resilient society that has outlasted every other known civilization. We have the potential to create the most wealth and the highest welfare of any other society. Guided by the goals of economic growth and social justice and the qualities of humility, courage, and trust, the choice is ours to dream and make.

Before I end, I would like to share a very important news with all those who are connected with us today (in person and virtually). IIM Calcutta has successfully registered a Sec 8 Company, called the IIM Calcutta Foundation. This will be managed and run by the alumni of IIMC with participation by key officers of IIM Calcutta (Director and Deans). This organization will be at the forefront of raising resources from alumni and CSR funds for the important and long pending development of our Institutes key infrastructure which includes the physical infrastructure as also the digital infrastructure. Standing in front of you, with folded hands I request each and every one of the alumni community to consider “giving back”, to mother IIM Calcutta.

Thank you for allowing me to be part of your celebrations and all the very, very best.
Jai Hind

Knowledge partnership between Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC) and Capacity Building Commission, Government of India (CBC)

It is my privilege to share with you about the knowledge partnership between Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC) and Capacity Building Commission, Government of India (CBC). This is indeed a strong step in the direction of “atma-nirbhar Bharat”. My congratulations to Prof. Uttam Kumar Sarkar, Director IIMC and Shri Hemang Jani, Secretary, CBC, for having signed a ‘Statement of Intent’ on 17th February 2022 at New Delhi. The Government of India constituted the CBC through a notification in the Gazette of India in April 2021. The vision of CBC is to enhance the execution capacity of the Indian states by radically improving the government’s human resource management practices and significantly augmenting the capacity of India’s 25 million civil servants. As the custodian of the civil services capacity building ecosystem, CBC’s mandate is to ensure and enable lifelong learning for all. It aims to create optimal learning opportunities for each civil servant with the objective to build an agile and future ready public service force. As a knowledge partner to CBC, IIMC (as the first IIM to have signed an agreement with CBC) has a momentous opportunity to leverage its knowledge capital and expertise towards this important national endeavour. Within this framework of understanding, IIMC may do the following:

  1. Customise leadership training programmes and deliver them through face to face and/or virtual mode of instruction.
  2. Create instructional content in a wide range of activity areas which fall under the purview of the CBC.
  3. Conduct evaluation impact studies.
  4. Provide knowledge support to CBC in terms of case writing and case teaching.

It gives me a deep sense of reassurance and a feeling of happiness that IIM Calcutta will have a role (atma-nirbhar Bharat) in significantly contributing to the governance practices at different levels. This partnership will be yet another occasion for IIMC to demonstrate its collective (its family of teachers and alumni) expertise in leadership training and other areas of management for the benefit of the nation. As the first IIM in India, IIMC is once again the first in stepping forward for such an important national initiative, thus reinforcing its standing as an eminent public institution of management education in the country.

Diamond Jubilee Lecture and Distinguished Alumnus Award 2021 Address, IIM Calcutta, November 14th, 2021

Before I start, please allow me the privilege to offer my pranams to the Supreme Teacher:

Om Shri Guru Bhyo Namah:

I also offer my pranams to my father, Prof. Gajanan Kulkarni, who was one of the first few founding faculty members at IIM Ahmedabad and who taught me so much. He passed away on 13th Oct 2021.

Respected Chief Guest, Prof. Dipesh Chakrabarty; dear members of the IIM Calcutta Faculty and staff; distinguished alumni; distinguished guests and fellow students.

My namaskar to all of you.

IIM Calcutta has served the nation with distinction for 60 years. Today we celebrate her Diamond Jubilee and her immense contribution.

As is the practice, we felicitate our distinguished alumni on this day.

My heartfelt congratulations to the distinguished alumni, and the entire family and friends of IIM Calcutta.

It was four years ago on 14th November 2017 that I had the privilege to address my first annual day function.

Being the Diamond Jubilee foundation day – nothing can be more special than using this day to revisit fundamentals. What is good for us, must be repeated and revisited again and again.

  1. IIM Act 2017: It is important that we briefly review some major developments of the decade that passed. Two major developments have occurred which are impacting the Institute majorly.
    1. The first change is the setting up of thirteen newer IIMs (since 2010) as institutes of national importance. This explosion in the number of IIMs and the increasing impact of technology in business necessitates that IIMC take a fresh look at how we plan to retain and extend our leadership in the field of management education; conceptualization of management thought and management practice, in India and the world.
    2. The second change arises from the incorporation in the Act of a provision that the IIMs created by statute will enjoy autonomy.
      1. The range of subjects to which the nation expects IIMs to address themselves is wider than what IIMs are currently addressing. It includes management areas that are of concern not only to corporates but are also areas of social and public concern. These are now prescribed by law and must influence strategy formulation.
      2. Competition has taken a new form under this provision.
      3. Our ability to raise our own funds is now a necessity.
  2. Our identity: IIMC is not just another "Business School". We are an "Indian Institute of Management". We are a national asset. It is the responsibility of each of us, "the stakeholders", to consistently and systematically raise the value of this asset and expand our sphere of influence. One of the best ways to do so is to raise our intellectual capital. We must spare no efforts to remain relevant and valuable. This requires that we must regularly revisit our mandate and also review our performance. In these new circumstances:
    1. It is now our responsibility to prepare "managers", not just for industrial, financial and commercial enterprises, but also managers who will become pivots and enablers of "social change" and national development.
      1. For this IIM Calcutta will provide educational inputs to all sectors of the Indian economy and polity.
      2. As the nation seeks to achieve a new global status, IIMC will play an active role in contributing significantly to this journey of "Atmanirbhar Bharat".
      3. We will sustain our excellence. As a community we will reinforce a culture where every member is imbued with a "sense of duty", and a desire to graduate from having just a strong "sense of belonging".
    2. Competition is now global (online and hybrid delivery models for education are now available). In this scenario, Faculty who have high scholarship are the most important investment.
    3. We must reassess what we teach (curriculum) and how we teach (pedagogy);
      1. Should the present MBA curriculum and its overemphasis on analytics and models be reviewed and in its place efforts be made to buttress this foundation with the most important management skills – of humanity, judgement and critical innovative thinking? These are skills that add to the level of "human capital" of a leader.
      2. I ask, without this, how do we equip our students to work in the "gap" between what they know and what the environment expects.
      3. Technology will force and disrupt businesses. Management practices will have to shift from shareholder wealth maximization to "equitable distribution of wealth". Leaders will need to understand that "shareholder wealth maximization" has at its root "greed". It is violence – economic violence. As my great grandfather, Gandhiji repeatedly reminded us – "there is enough for our need, but not enough for our greed". Solving this problem is probably the most pressing economic need of our times.
      4. What role can our Management Center for Human Values play in helping IIMC further this critical thought? How can we use MCHV to differentiate our course offerings? Can IIMC play a defining role in shaping the "human capital" of business leadership? As it increases, so will the Gross Domestic Character of our economy.
      5. This Gross Domestic Character will be at the heart of leaders who will change the management paradigm from "shareholder wealth maximization", to "equitable distribution of wealth". This in my view is the only key that can unlock the problems of poverty and unemployment.
  3. Our students:
    1. In this new networked world, beyond the functions and domains of their specialization, our students will progressively need to equip themselves with some very important skills and attitudes:
      1. To be effective leaders they will need to have the ability to create new networks of partnerships for their organizations to be, sustainable, scalable and most importantly survive disruptions and failures;
      2. They will have to be comfortable comprehending the impact of data, artificial intelligence, cyber-security etc.;
      3. Culturally they will need to be able to accept multi-stakeholder networks and have a mindset for collaboration. This is the only way they can hope to overcome the complexity and interconnectedness across sectors;
      4. Ability to respect diversity and display empathy will be key to building personal credibility. Personal credibility will now be a non-negotiable attribute for leaders;
      5. In a nutshell – the networked world will force teams and organizations to "collaborate" and not "just compete".
  4. Our infrastructure: To achieve our vision, we will invest in upgrading our infrastructure.
    1. Physical infrastructure: We are committed to rebuild our infrastructure and make IIMC the choice destination for faculty, students and staff.
      1. Detailed master plan for the entire Joka campus;
    2. Digital infrastructure: Commensurate with the demands of online education and the networked world;
    3. Marketing infrastructure: Traditionally IIM Calcutta has not used marketing as a tool for our external connect. We realize the need to have a dedicated team for external relations focused on raising resources. To this end, a Section 8 company is in the process of being registered. Many talented alumni are already helping;
    4. Administrative infrastructure: We are reviewing and changing our governance structures and internal processes to be more transparent, efficient and nimble. These changes will equip us to meet competitive pressures and speed of response.
  5. My sincere request: Although I have the privilege of being the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of IIM Calcutta, it is my ardent belief that one of my most important roles is to also be a salesperson, who dedicates his time and energies for IIM Calcutta to bring opportunities that will increase her resources and her sphere of influence. But in this I cannot be alone. Every colleague on our Board, every faculty colleague, every staff colleague and every alumni and every student and all friends of IIM Calcutta are also salespersons and therefore we are team mates.
    1. When I think of IIM Calcutta, I see a mother, who has never disappointed a single student who came to her. She has consistently given each and every one of you wings for all your dreams. She launched you with a high velocity input into this world.
    2. In the name of the Divine and with folded hands I seek the support of each and every one among the IIMC alumni and friends of IIMC to help raise the funds for this Divine work to meet our needs.
    3. In your heart, there are the emotional chords of "generosity" and "gratitude". Please touch them when you think of helping "mother IIM Calcutta". Your offerings will be grateful accepted as "Dakshina".
    4. I wish to convey my gratitude to those alumni who have already connected with us and are contributing time, energy and resources.
    5. Please feel free to reach out to me or to anyone of us.

"Failure is not a crime, aiming low is".

Jai Hind

Fresher's Welcome address, IIM Calcutta
Jun 19th, 2021

Chairperson Shrikrishna Kulkarni, addressing the MBA 58th batch students during the Fresher's Welcome 2021.

Convocation Speech, IIM Calcutta
May 15th, 2021

All our teachers are here and it is appropriate that I start by invoking and prostrating before the Supreme teacher, the "teacher of teachers".

ब्रह्मानन्दं परमसुखदं केवलं ज्ञानमूर्तिं
द्वन्द्वातीतं गगनसदृशं तत्त्वमस्यादिलक्ष्यम्
एकं नित्यं विमलमचलं सव॔धीसाक्षिभूतं
भावातीतं त्रिगुणरहितं सद्गुरूं तं नमामि

In English the rough translation is:

  • The one who is Bliss of Brahman, the one who is supreme happiness and who is knowledge absolute;
  • The one who has no duality, who is expansive like the sky and is the goal indicated in great Mahavakyas of the Mandukya Upanishad like "Tat Twam Asi";
  • The only one – pure, unchanging who is the witness of all
  • The one who embodies the 3 gunas of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas
  • To that Supreme entity, I prostrate myself and bow down;

Respected Chief Guest Shri Krishnamurthy Subramanian, distinguished and honourable guests, our dear graduating students, their families, Director in-charge, Professor Subir Bhattacharya, Deans, Program Chairs, our loved and respected Faculty colleagues, dear Staff members and the IIM Calcutta community.

My pranams to all of you.

My dear graduating class, today you graduate from IIM Calcutta and enter the world of professionals. All your hard-work and toil is being recognized and culminating in you becoming the newest members of the family of the IIM Calcutta alumni – an incredible distinction and a coveted privilege. Please accept my heartfelt congratulations and admiration for all of you.

You are the best of the best of this nation, and today is your day. Ideally, we all should have been at our beautiful campus in Joka celebrating your happiness together – in person.

This ongoing pandemic is unprecedented. This 2nd wave is testing our resolve even more fiercely. By now hopefully it should be clear to all of us that each one of us, you and me, is the frontline defense against this pandemic. It is "our", individual and collective responsibility to keep our community safe by exercising civic responsibility and social discipline through exercising self-discipline. It was in keeping with this spirit that this convocation is being held in the virtual non-physical format. I must convey my gratitude to all of you, for accepting this.

My thoughts and reflections that I wish to share with you today, are nothing new. These thoughts continue to add much needed perspective to my life. It is in the belief that these thoughts may also add perspective to your lives and that good things must be shared, and therefore can be repeated, that I allow myself the privilege to speak my heart.

This pandemic is having immense immediate implications for economies and businesses. And so I allowed myself to contemplate on the future?

  1. What is it doing to "economic inequality? Has it opened our heart? Do we feel it?"
  2. I wondered what kind of resources would be required if every human being in this world was to claim the average living standard of a citizen of the developed nations?
  3. Is this possible in a finite world?

Today we have with us, one of our own, an IIM Calcutta alumnus, Prof. Krishnamurthy Subramanian. He is presently at the helm of Economic Affairs of our nation as the Chief Economic Advisor.

Thank you Prof. Krishnamurthy for accepting my invitation to be our Chief Guest today.

It is his presence that encourages me to wonder:

  1. What role does "human greed", play in economic, financial and social problems?
  2. Is this focus and our need for perpetual growth of GDP driven by "human greed"?
  3. In the garb of globalization, has there been unbridled individualism – GDP of nations being fueled by consumerism to support a "lifestyle", as against "a life"?
  4. Can our demand be less greedy and the supply be more broad based with a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources over the entire supporting business ecosystem?
  5. With Technology and the networked world breaking down "silos" in society, will organizations be forced to "collaborate" and not just "compete"?
  6. And therefore closing the loop on my own thoughts by asking the fundamental question – "is competition driven by greed?"

These are difficult questions and in your lifetime they will probably take on critical dimensions.

I wondered if you would be happy by my just posing questions. But quickly reminded myself that as Chairperson of the Board I am traditionally expected to say something.

Therefore, it would be correct to admit, that at best I can share some of my own experience based learnings with you – which you may accept or discount at a discount rate of your choice:

  1. In this new networked world, beyond the functions and domains of my own specialization, I progressively felt the need to equip myself with some very important skills:
    1. To be effective I felt the need to have the ability to create new networks of partnerships for my organizations, so that they may be sustainable, scalable and most importantly survive disruptions and failures;
    2. I had to be comfortable in comprehending the impact of data, artificial intelligence, cyber-security etc.;
    3. Culturally I learnt to accept multi-stakeholder networks and have a mindset for collaboration. This is the only way I could hope to overcome the complexity and interconnectedness across sectors;
    4. Ability to respect diversity and display empathy were key to building personal credibility. Personal credibility is now a non-negotiable attribute to lead people;
  2. So, what can you do with what you have learnt?
    1. While knowing is important – all knowledge refers to what we have learnt, stored in our memory and can access it at our will. By definition knowledge is always of the past and hence it relies heavily on facts and theoretical frameworks. It is humanly impossible to know everything?
    2. Is therefore "Leadership" about successfully managing unfamiliar situations? I think it is.
    3. Ask yourself, why do different leaders see the same problem in different ways? Why do some succeed and some fail miserably?
  3. Let me share with you my observations and I should not claim that they are wholly correct. Please use them if you feel attracted and motivated to explore them:
    1. In your professional as also personal life, you will encounter many battles. They are all, in one way or the other, leadership battles – the most crucial will be those, which are the "unequal battles" – unequal assets, unequal power, unequal influence etc. In such battles, in my experience:
      - The two most important qualities that help me progress are: be brave, fearless (शौय॔) and be patient (धैय॔) Most such battles are lost due to impatience;
      - Your own strength (of character) and intelligence (विवेक) will give you the "Will power" that is needed to endure such battles;
      - And finally, you will need to have on your side, "Truth (सत्य), humility and modesty (शील, विनम्रता), selflessness (निःस्वार्थ). But here I will use the unusual meaning of selflessness which is "doing good for others" (पहि॔त).
  4. To make these qualities, your own, requires (साधना) – which can be loosely translated in English as – deep, introspective, disciplined, relentless long duration study. If you have these qualities, there is a very high probability that you will not lose these unequal battles. Battles which are between साधना versus साधन(assets, power, influence etc.).
  5. Remember this powerful Sanskrit shloka:
    • अमंगलम् अक्षरं नास्ति नास्ति मूलमनौषधम् ।
      अयोग्यः पुरुषो नास्ति योजकस्तत्र दुल॔भः॥
    • There is no letter which is not auspicious, there is no root which doesn’t have medicinal property;

There is no person who is thoroughly useless, but rare is the one who knows how to properly use/manage them.

If you are with me till now, then I am going to go ahead and take the risk of requesting you all that from this point on in life pay attention to the development of the most important management skills – of humanity, which I shared briefly. It is these skills that will equip you to work in the "gap" between what you know and what your environment will expect from you.

But for this to happen, you must have a vision for your life. Not just "goals for your life". What is the difference?

  • Your actions that do good "through you", and not "for you", would be what I would define as a vision for your life.
  • In the pursuit of such a vision – have the courage to make mistakes. A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant.

Let me change gears a little bit here. Very quickly, you all will be leaders of your own families. But today, I want to share with you my thoughts on our parents. A parent child relationship is Divine – at any age in your life it is Divine – they gave us life! They therefore deserve that stature throughout our lives.

Over the past few years, I have had the luxury to spend time with my aged parents (93+ and 91+). And so I probably tilt towards a wisdom that all elders uncannily exhibit – something unequivocally makes them realize how little we know – or putting it more bluntly, "that the universe doesn't need the sanction of our beliefs to function". It is as if they were acknowledging the limitations of human knowledge?

As my parents see the end of the runway coming closer, I notice their wisdom expand beyond the realms of logic and thought. As I serve them, the arrogance of my logical brain questions their approach. But astonishingly I am now acutely aware of how limiting are both human logic and thought. Both tend to narrow our existence down to "our individual self". But I also notice that as the physical body starts surrendering the (elders) operate more and more from their hearts. It is this "operating from the heart", that allows their existence to expand so far beyond the puny limits of their own physical selves.

This makes me wonder – are they being prepared to merge with the infinite, the awareness that permeates everything. This then makes me wonder – can the finite me, ever comprehend the infinite? Is it possible? After all I am a finite product severely limited by what I perceive through my 5 senses – which as I have come to realise from studying science – cannot be trusted. Example we "see" the sun set and rise – but it's not how the reality is. So, what is "real"? Is there such a thing as "reality? Therefore, does, anything that is unchanging deserve to be defined as real, as "the reality"? Such an unchanging reality is probably:

  • Not a "thing"
  • "Nothing"
  • "No thing"!!

We are the only species that has in its arrogance (of our logic and our knowledge), forgotten our place as just another inhabitant of nature. Please invest your time to be in closer connection with nature.

Finally, before I stop, the world will celebrate your razor sharp intelligence, your being global citizens, your being tech savvy etc etc etc.

The world may celebrate you by putting you on a list of the "most powerful persons", OR the "most influential persons", but, I would feel deep satisfaction, if you strive and expand your heart – and learn to operate also from your heart and as a result the world celebrates you by recognizing you among the "most loved and respected" persons.

Prayers for the good health and safety of your loved ones and you, always – every one of you.

Have a beautiful life – every one of you.

Jai Hind.