Defining Indian management

Defining Indian management

Sri Satya Sai Baba.

The late Sri Satya Sai Baba would often refer to the people of India as Bhartiya. This term recurs time and again in all his speeches and utterances in his long and distinguished life. This was how I first became acquainted with the term Bhartiya. At that time, it helped in inspiring me to think of a new direction, a different perspective and a different metaphor to characterize Indian management thought and practice.

The term Bhartiya management refers to charting a specifically Indian way of approaching management thought and practices. It is another name for what will come to be known in later years as Indian management. It is distinguished by the fact that in contrast to the evolution of management thought in the West that has traditionally focused its attention on the outer space, Bhartiya management focuses its attention in the inner space. Management thought in the West prefers to view the company as the principal unit of social and economic transformation whereas Bhartiya Management prefers to view the individual as a primary unit of all transformation in the society. In the former case, it is the corporate entity that is the driver of this process whereas, in the latter, it is the individual who drives the change. In the case of the former, the world is changed when corporate entities like firms drive change. On the other hand, society changes when individuals change the way they view society.

In Sanatana Dharma, you change the world when you change yourself. Indeed, the only agency you can change is your own self. Bharatiya management is anchored upon the principle that self-realization alone opens the path to genuine liberation. As Ramana Maharishi once said God created the world and it is his responsibility to take care of it. As human beings, it is our responsibility to know ourselves. It distinguishes knowledge as a tool to engage the external world experience as the yardstick to conquer the inner world. It does not confuse the search for knowledge for the search for truth. This is its distinguishing characteristic.

Bharatiya Management could well emerge as the new Indian version of management studies that will replace what has until now been studied under the rubric of  ‘managing in India’. It will enrich management thinking.