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On business ethics

Opinion

October 26, 2018

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Business matters are so complicated and tough that mostly ventures fail to survive. I believe that if someone wants to make money and name through his own business, s/he must have sound understanding and right direction.

Being Pakistani, we must be proud that the great ancient philosopher who provided basic guidelines on this complex subject was none but Chanakya, also known as Kautilya or Vishnugupta. Born in the ancient city Taxila of present-day Pakistan, he was a teacher and also prime minister of the great Indian emperor, Chandragupta Maurya.

Despite the lapse of thousands of years, Chanakya is still a respectable name due to the fact that he not only proved his philosophical knowledge in practical life but also wrote books, such as Arthashastra and Chanakya Neeti, full of wisdom and spiritual knowledge.

Chanakya, being a teacher, royal adviser and economist, was a strong advocate of a society based on firm ethical values and principles. He advised his followers to not only focus on the materialistic approach to life but also understand the equal importance of spirituality.

“Philosophy is ever thought of as the lamp of all sciences, as the means of all actions (and) as the support of all laws (and duties).” This is what Chanakya wrote in the first chapter of Arthashastra to emphasise the importance of spiritual foundations.

Chanakya advised that ethics and moral values must be top priorities for any businessman. He was of the view that “Profits are by-products of business, not its very goal”. According to Chanakya, a business must have an overall positive impact on society. He also believed in the protection of women and prescribed a balance between the organisation and the workers.

In order to achieve success, Chanakya explained that a stable business must be established on seven pillars, termed as the ‘Saptangas’. First was ‘swami’, the leader who is the visionary brain that actually guides the organization. In today’s business world, he is also known as the CEO or the MD etc.

The second was the ‘amatya’, the manager. He is the one who utilises his professional skills and capabilities to achieve the desired goals. The third was the ‘janapada’, which relates to the market. A strong business always tries its best to capture the market through its marketing and branding strategies.

The fourth, ‘durg’, means infrastructure. To run a business successfully, a head office is needed, from where administrative work is performed. It also provides support for various policies and their implementation.

The fifth is the ‘kosha’, which reflects finance, the most important resource for any business. Chanakya believed that a stable and well-managed treasury is the heart of any organisation. Without sufficient financial capital, all kinds of businesses fail to grow. Sixth, the ‘danda’ which means team. In an organisation, every team member must have a defined role to play and they all must be treated with respect and dignity.

Chanakya defined the seventh pillar as the ‘mitra’ to highlight the importance of business advisers, mentors and consultants. According to him, a good business must seek support of such friends to expand its operations and market area.

Chanakya believed that a corrupt and dishonest person has no guts to face life’s challenges. He associated the success of a business with honesty, ethical values and principles. He emphasised that a good businessman is a law-abiding citizen. Chanakya termed such characters as ‘rajarishi’, the belief in contributing something good to society as a whole and bringing positive economic prosperity to all stakeholders.

In his writings, Chanakya also called corruption a social evil. According to him, too many personal interactions in one’s professional life lead towards corruption and nepotism. “It is possible to know even the path of birds flying in the sky, but not the ways of officers moving with their intentions concealed,” he wrote.

To curb corruption, Chanakya suggested an invisible mechanism of strict vigilance and monitoring. He believed that whistleblowers must be given due awards and incentives to expose wrongdoings. However, someone who passes false information must be punished strictly. Chanakya emphasised that official posts must be made temporary and officials should be frequently transferred from one department to another. Most importantly, there should be a transparent process of accountability for everyone.

Regrettably, such a wise renowned philosopher and teacher is not respected in his own birthplace. To do justice with history, we must give due respect to Chanakya. For all of those who want to achieve success in their businesses, I would recommend them to go through the teachings of Chanakya on business ethics.

The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of thePakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani

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