Altruism, too, makes good business sense
Reviewed by M. M. Goel

Business Ethics and Corporate Governance
By B.N. Ghosh
Tata McGraw Hill Education. Pages 484. Rs 495

Business Ethics and Corporate GovernanceBusiness without ethics is like eyes without sight. To do business with morality and honesty of purpose is the need of the day. This is necessary to cope with the threats of panic and fear (false evidences appearing real) of the so-called global economic crisis by all the stakeholders in any economy. To survive and exist in the present world of competition, which is both healthy and unhealthy, we need to do everything in an efficient and effective way, without ignoring ethics as an important input.

In this context we need the subject of business ethics. It should be understood that the basic purpose of human life is happiness and not necessarily the acquisition of material wealth.

Ethics has become a popular subject of study in various institutions and universities of the world, including India. This calls for reading material on the subject, which justifies the attempt of the author to add to the existing literature in simple language, making it easy to understand the otherwise difficult subject.

The 484 pages have been divided into three parts, which include theories of ethics, analysis of the application of ethical principles with special emphasis on principles and practices of corporate governance. Policymakers, teachers and students of business management will find it educative. The concepts developed in the entire book are reflected in the 25 cases, which the readers will find student-friendly.

The research-based textbook contains many theories of ethics for governance in caring for the less cared for with compassion. This will enable the inclusion of the excluded segments of society. The emphasis on environmental ethics is relevant not only for those who wreak havoc but also for protagonists of environment to help them to work more forcefully. The chapter on the Indian ethos and Gandhian ethics deserves attention.

Mahatma Gandhi's idea of trusteeship is more than a concept which needs understanding, interpretation and adoption by the corporate sector.

The reviewer believes that socio-economic development of Indians is a distant dream without the Sanaskar Model flowing from 'Trusteeship,' under corporate social responsibility (CSR) towards the disadvantaged sections of the society. This has to be in a mission mode, with ten per cent contribution, at least, from their profits. Further, we need to convert the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) into a multinational national corporation (MNC), capable of solving the twin problems of India - poverty and unemployment. If Mahatma Gandhi could have been alive today, he would have advocated internationalisation of Indianisation through Khadi, which was more than clothing for him.

The politicians (both in power and in the opposition) should wear the concave lens of the kind worn by Mahatma Gandhi, which unites people instead of the convex lens leadership qualities that divide people on basis of caste, religion, language and region. Indian Sanskar management has contributed to the welfare and happiness of employees. It has also contributed to the sustainable growth of Indian companies in the sense of turnover and profits. This model is a very important strategy for the sustainable growth of corporate sector as well as for the welfare and happiness of its employees.

To lay the foundations of a new and just social order, altruism - the principle of living and acting for the interest of others - needs to be analysed, interpreted and adopted in totality by the Indian corporate sector.

Let the corporate sector today learn from Bill Gates of Microsoft, who promotes "Creative Capitalism," as a new avatar of trusteeship, as envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi for adopting and promoting corporate social responsibility(CSR).

To become agents of progress, prosperity and peace, the Indian corporate sector needs to firmly establish inner-net (not internet), based on inside-out approach, flowing from ancient Indian perspectives. Willingness to do something for society, which means "all minus myself." is a necessary and sufficient condition for inclusive growth. For the world of wisdom to exist, we need to stop blaming one another as stakeholders and should be faithful to the intentions of the will of people, as advocated by Dr B. R. Ambedkar, while identifying the functions of Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) in 1949.

To care for the cared less, we need to learn altruism as a rational behaviour in consumption, production, distribution and exchange activities in every economy of the world, including India.

The business sentiment around the world, including India, can be improved by ensuring good governance which means SMART (Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent) administration, with attributes of human development, consisting of six activities such as development of spiritual quotient (SQ) , intuition, mental level, love-yourself attitude and emotional quotient (EQ).

The book is rich in contents and presentation. The cross-references given in the text are highly useful. Let the book find place not only in libraries but by the manpower in every organisation doing business of any kind at any level.