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Study likens biz gurus to freedom fighters

Management consultant Sandeep Singh has proved that there is a lot in common between those who build businesses and those who strive for political and spiritual strength, reports Sunita Aron.

business Updated: Jan 18, 2008 21:42 IST
Sunita Aron
Sunita Aron
Hindustan Times

What's common between tycoons, freedom fighters and spiritual leaders? Power, organization and personal strength, says a new research-based book.

In the connection between the three factors lies a new tale woven by management consultant Sandeep Singh, who has painstakingly proved that there is a lot in common between those who build businesses and those who strive for political and spiritual strength.

In Singh's scheme of things, former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was pursuing the principle of core competence – an expression popularized by management guru CK Prahlad – when he coined the slogan "

Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan"

to focus on food and defence. And, like Prahlad, he was looking for fortune at the "bottom of the pyramid" in seeking support from the masses.

Management principles are common across disciplines, says Singh, who compares spiritual thinker Sri Aurobindo with Peter Senge, who wrote

The Fifth Discipline

, that earned him the title of "the New Guru" of corporate work.

Singh believes many freedom fighters were a lot like business tycoons – only, they chose to fight for freedom than pursue wealth creation. "India did produce great industrialists, scientists and mathematicians during British rule. But did most of the talent opt to get into the 'business of freedom' rather than the 'business of profit'?," Singh wonders.

A former student of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, Singh, who airs his views in a forthcoming book, is innovating like some of the people he writes about. Instead of courting publishers, he has asked people to become "venture capitalists" by investing Rs 100 on the book – in return for acknowledgement in the book priced at Rs 150.

Singh points out that Sri Aurobindo emphasised the need for physical, mental, moral and above all spiritual strength, while Senge says, "To master organizational learning, organizations need to harmonize within their members and themselves five key 'component technologies', namely, personal mastery, mental moods, building shared vision, team learning and systems thinking."

Singh also quotes freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak's passion for


(national goods), boycott (of foreign goods),


(self-rule) and national eduation and likens it to Irish management expert Charles Handy's four archetypes of organization culture, in which different cultures are based on roles, tasks or persons.