Introduction Not so long ago, there was this real story about the late K. Kamaraj, the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in the true Gandhian mould who lived a life based on strict values with no compromises on any small thing. The narrative was from a real experience. Even when Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister of India, Kamaraj was the Chief Minister in Tamil Nadu. He had such a celebrated name for honesty and integrity. Both leaders were on tour to a place that was very near where Kamaraj lived with his old mother. When Kamaraj wanted to introduce his mother to Nehru, the latter immediately agreed. Though there was the police vehicle closely following them, Nehru was aghast when Kamaraj directed the driver to stop at a place where Nehru could see some people working in agricultural fields. Kamaraj called out to an old woman who came running and enquired about his health. Kamaraj was seen talking something in Tamil to the old lady. He was so keen to know why Kamaraj spent time in talking to the old lady. Kamaraj turned around and quietly introduced that old lady as his mother. Nehru was speechless. He could never believe what he saw.
Every second of Kamaraj 's life was captured in the press at that point in time. He was so powerful in Congress. When the post of Prime Minister came on a platter to him, he refused the post. He did so since he did not know English. He chose Indira Gandhi as the PM of India after Nehru 's demise and the rest is history.
Be that as it may, the aforesaid story, repeated in history books in Tamil, can be found to positively influence youngsters in Tamil Nadu even today. Volumes have been written about the "padikkatha methai" (the genius without any educational qualifications).
Values such as honesty and integrity stand the test of time for centuries and for generations. No wealth can bring fame. No cunningness shown in adopting short cuts to making money can bring anyone fame. All values a) Serve as role models for millions b) Infuse hope and optimism based on solid evidence c) Provide alternatives to economic models d) Help generate healthy debates on continuity of values and e) Have wide economic implications.
Serve as role models for millions Decades after his lifetime, Mahatma Gandhi is hotly debated; films are still made on him in many Indian languages. A director had won an Oscar for a film in English decades ago and this film had a profound impact on audiences all over the world. Jawaharlal Nehru was the founder of Modern India. We still complain of the negligible contribution made by the public sector, but not many know that Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) provides power at a reasonable cost to millions of people directly and indirectly. At that point in time, the private sector in India did not have any money. The capital formulation in the economy was very low. Nehru went on record that the Indian Public Sector would attain the "commanding heights of the economy".
Even today, there are excellently managed power sector companies in the private sector like BHEL, NTPC, NLC, IOL and so on. The employees were paid decent wages, but not the highest that were and are paid in the Indian private sector. Today, there is an entire generation of public sector managers who are actually joining the private sector in various fields; the Indian private sector has had huge benefits from their rich experience. All this progress would not have been possible without the Vision of Nehru.
Leaders of the class of Nehru and Kamaraj are so rare today. This is the leadership crisis in India, which has a lot of economic and social implications. We just do not have the ideal role models at all.
Infuse hope and optimism based on solid evidence Leaders who have a big vision, combined with honesty and integrity always prove successful in infusing hope and optimism in millions of people. India witnessed a massive surge from a predominantly agricultural society to a rapidly changing industrial society and the credit for this should go to Nehru and his team. They built modern India. The first two five year plans were instrumental in the rapid growth of the Indian economy and the various institutions like the Nationalized banks and the LIC. Due to historical reasons, the solid evidence of overall growth was seen only because of the vision of Nehru and his optimism in taking India forward. There was solid evidence that the massive companies created during that phase laid the foundation of modern India. Leaders with tremendous values make things happen on such a large scale.
Provide alternatives to economic models We commonly know only the public sector or the private sector as engines of growth. But it took a superb leader called Kurien who created the white revolution with the creation of a massive cooperative organization called the National Dairy Development Board. To this day, this organization is instrumental in creating gainful employment to millions of farmers, who have been able to not only lead very good lives but also contribute to the white revolution, at Anand in Gujarat.
Help generate healthy debates on continuity of values It is not without any reason that the lives of great business leaders like Ratan Tata, Narayamurthy and Azim Premji, who have proven values of honesty, integrity, punctuality, and dependability, among such other values, have generated a good amount of debates on issues such as Corporate Governance. WIPRO and Infosys Technologies are held as the most responsible organizations, with excellent records of service to society, through their Corporate Service Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, far in excess of the mandated amounts by law.
What makes these leaders click? Simple. In a world where business ethics is almost forgotten, here are some leaders who have the moral authority to talk on a wide range of success, thereby contributing to healthy debates on how business ethics can still work. For example, any small deviation in ethical values is never tolerated in any of these companies, and the employee is sacked immediately. Azim Premji braved a strike for over six months, over the reinstatement of a particular leader who was sacked for having wrongfully claimed an amount of just Rs.20/-. The employees finally gave in, when they realized that Azim Premji would not tolerate corruption in any form. He had dared to take on the State Government of Karnataka on many an occasion and has refused to pay any bribe. Today, these leaders are the biggest opinion leaders on a wide variety of issues and they are now being invited by the global companies to share their experiences.
Have wide economic implications We can see the wider implications of ethical values. Banks would give us a good rating. Our neighbors will respect us. If we do things the most ethical way and pay all our taxes, the chances of the economic benefits and the Government schemes reaching the poorest of the poor are enhanced to a much greater degree. We have a good deal of evidence to prove that ethical behavior on the part of individuals and companies has the ripple effect of offering more opportunities to a far bigger and more inclusive mass of people to enjoy better lives at all times. The TVS group of companies adopts a "family" approach by honoring every single stakeholder like employees, suppliers and the wider local society in which they operate, all over the world. Their business models are all based on the highest values. The rest is there for all to see.
Conclusion Values are timeless. They can always teach us new things and new perspectives in our lives. We just need to lead ethical lives and also look for inspiration from good leaders, in the wider society we live in. The lessons can be very useful indeed, at any point in time.
Nice article from the author. A leader has to lead the people by example. If he leads them in a proper way the followers will also follow the same. That is why people always say practice and advise. This quality is very important to a leader. He may be a CEO of the company or he may be a CM of a State, he should follow what he speaks, then only people will respect him.
We all know about our great leader Lal Bahadur Shastri who lead a simple life and showed the whole community of political leaders, the importance of values in life. He was not having his own house even when he was the Prime Minister. Such is the importance he has given to values and ethics in his life.
These days we will very rarely find such leaders and even we may not find. But the life history of such great people should be taught to all the children from the beginning itself and we should teach them the importance of values in our life.
The leaders of the past were idealists. They had role models who were unadulterated. Their predecessors were guiding and advising them as lighting lamps.
What is the situation today? Which leader is there who can be projected as a role-model? India is suffering from a shortage of good leaders. Who is willing to struggle to live life by sticking to the core values? The current generation wants to live a great life without suffering. We are responsible for that.
The vast majority of current leaders are from the category I have pointed out earlier or their spokesmen.