Tag Archives: management lessons

Westernized Education vs Indigenous Gurukul Education (Banasthali University)

This blogpost is a result of two recent instances I was exposed to.

Recently came across this LinkedIn post where the author adjudged westernized education to be ‘chaotic’ and ‘devoid of thinking out of the box’. If you go through the comments section, you would realize that most of them agree to the author’s thoughts. Isn’t it contradictory that most of us were trained as per westernized education methods, but today feel the need for indigenous Gurukul education?

Secondly, I was part of interview panel at my organization where we were interviewing fresh MBA graduates from one of the management colleges in Bangalore. We interviewed close to 25 candidates and hardly could identify 5 candidates who matched our expectations. No, not from technical point of view, but more from aptitude, presence of mind, decision making, logical reasoning aspects. It was a shocker for all four of us panelists that how could MBA graduates be lacking such basic skills even after being trained by Westernized Education, which is often considered to be superior than Gurukul education.

Well, my interpretation or rather take away from both instances was, increasingly people are feeling the heat of ‘westernized education’ and finding ways to inculcate essence of Gurukul education. The smallest step in that direction would be increasing importance of physical activities and practical training. In addition to these  Gurukul education also ensured youth were sensitized about one’s responsibility towards family, institution and society around. The worry that most of the professionals have these days is commercialization about education, which mostly results into delivery of sub-standard education and hence a large number of unemployable youth with fancy degrees adorning their name. This worry gets piled up into a huge heap and a burden on the society. It also affects the inner self of the candidates themselves.

Amidst all these corporatized educational institutions, there still exists a university which believes in the all-round development of youth. Its none other than Banasthali (Vanasthali) University, situated at around 60 kms from Jaipur. This all-women university was established in 1935 by Pandit Hiralal Shastri, the first chief minister of Rajasthan.

The university believes and has been offering ‘Panchmukhi Shiksha’. It simply translates into Five Fold Education – Moral, Intellectual, Practical, Aesthetical and Physical,  The sprawling university campus, comprehensive education, sports, personal development facilities, well-educated and well-motivated faculty members, disciplined student community ensure an envious Gurukul environment.

I had the privilege of conducting few interactive workshops with first year MBA participants, thanks to the opportunity that Prof. Harsh Purohit and Prof. Ankur Joshi. The MBA division of university is known as WISDOM – Women’s Institute for Studies in Development Oriented Management. This division has been successfully functional for last 20 years and has produced quality management professionals. The most prestigious contribution of the university has been Avani Chaturvedi, one of the first three women fighter pilots in the country. Our interactions always revolved around the increasing focus on Westernized education and the depleting Gurukul culture in the educational institutions. Its heart wrenching to know that even some of the premier educational institutions in the country have started to consider education as a high profit-making business, and thereby compromising on the basic premise of knowledge delivery.

In my two visits to Banasthali University and the interaction with their faculty members, students, I understood that it is one of the universities in India, that has successfully maintained the Gurukul culture. Its just not just the culture that fascinated me, but also the curriculum model. Banasthali University follows ‘Panchmukhi Shiksha’ – Five-fold education model. As per this model, students are trained on various aspects of life like – Moral, Intellectual, Practical, Aesthetical and Physical. The students at this university are exposed to every essential aspect of life and are prepared to face the World in the best manner and lead a meaningful life. The meaningfulness is not just with respect to oneself, but also to the society at large.

The academic coursework for management students at Banasthali University included some unique courses like Indian Ethos and Human Quality Development, Indigenous Management Systems. These distinctive courses ensured students extracted the management lessons from the Indian epics like Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata. It might sound insane that how could management lessons be derived from the age old epic stories. Let’s not forget that these days even Western Universities are focusing on learning from Mahabharata!

The need of the hour is of inclusive learning, which we (parents, students, policy makers, teachers) have missed to focus in the heed to learn from western education. Prof. Subhash Sharma, one of the key founding members of WISDOM at Banasthali University has very aptly emphasized the need of inclusive learning through his widely circulated book ‘Management in New Age: Western Windows Eastern Doors’. With the help of metaphors like doors and windows Prof. Subhash has beautifully explained that Indian traditional (Gurukul) education has always been inclusive in nature as we welcome our guests through doors, while the western education has been objective in nature, like we peep out of our windows to see outside. The learning needs to be a comprehensive mix of what we could learn from others and what we could learn from our basic roots.

I strongly believe Banasthali University has been oriented towards this mission in a dedicated manner. I hope more and more institutes in this country start focusing on inclusive and subjective learning rather than just westernized objective learning.

PS: This piece is in no way an endorsement for the University, but a realistic feeling expressed by me.

Jungle Book Movie 2016

10 Key Corporate Lessons from Jungle Book Movie

Is Jungle Book movie just kids’ movie? I thought so before entering the movie hall. But, once I walked out, I realized it had few learning for us adults as well. In fact, I could draw a lot of parallels between jungle situation and corporate environment. In each of the animal characters, I could visualize a type of person we often meet in our daily lives at work.

1) Register the tricks shared by mentors: The Jungle Book movie opens with the race between Bagheera-The Panther and Moghli, which Bagheera wins. Though Moghli is disappointed at losing the race, he ends up learning the key lesson about Dead Trees. Well, many of us would have assumed that shot being ‘just a perfect opening’, while little did we realized in the beginning that this lesson would play a crucial role in the climax of the movie. Moghli remembered the trick and leveraged it to win the battle against Sher Khan. It’s a classic learning for young professionals that they should not only learn the tricks shared by mentors, but also register them firmly in their minds. Who knows, those tricks might come to your rescue a decade later!

2) Show team spirit not only during good times but also during crisis: There were numerous instances in the Jungle Book movie where team spirit was displayed. We all enjoy our happy-go times in corporate celebrating each other’s birthdays, team accomplishments, etc. But, the key lesson the movie tries to drive is to maintain the team spirit even during crisis situations like the Water Truce instance or the final battle against Sher Khan, while all animals got together to fight the beast.

3) Look for the dependable savior around and hold on to them: Let’s admit, it’s tough to find such a mentor in today’s professional life. Yes, but its not impossible! We just have to be careful in evaluating people and not get swayed by the fancy degrees one has, or the higher numerical job experience one flaunts. More than these tangible elements, what we all look for in a dependable savior like Bagheera-The Panther, is a person whom we can trust at all times, and whom we can depend on relevant and valuable advice.

4) Beware of people who might deceive you: Oh, we all would have encountered one such person in our lives like Moghli had with Kaa-The Snake, in the Jungle Book movie. We need to be extra vigilant from such people who possess sharp skills to deceive people in their own game. Though, this is tough to have a skill, we should regularly train ourselves in evaluating people whom we interact and beware from such people.

5) Negotiate smartly: Corporate life is all about negotiations with clients / colleagues / superiors. The Jungle Book movie beautifully exhibited couple of trade-off situations – Baloo-The Bear’s negotiation with Moghli to get him honey from high rocks, King Louie’s negotiation with Moghli to get him Red Flower (fire), Sher Khan’s negotiation to get him Moghli himself. Only one of these three negotiations materialized, while the other two had to meet fatal end. Negotiation is one of the key skills that modern day professionals are expected to have, irrespective of the job profile they are in. We professionals need to gradually inculcate this art and excel at it.

 6) Avoid stereotyping: Just because few men caused fire in the jungle, Sher Khan-The Tiger assumed Moghli’s father also to destroy the jungle. Sher Khan-The Tiger, in the Jungle Book movie attacked Moghli’s father and killed him just as he had stereotype about all human beings. We often stereotype people based on their caste, religion, college etc. Its a great lesson for all of us to avoid stereotyping and judge the situation based on its merit.

7) Capitalize on limited resources: The Jungle Book beautifully showed how Moghli made the most of limited resources that were available to him. Many a times in the corporate we face situations where resources are limited and we have a steep milestone to be achieved. One should not put down the towel citing limited resources as a reason, but should work around them and achieve the end objective.

8) Don’t aspire for false pride: There is a huge difference between aspiring for false pride and working towards success relentlessly. King Louie – The Bandar King in Jungle Book movie aspired to become powerful by claiming the red flower (fire), as he thought it to be the key ingredient of being powerful. Success doesn’t come easily and it definitely doesn’t come from imitating the other’s tricks. Even if you imitate you got to understand the relevance of those tricks in your situations. We need to craft our own success path instead of trying to find shortcuts from other’s success.

9) Avoid over-confidence: Sher Khan-The Tiger in the Jungle Book movie had enormous over confidence about this strength. He thought he would easily win over the young kid. However, the battle was won by the kid. Many of us tend to be over confident once we reach the zenith of our career. This learning mostly applies to all senior leaders who think they have achieved their highest point in the career and can’t be brought down. Well, it’s a big mistake. One should never underestimate the younger generation and their capabilities to surpass us.

10) Show loyalty: In the Jungle Book movie, though Moghli realized that he didn’t belong to the wolves race, he chose to stay with them. As soon as his life was in danger, he could have easily moved to the village and saved his life. But, he chose to fight the situation and always considered himself to be one amongst the other animals in the jungle.  We professionals too need to show our loyalty towards our organizations. However, the key aspect of loyalty is that it should flow from both sides. Like, in the Jungle Book movie, even animals showed love and respect to Moghli. Similarly, in reality organizations need to respect and appreciate their employees and not treat them just as replaceable resources!

Usually in such movies (like Life of Pi), we appreciate the cinematography, while most of us ignore the message that the movie makers are trying to convey. While I was watching the movie, I could relate lot of characters to people around me in corporate and personal situations.

I hope you would find these lessons to be useful. Did you have any other lesson from the movie? Please share in the comments section below.