Opinion

Transforming India & Indian Business

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I am inspired to write this column for Business Mandate after witnessing the resounding success of the recent presentation of Ritesh Andre, Spokesperson for Mumbai Dabbawalas, and our associate Raja Atmamayan, Vice President, ASCENT Transformation Ventures, Coimbatore. MMA reported that two thousand viewers tuned in for a Sunday session and many provided positive feedback on the session. It is hoped that viewers would consider making a donation to the Dabbawalas. MMA is to be felicitated and thanked for this success.
The viewers learned in the presentation that exemplary performance is possible when and only when the level of internal excellence is high. In the case of Dabbawalas, theirs is a Six Sigma operation and the Dabbawalas are Varkaris, intensely devoted to customers and whom they consider as God.
Internal excellence and emotional excellence are two sides of the same coin. When emotional excellence rises, the level of internal excellence too will rise.
Pursuit of high levels of emotional excellence is a well-posed scientific problem. Emotions can be measured, and the process with which to enhance emotional excellence is meditation, or more generally yoga, known for thousands of years. Since emotions can be measured, progress can be audited.
As evidence on the need for emotional excellence, Gallup published a survey of a large number of business units across many industries in 2004 finding that there were more than 22 million workers—in the United States alone—who were extremely negative or “actively disengaged.” This rampant negativity was costing the US economy between $250 and $300 billion every year in lost productivity alone. Gallup estimated that when workplace injury, illness, turnover, absences and fraud were added, the cost could exceed $1 trillion, annually. In fact, they found that negativity appeared to have spiked across the world in recent years. Reporting on Gallup’s 2019 Global Emotions Survey, BBC said people around the world were angry, stressed and worried. Gallup interviewed 150,000 people in 140 countries for their 2019 Global Emotions Report and found that a third of them were stressed while one in five experienced sadness or anger. In this survey, the United States was 39th most positive country and India ranked 93rd. Clearly, negativity is a serious issue for India Inc., as well.
Negativity and negative emotions are synonymous. Negative emotions lead to stress while positivity attenuates stress. Successful pursuit of higher levels of emotional excellence will bring a myriad of additional benefits. They include:
• Health and wellness. Negative emotions lead to stress, a root cause of many serious illnesses including cancer. Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn has shown that high levels of stress shorten telomeres (the protective caps at the ends of our chromosomes) and accelerate aging. Medical researchers have also shown that meditation lengthens telomeres and slows aging.
• Leadership. Harvard Business Review has carried numerous reports on emotional intelligence. Researchers reported in HBR that intuition and self-awareness are critical components of leadership. Intuition is immediate cognition without the benefit of the five senses and the rational mind. Yogic processes can enhance intuition to a point it becomes possible to do numerous tasks blind-folded, provided training is given at a young age. For adults, meditation is a route to enhanced intuition.
• Less discord and violence. Improved interpersonal relationships, less discord and violence are natural consequences of higher levels of emotional excellence.
• Creativity and innovativeness. Pursuit of higher levels of emotional excellence is a pathway to connect to the source where all creation happens. India itself has provided ample evidence of such creation. One famous example from Tamil Nadu is S. Ramanujan. Barely a high school graduate, Ramanujan would formulate complex mathematical theorems and their proofs without knowing the steps in between. He told his mentor, G. H. Hardy at Cambridge, creation happened when he connected to the source via a prayer to his Goddess.

Emotional intelligence is an intellectual inquiry to fundamentally understand the importance of emotions within oneself and in others, and it indicates the capacity to be aware of one’s own emotions and intuit the feelings of others with obvious implications for decision-making.


Progress in America
Ancient India is the home of emotional excellence, but you would find it interesting that America is recognizing its importance independent of any scriptures.
In 1990, University of New Hampshire psychologist, John D. Mayer and his friend and a fellow psychologist, Peter Salovey, now President of Yale, coined the term “Emotional Intelligence”. By then, the importance of IQ was well-known globally but the profound implications of emotional intelligence or EQ (emotional quotient) had not yet been understood in the West.
Emotional intelligence is an intellectual inquiry to fundamentally understand the importance of emotions within oneself and in others, and it indicates the capacity to be aware of one’s own emotions and intuit the feelings of others with obvious implications for decision-making.
Relatedly, Daniel Goleman first published the best-seller, Emotional Intelligence in 1995. That book sold four million copies and was on the New York Times best-seller list for a year-and-a-half. According to HBR, Goleman’s articles on emotional intelligence are some of the most enduring in their publication.
Goleman says in his HBR article, “IQ and technical skills are important but emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership.”
Goleman goes on to say in his tenth anniversary edition of Emotional Intelligence: “In 2002, UNESCO began a world-wide initiative to promote social and emotional learning (SEL), sending a statement to ministries of education in 140 countries.” He writes that he was most gratified to note that tens of thousands of schools worldwide offered children SEL. He says that in the United States, many districts and even entire states currently make SEL a curricular requirement mandating that just as students must attain a certain level of competence in math and language, so too should they master these essential skills for living.
The prestigious Business Roundtable released a New Statement redefining the purpose of a corporation in 2019. The 181 CEOs of some of the largest companies in the world who signed the New Statement, committed to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders-suppliers, employees, customers, communities and shareholders, away from the shareholders-first ideology. A little reflection should convince the reader that enhancing internal excellence is the only route for one group of stakeholders to work for the benefit of all stakeholders.
The progress Americans have made in realizing the importance of emotional intelligence is laudable. However, as important as an intellectual inquiry to fundamentally understand the importance of emotions, emotional intelligence by itself cannot bring about the required positive changes from within.
Emotional excellence, the term I have coined, is the wherewithal of how to bring about the required positive changes from within and there is only one way to achieve this feat and it is through meditation, or more generally, yoga. No amount of training, rules, regulations, and policies, top-notch quality initiatives, nor intellectual pursuits will cut the mustard.
Alarmed by the aggressive pursuits of China, India Inc., appears to be making concerted efforts to wean companies away from China to India. There is also a reported effort at Government reforms. Pursuit of external and internal excellence is essential for the success of these initiatives.

Pradeep B. Deshpande is Professor Emeritus and a former Chair of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Louisville. He is also President of Six Sigma and Advanced Controls, Inc.