Indian industrial magnates are fighting American recession, in their own style! — By donating astronomical sums to their Alma Mater, Harvard Business School. Is this a beginning of the rat race amongst the bigwigs of Indian industry, to steal the limelight in philanthropy? Others may follow suit provided they have attended any such educational institutions. Mind you, it has got to be a foreign-based institution for satisfying their ego!
This seems to the month of history for India. History in several sports events has been created in the recent Commonwealth Games held at New Delhi. The feats of the cricket ‘historian’ Sachin Tendulkar are well-known. Ratan Tata’s donation of $50 million is the largest international donation in the 102-year history of Harvard. He is the Chairman of Tata Sons Ltd. Recently he met Harvard President Drew Faust and Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria, presumably for handing over the instrument for the amount of this huge donation.
Tata has trounced the feat of Anand Mahindra, head of India’s Mahindra Group, who donated to the same institution $10 million, a few days back. Mahindra took his undergraduate and master’s degree in this institution. Tata was honored with the highest honor of the School in the year 1975, the Alumni Achievement Award.
Indian born dean of the School, Nohria hailed this as historic gift. He said his “focus will be on business ethics”, and like the avowed assertion of most of the business magnates,business ethics, is dear to his heart. He stood for this principle “during the financial crisis”.
Whether this donation by Ratan Tata falls under the classification of business ethics, in the light of overall social and economic conditions in India, is an issue worth examining by the think-tanks of Harvard.
Dear Ratan Tata, think! You are on a wrong note when you are about to retire. Who made you what you are today? It is your business acumen, even before you did a managerial course at Harvard. Your illustrious predecessor JRD Tata was not a product of Harvard, I suppose! You got the unstinted support from your brilliant top and middle level officers and dedicated employees. Do you want a simple individual like me to convince you that funds are desperately needed here in India to provide the elementary education to millions and millions of poor children, who lack everything– food, clothing, shelter and education?
There are ways to say thanks. It need not be through donation of a big sum. You may say that what you have done is for self-satisfaction. Even self-satisfaction has a measuring rod. You could have instituted certain scholarships for covering the educational expenses for students from poor countries, to give Harvard business excellence a chance to percolate in the countries where it is needed.
Instead of donating to Harvard, create a Harvard here in India.
Wise people of the West are veering round to the view that the Management Techniques elucidated by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita are far superior. The teachings in Harvard seem to be kindergarten stuff as compared to the profound teachings in this spiritual text. Find it difficult to believe? Read a publication from USA “What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School”, by Mark McCormack. He writes, “My main purpose in writing this book is to fill in many of the gaps – the gaps between a business school education and the street knowledge that comes from day-to-day experience of running a business and managing people.”
I would sum up it thus. “This is one wrong step by Ratan Tata, before his retirement. He knows well that there are millions of children in India, undernourished, underprivileged, and uneducated. I have already stated and I repeat, to prove his love for the institution he could have set up a series of scholarships for brilliant students from poor countries. But for the highest regard that I have for him as an extraordinary individual, I am inclined to say that he has insulted this country, by donating a huge sum, where it is not needed”.(1) When it is not necessary to donate, it is necessary not to donate.
(1) Comments by Chandrakant Mallya-15-10-2010