Software, Swamiji and Social Business

Executive Summary:

The following project attempts to make popular Swami Vivekananda’s ideas even to those people who are not at all interested in spirituality through an opportunity in the ERP software market, thereby give the massive magnanimous scale to implementation of Swamiji’s ideas; lead the Indian business culture from proprietor concept to company concept, thereby solve the business expansion issue and employment problem of our country; and finally this project attempts to relieve the householder devotees from their worldly jobs, assemble them into a social business organization and deploy them full time to the service of Swamiji’s, thereby tremendously accelerating their spiritual growth.

After ERP software is implemented in an organization, lots of post implementation problems arise. The company who offers the software also has to sort out these problems. Along with the software product they also have to provide this service till a stable state of smooth functioning is reached. These problems have their source in the organization culture of the company. And solving these problems requires bringing about changes in the organization culture to a new state.

Now in India proprietorship is the prevalent business culture. And this prohibits building of organization, expansion of business and large scale employment creation. Swamiji while in America was wonderstruck with a very different business culture- the company culture. He studied in great detail this new concept and implemented this while forming the Ramakrishna Mission organization. It is due to this culture, amongst many others, that the Mission has grown into multinational stature.

Now, this culture should have permeated from the mission to the business houses of our country. But for various problems this did not happen till now. The current project discovers an opportunity in the ERP market to solve this problem. The ERP software will act as a vehicle to carry Swamiji’s organizational cultural ideas to the business houses. This software will make the way through which Swamiji’s thoughts will penetrate into the economy.

Introduction

Swami Vivekananda once said: There runs an economic struggle through every religious struggle. This animal called man has some religious influence, but he is guided by economy. Individuals are guided by something else, but the mass of mankind never made a move unless economy was involved. You may preach a religion that may not be perfect in every detail, but if there is an economic background to it, and you have the most ardent champions to preach it, you can convince a whole country. Whenever any religion succeeds, it must have economic value. Thousands of similar sects will be struggling for power, but only those who meet the real economic problem will have it. (Complete Works Vol-1, Page-454)

This project attempts to discover how to use software for popularizing Swami Vivekananda’s organization culture ideas even to those people who are not at all interested in spirituality. Thus give the massive magnanimous scale to implementation of Vivekananda’s economic and spiritual vision for regeneration of India.

All through the Vivekananda literature we find:

Once he (Swamiji) said to my grandmother that “he had had the greatest temptation of his life in America.” She liked to tease him a bit and said, “Who is she, Swami?” He burst out laughing and said, “Oh, it is not a lady, it is Organization!” (Life of Vivekananda, Vol-1, page- 447, 444)

Vivekananda lingered in Chicago for several months after the great Parliament, studying many questions relating to schools and the material advancement of civilization. He became a keen student of massive, towering places of industry. (Life of Vivekananda, Vol-1, page- 447)

Swamiji before forming the Ramakrishna Mission organization again and again expressed from America these ideas through letters to his disciples and monastic brothers-

The secret of success of the westerners is the power of organization & combination. That is only possible with mutual trust and cooperation and help. The faculty of organization is entirely absent in our nature, but this has to be infused. Be always ready to concede to the opinions of your brethren and try always to conciliate. That is the whole secret. (Complete Works Vol-8, Page-328; CW-5, Page-37)

It is not at all in our nature to do work conjointly. It is to this that our miserable condition is due. Learn to work unitedly for others. This is the great need of our country. (CW-6, Page-349; CW-5, Page-79)

Swamiji explained a Rig-Veda sloka like this: “Be thou all of one mind, be thou all of one thought, for in the days of yore, the gods being of one mind enabled to receive oblations”. That the gods can be worshipped by men is because they are of one mind. The whole secret lies in organization, coordination of wills. Bring them all into one focus. (Lectures from Colombo to Almora, page-230)

He who knows how to obey knows how to command. Learn obedience first. Among the western nations, with such a high spirit of independence, the spirit of obedience is equally strong. We are all of us self important— which never produces any work. (CW-6, Page-361)

Again, we find Swamiji saying to one of his disciples through letters: The secret of westerners’ success is this power of combination, the basis of which is mutual trust and appreciation. Cultivate the virtue of obedience, but you must not sacrifice your own faith. No centralization is possible unless there is obedience to superiors. No great work can be done without this centralization of individual forces. Learn to work unitedly for others. This is the great need of our country. (CW-6, Page-349; CW-5, Page-79)

Five persons in this country (USA) will join their heads together and say, “We will have a joint-stock company”, and in five hours it is done; in India they could not do it in fifty years; they are so unpractical in matters like this. (CW-2, Page-24)

You need a little business faculty. Now what you want is organization. I am determined to make you decent workers thoroughly organized. (CW-6, Page-361)

Reports by renowned organizations like GEM, OECD & Gov of India also validate this problem:

  1. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report of 2002 says:

India is 9th in GEM Survey of entrepreneurial countries. It is Highest among 28 countries in necessity based entrepreneurship, with 5th from the lowest in opportunity based entrepreneurship.

  1. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Economic survey of India 2007 Report says:

Employment in firms with more than 10 employees account for only around 3.75% of total employment. [While for USA it is 60%] Indeed India has a much smaller proportion of employment in enterprises with 10 or more employees than any OECD Country.

  1. Gov of India Annual Survey of Industries (2010-11) report says:                                                                          Proprietorship business have 1,05,999 no of factories (62%) with Rs 1,51,630 crore capital (7%) deploying 2,785,000 employees (29%) with average salary being Rs 51,184                                                                                          Private Companies have 64,080 no of factories (38%) with Rs 19,62,899 crore capital (93%) deploying 6,707,000 employees (71%) with average salary being Rs 96,055

These Reports reveal:

Indians have entrepreneurial capacity, as revealed by the 9th Rank in GEM Survey of entrepreneurial countries. But our people mostly fail in combined and conjoint action, as revealed by OECD report of very low % of total employment in large firms with more than 10 employees. The GOI Report of Large % of Proprietorship business also proves our lacking of the combined and conjoint action skills.

Very low % of Productive Capital in the Proprietorship business proves that they are mostly small scale units, and with the proprietorship concept it is difficult to build big business organizations. This is also proved by the following Gov of India Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Annual Report 2010-11 which says: 90% of enterprises in the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises sector are proprietary enterprises, 4% are partnership and 2.7% are run by private companies.

And finally, Low % of employees, in spite of large number units in the proprietary business, and the low salary there, proves the pathetic employment scenario in our country because of our lacking of combined and conjoint skills of working.

It is for this reason that after globalization of our economy a huge number of jobs got created in India due to the emergence of large number of small companies. But many of the newly created jobs have neither been able to provide a minimum standard of living nor provide adequate social protection. Indeed, some argue that the newly created jobs are often ‘bad’ jobs, locking people into a vicious circle of low pay, high risk and insufficient prospects to climb the social ladder.

The biggest obstacle to implementation of Swami Vivekananda’s vision:

Now, in the way to implementation of Swami Vivekananda’s vision the biggest obstacle is that people are not ready to listen to Swamiji. Spirituality acts as a repellent to them and this obstacle seems insurmountable. But after many years finally by god’s grace, an excellent opportunity has arisen to overcome this seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

Just like the changes in political scenario leading to the 2nd world war created the opportunity for India’s freedom; similarly changes in the ERP software market scenario has created this great opportunity. According to Gartner, the American market research firm headquartered in Stamford, United States, ERP software market in India is expected to touch USD 538 Million by 2017 from USD 178 million in 2013. According to Gartner the trend in India is due to the Indian SMEs adopting SaaS based ERP for their companies.  It is this huge opportunity which holds the key solution to our obstacle.

ERP software market opportunity and solution to the problem:

ERP business management software was initially conceived to run on large scale enterprises, but that market has almost exhausted now. On the other hand, SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are increasingly getting motivated to introduce ERP for their survival and growth through improved organizational performance. And therefore many ERP vendors have been moving their attention toward SMEs and providing simpler and cheaper solutions in terms of software product alone.

But software alone cannot guarantee improved organizational performance and good returns because software alone cannot make organizations and managers more effective unless they are accompanied by right values and behavioral patterns. Optimal organizational performance is achieved by jointly optimizing both the social and technical systems. Firms that support their technology investments with investments in organization culture alone receive superior returns. This is where I traced the opportunity to implement Swami Vivekananda’s organizational culture ideas. People will purchase ERP software, and organizational cultural ideas of Swamiji will follow that.

Now, to target the SMEs ERP vendors are cutting their prices. At the same time to keep their profitability intact they are providing only the software solution and no organizational culture support. As we have seen, to improve organizational performance and generate superior returns, both the components are needed. So if a company can provide both the software product and Organizational Culture service at the same price, that company is going to rule the market. And this can be achieved if the corporate tax factor is eliminated by following a non-profit social business model. Thus, ERP software will act as a vehicle to carry Swamiji’s organizational cultural ideas to the industries. This software will make the way through which Swamiji’s thoughts will penetrate into the economy.

This is how we can achieve the difficult feat of making popular Swami Vivekananda’s ideas even among those people who are not at all interested in spirituality, thus give the massive magnanimous scale to implementation of Vivekananda’s economic and spiritual vision for regeneration of India.

Finally, this project will also unleash the tremendous latent power of householder devotees by organizing them into a body and deploying them full time for the cause of Swamiji’s mission. Due to the two limitations of requirement of money and partial renunciation they are mostly unorganized and work part time for Swamiji; while working full time for some other cause thereby retarding their full potential of spiritual growth. This project will solve both the problems by arranging for good salaries and a spiritual organization atmosphere to work in; thus organizing them into a dynamo to work wholeheartedly for the cause of Dharma, while also maintaining their other responsibilities.

How this will happen:

ERP is an acronym for Enterprise Resource Planning software. ERP integrates all the different functions of business like Finance, Marketing, Production, Human Resource, Sales, Shipping and payment etc. it also interconnects all employees throughout the organization from top to bottom.

It does so by maintaining a common database which facilitates sharing data across the various departments like manufacturing, purchasing, sales, accounting, etc and information flow all through the hierarchy. All other special purpose software like financial software, production software is connected to this and they place their output to this common system.

When this ERP is implemented various types of human resource problem start arising. The great effect of software is that it interconnects people throughout hierarchy. Prior to ERP implementation work flows in a linear loop fashion. But after ERP implementation work pattern becomes star network like. And due to this work efficiency increases to great heights. But what if the people are not willing to work together or unable to work together. Internal conflict, incompatibility of work etc could become a big hindrance to achievement of work efficiency.

Also the availability of amount of information determines the decision making capability and therefore the power a person holds in an organization. With the implementation of ERP this dynamics gets changed. Or is deliberately changed to increase decision making speed and therefore efficiency of organization. This gives rise to various interpersonal issues among employees across hierarchies. Again this becomes a problem in achieving efficiency. All this problems keeps on arising after ERP implementation. And these are addressed on an on-going basis till things settle down to a new order.

To solve these problems the ‘Peeled Onion Model’ of organization culture is used extensively. At the visual levels different signs, messages, pictures etc are put up. At the deeper level norms and values are challenged through discussion and counseling. And at the deepest level basic beliefs and assumptions are questioned and a new state of order is tried to reach through consensus.

During all these stages the sayings, deeds and utterances of the great noble personalities are used extensively to register new basic beliefs. So this is the opportunity where Swamiji and also other organizer sages can be brought out and made popular across the length and breadth of the country.

This is how this project plans to make popular Swami Vivekananda’s ideas even to those people who are not at all interested in spirituality, thereby give the massive magnanimous scale to implementation of Swamiji’s ideas; lead the Indian business culture from proprietor concept to company concept, thereby solve the business expansion issue and employment problem of our country; and finally this project attempts to relieve the householder devotees from their worldly jobs, assemble them into a social business organization and deploy them full time to the service of Swamiji’s, thereby tremendously accelerating their spiritual growth.

Appeal to Devotees

After completing engineering in 2008, I started working in Honeywell, a Fortune 100 mnc company. While working in the outsourcing projects, I was moved to pity by seeing the working conditions, remuneration and future prospects of employees in various local Indian companies all over the country. I resigned from Honeywell in 2010 and started thinking very deeply over the problem. I referred to various reports by renowned organizations like OECD, GEM, Gov of India and books by famous authors like Narayan Murthy, Abdul Kalam etc. I also referred to Swami Vivekananda literature and I was wonderstruck upon seeing that Swamiji has already identified the problem and come up with a solution a century ago. But alas! It is still not implemented.

Since then I am looking for an opportunity to implement Swamiji’s solution. I joined 1.5 year later in 2012 Indian Institutes of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur to pursue MBA so that if I get the opportunity I can go ahead with the implementation. For two years I could not discover any such opportunity. After completion of the course, by god’s grace, I discovered this opportunity.

But from this point I cannot proceed alone. I have got a few friends with whom I am working together. But to make this huge plan a success more people are required. Therefore, I appeal to all the devotees of Ramakrishna Dev to come ahead and form this social business organization. I have also thought a name for this organization, inspired by the following sloka from Upanishads: SAHANAU FOUNDATION, where the Sanskrit words ‘Saha nau’ means ‘us together’. You can also suggest for a better name.

I appeal all the devotees of Swamiji to join the Sahanau Movement. Below is my email id and phone number. Please contact me if you have any queries and you want to be a part of this Movement.

With Warm Regards,

Naveen Prasad Dutta

E mail:                   naveen.iiest@outlook.com ; Naveen.besu@gmail.com

Contact no:        9831157491; 8116342167

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