| Swami Atmapriyananda on Day I of the Management Week at British Council. Picture by Aranya Sen
Management Week at the British Council kicked off on a note of seeming contradictions. An inaugural address by Nazeeb Arif, secretary general, Indian Chamber of Commerce, was followed by a lecture by Swami Atmapriyananda, principal, Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandir.
Arif gave an upbeat, optimistic opinion about West Bengal, a state he views as being on the turnaround track, evidence of which could be found in the gems and jewellery park, which opened on Tuesday, and the soon-to-be unveiled toy park. Moving away from jute and tea, petrochemicals and automobiles were the industries to come a calling, he said. “The biggest problem was not having a shared vision… But today, that shared vision has come into place,” said Arif.
Swami Atmapriyananda’s talk, the first of a series of discussions on various aspects of management from November 18 to 22, was about “art of right living — is the paradigm of ancient wisdom too antiquated in this modern age of science and technology'” The principal, a physics scholar, explored ancient thought, relating it to modern management prescriptions.
The path to becoming great — not just good — he said, was in negating the ‘I’. This is the key to successful leaders who have turned around companies. It is the key to Sachin Tendulkar’s genius (when he forgets the pressures of the “nervous 90s” and of the ticking scoreboard and “just plays his natural game”). It is the secret to a poet’s — and a religious man’s — vision, smiled Swami Atmapriyananda.
That India has been lagging behind in terms of development is not because it lacks ideas, but because those ideas are not implemented. The inner world had occupied the “best minds” for centuries, neglecting the outer world. But the outer and the inner, he held, are one and the same.
What is real' What constitutes a real problem' To answer these questions, the monk asked his audience to think of a child whose balloon has burst. “To a mature adult, this does not seem a problem at all. But to a child, this is the only problem.”
Thus, he said, states of consciousness decide man’s perception. Just as a problem that manifests in a dream goes away as soon as the dreamer wakes up. By extension, inferred the teacher, “you can solve a problem or you can de-problemise a problem”.
The week will feature talks on market research, management education in the UK, effective selling, team building, career planning, customer relations and change management. On Saturday, Calcutta corporate heads will discuss how to “steer a company through economic downturn”.