Looking East

Indian Wisdom for Modern Management

by Sanjoy Mukherjee (Author)
©2022 Textbook LXII, 354 Pages
Series: Frontiers of Business Ethics, Volume 1000


The book is an exploration of the relevance of Indian classical wisdom in reorienting modern management. It highlights the urgent need for facilitating an internally directed spiritual dimension to business management, including management education as an alternative to instrumental rationality and extreme materialistic orientation in today’s profit-driven business world.
The book presents spirituality or enlightened consciousness as the essence of a transformational or rather transcendental leader to improve the quality of work-life within by creating a humane and enduring organizational culture. It does this by drawing inspiration from modern Indian leaders like Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda. It also offers insights into alternative sources and methods of learning in management and life from ancient Indian wisdom and selected European literature to infuse creativity, joy, meaning and purpose into work and life.
The book facilitates East-West dialogue on value-based holistic management in a globalized business scenario. In the modern business paradigm dominated by western management principles and practices, the book attempts to offer an Indian model of management founded on spirituality, human values and sustainability to deal with the alarming crises in a pandemic-stricken world by suggesting alternative ways of thinking and living for a sane, happy and sustainable future for both our planet and people.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Endorsements for the Book
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figure and Tables
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Prologue
  • Introduction
  • Part I Indian Ethos and Management
  • Chapter 1 Cooperatives as Alternative Form of Organization for CSR Effectiveness: Insights from Rabindranath Tagore
  • Chapter 2 Management and Liberal Arts: A Transformational Odyssey with Rabindranath Tagore
  • Chapter 3 Indian Management Philosophy
  • Chapter 4 Igniting Spirit in Business: Indian Insights
  • Chapter 5 Managerial Transformation for TQM: Indian Insights
  • Part II Spirituality and Leadership
  • Chapter 6 Spirituality, Mindfulness and Ethical Leadership: Indian Insights
  • Chapter 7 India, China and Beyond: Culture, Leadership and Human Development for Management
  • Chapter 8 Leading from the Head and Heart: Lessons from Swami Vivekananda
  • Chapter 9 New Light from Planets Afar: Leadership Journey with The Little Prince
  • Chapter 10 Dialogues from the Land of Love and Death
  • Part III Alternative Forms of Learning
  • Chapter 11 Cultural Diversity and Management Learning: A Study on Tagorean Leadership in Philosophy and Action
  • Chapter 12 Non-Conventional Entrepreneurial Learning: Spiritual Insights from India
  • Chapter 13 Creative Spirit in Management Education: Insights from Rabindranath Tagore
  • Chapter 14 Alternative Learning: A Voyage for Future Leadership
  • Chapter 15 Whither Wisdom? Exploration into Alternative Sources and Methods of Learning
  • Epilogue
  • Index
  • Series Index

←xii | xiii→


Over the past half century Management Studies have matured into a large and sprawling global discourse involving academics, managers, consultants and gurus. In its process of internationalization of modern management thought, American management theories and approaches have dominated the landscape. American style businesses, business schools, business degrees and business textbooks have proliferated around the world. This trend helped modern professional business management to become quickly available in many countries.

But the expansion of American business thinking came with many limitations that are becoming more apparent now. In the Anthropocene era, businesses face novel challenges of ecosystems collapse; climate change; biodiversity losses and species extinction; economic, social and gender inequalities; clean food-water-energy for all; health and well-being of communities, to name just a few. The need for understanding ‘management’ as a local indigenous social-ecological practice has always existed. Now it is urgent and unavoidable.

There are very few scholars who have attempted to connect modern management thought with traditional social and cultural concepts. This is a very tough task, because the ideology of management is quintessentially modernist and progressivist. It does not valorize traditional thought and in some ways may even be seen as purposively overcoming traditional (sometimes considered backward) thinking. Sanjoy Mukherjee is one of the few brave souls who for over two decades has been trudging the arduous and somewhat lonely road of integrating traditional wisdom into modern management thought.

Looking East brings together the fruits of twenty-five years of his labour of love – his love of Indian traditions and history, love of poetry and literature, love of iconic Indian writers like Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi. His papers establish the relevance of Indian spiritual wisdom, (Yoga-Vedanta Philosophy) to modern management principles ←xiii | xiv→and practices. They offer ethical and spiritual foundation for business management. He seeks to build an Indian model of management based on classical wisdom of India. The resulting collection is amazing, and will be valuable both to serious researchers who want to understand management as a culturally rooted phenomenon, and to managers who want to leverage their social cultural concepts for management functions.

I commend this book as a tribute to the work of Prof. S. K Chakraborty of IIM Calcutta, who back in 1974–1975, introduced me to accounting and control, and values-based management. He also influenced Sanjoy’s thinking deeply as a teacher and as a colleague for many years. Many of us IIMC alumni and professional managers who crossed S. K. C.’s path, learned to integrate values as an essential element of management. In this book Sanjoy has synthesized and codified a values based management that would make Prof. Chakraborty proud.

I hope this book will help readers to meditate on the deeper meanings and spiritual potential of management ideas, and not think of management only as an instrumental tool. The challenges ahead of us require a renaissance of management thinking. It will come only from continued and deeper integration of traditional cultural ideas with modern management. This book represents a strong step in that revival.

Dr Paul Shrivastava
Chief Sustainability Officer and
Director, Sustainability Institute
The Pennsylvania State University
State College, Pennsylvania, USA
Distinguished Alumnus
Indian Institute of Management Calcutta

10 September, 2020

←xiv | xv→


This book is a humble offering in acknowledgment of our infinite debt to the sages and seers (‘Rishi’) of India, more unknown than known, by virtue of whose ‘sadhana’ the perennial wisdom of India, our ‘Bharatvarsha’ (the land of eternal radiance), has been handed down to us. The offering is ‘our’ not mine only, considering the guidance and support from countless teachers, friends and well-wishers that made this project a reality.I begin this venture seeking the blessings of the great ancestors of my spiritual lineage, Brahmarshi Satyadev and Shrimat Narendranath Brahmachary (Founder, Dev Sangha, Deoghar, Jharkhand); the eternal spiritual triune of India - Shri Ramakrishna, Mother Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda; the profound philosopher Sri Aurobindo; and the Nobel Laureate creative genius Rabindranath Tagore.

At the outset, I express my deep gratitude to my old friend and respected senior academic Laszlo Zsolnai, Professor and Head, Business Ethics Center, Corvinus University of Budapest, who responded positively to the idea of collecting my published papers and articles during the last three decades into a book. Laszlo connected me promptly to Lucy Melville, Publishing Director, Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, Oxford, who agreed to the proposal of publication of this book under the ‘Fronters of Business Ethics’ Series of Peter Lang with Laszlo as the Series Editor. I am immensely grateful to Lucy for her unstinted support and encouragement during this project and also bearing with me for some delay due to times of personal turmoil because of the pandemic and otherwise. I am thankful to Dr Summauli Pyne (co-author of three chapters in this collection) of Sister Nivedita University, Kolkata and Professor Anindo Bhattacharjee (co-author of one chapter) of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai for willingly giving their consent in this publication. I also thank the original publishers (Springer, Sage, Tata McGraw Hill among others) of my chapters and articles for allowing me Reprint Permission in this new book.←xv | xvi→

The chapters in this book date back three decades covering my writings right from the beginning of my academic engagement. Hence the list of contributors to my mental and intellectual development is quite long. As I look back, I remember the silent inspiration stirred in me by my father late Paramesh Chandra Mookherjee, who gave me the first lessons in writing while in school from the daily the Editorial page of ‘The Statesman’, the most respected English newspaper in Calcutta those days. The love and affection that was showered on me in abundance by my beloved mother late Nani Mukherjee, herself a pioneer in child education, and my dear aunt late Mani Chowdhury, her eldest sister, imbibed in me the spirit to excel in life and work. This book has been dedicated to all three of them.

I also recall with awe and veneration the boundless love and inspiration I received from the philosopher and a leading exponent of the Tantras, Manoranjan Basu, also a spiritual adept with an elevated soul, who had inspired me first into writing while I was trying to assist him in his last and seminal work, ‘Science Consciousness Freedom’. The group of young people (most of them were my seniors), who were close to him, have always enriched me with their love and affection, thoughts and ideas on topics and issues ranging from spirituality, culture and so on, even to this day. I am indeed grateful to all of them – Dr Birendranath Das, Dipak Dasgupta, Amiya Kumar Majumdar, Mrityunjoy Chatterjee, Kriparam Dwivedi, Uttam and Indrani Basu and the two who had left us for their eternal abode – Debabrata Datta and Asis Kumar Majumdar.

The prolific written output of my respected teacher and mentor late Professor S. K. Chakraborty (Founder Convener, Management Centre for Human Values, IIM Calcutta), especially his commitment to regular disciplined writing and his lofty ideals of education, his institution building capacity were always an inspiration to me. Among the thinkers and scholars from abroad whose affection and advice had enriched me I cherish the memory of my association with Peter Pruzan (Professor Emeritus, Copenhagen Business School – ‘Brother Peter’ to me), Mary C. Gentile (Creator and Director, Giving Voice to Values, Professor of Business Ethics, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, USA – ‘Mother Mary’ to me), Luk Bouckaert (Emeritus Professor, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium), Bengt Gustavsson (Professor, School of Business, Stockholm ←xvi | xvii→University), Dipesh Chakraborty (Lawrence A Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, University of Chicago), Mike Thompson (Adjunct Professor, Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria), Knut J. Ims (Retired Professor, Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen) Prasad Kaipa (CEO of Kaipa Group, USA) and Samir Ranjan Chatterjee (Emeritus Professor, Curtin Business school, Perth) among many others.

I remember with gratitude the guidance and affection received from the principal supervisor of my doctoral thesis, the late Professor Sanat Kumar Mukherjee (former, Vice Chancellor, Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi and former Head, Department of Production Engineering, Jadavpur University). Among the esteemed Faculty who had taught me at IIM Calcutta, I must mention the valuable suggestions and advice received time to time from late Professor Satyesh Chakraborty, late Professor Saila K. Ghosh, late Professor Amitava Bose (former Director, IIM Calcutta), Professor Gouranga P Chattopadhyay, Professor Surendra Munshi, Professor Raghabendra Chattopadhyay and Professor Leena Chatterjee. They had all contributed towards shaping my thoughts and writing ability.

Among my friends from the Indian academics, I would like to make a very special mention of my beloved friend and former colleague Professor Debashis Chatterjee (Director, IIM Kozhikode) and my dear ‘Dada’ (like my elder brother) Professor Ramnath Narayanswamy (Distinguished Professor, FLAME, Pune and former Professor, IIM Bangalore) for their love, warmth and affection. I was always impressed with their outstanding competence in communication – both written as well as oral. I fondly remember my deep friendship and rich cultural as well as intellectual association, right from our days as classmates in Mechanical Engineering Department, Jadavpur University, with Professor Sarit Kumar Das, Institute Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras and also former Director of IIT Ropar. I must also thank Professor Subhash Sharma, Director, Indus Business Academy, Bangalore and Professor Madhumita Chatterjee, Director, Acharya Bangalore Business School for being such good and supporting friends. I also thank Professor Ranjan Mitter (presently Secretary, Sri Aurobindo Institute of Culture, Kolkata and Principal, Future Foundation School, Kolkata), Professor S Elankumaran (presently ←xvii | xviii→Professor of Organization Behaviour and Business Ethics, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai) and also our former senior colleague, late Dr B. K. Chatterjee for being partners in thought and work-life at the Management Centre for Human Values (MCHV), IIM Calcutta (IIMC).

I must mention with gratitude the confidence entrusted upon me by Professor Ashoke K Dutta, the first Director of IIM Shillong, who had recruited me as a Faculty in the area of ethics and values in 2009. I also fondly remember my cordial and productive working relationship with Professor Keya Sengupta, the presently retired senior-most Faculty of the Institute during her tenure as Acting Director on two occasions. I take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues at IIM Shillong, especially our present Director Professor D. P. Goyal and Mr Shishir Kumar Bajoria, the Chairman of our Board of Governors, for their unstinted support and cooperation. Mr Bajoria and Dr Goyal had been kind enough to write endorsements for this book and inspired me in this project. I am grateful to both of them.

It was in IIM Shillong only that I had the lifetime opportunity of meeting and interacting with Bharat Ratna (the highest civilian award to an Indian citizen conferred by the Government of India) Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India for nearly a week spanning across three years in unforgettable spells of inspiration. It is impossible for me to express in words the powerful and enduring impact he made on me, elevating my consciousness, enriching my thoughts, touching my life and transforming my world-view with his profound wisdom, shower of blessings and ever effulgent love.

I also offer my deep gratitude to Guruji Shri G. Narayana, former Executive Chairman, Excel Industries Limited for all the love and light of wisdom received from him throughout my academic life. Among other corporate leaders, I am especially thankful to T. V. Narendran, Managing Director of Tata Steel and my contemporary alumnus of IIM Calcutta, and my dear old friend from school Satish Pai, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Hindalco Industries, for writing endorsements for my book in spite of their extremely busy schedule.

Dr Subir Chowdhury, former Director of IIM Calcutta, and the moving force behind the creation of our Centre, MCHV, had been a ←xviii | xix→constant source of paternal love and affection, blessings and inspiration to me during the last three decades. I recall his invaluable contribution to my life and work with deep respect. Dr Pradip Bhattacharya (retired member of Indian Administrative Service), former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal and former member of the Board of Governors, IIM Calcutta, and a prolific author of eminence, had always enriched me with his thought-provoking writings on the Mahabharata. His valuable suggestions on my writings (including some of my chapters in this book) had helped me considerably in shaping my thoughts and ideas and finetune my writings.

I have been blessed with illuminating insights into Philosophy, Western as well as Indian, Arts and Aesthetics along with affection and guidance received from the globally acclaimed philosopher Professor Arindam Chakrabarti of East-West Center, University of Hawaii, USA. Words are inadequate to express my gratitude to this illustrious academic – a brilliant mind endowed with versatile creative talents. I am also grateful to Shri Shraddhalu Ranade of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry for his creative insights into Integral education and innovative approaches to creative learning.

I had been fortunate enough to receive the blessings and support from the revered monks of the Ramakrishna Mission especially Swami Atmapriyananda, Pro-Chancellor, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute and Swami Sarvapriyananda, Minister and Spiritual Leader, Vedanta Society of New York, both of whom have kindly written their endorsements for this book. I am also deeply thankful to Swami Narasimhananda, Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama, Kozhikode for his labour of love in meticulously providing the correct References for the chapter on Swami Vivekananda in this book.

Twelve years of my formative life were spent under the tutelage of my beloved teachers and Fathers of St. Lawrence High School, Calcutta. I take this opportunity to thank of all of them for making me what I am. Among the missionaries, I will always remember such noble souls dedicated to ‘man-making’ education like Father D’Abrew, Father De Cocq, Father Wavrell, Father Bruylants and our dear Father Pinto and Father Boris – all of them are now in eternal repose. And, among the teachers I shall make ←xix | xx→special mention of Shri Amit Dasgupta (Amit Sir), Shri Bijan Ganguly (Bijan Sir) and Shri Manoranjan Bhandari (Bhandari Sir). Amit Sir takes the pains to go through my writings and offer his valuable advice, along with his love and inspiration even today.

Let me also take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt thanks to all my Lawrencian school mates for their love and warmth, and fond memories of a vibrant school life. In the same vein and spirit, I thank all my friends from the Faculty of Engineering (especially my batch mates of Mechanical Engineering), Arts and Science of my alma mater in graduation, Jadavpur University (JU) as well as other institutes of higher learning, along with my batchmates and friends, alumni of IIM Calcutta (IIMC) who have all helped me in broadening my perspectives and concerns, and rendering clarity and depth to my thoughts and ideas through arguments and debates, discussions and dialogues. Among them I would like to make special mention of those who have really enriched my knowledge and inspired me in my work – Joydeep Maharaj, spiritual head of Maramia Spiritual Society in Azimgunj, West Bengal (formerly Joydeep, the outstanding multi-faceted theatrical talent from the Department of English Literature, JU); Tarun Goswami, eminent journalist and eloquent speaker on Ramakrishna-Vivekananda (my Lawrencian batch mate); Prabal Kumar Basu, the renowned poet with a global presence, my Lawrencian friend; Barnali Roy, a Kolkata-based Publisher and Editor of repute; Narendranath Mitra (IIT Kharagpur alumnus), an architect, and a deep thinker with a wide range of interests and concerns; Gautam Mukerji (IIMC alumnus), a distinguished author and a lead corporate trainer with profound knowledge of varied subjects, and his wonderful wife Sushweta Chakraborty, a Reiki expert; Dr. Sriram Parasuram, globally renowned classical vocalist and virtuoso violinist, my batchmate from IIM Calcutta; and Chandradeep Mitra (my friend from IIMC), an exceptionally creative mind and an eloquent communicator, presently a Visiting Faculty at IIM Calcutta and other IIMs, among many others.

I had also the privilege of long and deep association with my late father-in-law Kalyan Kumar Bhattacharya, an illumined mind who combined brilliance of intellect with a compassionate heart. I also fondly recall my late night telephonic conversations with my brother-in-law ←xx | xxi→and good friend Professor Biswarup Mukhopadhyay, the eminent Bhatnagar award winning physicist, presently Dean of IISER (Indian Institute of Science and Engineering Research), Kolkata on topics ranging across Science and Arts, Philosophy and Aesthetics, Literature and Music, Theatre and Films and so on. Both of them (Biswarup from his mother’s side) radiated the wisdom they inherited from the illustrious family of my in-laws hailing from Serampore in West Bengal, India, that had gifted the world such original philosophers like Professor Gopinath Bhattacharyya, his younger brother Professor Kalidas Bhattacharyya and their father, the legendary philosopher and original thinker Professor K. C. Bhattacharyya.

Kaberi had been my soul mate and truly best friend during the last twenty-seven years, suffering yet welcoming my pranks and tempests, eccentricity and idiosyncrasies, ever with a beaming and heartening smile. She had infused in me the finer artistic sensibilities contributing to my aesthetic refinement and appreciation of Indian classical music. It was her loving company and soothing care during my last one month of healing from an ankle fracture that finally helped me to concentrate on my pending work and complete this manuscript.


LXII, 354
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (April)
Indian Ethos and Management Spirituality and Leadership Alternative Forms of Learning Sanjoy Mukherjee Looking East
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2022. LXII, 354 pp., 1 fig. b/w, 2 tables.

Biographical notes

Sanjoy Mukherjee (Author)

SANJOY MUKHERJEE is Associate Professor of Sustainability and Liberal Studies at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Shillong. A graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Jadavpur University, he completed his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta and PhD from Jadavpur University. A former faculty member at the Management Centre for Human Values, IIM Calcutta, his areas of research and teaching expertise include Indian Ethos and Human Values in Management, Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Wisdom Leadership, Alternative Learning, Management and Liberal Arts, History and Philosophy of Management, Sustainability and Spirituality in Management. His global presence includes conferences and lectures at Oxford Roundtable, Aspen Institute, Academy of Management, UNESCO, Global Ethics Forum, SPES Forum Europe, Corvinus University of Budapest, Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen, Stockholm Business School, Copenhagen Business School, China- Europe International Business School and International Society of Business, Ethics and Economics (ISBEE) among others.


Title: Looking East
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418 pages