Peace Through Dialog 2007 - Dr. Kokila P. Doshi : Global Peace Through Commerce Role Of Jain Values

Published: 13.02.2008
Updated: 09.01.2009

Jaina Convention
Federation of Jain Associations In North America

Global Peace Through Commerce Role Of Jain Values


Dr. Kokila P. Doshi
12628 Brookstone Court,
Poway, Ca. 92064
Phone: 858 679 7645
kdoshi[at]sandiego.edu
 
Dr. Kokila Doshi is a Professor of Economics at the University of San Diego, CA. She holds Ph. D. from the University of Rochester. NY. She has served Jain communities through several publications, presentations at JAINA and Jain centers and by serving as a JAINA director. She has led seminars and workshops at area colleges and given interfaith presentations. She founded Jainshala in San Diego and has directed its educational and cultural activities.

Traditionally, business has created a "world of goods" with a focus on profits. A new trend is emerging today where business is creating a "world of good" and becoming a partner in peace.

Today 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty, despair, and deprivation. Another 3 billion people struggle for mere survival and livelihood. Globalization and technological advances bypassed masses of poor around the world. Until recently, businesses in general focused only on the remaining one-third of the world population. There are other global challenges as well. Our world is divided by religious extremism and inequalities based on race, gender, and wealth. We are losing our sense of community and finding more reasons for further subdivisions of humanity. Our environment is also eroded by our endless desires and lack of individual and collective responsibility.

However we are witnessing a powerful positive force, which is bringing new perspectives and new innovative business models to empower people and protect our planet. It is changing the very definition of successful leadership and success itself. In the 21 st century, successful businesses will be the ones that find solutions to alleviate global suffering and lead us toward a sustainable world. This paradigm shift is reshaping corporate strategies and redefining the role of business in society. It is turning every "problem" into an "opportunity" and businesses have started "selling solutions" for global issues. The earlier belief that corporations serve the rich and that serving the poor is the responsibility of government and non- profit organizations is also changing.

Another difference that emerges from these new models is that traditionally businesses followed a strategy of "gain" first and "give" later, i.e. first make profits and then engage in charity for social causes. Now, corporations are recognizing the fact that creating social value is compatible with profitability.

With Bottom of the Pyramid strategies, socially conscious enterprises are bringing under their wings the 4 billion people living on less that $2 a day. Micro-credit and micro-insurance programs targeting disadvantaged groups are taking center stage. Grameen Bank founded by Dr. Yunus is a prime example of how powerful the societal impact of such an enterprise can be. It is lifting 22 million people out of poverty. No wonder the noble act of loaning $27 to villagers earned Dr. Yunus and Grameen bank a Nobel Prize.

The fusion of technology with compassion perhaps finds its highest expression in the work of Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty- a compassionate cardiac surgeon and the founder of Naryana Hrudayalaya Hospital in Banglore. Not only does he heal hearts by remote control, he keeps them beating at an affordable price. According to him, "A solution is a solution when it is affordable to a common man." As he observed, 100 years after the first heart surgery, only 8 percent of the world's population can afford it. He addressed the issue of affordability as well as accessibility in the health care delivery system. His telemedicine program, one of its kind in the world, partners with Indian Space Research Organization and brings high-tech care to the doorstep of the poor living in remote areas. The most important requirement in setting up the system was that "the patient must be able to see the compassionate face of the doctor." Compassion was also an important criterion in hiring the staff. As far as the affordability is concerned, no one is turned away from the hospital for the lack of paying capacity. This super specialty hospital reserves 75% of its beds for the poor. Sixty percent of treatments are subsidized. Children under 1 2 are operated on free of cost. So far, Dr. Shetty has performed 5000 free heart surgeries on children. To date, 21,000 heart patients have been treated and 140,000 free medical consultations have been provided using telemedicine technology. The N.H. hospital's micro-insurance plan- Yashasvini- insures 2.4 million members of various cooperatives at ten cents per month per person- less than the price of a bidi! The power of the poor is in numbers. N.H. Hospital harnesses the power of the poor, leverages technological advances and makes a difference with a heart for the poor. It breaks the link between health and wealth. It is not difficult to find similar examples where businesses set in motion virtuous cycles that lift the communities out of poverty.

Environmental awareness is also increasing. Corporations and small businesses are devising alternative technologies that are eco-friendly and efficient, reducing waste, sourcing organic products and using recycled material. Companies are reaching out to poor and rural populations with more efficient lighting, telecommunications and affordable houses made with recycled material and pre-cut designs. The benefits of technology are also being shared by those who would have never dreamed of sharing them. Working poor class is now connected to markets through cell phones. Like ITC, EID Parry has created an internet portal for rural areas, which supports farmers to access fertilizers, and direct market for their crops. A single computer is changing the whole village. Jaipur Foot and Educare Foundation are the examples of non-profit organizations targeting the poor, with Jain community involvement. A whole new class of women entrepreneurs has emerged who serve as a link between multinationals and their rural customers. Although not without their critics, overall businesses are empowering the poor and giving them new tools to climb the economic ladder. Similarly, they are impacting the society by finding new ways to conserve the environmental resources. Thus, businesses are making a difference for people as well as planet.

Jain Values and Leadership

We, the Jains, have a unique heritage, which teaches us to open our doors and hearts to everyone irrespective of caste, creed or color. Jain practice of compassion extends beyond mankind to include all living beings irrespective of their size or form. Today concerns are raised for poverty, fear, disease, illiteracy, inequality and environment. UN Millennium Goals are developed to address these issues. Jain Tirthankaras, visionaries as they were, have given us the means and the mindset to provide compassionate solutions, long before the concerns for people and planet surfaced in modern society. A new economic order envisioned by Lord Mahavir teaches us lessons in social responsibility, interconnectedness, inner transformation and social justice. Earning and disposal of wealth must be guided by these principles.

The new order is based on four parameters- it does not pose a threat to world peace, it brings about a reduction in crime, it does not increase violence and promotes the feeling of non-destructiveness in matter i.e. a feeling that material possessions are not our defense. Lord Mahavir's revolutionary preaching shows that anyone who wants to develop in isolation- whether an individual, business, society or nation- poses a threat to peace.

Violence and crime primarily result from wealth inequalities, deprivation, greed and lack of moral values. Jainism teaches us to live a life of restraints, limit our wants and waste, and be sensitive to other peoples' needs. As stated in Economics of Mahavir- "the world will be happy when I would relinquish excessive possessions." Mahatma Gandhi reiterated this truth when he said "live simply so others may simply live". This requires an internal change in man.

Today, much of the attention is focused on external change- changing organizations, changing production systems, etc. As Acharya Mahapragya points out, no attention is paid to the change in the man. "Until man does not change from inside, what good can a change in the system alone can achieve? Man can manufacture the best possible motor car. If the driver were not skilled and reliable, there would always be a risk." With peace within, we can have lasting peace outside.

Such is our heritage. It reflects a pool of profound wisdom resulting from endless years of meditation by Tirthankaras who themselves were leaders and reformers. It can serve as a model for effective leadership. Corporate executives can draw lessons for social responsibility and conscious conduct from the parameters of new economic order. Compassion and interconnectedness and inner transformation are powerful values that can provide an added dimension to corporate decision-making process. A mindset of "people matter" will result in compassionate solutions and provide mutually beneficial outcomes. A virtuous cycle sets in with an attitude of going beyond profits and following a noble purpose. Not only are Jains uniquely suited to contribute to the current trend but with reverence for all life, they are in a position to take the movement to a new level. They can take compassion to new heights, grow goodness and expand their sphere of influence to create a "world of good".

Sources
JAINA
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