Friday, December 12, 2008


On Tuesday 9th December, I was invited to address members of the Oshwal Accountants Group and their partners at a dinner in Harrow, North London. I have known this group for twenty years and it was started by a group of people for whom co-operation and community was an instinctive act. Their culture and values have really helped them to grow and succeed in every way - financially, professionally and the academic achievements of their children.

The real software of India has been its ethics and values, which the world still does not recognise. By nature, many Indians are flexible and adaptable and assimilate to new environments very well. Also their integrity and discipline is such that they are sought after as employees and advisers. These are the lasting formulae of success in any discipline. When we first came here, we had to almost hide our colour and try desperately to fit in, but now there is a growing realisation by organisations that we have something priceless to give. Diverse Ethics is playing a critical role in educating people about Indian culture and wisdom and in the process allowing Indians to have their own identity and not become coconuts in order to succeed.

I talked about modern developments like the work I have done through the book 'Celebrating Diversity' and 'Social Cohesion', the concept of Social Entrepreneurship, and the triple bottom line of financial, social and ecological performance, and the hijacking of concepts like sustainability and light footprint by people who do not live these values. It is important that Indians take an interest in understanding the scientific basis of their wisdom and articulating it so that they do not have to defend it but instead show positive ways for a better future world.

Books I talked about were 'Planet India', by Mira Kamdar, 'The World is Flat' by Thomas Friedman and 'The Triple Bottom Line' by John Elkington. All of these should be available on Amazon and my own books can be purchased from

I also explained to them the power of blogging, and here is an example - why not post a comment and pass this blog on to your contacts to help create a better world?

Thursday, December 11, 2008


As cultural diversity is becoming acknowledged in Britain, organisations are increasingly taking an interest in communicating and marketing to diverse communities. However, there is a problem: How can they be reached? And paradoxically, in many cases they are branded as 'Hard to Reach' communities!
One of the reasons for the problems is that the traditional model of mass marketing is breaking apart as customers and audiences become more informed. Coke was a drink made in America but marketed to the world as the greatest drink on the planet. And it succeeded for a long time. However, that same company has diversified a lot today, and is even making soft drinks for diverse communities. In the UK, an ethnic owned fruit juice company called Rubicon, brough a whole new range of tropical fruit juices to the market, and now everyone is emulating them and they have in the process changed the taste buds of Britain. So what are the principles of 'diverse marketing'?
1. Try to learn about the different types of consumers and the way they shop or buy services.
2. Can you sell your existing products to them in a way that is sensitive to their needs? Can you find out what their needs are and adapt your products or services to suit them?
3. Diversity and creativity not only rhyme, but they are in truth deeply connected. Going back to the Rubicon example above, the founders brought creativity into the juice industry and shook up the whole industry in the process. Can you get staff or consultants from these communities to help your research and communications process? Can you build the intelligence of these communities and markets inside your own organisation? The new learnings will definitely help your existing processes as well.
4. In many cases, ethnic minorities operate through strong mutual bonds and communities. In the West, people often find it difficult to understand the depth of their loyalty and mutuality. There is a lot of social capital built in, and for those organisations working in the social or public education and welfare arenas, diverse communities can be a gold mine of information, wisdom and loyalty. To dismiss or ignore them is to loose a wealth of opportunity for personal and organisation growth.
5. The size and numbers of these groups vary, so do their locations. However, the new media and channels of communication such as the internet can be a tremendous boost here to reaching these progressive and tech savvy communities.

So take advantage of the opportunities diverse communities have to offer you as an individual and organisation. Connect with them and experience the joy.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


The first seminar on the new book on 'Social Cohesion - A Jain Perspective' published by Diverse Ethics was held at the St Ethelburgas Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in Central London on 3rd Dec 2008. Mr. Simon Keyes, Director of the Centre, opened the discussion by explaining how topical he felt the subject was - "it is the number one challenge in the minds of central and local government at the moment, and one where fresh ideas and solutions are really lacking. A Jain perspective on this subject is important and adds a valuable contribution to the debate." The audience came from a cross section of organisations - from PETA to Procter & Gamble, from the Jain nuns at Jain Vishwa Bharti to Global Tolerance.

Funded by the Meghraj Foundation and the Centre for Excellence in Leadership, the research was done by Dr. Aidan Rankin and Dr. Atul Shah. The book draws on Jain wisdom to show practical policies which government can implement to help build cohesion, through areas as wide ranging as environmental policy, education, health-care, business and work ethics, crime, politics and economic policy. The foreword is written by Lynne Sedgmore CBE.

The authors explained their motivations for writing the book. Dr. Aidan Rankin explained:"I was brought up in Britain in the western cultural tradition but from a young age, developed an empathy and concern for all living beings. I then came across the Jains and got inspired to research and write about this ancient wisdom and have written three books so far - 'The Jain Path', 'Social Cohesion' and a new one coming out on the subject of 'Anekant'. For Jains cohesion included unity with all living beings, not just humans." Dr Aidan Rankin described his experience of encountering Jainism from a western perspective and how he believed it could change the way we look at politics, economis and our relationship with the environment. We can benefit especially, he believes, from the Jain principle of anekant, or many-sidedness, which enables us to respect diverse viewpoints as aspects of a larger truth.""

Dr. Atul Shah explained his personal story of upbringing in Kenya where cohesion was an everyday experience, but then coming to UK, where he found himself isolated and confused. "My culture and wisdom was never mentioned or discussed at the University where I studied, yet it had such a profound vision for the future and is so relevant to the modern day." This book represented a rise in personal self-confidence about his Jain culture and the vision it can provide for a new and better Britain. It took 30 years of living and working in Britain for me to build that confidence."

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Simon Keyes who chaired the seminar noted: " I think time has come for leaders in government and different faiths to sit and just listen to the Jains as their thinking and vision is so profound and so timely for todays multiple crises. "

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


The above link is an excellent podcast of a major debate on this topic hosted in London by CIMA, the accountancy body and chaired by Jon Snow, the Channel 4 News Anchor. It was a timely discussion on a critical topic, and I was fascinated to hear Jon Snow say at the very start: I am truly impressed by the diversity of the panel and the audience. It is sad to say, but in most discussions on ethics and public policy, minorities are excluded and by default, the culture and ethics are deemed to be of 'minor' importance. This is so not true.

The UK accounting profession is hugely diverse, and UK accounting bodies are at the hub of the global accounting profession with members stretching far and wide. However, if you look underneath these bodies, you will find the power and management to be very mono-cultural. Also, the ethics of modern accountants are being heavily criticised by many, including the eminent academic Prof. Prem Sikka of Essex University. Rarely have accountants responded in any clear way to his trenchant critiques. His Guardian Blog is a recommended read.

It is therefore very good that CIMA has taken the lead to host this discussion. Accountants need to be more reflective and also engage directly in cultural and ethical debates. There is a fascinating Indian ritual called the Chopda Pujan which has been conducted for centuries, and is so timely for today. It happens on New Year's Eve (Diwali) and businessmen get together to worship the goddess of wealth Laxmi and pray for success and prosperity in the future. However, this prayer is not for personal greed and accumulation, but so that the businessmen can play his or her dutiful role in the upliftment of the whole community and society. Here is a practice which a diverse accounting body should hold at its headquarters every year, not only to embrace diversity, but also to positively portray a good ethical example to the whole world. And please, Indian religions are Dharmas - sciences of sustainable living - they should be seen in this light. Diverse Ethics would be very happy to guide this initiative to any accounting body and it would have huge media interest also.