Factors Affecting the Application of Anekānta Principles in Business Practices in India

May, 2024 by Dr. Sanjay Sanghvi

Abstract:

In the last two decades, there has been an enormous churn brought about by faster economic growth, globalization, and technology. What are the parameters encouraging entrepreneurs to reflect on their business footprint, evaluating both successes and areas for improvement? How can business play a direct role in transforming Indian society, are Jain businesses socially responsible and accountable?

Jainism is a religion with a core scientific base and ethical practices. Religious practices of the Jain values in the day-to-day curriculum can effectively build a strong business ethical structure.

The purpose of this study is to identify the key factors that play an important role in the application of Anekāntavāda with Business ethics in the Indian and Jain Communities.

Keywords: Anekāntavāda (non-absolutism), Business-ethics, Applied ethics.

Introduction:

Notion of Identity of Personhood in Indian lifestyle and one’s Goal towards life.

Of the four types of Puruśārtha, dharma, artha, kāma, and moka, artha (earning money for livelihood) is one of the important Puruśārtha in the life of an Indian citizen. However, it is necessary that not only the money be earned ethically but also that the excess that remains should be utilized for fulfilling social, national, and universal responsibilities.

With respect to the notion of self, McKim Marriott suggests that in contrast to the Western social science model posits a person as self-reflexive, self-sufficient, and in possession of a clear individual identity, the Indian model presents a picture of the person as non-reflexive in terms of individual identity and social standing and moral conscience and sense of internal responsibility and awareness of how to act in the world based on the principles acquired by him.

So, an Indian mentality is a synthesis of religion, philosophy, and the application of these acquired values in business.

What is Anekānt or Anekāntavāda?

Anekāntvāda is one of the 3 A’s & pillars of Jainism, besides Ahimsā and Aprigraha. Anekāntvāda literally means “Many Perspectives” – Anek (Many) + Vada (facets). The word is coined as An+ekanta or Aneka + Ant. An+ekanta means no-one-perspective-ism or no absolutism. Aneka + Ant reflects the multiplicity and relativity of views. This doctrine is usually explained through the parable of “The elephant and six blindfolded men.” [I] . Since each individual sees the same thing with a different lens (perspective), there is partial, if not whole truth in each one’s way of thinking. Jainism preaches that one should consider everyone’s perspective with non-bias and judgment and then conclude on what could possibly be the real truth. This approach of striking balance and harmony in different perspectives when looking at a situation or thing is Anekāntvāda.

Integrating Anekānta Principles with Business Ethics:

A business has a mission and company objectives that it aspires to achieve. It hires people (employees) to help the business owners (stakeholders) achieve their goals. These employees belong to different departments and have various functions to perform so that together they can help the company achieve its ultimate objectives. “Ethical” in business means to behave following moral principles and values, such as honesty, fairness, responsibility accountability, equality, transparency, trust, loyalty, sustainability, and legality.

Value-based Ethics are about values, ideals, and aspirations and Anekānta explains that truth has many facets – there is no single absolute truth. Satya, asteya, aparigraha, etc, encourages Jains to be truthful and honest in the application of these values. Jains encourage businessmen to be tolerant and respectful and assimilate with different cultures Parasparopagraho Jīvānām which is the base of Anekāntavāda, explains that all life is interdependent.

Factors that affect ethical choices:

Today, when the mindset of people has been polluted by illegal activities, the question– of what morality is, is surprisingly found to be forgotten by society. Humans have become remarkably crooked, engulfed in unlawful deeds like injustice, enmity, malice, etc.

There are many branches of normative ethics which include descriptive ethics (ethics written in a descriptive way for e.g. Vipākasutra is a kind of descriptive ethics explaining the fruits of one’s actions). Meta-ethics attempts to understand the metaphysical, epistemological, semantic, and psychological (motivation to employees), presuppositions, and commitments of moral thought and practice.  Care-based Ethics is also in vogue promoting healthy relationships and the well-being of individuals and their interdependence technically termed as Parasparopagraha Jīvānām or Vasudeva Kutumbakam.

The systematic moral discipline laid down by Jain Philosophy lights up one person from the common level and enables him to know and practice truth through a highly moral and spiritual course of conduct.

Conclusions:

Ethics and Anekāntavāda are important not only in business but in all aspects of life because they are an essential part of the foundation on which a civilized society is built. A business or society that lacks ethical principles is bound to fail sooner or later. If you build that foundation, both the moral and the ethical foundation, as well as the business foundation, then the building won’t crumble.

“A business that makes nothing, but money is a poor kind of business” Henry Ford. This quotation by Henry Ford reflects that earning money should not be the only goal of any business. It is expected to fulfill its social, legal, national, and universal responsibilities.

Consumers have become more interested in buying eco-friendly products that guarantee less harm to the natural environment. Therefore, acting ethically can significantly improve an organization’s public image and avoid potential criticisms that would arise through unethical behavior.

The application of the Anekantavada as a religious basis for “intellectual Ahimsa” is a modern era reinterpretation, is an expression of “religious tolerance of other opinions and harmony”.

Here comes the relevance of the discussion on ethical knowledge most befittingly during this time in the world. The endless treasure of vast knowledge that had once been designed by the ancient Indian monks, enlightened with the incessant worship of wisdom, is considered an invaluable asset in the field of world ethical knowledge through the ages. Through this paper, a modest effort is being made to have an insight into the ethical lessons prescribed in Jaina Philosophy.

References:

  • Amar muni (2010), Acharanga Sutra, Jaipur: Prakrit Bharati Academy.
  • Amar muni (2012), Avasyaka Sutra, Delhi: Padma Prakashan.
  • Amar muni, Dasavaikalika Sutra, Delhi: Padma Prakashan.
  • Kothari, Vinod. (2007) Jain philosophy and modern economics – conflict or complimentary.
  • Thomas, Natalie E. & Langridge, Adam B. D.  (2023), In Deborah C. Poff & Alex C. Michalos (eds.), Encyclopedia of Business and Professional Ethics. Springer Verlag. pp. 95-99.

 

E-Souce:

https://philpapers.org/browse/business-ethics
https://link.springer.com/referencework/10.1007/978-3-319-23514-1
https://www.academia.edu/video/kGYge1

About Author

Dr. Sanjay Sanghvi is a technical and soft skills trainer and consultant with vast experience coordination in between various aspects of industries. With 30 Plus years of experience in varied fields, currently he is working as a Lead Coach, Trainer, and in the consultancy profession with “Enhance Horizon Training and Consulting” as Founder. He is also pursuing a Master in Jainology and Prakrit from K.J. Somaiya Institute of Dharma Studies, Mumbai, to add philosophical enhancement to his life.

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