By Parveen Chopra
S.K. Bahl, Amul & Anuj, Logicstat International
It’s on a balmy winter Sunday morning that I meet the Bahls for brunch on the lawn of their modest south Delhi house. In Vedantic circles the family is considered a shining example of Vedanta in action. S.K. Bahl, 61, CMD of Logicstat International, and his sons, Amul, 33, and Anuj, 30, directors, use Vedantic principles both in the company management and at home.
The company is in the pink of health, and at home there’s a quiet harmony. Like seasoned proponents, the trio speak eloquently about Vedanta and its applications in life. S.K. gives regular talks on the Gita and laws of nature to his factory workers. Amul is on the faculty of the Sri Sringeri Sharada Institute of Management and has developed a value-based education package, which has been used by a few business schools. Anuj has given talks in schools on values.
An electrical engineer, S.K. Bahl was with Kelvinator in 1968 when he developed two prototypes of automatic voltage stabilizers and started getting orders. Today they have five factories in Okhla, New Delhi, India, manufacturing voltage stabilizers for domestic and industrial use. They have also developed isolation transformers and industrial battery chargers. Bahl Sr. looks after R&D, Amul, an M.Tech, handles corporate marketing, and Anuj, an MBA, is in charge of finance and systems. Their annual turnover is Rs 150-200 million.
The Bahls’ management policies sound radical. They have removed supervisors in factories and, paradoxically, ensured quality! Workers and executives are given training in all departments before they find their niche. ‘A part must know where it fits in the whole process, and take responsibility for the end product,’ chorus the Bahls. ‘It ends absenteeism, and loyalty is assured. People choose work and set targets according to orders available.’ Their factories have never faced a strike. Nobody leaves or is sacked, except for dishonesty.
S.K. has been seriously studying Vedanta since 1991. In management, he says, the concept of swadharma works wonders. Gita says it is intrinsic, instinctive to you, that comes effortlessly and by following which success will come your way. And it does not change with time and place. ‘Follow your swadharma, and nature is at your feet,’ Bahl Sr says.
Bahl cites the example of his daughter Aastha, 19, a science student who had to be forced to study. Today, a student of fashion at NIFT, she’s working hard on her own, is a topper and enjoys it—because it was her swadharma.
For a happy family life, fulfilling obligations alone is enough. But people generally look at rights, not duties. And don’t expect the world to change, nor try to transform others. If you live happily, effectively, others around you are influenced positively. Once they are curious, you can tell them about the fundamentals. That’s why S.K. doesn’t go out and give discourses. Incidentally, their farmhouse on the outskirts of Delhi, India, is given out for Vipassana courses as well as to other organizations such as the Art of Living and Chinmaya Mission.
Anuj says that problems are not to be avoided since they offer an opportunity for growth. ‘Tackle it now and extract clarity out of complexity. Have the courage of conviction—that creates a man; not shortcuts or dubious means.’
For Amul, the quest began some years ago when he had a personal problem and wanted to know where his duty lay in the situation. He went to A. Parthasarathy’s Vedanta Academy in Lonavala, India, which led him to self-inquiry. Today, he runs Madhouse Columbus Inc, which offers corporate consultancy and software development, and has written inspirational, epigrammatic pocketbooks with evocative titles like Candescence and Pied Piper of the Mind. Vedanta, he professes, is not restricted to the mind. Clarity of vision affects success. He has studied the applications of Vedanta so deeply that he claims he has come across material on competitive intelligence which, if given say to Coke, could demolish Pepsi’s challenge.
You expect Vedantins to have logical, clear thinking. Indeed, Amul readily scribbles on a sheet of paper the gist of it all. Man’s natural state (NS), he professes, is happiness. The purpose of human existence is to discover NS. Work/action is a means to discover it. Work has three components:
1. The field of activity should be chosen according to one’s swadharma, and one has freedom of choice here. The goal is always set one level higher than individual need. This helps empower a person and inherently takes care of higher system needs, for example, societal needs.
2. Means: a) Duty has to be done. b) Desire-ridden activity can be done. c) Forbidden actions should not be performed.
3. If result R>E (expectation), or R=E, there is no problem. If R Finally, his formula for success, which he has printed on his visiting card: Vision + Will + Skill = Success .
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