Buddha, The Awakened One, proclaimed the Noble Eightfold Path as the means to end suffering. The eight limbs of the Ashtang Marg are Right View, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Effort, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Mindfulness and Right Samadhi.

How would a student or practitioner of the art of management follow the Ashtang Marg? It is the job of a business or management school to get a student to diligently engage with this question, and pursue possible answers throughout her life. In this journey of discovery, she would generate much joy, for herself and for others. The suffering in the world would be diminished a little.

Businesses exist to create value for society. Gandhi ji, who in his freedom struggle and social reform movements, received support from several prominent industrialists, posited the trusteeship model of business. The shareholders were not to regard themselves as owners of the business, but as trustees who worked in the interest of all stakeholders. Maximisation of profit at the expense of the exploited workers was regarded by him as a manifestation of greed. And as he famously remarked, ‘There is enough in the world for everybody’s need, but not enough for everybody’s greed’.

The truth of his statement is now staring all of us in the face. The degradation of the natural environment threatens the very existence of life on this planet. Rising inequalities, rampant consumerism and the devaluation of the cultural values of sympathy, affection and compassion for fellow human beings is unfortunately the order of the day.

Management schools throughout the world need to do some serious introspection regarding as to what they are there for and how they should measure their ‘success’. The widely prevalent current norm in India of measuring the success of a business school by noting the compensation offered by corporates to fresh graduates needs a revision.

Business can no longer be as usual. Some fundamental re-thinking is required, not mere tinkering at the edges. The FMS Forum has the mandate to serve as a think tank.

With so many distinguished alumni being contributors to the Forum, the time is now ripe for the forum members to actively collaborate with students and the teachers of the Faculty of Management Studies in exploring afresh these fundamental issues. A nation where now almost everyone has an Aadhaar card, needs to re-examine what the Aadhaar or basis of it’s culture and identity are. The pursuit of the superficial only generates unrest and suffering: this truth was recognised by the sages and seers of India throughout the ages.

A couplet of Ghalib comes to mind: ‘Ragon mein daudte phirne ke hum nahi qaael/ Jab aankh hi se na tapka to phir lahoo kya hai.’  (I am not enamoured of the blood running about through my veins; If one does not shed tears of blood, what use is it?) Passion and compassion go together. As the Dalai Lama puts it: ‘If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you wish to be happy, practice compassion’.

I wish the FMS forum the very best in its noble endeavours.

Vivek Suneja