Anand Sonachalam on September 26 2017
Exceprts from the Speech by Mr. N R Narayana Murthy at Lal Bahadhur Sastry Institute of Management
The primary difference between the West and us is that, there, people have a much better societal orientation.
They care more for the society than we do. Further, they generally sacrifice more for the society than
us. Quality of life is enhanced because of this. This is where we need to learn from the West. In the
West, there is respect for the public good. For instance, parks free of litter, clean streets, public
toilets free of graffiti – all these are instances of care for the public good. On the contrary, in
India, we keep our houses clean and water our gardens everyday – but, when we go to a park, we do not
think twice before littering the place.
We continue to rationalize our failures. No other society has mastered this part as well as we have.
Obviously, this is an excuse to justify our incompetence, corruption, and apathy. This attitude has
Another interesting attribute, which we Indians can learn from the West, is their accountability. Irrespective
of your position, in the West, you are held accountable for what you do. However, in India, the more
‘important’ you are, the less answerable you are.
Dignity of labor is an integral part of the Western value system. In the West, each person is proud about
his or her labor that raises honest sweat. On the other hand, in India, we tend to overlook the significance
of those who are not in professional jobs. We have a mind set that reveres only supposedly intellectual
The Indian Standard Time somehow seems to be always running late. Moreover, deadlines are typically not
met. How many public projects are completed on time? The disheartening aspect is that we have accepted
this as the norm rather than the exception. In the West, they show professionalism by embracing meritocracy.
Meritocracy by definition means that we cannot let personal prejudices affect our evaluation of an
individual’s performance. As we increasingly start to benchmark ourselves with global standards,
we have to embrace meritocracy.
In the West, right from a very young age, parents teach their children to be independent in thinking.
Thus, they grow up to be strong, confident individuals. In India, we still suffer from feudal thinking.
I have seen people, who are otherwise bright, refusing to show independence and preferring to be told
what to do by their boss. We need to overcome this attitude if we have to succeed globally...