A New Year requires new hope. This is very difficult in a competitive and dying world, where war is becoming a new normal, and animals and nature are being routinely slaughtered. Four billion animals a year are being consumed by our meat industry, which produces and kills them on an industrial scale.
Our Dharmic light of hope comes from a unique business and professional ritual called Chopda Pujan, which literally means opening new books of account with prayer and worship in the face of risk and uncertainty. I attended this on Diwali day at the stunning Jain Temple complex Oshwal Centre in North London. We prayed to Goddess Saraswati, the Lord of Arts and Wisdom; Elephant God Ganesh, protector and guard; and Laxmi, Goddess of Wealth all at the same time. Our Minister of Religion, Jayeshbhai Shah, explained the science very eloquently and also created the spiritual atmosphere that is necessary to uplift us.
It was not only a symbolic gesture of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) but a demonstration of a profound understanding of the nature of prosperity and enterprise- to serve for the upliftment of society. Prosperity for Hindus is not personal but shared – we knew a long time ago that there is no joy in becoming rich at the expense of our neighbours’ poverty.
In my teaching and research I remind people that Social Capital is the most important “virtual” bank of society. It is a network of knowledge, trust and relationships which comes from tradition and is regularly nourished through community festivals like Diwali.
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This week, I will be speaking about Indian Economic Success at the Nehru Centre in Mayfair and this will be my focus – Dharma is the Spiritual Reserve Bank of India which gives and rejuvenates leaders and entrepreneurs.
Rarely will social capital be even discussed in a finance class even at MBA level. This is why we are in such a global economic mess of inequality and environmental devastation. We are fortunate to experience it from childhood.
Social capital requires trust and grows trust in society. Let our New Year’s resolution be to value what we have inherited. Let us spread this through learning Dharmic science and sharing the wings of its wisdom with one and all, through our conduct and character. We are all the light of hope that is Diwali. We must do our bit to keep the lamp burning. There is no other choice.
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