Commercial aspects of investment initiatives
Business Balance & Beyond,Azim Jamal, Jaico Publishing House, Pp 194, Rs 275.00
Before starting any business, it is important to know the commercial aspects of it. As you graduate and gain experience, you realise that without balance you cannot sustain either your business or your success. This is where beyond business comes into play. Throughout the book one comes across the term ‘corporate sufi’, which refers to a person who focuses on the essence, is grounded in principles, believes in the power of giving and seeks spiritual abundance. Combined together, it describes a person who is business-centric, driven and productive but also heart-centred, principle-based and balanced. It is the ‘corporate sufi’ who takes a holistic view of life’s meaning, seeking both material and spiritual abundance to become truly rich.
This book, by an international inspirational speaker and author, teaches the importance of three vital components needed in a business cycle: business comprises engagement, empowerment, efficiency, leadership and capacity building; balance refers to internal and external richness and beyond business includes teaching the significance of success and happiness for oneself and others.
There is no denying that massive corporate success without true personal happiness has no meaning. Many of the most profound and lasting legacies in our history have been contributed by great leaders, who valued life balance and journeyed beyond monetary goals. Moreover now-a-days we live in a global village where anything that happens socially, economically and environmentally around the world affects us all. We cannot ignore our collective responsibility, especially when we look around and find millions of people undernourished, eking out a livelihood on less than 2.50 dollars a day, dying of preventable diseases, are illiterate and are dying of war, torture or abuse.
The ‘corporate sufi’ injects old-world sanity into a 21st-century corporate culture of instant gratification, technology-based communications and hyper-competitive thinking. In such a scenario, the author is of the view that it is up to the business leaders to pause and exercise their corporate might for bringing about, not only economic growth but also individual growth by enabling positive changes around them.
The author has a pertinent point to make when he says you don’t need to be wealthy to live like a ‘corporate sufi’. “Richness is defined not by how much you have, but how much you give.” In Tajikistan, he met a Tajik whose silk shirt the author complimented him on. The next day the Tajik brought a new shirt exactly like the one he was wearing to gift to the author in the true Tajik tradition. The author adds, “We are talking about one of the poorest countries in the world – that is its true richness!”
(Jaico Publishing House, A-2, Sir Phirozshah Mehta Road, Fort, Mumbai-400 001; www.jaicobooks.com)
Gender: Bias and basis of conflictand conciliation
The War of the Sexes, Paul Seabright, Princeton University Press, Pp 241, £16.95
Conflicts exist in a particularly complicated form between men and women because human beings are the most cooperative species on Earth, asserts Paul Seabright. Their cooperation in turn has developed because it is necessary, because the course of human evolution has increased the damage we can inflict on each other if we fail to agree.
Over the past million years, our ancestors began to colonise a very revolutionary niche: the long childhood. It was a niche that needed a more complicated form of cooperation than anything previously attempted by any animal in the sense that our children are taken care of for a longer period than for other species. A complex period of dependence sees misunderstandings and conflicts between the parents as well as between the parents and the other relatives. Thus sexual encounters and their prospect of offspring are fraught with potential consequences which are more complex than those faced by any other animal.
Hence reproduction becomes essential because the vulnerable offspring will not survive as natural selection of species will efface all trace of him, so sex is not only about reproduction and making new humans, but about “alliances and rivalries that it stimulates among the vast supporting cast of each new human who appears on the scene.” Seabright also shows how an understanding of our biological inheritance can cast light on the forces shaping relations between men and women in the 21st century.
Seabright begins by giving an introduction which is followed by Chapter 2 that surveys what we humans share with other sexually reproducing species in general and with other primates in particular. It explores how signalling and the opportunities for manipulation, that come with it, dominate courtship activity. It looks at the strategies used by males – “the impoverished sex, launching their gametes hungry into the world – to manipulate females, whose gametes come with food and protection and who have to be very choosy about whom they share it.” It also looks at the strategies used by females to manipulate males in their turn.
Our emotions signal our trustworthiness to potential sexual partners. It allows us to make firm commitments than would ever be made possible by the use of rational calculation alone. The nature of our emotions, which we hide from our partner, is testimony to the complexity of the problems natural selection had to solve to enable us to handle sexual reproduction.
It explores what has made us different from other primates and looks at the ways our ancestors used scarce resources as weapons in the sex war. As our female ancestors needed the resources of group living, the economic resources provided by males to reproduce successfully made them pursuers of women and children as also made them oppress women, as commonly seen in agricultural families. Seabright says that a long-term consequence of this shift to intensive childrearing was that it gave human beings the opportunity to develop large brains that made them flexible and adaptable.
The book looks at the relations between men and women today when the social and economic conditions in which we live have changed beyond all recognition from the time of hunter-gatherer communities. Now our brains have considerably evolved and the formal barriers to women’s participation in almost all areas of economic life have been removed in most industrialised countries and the gender-based division of labour has collapsed. Talented women are now occupying large areas of economic and social life which were earlier monopolised by men. Chapters 5 and 6 particularly try to answer questions like why certain areas are still not given to women and why certain regions are still not covered by females. Despite very small differences in talent and aptitude, representation of women in positions of economic power in modern societies is still limited. Chapter 7 looks especially at the different ways in which men and women form coalitions and networks which constitute an activity central to the life of all primates that live in groups.
Seabright says that biology warns us that behaviour of women cannot grow to be like that of men who will continue to want different things in comparison to women and to achieve which, they will adopt different strategies. He rightly concludes that sex is about danger as well as about tenderness – “the two are inseparable and they are what has made us such a tender and dangerous species.”
(Princeton University Press, 41, William Street, Princeton, New Jersey – 08540)