He let go of Billions of $ in Profits to save Millions from Death

Imagine you have a product that can make you at least $10,000 to $15,000 per year per person.

Imagine that you have a global market that absolutely needs a minimum of 10 million units every year.

Your product stands between life and death of the user.

Your cost of manufacturing that product is practically zilch.

Your competitors are selling that product at nothing less than $15,000 USD.

How much would you price it at?

For Dr. Yusuf Hamied, Scientist and Chairman of Cipla, the answer was very clear.

I am enrolled in a program offered by edx from MITx titled “U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society and Self” and one of the films I had to watch, as part of the program, was “Fire In The Blood”. This is one gut wrenching movie that I won’t be able to forget in a long time. It talks about a horrendous tragedy that could have been prevented, but for the insatiable greed of large businesses, their leaders and governments. It could have been a very dark movie, but it isn’t, for it shows that a small, handful of committed people, and most importantly, socially conscious business leaders, can indeed make a difference.

The film tells the story of how Western pharmaceutical companies and governments aggressively blocked access to low cost AIDS drugs to third world countries, especially, countries in Africa leading to the death of over 10 million people. As the documentary’s website puts it, it is an intricate tale of “medicine, monopoly and malice” and also highlights the improbable group of people who decide to fight back. This is a film that needs to be seen by everyone who works for large businesses to understand how the desire for insatiable profits harms the world.

While the 3rd world was being ravaged by HIV/AIDS due to the non availability of affordable medicines to treat the disease, the Pharma companies were not willing to drop the prices, and the US Govt working hand in hand with the pharma companies threatened to impose harsh sanctions on countries that import generics. The absurd patent laws were another barrier. This was a huge man made disaster that killed over 10 million people.

It was in this scenario, that Cipla was approached and they stepped in with a generic drug that contained a cocktail of 3 antiretroviral drug at a price point of less than a dollar a day. Dr. Hamied, chairman of Cipla, decided not to profit from the drug.Putting the issues of access and cost in the right context, he is quoted, as saying, “We are being humanitarian. But we are not doing charity. We are not making money, but we are not losing money either.”

Do yourself a favor, watch the film. This film isn’t about Dr. Hamied, but many conscious individuals, doctors and NGO activists who fought their way through to bring the medicines to Africa. I have picked Dr. Hamied out here in the context of my series on Conscious leaders. His responsiveness to the challenge was to expand his circle of concern to every human being suffering from this disease. He took a conscious decision not to profit from someone else’s misery.

There are lessons out there, on how a business leader by being socially conscious, can impact humanity, so much so, that apparently in Africa Cipla is a temple and Dr. Hamied is a God! Dr. Yusuf lays out one primary lesson that will serve us all well, that the purpose of business is just not to profit, but to respond to business situations, with awareness and with a sense of belongingness with the community at large irrespective of their nationality, color, religion or any other biases.

While businesses do have to make money in order to succeed, monetary benefits shouldn’t be the only driver. Serving others always takes higher precedence over everything else.

Thanks a lot Padma Bhushan Dr. Yusuf Khwaja Hamied, you do us all proud.

PS: The Art of Living Foundation is holding a conference on Corporate Culture and Spirituality on 31st Jan and 1st Feb in Bangalore. If you are interested in learning how ethics, consciousness, spirituality etc. can make a difference in business, then come attend the conference and listen to some brilliant conversation athttp://www.ccsconference.in/

I also teach the Art of Living Foundations, corporate leadership programs, should there be an interest, feel free to drop me a note at RajWaghray (at) gmail (dot) com

(This is the second article in a series I am writing featuring Conscious Businesses and Awakened Leaders, under the tag: “Under The Bodhi Tree”)


The PMO India gets the Leadership Model absolutely right.

The Prime Minister of India one of the most stirring speeches heard in 68 years of Independence. There was a lot of anticipation and the PM did not disappoint, this was an extempore speech of over an hour without any notes or teleprompter etc. Spoken straight from the heart. 

After hearing platitudes for several years, it was refreshing to see and hear a PM who understands the aspirations and needs of the people of this country and talks about meeting those needs systematically through a leadership model that is contrarian to what we have experienced in the last 68 years.

The PM began by saying that he is speaking not as a Prime Minister, but as a “Pradhan-Sevak” or Chief Servant of the people of India- putting the emphasis on concept of service based leadership or servant based leadership.

It is absolutely heartening to see that The Prime Minister of India gets the Leadership model absolutely rightContinue reading

Meditation, Leadership & 2014 New Year Resolutions

It is that time of the year when we reflect back on the year gone by and look forward to new beginning’s. Guruji’s (Sri Sri RaviShankar) in his article on “Looking back, looking ahead” writes:

Just like we live in the outer world of events and circumstances, we also live in the inner world of emotions and feelings, which we are not always aware of. Meditation is the best tool to wipe your mind clean off all past impressions that weigh you down. The distance between the outer and the inner worlds is just the blink of an eye.

Yoga is the skill of keeping attention on the inner world while acting in the outer. When you are lost in the outside world, there is disharmony in the inner and life is like a war. When you are established in the inner world, there is clarity in the outer and life becomes a game.

And gives four mantra’s  for making 2014 a happier year:

  1. To make Meditation a part of daily life
  2. To Serve
  3. To Feel Grateful and
  4. To Spend time with Nature.

Changing tracks for a bit. I find the intersection of Leadership and contemplative practices of meditation and mindfulness very interesting. Now, there is tons of literature and books on Leadership and honestly most of them are banal and pedestrian. It took me time to realize that one has to look beyond what the Mainstream media and influential bloggers try to peddle to find authentic stuff. Bill George is one author whom I rate very highly amongst those who write authentically about Leadership and I guess the clarity and authenticity of his writings are due to the intersection of his rich corporate experience as a CEO Medtronix and his years of meditation practices.

In his article on Your #1 2014 New Year’s Resolution? He states it out in the title itself – “Resolve to live more mindfully” – and then proceeds to list eight exceptional books on mindful living that will help you become a better leader and a more fulfilled human being. One of the books “Finding the space to lead” by Janice Marturano is definitely on my to-read list.  Bill in another article titled “Five Resolutions for Aspiring Leaders“, asks them to think seriously about their development as a leader and lists out 5 to do’s for the year ahead.

But what has meditation, got to do with Leadership?

All contemplative practices start by focusing the light of awareness on within ourselves. Without looking at our own selves deeply, without getting in touch with our Self, we cannot approach authentic leadership and that is where the practices of meditation come into play and helps us in developing as authentic and effective leaders 

And for me it is a delight to see the convergence of thought from the areas of spirituality and business.

The two converging thoughts from Sri Sri and Bill (Meditation and Service) are my two top goals for the year. Or in other words Sadhana, Seva and Satsang! What are yours?

Dear Readers, Have a great 2014 !!

The missing ingredient in Leadership – Love

I waited for almost a year since I first stumbled upon Love Leadership to get my hands on it. I finally ordered it online and it arrived a few weeks back and I devoured this slim 190 pages book in two sittings. On hindsight, I should have ordered this much earlier.

This autobiographical book of John Hope Bryant is a sublime account of his journey through the ups and down of his life – being born into a reasonably well off family to experiencing loss and poverty in his childhood to becoming a street smart enterprenuer and finally being the founder, CEO and Chairman of Operation HOPE. Love Leadership makes for a fascinating reading. Interspersed with anecdotes, real life stories and quotes, this book points to a fundamental truth that my Spiritual master has been speaking for years now that Love indeed moves the world.

Just today morning I was reading an interview in the newspaper where the interviewer says that corporate culture in India has undergone a sea change in the past few years and not necessarily for the better…expectation of organizations are becoming unrealistically high, which in turn forces people to become aggressive and use inappropriate means to succeed…what has changed fundamentally in our system is that the end is becoming far more important than the means.

John pin points this to where it all starts from from – Leadership. Leadership qualities that are FEAR based have characterisitics such as Coercion, Repression, Exclusion, Anger, Entitlement, Cynicism, Expediency etc. in contrast to LOVE driven leadership that includes Inspiration, Empowerment, Inclusion, Forgiveness, Opportunity, Idealism, Compassion, Spirituality etc.

It delights me no end to read about Spirituality and Love mentioned in the context of corporate world? Oh and that too from the Mecca of Capitalism? Awesome!!

I have been searching for examples of business and books written by people who have been in the shoes of CXO’s and have faced the day to day challenges of running and growing a business based on true spiritual principles. With my limited knowledge and exposure to books in this category, very few come to my mind – Ken Melrose writes about his experiences as CEO of Toro’s in his book Making the Grass Greener, James Autry draws about his experiences as president of Meredith Corporation in The Servant Leader and Thitch Haht Nahn’s book, The Art of Power, carries an article written by the CEO of Patagonia. Not to mention other outstanding books such as Conscious Business by Fred Koffman and One by Lance Secretan. Where John’s book stands apart is that he intersperses real life stories, interviews, quotes and incidents to bring to life what could have a very sermonizing and preachy subject.

I had already written about the Five Fundamental laws of leadership on which this book is based in my previous post, In this post, I will share a few quotes that resonated with me.

As someone who is deeply passionate about spirituality and its implementation in day to day life, this book by John makes a delightful read of how to build teams and organizations based on true north principles.

You rock, John!!

  • Loss really does create leaders. It puts you on the path towards love leadership – leadership based on the strength born of struggle.
  • I would learn to talk without being offensive, to listen without being defensive, and to leave my adversaries with their dignity. I would learn to love those I did not like. I would love those who did not deserve love in return.
  • It takes the power of love to banish fear.
  • If you lead with love for the long term, people will follow you forever, wherever – for their own good as well as yours – and you will be remembered as a person of greatness.
  • Networking is a one-way relationship, building relationships is two-way.
  • I don’t believe that you can love unless you do the hard work of circulating that love. Love follows one of the primary laws of money: currency without circulation has no value. Likewise, love without circulation has no value. Love is an action. Love is doing. The action necessary is doing good.
  • If you can put love into circulation, you can achieve not just the accummulation of money but also true wealth, which I define as spiritual wealth, intellectual wealth and emotional wealth – plus some money, which tends to naturally follow the other qualities of true wealth.
  • Admitting weaknesses and owning upto mistakes have counterintuitive benefits. When you are honest, people are more likely to forgive you any weaknesses and mistakes. You are also able to make stronger connection with others That ultimately gives you an ability to persuade and influence people, which in turn strengthens your ability to lead.
  • Vulnerability shows that you are human, and it makes you loved – and all great leaders are, at their core, deeply human and much loved. That’s why people follow them.
  • Coercion gains you only compliance, but influence is about gaining real, sustainable power in the world and above-the-line performance from people
  • True leaders are ladder builders, not ladder climbers. [Art of Living teachers, do you recall the 2009 TRM??]
  • The path to love leadership is not through a closed fist of battle, It;s through an open hand of giving.
  • Love leadership of your people begins with love leadership inside of you.
  • If you want to have a prosperous, sustainable life, you will find it cheaper, smarter and easier to do the work of love leadership.
  • Life is made up of little moments that most of us never notice or acknowledge.
  • A saint is a sinner who got up.
  • We don’t love because of, we love in spite of.
  • We shouldn’t leave saving the world to saints, and we shouldn’t leave capitalism to sinners.

You can follow John on Twitter at @JohnHopeBryant.

A different vocabulary at workplace…

Cross Posted from “Love and Leadership

“The inherent language of the corporate workplace is far too small for us now. It has too little poetry, too little humanity, and too little good business sense for the world that lies before us. We only have to look at the most important word in the lexicon of the present workplace – manager – to understand its inherent weakness. Manager is derived from the old italian and French words mannegio and manege, meaning the training, handling and riding of a horse….images of domination… and the taming of potentially wild energy. It also implies a basic unwillingness on the part of the people to be managed, a force to be collared and reined in…..most people don’t respond very passionately or creatively to being ridden… Sometimes over the next fifty years or so, the word manager will disappear from understanding of leadership… It is the artist in each of us we must now encourage into the world, whether we have worked for Getty Foundation or for Getty Oil”

David Whyte

5 fundamental laws of leadership

Cross posted from my other blog Love and Leadership

[Via John Hope Bryant’s book – Love Leadership]

Love Leadership distills what I have learnt about leading, particularly in these turbulent times, into five fundamental laws.

1. Loss Creates Leaders: There can be no rainbow without a storm. That is, there can be no strength or inner growth without the pain of legitimate suffering. Most great leaders came to the wisdom to lead through the endurance of life’s trials.

2. Fear Fails. Fear based leadership rules today’s business landscape. But leading through fear is increasingly antiquated and self-defeating. It’s a crippling indulgence that we can no longer afford.

3. Love Makes Money. Love is central to success in business. In fact, the expression of love in business – that is creating long term relationships with your customers, employees, and community based on caring for others and doing good – makes you wealthy.

4. Vulnerability Is Power. When you open up, people open up to you. Vulnerability is the door to your heart. It grants great power to those who are strong enough to leave that door open. Real leaders understand that vulnerability is not a weakness; in fact, it can be your greatest strength.

5. Giving Is Getting. Leaders give – followers take, The more you offer to others, the more they will want to stay with you, share with you, protect you, and support you. Giving inspires loyalty, attracts good people, confers peace of mind, and lies at the core of true wealth.

This is a book I am waiting to read. Wonder when and if they would publish it in India.

Corporate leaders and one question about Kriya and Meditation.

So how does one explain as to why one needs to do the practices – of SudarshanKriya, Meditation etc. – to someone who is not open to listening?

There are times, when I keep quite and I pray and hope that some day, and hopefully not too late in their lives, they get to experience the joy, the happiness, the bliss that one gets out of Sudarshan Kriya and Meditation.

Today was one such day, I just had to let things pass.

Imagine you are in a closed room with only a tiny keyhole to view the world outside, and as long as you keep looking through the keyhole, everything looks so small, so tiny and so far away. And then you stumble upon the key, open the door….and now you have a completely different view of the same landscape….the trees look more greener, the grass so inviting, the warmth of the sun, the richness of life…

As long as I keep on peeping into my life through a keyhole, my vision will that be of the keyhole, but the second I am willing to step down from the head to the heart, ie., let go of my own prejudices and have an open mind to experience what life has to offer, I have stepped out from a room with a keyhole, to a much larger vision, then the richness of life dawns.

And then it stuck me, that one of the significant improvements in my own life has been to that of moving away from narrowness of petty likes and disklikes in small stuff such as the food on the table to more bigger stuff in life that I wouldn’t want to write here about :-).

Without the practices of Kriya and Meditation, I don’t think I would have been aware of this and would have been living my life in the quadrant 4 of Johari’s window.

As a manager or a leader, our ability to deal with situations also improves when one is aware of our own blindspots and unknowns.

The one word answer to the questions most folks ask in corporates, what will I gain by doing Kriya and Meditation is: “Self-Knowledge”.