Karma Yogi – Lessons to be learnt from Japan on excellence in work (Part 9)


We’ve been copy cats of the West, forgetting that the “ASURIC” cultures focus only on Artha and Kaama, Wealth and Desire, mostly for individual and self-satisfaction; whereas Bharatiya culture inspires us to first get established in Dharma and our respective Swadharma during Schooling; then as a householder earn and enjoy, so that in and thru’ our daily work and life we may remain on the critical path to attain the highest human Goal of Perfection, aka Mukti, Salvation, etc. This is being a Bharati, being in “SUR”, in harmony, to attain the Goal, which educated India has forgotten today.

2. How has Japan attained work excellence?

i) Government as a Coach/Mentornot Boss/Captain: Govt. is dedicated for producing citizens with a common, unified value-system thru’ schooling. So, all citizens imbibe and share good values and the Ministry of Education, works closely with other Ministries to strategize how schools can act as a coach to instil right values and attitudes.

ii) In Japan, from age 6-12, one theme is drilled into students by all teachers: ‘our nation has no resources but we’ve to feed 100 million people; our farming land is smaller than California. Only solution is to import materials, add value and export; else we perish’. People grow up learning to fear not being committed to hard work, quality, excellence, not working together.

Similarly in India, Government and academia must train all citizens to imbibe common universal Human values, Commitment to fulfilment of Duties, kartavya-palan , Swadharma; Commitment to working in a spirit of service as a Karma-yogi, for good of society; Commitment to care and concern for others; etc. The purpose of schooling in Bharatiya culture was to establish the young in the habit of daily sadhana and swadhyaya to follow the ideal, “thru dharma earn, enjoy, to attain mukti”.

iii) In Japan, the overriding emphasis in schools is, and has been, on learning to work and play with others; whenever anyone wants to do his own thing the lesson given is ‘the nail that sticks up is first to be hammered down’. This cultural schooling is the cause, for hard work, team work, cost saving mentality of Japanese. In contrast, our Schools encourage competition, promote individuality but don’t build common national interests, unity of values, harmony among all!

Japanese schools emphasise group harmony and discourage heroes, super-performers, who aren’t allowed to skip grades or advance faster than others. They’re taught to use extra brilliance to smooth inter-personal relations, and help others. There’s no promotion for individual brilliance; in organizations all are promoted together by age, with others of the batch; by tenure!

In Japan, everyone, even elite and fresh entrants, brain or muscle-workers, start from same salary, and from the very bottom at ground level, where action is, and internship is long; so you learn where the rubber of wheel meets the road, genba, where the action is! This cultural upbringing has led to work excellence; the Officers know things and people from the bottom level and so, Creativity, Cost-savings, Innovations happen at ground level with officers, staff, workers having the freedom to discuss and suggest.

And all this leads to good values of working-together, and are very useful in corporations and governance and this unity has made Japan a great nation, as once Bharat was.

iv) In contrast, here and in West, the separation of manager and worker, is a big problem. We both focus on individualism; we’re taught to be independent, show our capabilities; we ignore its ill effects on social harmony and cooperation, and leads to jealousies and we show little concern for each other.

 

v) In Japan the culture of hard work, team work, grew organically after 2nd world-war, where each villager became part of working teams formed as small cottage industries, to produce basic goods needed then; people shared their work and lives; strikes, laziness was no, no. This culture remained as the large MNC’s came into being; unlike hierarchical fixed systems of West, corporate culture in Japan is people focused and each worker is treated as a sha-in, akin to family member, not employee, and the organization works not for stockholders’ profit, but for well-being of members, satisfaction of customers. This culture of team work has now become their corporate culture.

In Japanese Corporations every member is equal and a generalist; each do different works, and so all get a holistic perspective. Because of life-time membership they all help each other and do what they are good at, i.e. their respective Swadharma, and there is no competition; so, they can be creative and suggest improvements, seek best way forward for long term good; no jealousies. Life-time employment, promotion by age, compliant unions, evolved from this background of village communes and cottage industries after war. Hiring and firing is allowed and inefficient firms die; not uneconomically kept alive!

3. Conclusion: India, aping the West, has ignored our indigenous culture of commitment to Duties and working together towards Perfection, engaged in our respective Swadharma. It is now necessary that education and Government train Indian citizens to be Karma Yogis, once again.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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