Jalgaon, Maharashtra, 7th January 2003.
As an entrepreneur businessman, I have always viewed R&D as the critical first step to any commercial innovation. But it is a sad irony that science and industry often remain detached or work in isolation. This is more a tragedy of the scientific world than the business world. It has not found outlets to externalize the inventions, innovations and discoveries, and to put them to use for humanity’s advancement. Whenever inventions did find their way out of the laboratories, mankind used them for destructive purposes more than for gainful or peaceful ones. We discovered the atom. But what did we do with it? Now, an atom is an atom. Period. It is neither bad nor good by its properties. But instead of creating light from it which could illuminate people’s lives, we created bombs which took away lives.
We used chemicals as poison. In short, we used science to cater to the demands of the devil in us, rather than heeding to the voice of the angel. The main reason for the misuse of science is that when it manifests itself as an economic activity, it falls into the wrong hands. Men of responsibility from the scientific and business worlds either do not see eye-to-eye, or they do not cooperate with each other for the common cause of human welfare along with economic welfare.
Industry and science must meet and work hand-in-hand. The scientific world must realize that it is the industrious men who can commercialize their pioneering work and put it to good use. It is they who can unlock the applied value of science and create products that serve humanity. Industry is the vital link between the laboratory and the market. A scientific work, no matter how ingenious, can only gather dust if it is confined to the cupboards.
Knowledge and know-how need entrepreneurial zeal and zest to transform them into tangible gains. Moreover, if a scientific project of considerable value is shackled with limitations, it is only industry which can provide growth inputs. Whenever this synergy of intellectual and entrepreneurial genius has taken place, something of profound value has been created. ‘Mankind is more indebted to industry than to ingenuity because God put a price-tag on His favours, and industry was the buyer.’
I rate ethics and integrity very highly as guiding principles of science and business. Neither science nor commerce should view profits as their end objective. Neither of them should consider the means irrelevant to the ends. If science or business is not conducted ethically, imbalances and inequalities will abound in the world. Basic education, clean water, sanitation, primary health and nutrition are the rights of all world citizens. It would cost around $40 billion to avail the same to the world. But approximately, the same amount is spent on ice creams and perfumes in Europe.
An even bigger amount of $50 billion, is spent on cigarettes in Europe. While an infant is dying of starvation in one continent, the other continent is merrily puffing away billions of dollars into thin air. Men of conscience, whether from laboratories or factories, will not permit their pioneering work to be reduced to such apathy and unconcern.
Humans, as a species of superior intellect, have some special responsibilities. Our ingenuity is not meant to harm but to benefit our brethren, the lesser creatures on this planet, and the planet itself. Today, the cycle is going a bit in reverse. Science, through industry, has given us many possessions, but that has happened at the cost of basic necessities of the underprivileged. Restoring the balance is the fundamental and urgent responsibility of men from both sides. Have we ever thought about why is it that our chemistry almost never matches? Why it is that business and academics never see eye to eye? In actuality, we should be working in close collaboration to produce the best outcomes that would benefit all spheres of society. Any research per se may be of very high quality, but it is of little or no use unless industry converts it into products or services of lasting value. The country is not looking for vaults full of research papers; it is looking for something which makes the lives of people a little easier, a little better. So, instead of standing on the opposite banks of the river, we should be sailing in the same boat.
This post is an excerpt from “The Enlightened Entrepreneur”, which is a compilation of lectures that Dr. Bhavarlal Jain has given over thirty years. Replete with instances and expositions of what constitutes enlightened entrepreneurship: a notion that Jain iterates, must be embraced by each and every entrepreneur. This book provides invaluable insights into what successes and failures mean to a businessperson, the tenets of effective leadership and transformational businesses.
The book is available for purchase online at: http://goo.gl/5dgHLb or at the nearest bookstore.