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Sunday, 24th September 2017
 
Diverse Ethics - Atul Shah - Wisdom Blog

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Ethical Finance - A Jain Perspective

The world is reeling with the tsunami of finance - complex, confusing, overpowering and fraudulent. And now we have Trump to add to all this. There is a real shortage of knowledge and training about different cultures and perspectives of finance - and relatively nothing is known about the Jains. Finance is a core subject in thousands of business schools all over the world. Even The Economist recently noted that the Gujaratis and the Jains are the worlds most successful entrepreneurs. Given the unique philosophy of the Jains, and their wide and sustained success in finance, Aidan Rankin and I have written this new book to help change the study of finance, and show students all over the world that different cultures of finance exist, are possible and above all, can bring a sustained spirit of contentment and success. For me, writing the book has been a thirty year journey - that is how long it takes to really understand a culture and communicate it to an audience which comes from a very different mindset and values. It is published by Routledge and comes out in April 2017. It provides radical and timely new theoretical insights into the arid and turgid desert of finance which is highly transactional and exploitative. Here is the Routledge website where you can order it. If you wish to read a summary of the book, then click on this link here.

The reason we wrote the book was because we are concerned to help the world and heal its wounds, like many of you. The book is nearly 200 pages long and contains Jain perspectives on typical finance subjects like profit, ownership, markets, investments, risk, return, debt, dividends and valuation. It also explains the basics of Jain philosophy and its relevance to the business world. There are stories and examples from true life case studies of Jain businesses, current and historic. 

The book shows that ethical finance need not be a new science or invention - much is already known from our past experiments and sustained successes. However, we have forgotten this today. It rekindles an interest in the links between wisdom and finance and shows that factors like trust, relationships, respect and contentment are keys to sustained success and business resilience. It exposes the fictions of what is taught as modern finance, and the technocratic approach which is so far removed from human values and ethics, and plays a key role in eroding our social and environmental fabric. The writing is simple and accessible, and both authors bring a wealth of experience and research to the topic.

Top 10 insights from the book:

  • Finance education has ignored culture and values. This is causing untold damage in the world. The Jains have place values and ethics at the forefront of their enterprise AND achieved sustained success.
  • Insightful stories and case studies from all over the world which show how Jains practice finance and achieve long-term success
  • Relationships are key to success, and can be nurtured through respect, understanding and a win-win approach, where there is no hurry to make a profit. Organic growth is better than speed and arrogance fuelled by debt finance and stock market funding.
  • Nature is a core part of life, and all living beings are worthy of respect, including plants and animals. Such a holistic philosophy changes the way one approaches and practices finance
  • Practicing ethical finance is not a sacrifice but a source of joy and self-fulfilment, leading to good mental and physical health
  • Jains have become national and global business leaders precisely because of their humility, self-discipline and lack of greed
  • When you posess, you become possessed. Instead, try not to get attached to your money or wealth or allow it to control your life, actions and relationships
  • Finance needs to serve the society and community, and never become its master or bully
  • Grounded living, where one is connected to people from all walks of life and lisens to them regularly, is key to checking the hubris of finance
  • We need not bully others or exploit or victimise them to achieve our own profit and success. All living beings are interdependent, and we should ensure success and happiness is available to all.

VIEW SHORT PROFESSIONAL VIDEO OF BOOK LAUNCH

TESTIMONIALS

I defy anyone with any business involvement to emerge from a study of this short but deep book without an acute sense of the hyper-crisis we are concocting for ourselves. The Jain business way, which is non-theistic, is, by comparison, wonderfully practical,insightful and consistent. In fact, their values and christian ones largely overlap. "Ethical Finance" should be compulsory reading in every Business School, for too many avoid consideration of the dire potential oftoday's vauntingly amoral commercial world. But Jains really do take their beliefs deeplyto heart, and live by them in business as at home.
Lord Andrew Phillips

This book provides a fascinating and detailed insight into a relatively unknown culture and code of ethics. I am sure it will help inform the corporate governance debate in the West.

 Professor Janette Rutterford, Open University

The book will give readers important and timely insights on how positive inter-relationships can exist betweeen finance, ethics and culture. It will appeal to students and academics across the business disciplines and to professionals open to debates on the power of cultural diversity in business practices.

Professor Alnoor Bhimani, London School of Economics

This work draws deeply upon the powerful wisdom of the Jains and their centuries of financial acumen. Shah and Rankin provide an invaluable resource for business schools, the financial sector, entrepreneurs and anyone interested in exploring new economic paradigms.

Lynne Sedgmore CBE, PhD, Former CEO, Centre for Excellence in Leadership and 157 Group, UK

Mere self interest and short termism has proven to be a catastrophic failure in finance. This books shows a very different and wise proven alternative - sustainable and ethical. 
Satish Kanabar, Former Director, Barclays

Jain teachings date back 5000 years to Northern India. Today, these teachings support a non-theistic religion, offer a practical living philosophy, and provide a set of values that inform the lives of some ten million Jains worldwide. Shah and Rankin explain how the Jain values of Anekant (respect for the views of others), Ahimsa (non-violence in action, speech, and thought), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness) can offer a useful guide to responsible business practices. The authors provide numerous examples drawn from the Jain business community. The examples are offered both as an anecdote to an overly arid and typically incomplete orthodox view of business activity and as a useful supplement to contemporary thought on sustainability and corporate social responsibly. The ideas are interdisciplinary and holistic and should appeal to a wide audience, including sociologists, business ethics scholars, accountants, bankers, economists, and business people generally.

Daniel T. Ostas, J.D., Ph.D., James G. Harlow, Jr. Chair in Business Ethics, Michael F. Price College of Business, University of Oklahoma, USA

Jainism and Ethical Finance represents a groundbreaking divining rod for the 21St century’s most pressing moral imperative: a guide to wise restraint and the simultaneous embrace of compassion in everything that human beings think, intend and do. Atul Shah and Aidan Rankin have written a treatise that clearly elucidates the underpinnings of a moral universe that is at once revolutionary –in the best sense- and crucial to the future of humanity and of all biodiversity on this precious earth.

Michael Charles Tobias, President, Dancing Star Foundation, USA.

In the face of widespread public distrust of modern banking and financial services, Shah and Rankin examine the enduring business practices of the Jain community and find hope for the future. Eloquent, timely and packed with wisdom.

John Christensen, Director, Tax Justice Network.

This very timely publication reflects on recent episodes of world financial crisis and political upheaval from the unusual and little-known perspective of Jainism, an ancient culture that has much wisdom to offer the modern financial world. Re-examining the western model of a global economy through a Jain perspective that questions these accepted practices, the book brings to light a tradition that respects the natural world as much as its inhabitants. Jainism has developed a different working model of finance that has successfully travelled the globe, but is not yet widely known. The authors bring together their contrasting cultural and professional experience most helpfully and clearly to put forward the successful Jain financial tradition based on holistic practices, spiritual viewpoints and ethical considerations that could have a huge and beneficial impact on day-to-day living, by prompting a different approach to individual wealth, the global economy and the fragile natural world we inhabit.

Professor Kanti.V. Mardia, Senior Research Professor and Emeritus Professor, University of Leeds.

Author  of The Scientific Foundations of Jainism, Jain Thoughts and Prayers,

Living Jainism : An Ethical Science ( with Aidan Rankin).

‘ Most, in truth, almost all texts on “finance” treat this genuinely important subject as a branch of mathematics. So you could be forgiven for thinking that a book on finance is really “not your thing”. I am pleased to say that Dr Shah’s and Dr. Rankin's account of ethical finance is quite unlike most texts in this area. It is – quite unlike these alternatives - genuinely unique and genuinely interesting. In short it should definitely be “your thing”. Why is this the case? The answer is simple – as all good ideas tend to be. Dr Shah’s account of finance and ethics is, both, unique and interesting because it builds upon an appreciation of the knowledge and experience of the Jain community. The book, therefore, offers a fascinating account of the Jains and builds upon this in-depth appreciation to demonstrate the ways in which this practical philosophy secures an holistic appreciation of the ecology of business and finance’. 

Professor David Collins, Head, Suffolk Business School

A book that we have all been waiting for. It offers fresh insights into the socially dysfunctional world of finance, governance and accountability from the spiritual perspective of Jainism. The book’s central message is that the relentless pursuit of shareholder wealth maximisation and personal wealth promoted by western theories is doing untold ecological and social harm because dominant western theories do not enable us to see things in their totality and thus ignore the consequences for ourselves and others. The book offers an alternative analysis and a guide to Jain economics, philosophy, ethics and forms of thinking. Give this book to your friends and family on their birthdays, Christmas, New Year and other events. In return you may well get new souls who are reflective and want to make the world a happier place for all.

Professor Prem Sikka, Essex University, Winner of Lifetime Academic Achievement Award

Atul Shah and Aidan Rankin are one of relatively few ‘dissidents’ in the finance and accounting world, and in a world crying out for new economic models, where finance has become dangerously uprooted from the societies in which it is rooted, this is surely a book whose time has come.

Nicholas Shaxson, Bestselling author of 'Treasure Islands'

Weaving ancient Jain theories on interdependence and co-operation into the complex financial world of modern western economies this book is an attempt to bring culture and values back into centre of the debate about finance. There are many views with regard to whether or not we are entering a “post capitalism” stage of economic development and this book broadens this debate, offering a fascinating alternative way of thinking about the underlying purpose and social role of financial institutions, money and material possessions.

Tony Fisher, Chair, Human Rights Committee, Law Society

It explains the philosophy of the Jains in a very accessible way, and there are rich contemporary and historic examples and stories of how Jains have behaved. What it shows is that a sustainable ‘culture’ of finance is possible. That is important. First because it is a story that needs telling. Second, because it says alternatives are possible. Third, I can see  its usefulness to students who are tired of the old fraudulent models and looking for new insights and solutions which are radically different.This insightful examination into ethical finance from the Jain perspective offers a roadmap for the economic and ecological well-being that we all desire but which has, so far, been denied us by our current western economic ideologies, such as those that led to the catastrophic banking crisis of 2007-2008.  The ancient spiritual wisdom of Jainism provides a practical modern philosophy for dealing with the pressing problems of our time.  The emphasis on the timeless value of interdependence, demonstrating how economics cannot be separated from ecological concerns, including the environment and human and non-human society, provides a refreshing alternative to the tired, old, western, economic ideologies that we have previously been accustomed to. 

Richard Murphy, Author of 'The Joy of Tax'

As such, this is probably one of the most important books that should be on the curriculum for students of economics, finance and politics.  It teaches us a refreshing ‘middle-way’ for combining our business activities with our social responsibility.  No longer do we need to choose between selfish, wealth-generating activities or selfless charitable activities.  Now we have the opportunity to combine the two in a holistic framework of ethical and sustainable business philosophy which benefits all - the economy, the environment and human and non-human society.  Our future depends on it.

Barbara Gardner FCA, author of 'The Compassionate Animal' and editor, Ark Magazine

 

Our vision is that in time, the universalist, compassionate and open-minded Jain Business and Financial Ethics become an important part of business education all over the world. This will help people understand that not all problems require new solutions - some of them have been there in our past, but we have forgotten them today. It will also showcase a practical role model of how business can be performed differently and still bring sustainable success. If anyone would like to help us realise this vision, through events or sponsorship, we would be glad to hear from you.

Please contact Dr. Atul K. Shah if you have any queries about speaker requests or how this book can be read and discussed all over the world by students and business owners and professionals. It would be great if you could post your suggestions below so that the whole world can see what you think about this perspective and its possibles. Perhaps you would like to add your own story about how you apply Jain ethics in your business and professional life?

Article added on 21st January 2017 at 4:21pm
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