Letter From The Editor: How to Study Human Endeavour

Business is all about leading and managing a human institution. If we bring a broader sense of the humanities to business, we'd certainly end up with a richer, better business world

Published: Apr 13, 2012

If you’re surprised to see Michael Nobbs on the cover of Forbes India, I’d say, don’t be. Starting with the one on Vishy Anand in July 2010, this is our third major cover story on sports. Let me explain why.

When I went to business school two decades ago, much of the focus of the curriculum was on sciences and social sciences. Courses on economics, operations, finance and marketing were considered the backbone of any business school curriculum. Yet our maverick dean Manesh Shrikant, who still teaches strategy using the Bhagwad Gita, encouraged us to also appreciate and learn the humanities. I remember being part of a drama group on campus and another one on music. And I vividly recall a class where the faculty relied on modern cinema to teach us leadership.


That’s why I feel enormously disheartened every time I hear Indian business schools offering admission to cartloads of engineers, all because they score high marks at the entrance exam. There’s something terribly amiss in that logic. In today’s world in which we live and work, business is all about leading and managing a human institution. And therefore, if we bring a broader sense of the humanities to business, we’d certainly end up with a richer, better business world.

There are countless scholars like Ed Freeman and CEOs like Steve Jobs who’ve openly talked about why we need to look beyond our straitjacketed idea of what counts as business—and realise the value of humanities to business. I strongly believe in that view. In our Billionaires Special (March 30, 2012), my colleague and our Executive Editor Charles Assisi wrote an incredible story where he tried to deeply understand if there was indeed a method in AR Rahman’s musical genius. The story found so much resonance with readers that it went viral on the world wide web and social media, smashing all our previous records.

This one on the Indian hockey coach is a must read for any corporate executive grappling with a turnaround situation. KP Narayana Kumar and NS Ramnath spent countless hours with Nobbs, his entire coaching staff, the players and administrators to provide a fascinating picture of a leader who’s attempting to rescue Indian hockey from oblivion—and winning back its place at the highest level. While you read the story, don’t miss the special care put in by our Director Photography Dinesh Krishnan to bring you exclusive images from inside the coaching camp in Bangalore.

Happy reading!

Indrajit Gupta
Editor, Forbes India
Email: indrajit.gupta@network18online.com
Twitter id: @indrajitgupta 

(This story appears in the 27 April, 2012 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Bhuvana Ramalingam

    Completely agree with you Indrajit. B schools have to emphasise the humanities beacuse business is all about people. Eductaional institutions should give emphasis on Liberal Arts education and make it attractive for yourng people choosing professions. But that can be done only if businesses hire people with such backgrounds. If an FMCG continues to hire engineer MBAs for good positions and pay them well, there is no way B schools can encourage humanities. Business and schools have to work together to achieve this.

    on Apr 20, 2012
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