Millennium Post

Entrepreneurship Culture

India is battling a fear of failure which is preventing individuals from acing the field of entrepreneurship writes Dipak Banerji.

In an article titled, 'How To Stop Worrying and Love Failure', Mr Rajan Anandan, Vice President and MD of Google India Ltd, had something interesting to say. He wrote, "Asia, as a region had the highest fear of being an entrepreneur and India, is no different from anywhere else. Almost 40 per cent of potential entrepreneurs in India don't set up their businesses because they are worried about failure. In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 20 per cent of people surveyed said they were afraid to fail. When did India become a less scary environment than Africa? That fear explains why we Indians avoid being entrepreneurs and why we must change. Ironically, there has never been a better time to set up a business in India."

Here is what an Indian patriot-saint and yogi suggested from the US in 1890, for his fellow Indians back home. "If anyone forms a company and exports Indian goods here (to the USA) and into England, it will be a good trade. Dal Soup will have a go if properly introduced. There will be a good demand for these things if they are sent from house to house in small packets with directions for cooking on them and a depot is also started for storing a quantity of them." The name of the yogi was Swami Vivekananda.
Between then and now, there has been some welcome change in this direction. But the level of activity is far below the optimum. So much so that India, with its galaxy of star leaders in the global corporate community, lags behind Sub-Saharan Africa in nurturing entrepreneurs out of the fear of failure.
The point, therefore, is to revive the culture of fearlessness inherent in Indians. The percentage of normal fear is only 5 per cent as against imaginary fears of 95 per cent. Normal fear is healthy fear. Imaginary fears have no objective reality. Is there any certainty in any sphere of life? Everything we do is a calculated risk. A noble mission, an intense passion or tough times open up an unknown column of energy to withstand failures with enthusiasm. Fortune always favours the prepared, albeit with successive burn-outs.
What is the way by which we can get rid of this fear psychosis? Before we try to delineate steps to bring about this change of culture, it will be worthy to muse the reasons that have led us to embrace this culture of fear.
First, the colonial and post-colonial hangover of our naukri culture sapped our love for independence and sense of self-reliance. Second, technological development and economic imperialism of the Highly Developed Countries had driven our young aspiring professionals to seek instant gratification.
But what happens when the world economic order takes a downturn? Let us have a look at the latest job-report of ILO World Employment and Social Outlook for 2017. The number of unemployed people in India is estimated to rise from 17.7 million to 18 million by 2018. Globally, the ILO reckons that the number of unemployed people will increase by 3.4 million in 2017, with the pace of labour-force growth out-stripping job-creation.
In such a scenario, we may huddle together and pray for jobs to come from nowhere. Alternatively, we may opt to be courageous and strive to become entrepreneurs. In all probability, success will be ours.
An entrepreneurial nation requires the active involvement of all sections of society—spiritual masters, writers, academic institutions and corporates. Ideally, we should start with high school students. With creative modules of motivation, we can sow the seeds of dreams and self-reliance into young minds. Parents and teachers are great motivators. Home is the springboard of a value-based culture. Teachers as mentors and friends leave lasting impressions on students even after they leave campus.
Universities, academic and professional institutes, engineering colleges and business schools can play significant roles in inspiring students to become entrepreneurs. Corporates, through CSR programmes, could launch innovative training modules to have a cascading impact on employees, their wards and vendors. The idea is to cast the net wider to encompass individuals from diverse sectors viz. NGOs, advocators of women empowerment and rural development.
We do not have any dearth of talent or intellect. What is needed is a determined attitude to becoming self-reliant. Many nations have done it successfully. They are now the role models for others. Let us consider three instances.
The USA is what it is because of her entrepreneurial culture. The early settlers had to face a lot of hostility. They had to strive to create a life of bounty from scratch to become an icon of world-class supremacy.
Japan was pulverised to ashes after WWII. Once, the Japanese products were even synonymous with cheap price and poor quality, but Japan surged ahead of the debris and banished both the tags to redefine quality and productivity standards worldwide. Today, Japanese products outclass the pioneers in automobiles, electronics and several other industries. Unsurprisingly, Japan is also a hub of teeming small-industry entrepreneurs. China offers yet another inspiring case study. After years of communist rule decrying individual ownership and wealth accumulation, it is baffling how its leaders could motivate people for such a gargantuan change!
From the above examples, it is simple to infer that, given the urge and the will, we can resurrect a culture of fearlessness to become job creators and not just job seekers. We are at the crossroads of a cultural evolution and it is pertinent to recall what Charles Darwin prophesied about evolution in a related context: "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
(The views expressed are strictly personal.)

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