Vodafone's Sarin on India

arun_sarin.gifVodafone’s Arun Sarin is originally from a small village in central India. He left for the US to attend graduate school and more recently the CEO of Vodafone PLC. Recently, Sarin gave an interview to the WSJ and one of his quotes has stuck with me. I’ve been in India for 2 1/2 years and I’ve been trying to summarize the fundamental work culture of the East vs West. Sarin’s quote summarizes it best:

…what he considers American values: a hard-working ethic, openness and egalitarianism. America’s “go-getting values [were] what I was drawn to,” he says. He describes Indian values as “integrity, humility, a pretty heavy dose of fatalism,” of which he says he has bits of the first two but is “not into fatalism at all.”

Fatalism – a doctrine that events are fixed in advance so that human beings are powerless to change them; also : a belief in or attitude determined by this doctrine

Fatalism is so pervasive in India, you hear it when describing anything. You got into a car accident? it’s your destiny. You made a lot of money – it’s your destiny. Mukesh and Anil Ambani – it’s their destiny. I’m not sure if I fully buy into the fatalism argument and living in a country that is so focused on it sometimes makes things a bit uncomfortable.

Full WSJ article. (Tip – The link goes to the Digg site where all WSJ articles are free.)

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