KPMG in India
As we celebrate Independence Day, we can take pride in India’s journey over the last 70 years. We have made progress in almost every dimension of human development alongside 40-fold GDP growth and 25-fold growth of per capita income over this period. But as a country we have many challenges ahead, much more to do. While the percentage of people living in poverty has declined from 50% to under 20%, in absolute terms the number of poor people is higher by 50 million than in 1947. Given the energy and innovation potential of India’s young people and the commitment of political leadership at the centre and most states, I am strongly optimistic about India.
KPMG in India is a proud partner in India’s progress. We are engaged in every one of Prime Minister Modi’s programs and we work with the leadership of a number of states. We are a firm of some of the smartest and most highly motivated people in India. The trust that our clients have in us is testimony to the quality of our work. Bound together by our KPMG story and our higher purpose of Inspiring Confidence and Empowering Change, our motivations are strongly aligned with India’s needs.
On this special Independence Day, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on the leadership principles of Mahatma Gandhi. We have so much to learn from his timeless example and lessons. Let me share with you a few aspects of Gandhi’s leadership that particularly apply to our journey.
First, Gandhi was a seeker of truth. This is core to what we do in our work, and we do this well. Taking a larger view, we must remember that Gandhi’s concept of truth and integrity is a profound one, where even laudable ends cannot be justified by ignoble means.
Second, Gandhi preached the value of beliefs, causes and commitments that transcend narrow and personal interests. We call this our higher purpose and it motivates us beyond our paychecks. And he showed how our country, our people, our organization and our teams must come before ourselves.
Third, in his actions, Gandhi exemplified the concept of transparency. He conducted his life in public view, prolifically recording his thoughts and actions for everyone to observe. He espoused unity of thought, word and deed: speak as you think and act as you say.
Fourth, Gandhi provided enormous priority to clarity of communications. He constantly shared not only his intentions and actions but also his motivations, and he did so with people who disagreed with him just as much as with his followers.
Fifth, he was a disruptor before the term was invented. Imagine taking on the might of a colonial empire, on which the sun did not set, with the concept of non-violence, fighting an armed power not with weapons but just a belief in truth and justice!
Sixth, Gandhi was a practical idealist. He did not pursue ideals or a higher purpose as a means of individual salvation. He had a very practical focus – to get things done, to achieve his objectives. This is an important lesson. Ideals must also be instruments to achieve one’s mission.
India has been blessed that its foundations were laid by exceptionally thoughtful and high-calibre leaders. I remember telling the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that this is a characteristic that India shares with the United States. While the U.S. had formidable figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, India had founding giants in Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Dr BR Ambedkar. The leadership of these men of intellect created nations that have endured and will endure. This is in stark contrast to so many countries that did not have such leadership, some right in our neighborhood, whose polities and sense of nationhood are fragile.
Great leadership helps create great nations. Similarly, I am sure leadership has a major role in advancing great firms. And it is not the leadership of just one individual, but of many talented people working together complementing one another, as the examples of India and America show.
Happy Independence Day and best wishes to each one of you and your families.