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Gandhi Jayanti: Here's How entrepreneurs Get Inspiration from Mahatma's Principles On the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, a look at Gandhian values that start-up owners must implement in their businesses

By Shreya Ganguly

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"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

This observation is especially true when entrepreneurs are starting their ventures. Founders go through difficult times when they need to execute their start-up ideas and convince other stakeholders. On the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, let us look at how Gandhi's principles inspire Indian entrepreneurs.

Gandhi Jayanti is an important date in the Indian history which marks the birth of "The Father of the Nation' whose principles of truth, faith, simplicity inspires many entrepreneurs till date. Gandhi's Khadi movement began in 1918 in order to promote the idea that Indians can produce their own clothing with local resources without relying on high-cost foreign clothing. The movement was also important to show the colonizers that Indians were independent and capable of "self-reliance and self-governance".

The central government's "Make In India' programme to encourage companies to manufacture products in India thereby reducing dependency on imports is one of the examples of going "swadeshi'.

Self-belief is another important quality that entrepreneurs should adopt in order to overcome the challenges that come in the way of their progress. "One must admire and follow is Gandhi's principle of self-belief and conviction, especially when he knew he was pursuing a path very uncommon and unexplored; that too with a strategy that has never been proven to have been successful anytime before. Every leader needs to internalize this value, especially in a start-up environment where you are working on an idea that is not tried and tested, unconventional and definitely outside the box," said Sanjay Kumar, CEO & MD of Elior India.

Khadi, Salt Satyagraha Inspire Entrepreneurs To Experiment

"There are a lot of things start-up founders can learn from the Mahatma. For me, one of the most important lessons has been on leadership. He was known for being supportive yet honest with his followers and the people around him, and would often encourage them to be frank in their conversations with him as well. I feel this approach works well to build a healthy work culture within the organization. Make your employees feel comfortable sharing feedback with you as an open-door policy often works wonders. Give them honest and constructive feedback when required, and, most importantly, appreciate their efforts and motivate them to work harder," said Pushkar Mukewar, co-founder and co-CEO of Drip Capital.

With movements such as Khadi and Salt Satyagraha, Gandhi had also showed that experimentation is important to achieve success. "As a social entrepreneur I have always idealized Gandhi as an inspiration. A social entrepreneur must have skills such as positivity, sympathy, tolerance, honesty, integrity and comprehensiveness, and Gandhi had all of these," said Divya Jain, co-founder and CEO, Safeducate.

Entrepreneurs have to instill skills of observing a larger picture rather than chasing for short-term profits. "We need to self-introspect as Gandhi constantly did measuring his movements along with its long-term impact. He never lost sight of what he dreamt of India after Independence and entrepreneurship is all about experimentation and self-improvisation," Jain added.

Gandhi's Doctrines of Truth and Non-Violence

Gandhi's principles inspired people to bring in change. With doctrines of truth and non-violence, Gandhi brought about changes in the society through his will and love for people. "His philosophy and lessons motivated other great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela to push for transformative change in their own communities against all odds. These lessons, the possibility of overcoming enormous barriers, also inspire entrepreneurs to bring about transformative change in industry by staying true to one's vision and ethics and inspiring employees, partners and customers to join a movement for change," said Mahi de Silva, CEO and co-founder, Amplify.ai.

Start-ups work to solve issues in society to make living easier for the people and bring about changes. The growing start-up ecosystem is also looking to use technology for faster and enhanced development. Thus, following Gandhian doctrines to maintain strong will to bring about change is important for entrepreneurs.

"Just like India's Salt Satyagraha was applauded globally for the nation's infallible commitment to non-violence, there's a wave of technology, life sciences and social entrepreneurship inspired by the teachings of Gandhi that will be applauded globally for changing the world," Silva explained.

Gandhi's Belief About Sustainable Eco-system

"The Earth has enough resources for our need but not for our Greed" - Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi was not only working towards bringing change in Indian society, he also encouraged people to care about the environment.

At a time when Indian cities are being plagued by pollution and waste, several entrepreneurs have taken up the responsibility to promote green mobility to reduce air pollution due to vehicular emissions. "It was his belief that an ecosystem needs to be developed which could minimize the environment degradation and achieve sustainable development. It was these concerns of climate change which created a deep impact on me, and I followed the vision of being able to bring about sustainable development by addressing the alarming issues faced by the country--vehicular pollution and increased unemployment. It was then DOT was conceptualized and formed on the above principles as green and emission free logistic solutions provider," said Vineet J Mehra, managing director, DOT.

No matter what the challenges, following Gandhi's principles of truth, simplicity and hard work will continue to help India develop and fight with the odds, these entrepreneurs believe.

Shreya Ganguly

Former Features Writer

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