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Backyard rivers.

Since India's market reforms, companies have had to become more innovative to remain competitive, says management consultant Arun Wakhlu. `There is a big need for integration across teams within a company, for example between research and development and marketing, or marketing and production. Human resources development is no longer a luxury but a necessity for survival.'

Wakhlu and his wife, Anu, founded Pragati management consultancy in Pune 13 years ago, with a small typewriter given by her grandfather. Today Pragati's 150 clients include some of the top multinational corporations in India such as Unilever, Philips Electronics, Castrol and Colgate Palmolive. So far, some 30,000 employees have been through Pragati's training courses.

Its eight consultants spend several days assessing a company's strengths and weaknesses before devising a `custom-built' programme for groups of employees or top management. The focus is on issues like leadership, creativity and team building. `In one company the top management team were not talking to each other,' Wakhlu recalls. After Pragati's course, the Chief Executive wrote to say that `peace and togetherness' had broken out.

But most important to Wakhlu is the appeal to the spiritual dimension in people. Pragati means `progress with purpose and a heart. For us it starts with the spirit.' Business is all about relationships, he insists, `and that includes joy and love as well as learning'.

Wakhlu, a graduate of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, has long felt that technology alone is not going to answer questions of human fulfilment and peace. He was influenced by the meditation methods of Hindu gurus, but admits that at first he wanted to keep spirituality peripheral. `Slowly I found that that was not good enough; it had to come bang in the middle.' Meditation is part of Pragati's programmes, and the staff use terminology appropriate to the religious convictions of their clients.

The response has been overwhelming. Thousands of individuals have written saying, `My whole life has changed'; `Exhilarating'; and `I am amazed to see my own potential and abilities'. Wakhlu comments, `It feels like selling water to people who have a river in their backyard. They just didn't know it was there.'
COPYRIGHT 1998 For A Change
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Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Smith, Michael
Publication:For A Change
Date:Oct 1, 1998
Words:360
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