Chapter 17: Cultural Mythology and Global Leadership in India
Shanthi Gopalakrishnan and Rajender Kaur INTRODUCTION India is a kaleidoscope of diverse cultures and religions all of which have contributed to its numerous myths and legends. These in conjunction with its long history of colonial rule by the British for over 300 years, and the consequent introduction of Western systems of thought and education, have all gone into molding the unique sensibility of its people, and especially its elite classes, to which most corporate leaders in India belong. Increased multinational operations means increased multiculturalism within the organization and increased interaction between employees and managers of different cultures (Adler, 1983). Therefore, it is useful for foreign companies dealing with India to understand the customs, beliefs, and specific socio-cultural factors that drive the leadership, management techniques and decision making styles of their Indian partners. It is a commonplace truism in academic discourse in social and cultural anthropology that myths and religions are closely related. In ‘Redefining myth and religion: introduction to a conversation’ Loyal de Rue (1994) defines myth as ‘story’ and religion as ‘ties that bind’. He argues that ‘myth and religion are closely associated because a shared myth is the most efficient and effective means for achieving social coherence’ (315). This understanding of the relationship between myth and religion becomes useful in illuminating the extraordinary cultural currency that Rama and Krishna, two of the most popular cultural icons in India, enjoy, not just as beloved religious deities, but also as role models in conducting oneself in everyday life, as well...
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