Focus on core principles in 2017: Full text of Azim Premji’s letter

Four weeks ago in the gentle morning winter sun, I watched the assembly proceedings, of a school which serves a severely disadvantaged community, in Sirohi in Rajasthan. It was deeply engaging for me, because the children were completely and meaningfully engaged.

 

After the assembly, a confident young girl – probably no more than 11 years old – talked with genuine joy, about how good and satisfied she felt. This child was talking about the fulfillment that comes from something well done. Then, she posed a question to me: what was it that I have done, that makes me feel really happy and fulfilled?

 

It is not as though this question has not been asked of me before. But that moment and the question, was suffused with the child’s genuine curiosity and pure heart, and so became a moment of great clarity and insight for me. The greatest fulfilment is in knowing that the work that we are doing at the Foundation has some role in shaping confident, thinking, caring and ethical human beings like her.

 

For five decades, I have been completely invested in and its people. makes a real difference to its clients across the world, and this is what powers its success. It is your commitment and hard work, and that of every Wiproite, that actually makes this happen. I have the greatest pride in this.

 

The importance of this success of has become manifold more, because it’s the success of that enables the possibility of making a difference to some of the most disadvantaged people in the world. This is because almost 40% of is owned by a philanthropic trust, which is completely focused on trying to contribute to developing a better world, including helping children like the girl that I met in Sirohi.

 

On the eve of the coming New Year, I must say that the year 2016, seems to have raised questions and obstacles, on the path to a better world, which cannot be ignored. These questions have arisen from developments in the political arena, from the fast unfolding environmental crisis and from forces that want to shape the world in to a place of exclusion, conflict and suspicion.

 

Once we start addressing these issues head on rather than ignoring them, I am confident that we will continue to make progress. It’s not that only people in public life can play a part, but each one of us in our own roles can make a difference, and we as a company can make a substantial difference.

 

For this, I feel that if we use four principles to guide our actions, we can be constructive without yielding on the quest for a better world.

 

These four principles are:

 

* Finding Common ground: We must find common ground, rather than focusing on conflicts. The reality of the world is that there will always be disagreement and differences between people, but finding common ground is the only way of moving forward. This is as true in business as in politics and social issues, and as true in personal as in public life.

 

* Concern for others: We must have genuine concern for others. We must respect all human beings equally and we must have the same respect for nature. This respect must manifest in action. If we have concern, then finding common ground becomes possible.

 

* Connectedness: We must recognise that societies, economies, and the environment are all deeply connected. Individual human beings and peoples find meaning in this connectedness, not in separation and isolation. Our problems and solutions are deeply connected. So every effort of ours to find solutions and to find meaning, must strengthen this connectedness.

 

* Commitment to Values: The bedrock of everything must be an unflinching commitment to Values, at the core of which is Integrity. Integrity is certainly about honesty and honoring commitments, but it is more than that. It is about having the courage to persevere for what is right and what is good.

 

The child who asked me that question represents the possibility of the kind of a person who can help make a truly better world.

 

What inspires me and fills me with hope is that that child is not alone. Just in those six days in Rajasthan, in one of the most disadvantaged parts of the world, I met scores of people who have the same spirit, including women who have been victims of trafficking now fighting against it, public school teachers going way beyond the call of duty, NGO workers who have embraced the problems of others and the average farmer citizen who lends a shoulder to the fight for the good. All of them are people battling the most complex of challenges, yet unyielding in their efforts and positivism.

 

This is what I see across the world, from San Francisco to Tokyo, all places that I go to, I meet people with the same spirit and fire. That includes an uncountable number of Wiproites.

 

And that is why I am full of hope for a better world, a more just, equitable, humane and sustainable world. I know that if we persevere, we will prevail.