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A business deal made easy for young minds

Sunday July 01, 2012 01:34:09 AM, Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS

New Delhi: Be it a toothbrush or a toy... each has a business story behind it.

The world of business is greening in years to touch kids in their everyday lives, says best-selling business author Subroto Bagchi, chairman and co-founder of MindTree Limited.

Bagchi's new book, "MBA At 16" (Penguin Books India) has been powered by a children's project - "Business With Bagchi" - under which the author spent four Saturdays with 17 boys and 14 girls from three schools in Bangalore brainstorming about business and its relevance in life.

"I went to a school in Bangalore and asked them to lend me some kids. The volunteers were given a copy of my first book, 'The High-Performance Entrepreneur' to read after which they were to write an essay on who they were, what they wanted to be and what were the issues in the world of business they wanted to address - in consultation with me," Bagchi told IANS in an informal one-on-one in the capital.

Bagchi has authored three best-selling business books, "The High-Performance Entrepreneur", "Go Kiss the World" and "The Professional", which has sold more than 150,000 copies.

"MBA at 16" builds its stories about business on the argument that today's teenagers are our smartest generation yet. They are tomorrow's entrepreneurs, investors, managers, policy makers, watchdogs - and consumers.

Bagchi explores the fundamentals of business with questions raised by his young volunteers.

Who is a social entrepreneur, why do we need business, is business good or bad for us and can there be business without corruption?

While answering about the need of the book, Bagchi said: "As business becomes a force, it becomes a double-edged sword too. It cuts the hand. Once a kid grows up and becomes a professional - a judge, policy maker or white collared executive or even a journalist - business will touch them."

The typical approach everyone has taken to writing about business is a text book, but children want to read Harry Potter, Bagchi said.

"I decided to write a book which has the power of fantasy and fiction; where the children learn about business through conversations with their parents, teachers and among themselves," he said.

The children were shown movies on social enterprise they were assigned field work on supply chains, the writer said.

After spending four Saturdays with the children, the author "threw away his old manuscript" and decided to make the 31 children characters in his book.

Explaining with an example, Bagchi said in one of the chapters, "A Day in the Life of Manisha Krishnan", the schoolgirl learns about the making of her toothbrush and the business of the product after she realises one morning that the toothbrush she is using has a complex manufacturing and delivery chain.

A girl has a crush on a geek, who initially does not respond. Then the geek has a crush on the girl, who does not want the geek any more. "There is a thaw and then the two learn about branding - the girl is after all a brand," Bagchi said citing a parable from his book.

The writer said it was possible to do business without engaging with the "evil".

"The fascinating thing around us today is evil is cancelling evil. I am the power of good and I have to fight evil that is a self-destroying virus. Who is a whistle-blower? A disgruntled bad guy. Business can thrive in corruption. When Iraq did not have a government, business was happening, when even bullets fly overhead and there is chaos or corruption, business goes on. Business is adoptive," Bagchi said.

Dont worry about the tail, worry about the dog..., the author summed up.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at



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