The Gentle Art and Science of Management
The Gentle Art and Science of Management

The terrorists made no mistake there. There could be no margin of terror. They terrorised effectively, and their operations were perfect to a fault. They calculated to a nicety the probability of terror, and made damn sure that this probability was as high as they could help it.

They were a task force of ten, utterly committed, with the absolute exclusion of every other idea, to what they had been led to think was a noble purpose. They were afraid, mortified, indeed terrified to fail, as if such failure would mean their swift and summary annihilation at the ruthless hands of their masters, even as they plotted toward that very aim against their hapless victims.

They had been taught, under unrelenting pressure, every aspect, and compelled, under pain of swift and fatal retribution lest they should fail, to probe every murky corner of the physicality, psychology and emotionalism of terror, and so were terrified to a supreme degree of expertise to make a mistake. By comparison, Pavlov’s rigidly conditioned dogs were astoundingly free-thinking and independent indeed.

When the four parts of the human being – the physical, mental, vital and psychic – come together wholesomely, you have a complete human being. Such a being is beautifully integrated and is driven in his body, heart and mind by the central, innermost part – the psychic, or (ignoring for now a learned distinction) the soul. Every movement of the three outer parts is modulated by the benevolent influence of the psychic. In a word, balance reigns supreme as evidenced in the person’s thoughts, feelings, words and deeds.

The management of the recent great and mind-numbing terror in Mumbai was superb. Its quality and comprehensiveness was of text-book perfection. The gentle art and science of management was honed to a nicety. Planning, organizing, staffing, direction and control – the elements of management – were supremely evident. The state of preparedness of the young terrorists rivalled that of a 100 metres gold medalist sprinter at the Olympics.

They were ready, to the last man, to carry out their deadly terror operation without a single flaw. We were extremely lucky that while they almost managed this, but only just failed. A near-perfect error, that.

The excellence of the management process was used for unspeakably evil purposes here, and we were wondering why the terror initiatives almost succeeded beyond even their perpetrators’ wildest expectations, and why they finally failed and destroyed nine of their young protagonists, not to mention the momentous revelations of the anguished and shattered tenth.

Two devotees of Sri Aurobindo, husband and wife, recently attended a retreat on the Bhagavad-Gita, during which their mild-mannered and profoundly learned preceptor dropped a bombshell by declaring that some human beings did not have a soul. There was shocked and stunned disbelief in the audience. They could have taken anything else in their stride but this.

Later, at home, the couple was discussing this and one of them suggested that a likely explanation could be that, while all human beings are born with a soul in embryo, the development of the soul is severely stunted or abruptly halted, due to external environmental factors that such individuals find extremely difficult to resist.

Our terrorists were flawlessly trained, and comprehensively brainwashed to maniacally hate, kill and destroy. They were thoroughly primed to execute the ultimate error. In the highest sense, they were dead before they even embarked on their monumental folly – just as the evil enemies of the Pandavas were seen by Krishna, as He explained to Arjuna, to be already dead even before the Mahabharata war had actually begun.

It all came down to a tragic lack of balance. One remembers the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram of Pondicherry who quoted a sage who said: “There is no evil. There is only a lack of balance. Things are not in their place.”

The psychic in these misguided terrorists was not permitted to develop, thanks to the rigorous indoctrination they had received. They were therefore without a soul, so to speak, and were hence not integrated human beings. The benevolent divine force of the psychic was stifled and replaced by the mechanical reactions of a perfectly stuttering three-part engine.

Superb management — unparalleled indeed in its science and art — had been used to achieve all this. In this connection, do you remember bad old Adolf and Josef, that unspeakable duo of terrible, soulless twentieth-century asuras in human form?

Hoshang Dastoor

Hoshang Dastoor was born in Mumbai into a family of doctors. His early education was at St. Mary’s High School (Senior Cambridge Section) and St. Xavier’s College. He has a B.Sc. degree in Chemistry, is a Master of Management Studies from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, and an Associate Member of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India.

During his career, he worked mostly for three leading Tata Group companies, where he was mainly involved in the design and development of computerised business data processing application systems, improvement of business processes and in financial, cost and management accounting. Later and till 2016, he was Director – Management Services with one of the firms in the well-known Sharp and Tannan group of auditors and management consultants.

He has also written and circulated among friends and relatives numerous well-received stories and essays largely inspired by incidents from his own life. These pieces deal with several varied themes, such as humour, work, life, reflections, the Divine, etc.

He nurtures a lifelong passion for European classical instrumental music, and used to present weekly programmes of recorded selections at the Sri Aurobindo Society and similar monthly programmes at the National Centre for the Performing Arts of which he is a member. He enjoys unintentional and spontaneous humour.



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