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My shareholders pay me to make money, not controversy: Anand Mahindra

My shareholders pay me to make money, not controversy: Anand Mahindra
As a businessman, Mahindra believes in choosing his battles carefully, instead of taking a stand on every issue.
Corporate powerhouses in India are often faulted for toeing the line of the government, fearing a negative effect on their business interests. So, it was only a matter of time before a room filled with corporate supporters of a new education initiative were asked how they intended to ensure that the university will stay ‘liberal’.

One of the supporters, Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra decided to take the question “head on”. “First of all, many corporates are attacked, saying you are too careful,” he said. “You are not taking risks. You are not outspoken. I have a simple answer to that. It’s not about courage.

My shareholders don’t pay me to court controversy. If I give up my business and retire, I’m going to say what I like. But while I’m being paid by my shareholders, they don’t pay me to make controversial statements. That’s why we [corporates] don’t make those statements,” he said.

Conversation starter
Universities are important as they enjoy an elevated status in society and should be treated as safe houses. According to Mahindra, corporates are better off funding and supporting universities rather than making controversial statements or taking stands. In fact, even universities should restrict themselves to provoking conversation, he added, sharing the story from a dinner he’d hosted around the time Harvard president Drew Faust had taken over the top job at the university.

“Someone was goading her [Faust], ‘Why aren’t you taking a stronger stand on the environment?’ She thought for a while, and after giving an initial mundane answer about how many trees they had planted, she said, ‘My view of a college and university is that we have to catalyse conversation.

We don’t necessarily take stands’,” Mahindra said. “She said very beautifully, ‘Occasionally, universities have to take stands too. But we will choose our battles’,” he added.
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