Ethics and Business: Evidence from Sikh Religion

28 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2013

See all articles by Charan Singh

Charan Singh

Indian Institute of Management (IIMB), Bangalore

Date Written: December 11, 2013


Ethics in business though a seemingly recent subject finds it roots in the ancient writings of Manu, and is even articulated in writings of Adam Smith (1776) and Max Weber (1905). As religions and culture have developed prior to modern business practices, the impact of religion on all aspects of business is expected. In this context, Sikh religion, relatively unknown and being of recent origin, also has some guidance to provide. Sikhism follows a two pronged approach – on one hand it guides to practice discipline and positive approach in all walks of life and on another explicitly mentions about various aspects of conduct and business practices. In brief, Sikhism encourages enterprise, workforce participation and economic progress. Rather, it redefines the concept of Maya, and preaches that not Maya but attachment to Maya has to be avoided. One of the three pillars of Sikh religion is to work hard and earn an honest living while the other is to share with others the fruit of such labor. As the emphasis is on family life, Sikhism encourages participation in economic and social activities. As Sikh religion does not discriminate between castes, gender or religion, it encourages high work force participation. Role of medicine, charity, and social welfare is considered paramount in Sikh value system. Finally, for a Sikh, human life in itself is a business, with every breath being a business period and the highest priority of life being Truthful Living.

Keywords: investment, ethics, business, labor.

Suggested Citation

Singh, Charan, Ethics and Business: Evidence from Sikh Religion (December 11, 2013). IIM Bangalore Research Paper No. 439, Available at SSRN: or

Charan Singh (Contact Author)

Indian Institute of Management (IIMB), Bangalore ( email )

Bannerghatta Road
Bangalore, Karnataka 560076
080-26993818 (Phone)

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