The Lesser known story of Mahabharat:
The Epic tale of Mahabharat has many anecdotes, which educate every human about life’s virtues. Some of them have been encapsulated in Bhagwad Gita in form of Lord Krishna’s teachings to Arjuna.
Yet, one story which doesn’t form part of too many books or lessons is story of friendship & revenge of Guru Dronacharya & Drupad, the King of Panchal and complete annihilation of Kuru Dynasty.
Drupad was the only Prince of Kingdom of Panchal, whilst Drona was the son of a Saint (Rishi) Bhardawaj, a poor hermit. Both went to the same Gurukul and imbibed same knowledge of Weaponry and Shastras (sacred writings). Repeatedly in Gurukul, Drona helped Drupad with his studies and with everything else, he could possibly do for a friend. When Gurukul got over, both friends decided to remain in touch and help each other in times of need. Drupad further offered to part with half of his kingdom, (when he takes over reigns of Kingdom of Panchal) to his friend in return of the favors his friend has extended during the stay in Gurukul.
Years passed, Drupad became a mighty king and expanded his hold on Panchal. On the other hand Drona despite of being knowledgeable remained poor. He got married to another Saint’s daughter and had a son Ashwatthama. Drona was living in abject poverty & friends of Ashwatthama usually made fun of his destitution. One day Drona decided to visit his old friend Drupad and seek his help as promised, at the time of parting from Gurukul.
Drupad a mighty king forgot his past commitment and offered few cows, when Drona asked for half the Kingdom of Panchal. Dejected Drona decided to seek revenge. As the luck would have it, Bhishma the Great Grand father of 100 Kauravas and 5 Pandavas (between whom Mahabharat happened) decided Drona to be their teacher. After years of education, Drona asked for Gurudakshina or payment for his teachings. He told Kauravas and Pandavas to defeat Drupad and take over Panchal. Kauravas failed in this endeavor whilst Pandavas triumphed over Panchal. Drona then, reminded Drupad of the promise and humiliation he faced.
Drona then took over half the kingdom and made his son Ashwatthama as it’s king and second half was given back to Drupad to rule.
Drupad kept quiet, with no choice in front of him but sought retribution. In the epic War of Mahabharat, Drupad’s son Dhrishtadyumn killed Drona and his daughter Draupadi became the cause of end of Kuru Dynasty.
The Corporate World:
In the famous apple story, Steve Jobs (Cofounder of Apple) brought in John Sculley, the youngest ever President of Pepsi and the marketing genius to transform marketing efforts at Apple. Sculley was named the President of Apple Computers. In no time Sculley, sidelined and conspired to throw Steve Jobs out of Apple.
12 years later, Steve Jobs was called back to turn around Apple, Whilst Sculley was removed in 3 years.
Why am I telling these stories and what they got to do with Investments?
The phrase “Axe forgets but Tree Remembers” simply means, an unjust act is never forgotten and repercussions follow, more often than not from the same person to whom injustice has been inflicted upon.
In the world of investments, especially in equity investing, most people rely on friendly advice than specialists. One caveat here, specialists may also fail but atleast they take informed and well researched decisions while investing in businesses.
The cycle of investing in stocks/ shares generally start with a friend, neighbor, colleague or peer who is PERCEIVED to have better economic acumen or financial know-how. He mentions about few successes he had in the near past. Interestingly he never shares the losses or slippages he had during this journey. Subconsciously, he becomes a hero and a go to man in the mind of the investor.
God forbidden if he has connects with some operators who manipulate stocks (Wash trades) & who give continuous TIPs. He passes them on bragging about his past success. As time passes and greed catches up, the entire Principal invested gets jeopardized due to decline in value when the game of the operator stops. In every game which is managed, someone necessarily has to loose. When investment is done in rigged stocks/ shares where price of the stock is NO WHERE related to the Profits, ROE, Capital Allocation or Corporate Governance, the outcome is guaranteed to be a bad one . This entire game rests only on HOPE.
As hope fades out, Capital, close friendship and good relations are lost parallelly. Those episodes are never forgotten and one becomes completely averse to equity investing which is the simplest and most transparent way of Wealth Creation. Thus event gets over, but memories of such incident remains forever and continue to haunt the future, leave apart the past.
In another story of Corporate India, Tata Motors had a meeting with Ford Motors in 1999 in Detroit to sell their Passenger Car segment which was struggling at that point in time after failure of hatchback Indica. The team from Tata Motors including the Chairman was humiliated by Ford Officials.
In the words of a Senior Tata Group veteran,
They told us 'you do not know anything, why did you start the passenger car division at all'. They said they will do us a favour by buying our car division,"
9 years later in 2008, Ford Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, were bought over by Tata Motors. At that point in time Ford chairman Bill Ford thanked Tata Motors, saying, “you are doing us a big favour by buying JLR',"
Thus “Never treat anyone unfairly, time may change and he may become the reason of your downfall”.
Ambit Asset Management