August 29, 2012

GOI Bans Social Media

Just half an hour ago Social Media has been banned in India. You can't access Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook but TED is still on. Today is a historical day in India when judiciary has shown the gumption to convict a Minister Dr Mayaben Kodnani for her role in massacre of 85 Muslim children & women in Naroda Patiya in Gujarat, India in 2002.Today is also a day of the SC upholds sentence of Ajmal Kasab a Pakistani terrorist involved in 26/9 attack in Mumbai. Text messages had already been under ban for the past week.

I am not sure how to react to GOI ban on social media. The govt must have its reasons for doing so as NE  India has been embroiled in communal clashes for almost a week. Indians are used to all kinds of restrictions and shortages. We take it as part of life and squeeze our-self in the continuously shrinking space for living due to over population.

Social media allows ordinary people to have a voice on issues that matter to them. It is damn empowering tool that scares the shit out of people who want to regulate information. Social media may limit an individual's  social interaction in the real space but it offers enormous opportunity for connecting virtually with global audience. So if you are the only one in your group who enjoys poetry you could go online and share your experience with the connoisseurs.

August 28, 2012

Congress Vs BJP: Political Marketing 2002-14

If you tell a big enough lie, and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed-Adolf Hitler

India’s oldest strongest & most suitable political party is upset. Congress is upset by calumnious propaganda tirade let loose by the principal opposition party BJP. The party takes solace in its domestic & global achievements and expected a pat on the back from citizens as well as opposition parties in India.  

Congress wants BJP to be accepting & approve good work done by Cong & criticize wherever they go wrong.  It is upset over BJP’s frontal attack on the party & its leaders. On its part BJP, a Hindutva supremacist RSS backed organization, is completely consistent in behaving as per its DNA.  Did it walk any differently on the ramp in 2009? Perfect Competition is a Utopian economic concept that envisages that one must continuously keep working to have equilibrium state for level playing field. We live in real the world.

Congress has a convincing case against BJP but it has to do more as it’s not a two horse race. A secular Congress has been secure in the thought that since rightwing BJP is a Hindutva supremacist party therefore a diverse India has no choice but to vote for it. This deduction looks very attractive but is it enough? Now let us examine the fundamental premise of this logical conclusion.  

A Hindutva BJP has no chance of winning against modern secular Congress unless it discredits Congress on some serious secular all encompassing factor.  Well the BJP/RSS strategists got to work in their usual manner, which is to go back into past to discover something that they thought made a lot of sense to Hindutva ideology and then try recreate, rejuvenate & bring back that into present. Essentially dig up something from past to throw at people to embrace it for a better future.

Congress in its present avatar cannot be accused of being tough & undemocratic with state governments-Modi despite serious charges get to keep his job- therefore corruption seemed to be the other original idea for BJP. You would recall in 2004 & 2009 BJP failed to convince citizens that it has ‘strong’ & ‘nationalist’ leaders that can lead India in twenty first century. So the opposition party had no choice but to paint the incumbent party as corrupt.  

BJP cleverly orchestrated campaigns led by organization outside sangh privar to accuse the Congress. Anna, Kejriwal & Ramdev were mounted to launch attacks at the incumbent party to achieve their political objective. BJP plan is simple. Create a bigger specter of corruption to camouflage the demon of racial cultural supremacy so that masses begin to see it as foremost present danger from among various other general threats. It looks fairly simple game plan.

BJP thinks that since Congress led UPA is the incumbent coalition therefore corruption issue could not boomerang on them. Well incumbency in politics also referred to as ‘Winner’s curse’ has been investigated in depth & many papers are available on this premise in political marketing literature. As political marketing student let me say that ‘corruption’ as an election issue in India has limited appeal.

India is land of perennial elections. Elections are so frequent in India that you wonder why not outsource the work to some private corporation to lower the cost. There are large companies conducting test & research activities with six sigma accuracy, they certainly would be able to plan & execute election at much lower cost in these crunch times for governments all across the globe. If the government gets out of business of conducting elections it would bring more transparency & neutrality to the exercise.

Marketing concepts & tools are often used by political players to establish & grow their relationship with citizen voters.  Political players in India are no stranger to use of it. Let me flag some critical marketing issues related to current tug of war in India. BJP has succeeded in getting far higher SOV (share of voice) at present what is has to do now is to achieve similar SOH (share of heart) & SOM (Share of Mind). What the incumbent Congress need to do now?

Congress surely has greater SOH & SOM amongst all segments of India. It needs to recover the lost ground in SOV. But let me caution that it has been established beyond doubt that incumbent party would be better off without winning the race for higher SOV. Congress party should not get carried away by media’s need for 24x7 sensational entertainment and continuously work towards having greater acceptance among elderly & youth segments in India.

India has seen Anna & Ramdev events put up by BJP strategy team and is looking forward to a Congress show of strength outside Parliament to enable the masses to determine the winner.  Congress needs a new social media strategy to counter the opposition media war. A winning strategy should be clearly differentiated one so as to counter the challenger & present your brand equity rather than engage with opponent on their turf & conditions. Congress has to augment its current media strategy.

August 4, 2012

Decline in Higher Education in India: MBA B.TECH

The Goal: Education has always been associated with higher achievement in life. Aesthetics, Health, Wealth, and Kingdoms could be created & experienced by an educated mind.  Ancient India gave highest regards to teachers by addressing them as Guru.  A Guru is one who dispels darkness by enlightening human mind.

Innovation vs. Tradition: Couple of decades ago India allowed private capital into setting up of higher education Institutes & Universities.  AICTE & other regulatory bodies were created to oversee the quality of education so that suitably trained human resources are made available for nation building activities. The initial focus of this move went into creation of capacity in Engineering, Medical & Management field. This led to proliferation of large number of Education Enterprises across length & width of India. Since Indian society do not encourage independent  original thinking therefore everything new can only be allowed if there is enough evidence of its existence somewhere else on the planet.

Wrong biz model: India is a land of happy number two unlike some other cultures that encourage & reward original thinking & innovation. So to justify the case for privatization of higher education, the success of privately managed US universities were cited.  Our bureaucracy did not bother to study the financial model for independently funded higher education institutes.  It’s criminal to allow such institutes to meet their finances entirely from students’ contribution.  Did the Babus in government borrow the model from infamous tuition shops in India? Receipts from tuition fee do not make more than 20-30 percent of the revenue of such higher education institutes in the world. They have other fund raising routes & the head of institution spends most of his time on raising funds leaving academics to the faculty.

Private vs. Public: A society needs to invest in education for sake of its future. No reasonable country leaves the task of educating its citizens to parents alone. That’s why Indian govt too provides free compulsory school education to all citizens.  Why the same government does not rationalize the financing of higher-ed institutions in India? This has led to deterioration in quality of education and entry of questionable people as promoters in this critical sector. For instance if you look at the profile of such institutes you shall find that most promoters themselves have had no education at all and they do not understand the value of core purpose of education which is to enlighten a mind. So many of such institutes have names from our ancient past that shows how much freedom such institutes would allow to students & faculty to prepare for a better future.   

Education & Employment: Student in India struggle to enroll in courses & schools that could ensure them a campus placement since employment scene in India is getting darker by the day. Rise of IT sector in India led to large number of students opting for IT related courses.  Investments in infra sector attracted students to go for civil & mechanical courses. MBA had emerged as all encompassing route to enter corporate sector which changed many lives in a significant manner.  Architecture courses attract many looking forward to join construction design boom. Medical education in private sector has expanded a lot despite many controversies.  Even after more than a decade of opening up of this sector the craze for government & autonomous higher education institutes have not diminished.  B.Tech  & MBA seem to have lost their attraction as reflected in dwindling admissions in private universities & institutes.  

B.Sc or B.Tech? Why the students have begun to opt for traditional of or B.Sc instead of B.Tech or BBA/BCA? Why Industry has refused to offer higher salary to MBA grads in comparison to other courses.  It wouldn’t be inappropriate to mention that they syllabi & teaching methodology of B.Sc courses & B.Tech is exactly same.  Even the hallowed IITs teach Engineering science rather than technology. There is hardly a privately funded institute that is treating B.Tech program as a technology course. So a student has the option to enroll in a B.Sc course rather than wasting time & money on a B.Tech program. Market forces have played out and student enrollment in B.Tech courses have fallen in 2012.

MBA Edge: As the industry left Hindu rate of growth behind and economy began chugging along with an unprecedented 8 plus growth rate millions of jobs in corporate sector were created. The corporate began recruiting MBAs in 1990s on higher salaries in droves. This fuelled mushroom growth of MBA institutes across India. Unfortunately an MBA from an average institute cannot find a job these days so new admissions have become a challenge.

Experience vs. Degree for Faculty: MBA has lost its sheen primarily for the same reason which led to unpopularity of B.Tech program which is lack of suitable faculty.  B.Tech & MBA courses require industry experienced faulty with or without a master degree or PhD.  AICTE dominated by academicians from public funded institutes cannot appreciate difference in approach to teaching of B.Sc  & B.Tech course. MBA is taught by faculty that can handle MA Eco or M.Com courses. So what’s the difference in the two programs?  A B.Tech with 10 years of engineering experience would be an excellent replacement for an Engineering professor with PhD.

No institute can guarantee a job unless economy starts gaining momentum once again. Main purpose of education is to open a mind and develop new skills of an individual. Unless an institute gets down to teaching courses in right manner it would find difficult to survive in mid to long run. And students who could master appropriate skills & attitude would not find it difficult to get a great invitation to put their learning to test. 

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