December 13, 2013

Why no Amul from Punjab? Verka & Food brands !

Punjabis are known for hard work and entrepreneurial nature. They happily venture out on paths where few dare to trot. Punjab has considerable expertise in manufacturing as some punjabis have done quite well at the global and domestic level. When we discuss cycles, milk products, yarn, hosiery, knitwear, hand tools, sports goods there are some sparkling stories. But why do we not have a 'brand' like Amul, Dettol, Britania etc ?Punjabis are popular for thier appetite and fine eating, what stops us from creating a brand ? Lassi has market potential, why not have a branded lassi ?

As consumers are becoming more demanding the food companies have to work  overtime to convince the buyers to depend on them for offering nutrition combined with pleasure. Therefore food companies are taking fatty foods off the shelves and replacing them with the healthier foods. You may segment the food along four benefits; Nutrition, Taste, Health and Pleasure. What are the alternatives with the Cola majors like Pepsi & Coke? Would they be able to sustain a strategic attack on their consumption? Could they survive by asking consumers to go for cola drinks for pure pleasure? Or could they pass off as the tastier water available? They would find it very scary to go for a pleasure tag. Certainly they would never imagine killing their market by hawking Cola as a health drink. How the future is going to play out is a million dollar question.Snack food market in India is dominated by the unorganized sector.

Future may be different. The organized retail revolution unleashed in India would change the contours in no time. Most retailers have or are in the process of launching their own snack food brands. The local small snack food players would be edged out from the market and would remain in business as vendors of the large stores.

The evolution of biotechnology would also upgrade the snack food portfolio.The sweet snack food segment dominated by biscuits is experiencing real tremors with entry of new competition from within and global market. Players in biscuit market are planning to launch biscuits as a healthy snack food. We are all convinced with cereals and dalia etc as a healthy food. But a snack is a snack.

How can you force fit a biscuit to pass of as a health food? Surely a snack food product positioned on health benefit segmentation is in nothing but a horrendous idea here in India.

Hope no snack food player would like to present their products on the lines ofChawanprass or some Churan. If they do how would the packaging look like? Would it look like a health product, a medicine or some happy pleasurable packaging? How many snack food players have we got in the Punjab region? Not many! Why is it so when there is huge market available in the region? When you shop for a snacks all you see if Frito layHaldiram, and 2-3 local players.

We know that being a developing country that has recently come out of a total regulatory regime, our entrepreneurs are more comfortable with production than being adept in marketing their produce. Every big small town in the region has 1-2 famous snack food player. How we all miss the great retail effort undertook by Lovely Sweets from Jalandhar.Gopal from Patiala has also flexed its muscles but have not taken a real shot at becoming an established player. Dhoda sweets may have shifted base to Ludhiana but their product line is woeful short.Cremica has opened up into this domain but they seem to be satisfied with organic growth only.

When would we see a snack food brand leveraging the worldwide appeal of PUNJABIDHABHA and SHER-E-PUNJAB? Is someone listening!

Will India Change in 2014, for better or worse?

India is a unique country in some ways than the rest of the world, despite many similarities. Most differentiating features of India that make it unique are the population, film industry, cricket and the Hindu way of life.  Besides these four, India is an average country.

Many economists & leaders have debated the challenge of massive population and have either saw it as an impediment to growth or a demographic dividend. If you have no preconceived socio-political agenda, then you can’t see huge unskilled population of India as a beneficial positive factor?

Besides population explosion the other arena where India is undisputed, but dubious, leader is the so called film industry.  Indian films are exactly similar to Indian people, well few exceptions to the rule can’t be denied. Indian people fail to win at Nobel & Olympics, two main global events that recognizes the power of the intellect & physical strength, respectively. And Indian movies too, like the Indians, fail to get recognition at the Oscars.

Besides filmed entertainment the other most pervasive entertainment that India is known for is the game of cricket. Despite more population than any other country on Earth, India fails to compete with nations with 1/100th of population, at the Olympics and the FIFA world cup. India’s neighbor, PR China, is home to as many people as India but it wins way more medals at Olympics. Cricket, like Indian films, keep people lost in the make believe world to escape the realities of life.

Let's examine how the controversial issue of how a Hindu way of life could impact the future of India. Descartes said ‘I think therefore I am’.  People become what they believe in & form groups with the other like-minded individuals.  People are different from each other more at the psychological level than the physical. India is a large diverse place united by foreign invaders from came from afar & sometimes from other continents. Many Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, & Muslim kings have ruled some small parts of India from time to time in history but none could ever succeeded in uniting all Indians under one umbrella. Therefore when the British decided to leave India, post WWII, local political leaders could not keep it united and India was divided in 1947.

One part of India became Pakistan in 1947. Religion divided India. The founders of Pakistan followed Islam but were Indians by nature & culture. They certainly were not the descendants of Turkish or Persian Kings. The largely Hindu India, many Hindus leaders say Sikhs are part of Hindus but no Sikh leader agrees, decided not to make India follow a Hindu way of life. India in 1947 naturally & wisely chose to be a secular country surrounded by Hindu Nepal & Muslim Pakistan in 1947.

Since India failed to tackle twin challenges of poverty & population due to the culture & character of people, the Hindu religious lobby is projecting the utopia of ramrajya as panacea for better governance. The clamour for running India according to the Hindu way of life is growing by the day. And, this has led to emergence and popularity of Narendra Modi. Indian media is largely in Hindu hands, so it has chosen to promote Modi, than question him for 2002, and his unknown agenda for governance. If a religion based Hindu state of Nepal & Islamic republic of Pakistan could not do better than secular India till today, why alter India’s character by imposing Hindutva? India doesn't need to return to Hindu roots as that would hurt its economic & social fabric. India needs to become a modern scientific nation.

Hinduism can’t solve the problem of poverty. India need to change from a Hindu way of life & leave behind asphyxiating caste system that divides people & subjugate the majority of skilled workers. The caste system creates an unequal social order that stigmatizes people and rob them of their dreams of achievement & growth.  Whenever in past a part of India broke away from a Hindu way of life, it benefited with exponential growth. Rise of Sikhism in Punjab is proof of this thesis.  Punjab has mostly been an area under influence of Sikh culture of equality since 17th century. Sikh gurus preached a message of universal brotherhood and condemned the caste system that divides & subjugates the skilled people in society. Punjab has remained most progressive state in India despite small size & geographical bottlenecks.  

If anything needs to be changed asap in 2014, so that Indians could have better economic & social future, make Hinduism free of the caste bias. Once most of India feels free & equal, it would find the way to progress. 

November 15, 2013

Another Election Season in India. 2013-2014.

A republic is based on equality of citizens rather than domination of majority over minority or vice a versa.  

Modi campaign strategy of direct attack, commonly used in American electioneering, doesn’t suit a developing country with a diverse & fractured society. It may win over many semi-educated urban middle class voters, but it would surely aggravate the fissures in society. Besides it lacks the potential to benefit the rural voters.

Marketing strategists in India often sing the paeans of how an upstart Nirma took on mighty MNC brand Surf and took away a large market from right under its feet. To drive the point succinctly & with more emphasis, the citation is followed by another case that of Kwality -Walls vs the rest of India.  The audience & students feel motivated to know the outcome, though a little bewildered. The victory of home grown brands over the European empires on Indian soil or anywhere else is a rarity. Both the cases depict defeat of the behemoth HUL, which continues to be market leader in fmcg sector in India.

Political marketing borrows concepts, tools and strategies from commercial marketing and apply them to field of politics.  Cornerstone of political strategy is the campaign theme & communication strategy. The incumbent & challengers need to craft the political strategy in a manner that it could attain strategic balance between discrediting the opponents & creating positive image and goodwill for its programs and leadership. It looks easy on paper but its complex to design and implement with success.

Campaign theme must be designed keeping in focus the political agenda and profile of the citizen voters.  In a large diverse country like India, one theme doesn’t fit all, so a political player would do well to segment carefully and then make a suitable promise to convince the citizen voters to come out and vote. A great strategy would also require assessment of position of a player in the total market. A rank outsider can gain by adopting frontal attack strategy aimed at the market leader or the incumbent political party. But close competitors must avoid a direct confrontation because usually the lower positioned guy would lose more naturally. So what can number two do to become the leader? Go the Avis way, work hard & promise less. 

August 25, 2013

Education, Life & Change.

When a student from Chandigarh won Singapore Airlines Youth scholarship, few years back, it made a news.Many other bright Punjabis head abroad in search of good higher education as well as to escape the cut throat competition in India. You would agree that many Punjabis go to study abroad with an aim of completing education in the place they wish to work & live. Many bright Indians who enroll in IITs also head for foreign shores for further studies or employment. It would not be out of place to mention that none of Indian higher education universities figure of world's top 200 anymore. Perhaps the decay in India is not limited to quality of education only.

Education has long been considered as the most potent elixir for social mobility in a hierarchical society of India. Therefore middle class Indians, spend huge sums on higher education with hope to improve their employment prospects and consequent standing in the society. Almost 15 percent Indians go for higher education, part of that, a small section, head abroad to all sorts of countries & universities. The reasons could be rational, emotional or social for deciding upon the country or university one may chose to attend abroad.

As a child i recall visiting uncles & aunties to our home as an annual feature. It would be joyous occasion for all children as every visitors would bring some gifts that were not available in India. Although visiting relatives from Europe would bring more gifts than those from Africa. Punjab may geographically lie in India & Pakistan but Punjabis are found in almost every nook & corner of the world, including fastest growing country on Earth, Mongolia. You would be amused to know people from a couple of villages near Phagwara Punjab go to Philippines in large numbers to work as Money lenders. Many of them have been killed due to the nature of business and other social factors.

Most Punjabi boys want to go abroad for studies & work and the girls prefer to marry such men over the ones left behind to sit idle in Punjab. Actually most Punjabi boys who head abroad for studies join nondescript courses in unknown colleges. People don't go abroad for education, neither the join colleges here for sake of studies. Most would prefer to avoid the 'burden' of studies if they could. Visits any college in Punjab and you would know the sorry state of education here. Private colleges & universities particularly prefer to entertain the students than give them an opportunity to master a field of study.

So most Punjabi youth end up wasting their education years in useless colleges within India and abroad. This has led to creation of huge unskilled work force in India with fancy diplomas & degrees in their name. Those who head abroad, struggle there, for long years before finding their feet and majority of those who remain here end up on menial call center or front end sales jobs. Govt of India has launched an ambitious Skill Development scheme to arm the youth with necessary skills need for work but such initiatives would also fall flat like the Industrial Training Institutes set up earlier.

Education has the power to open the human mind and make a person lead a purposeful life so that s/he could change the world in which we live.  But absence of good education leads to perpetuation of status quo and decay of a nation. Can the call for changes in education system become top priority for India? Can political parties make it an issue of national survival? Well my guess is as good as yours. India faces more challenges from within that externally and good solid education can save it.

July 12, 2013

BJP- The Baggage Party !

2014 would be a watershed year for the BJP. Not for the RSS. Rival Congress may also escape unaffected by any outcome of 2014 elections too, as it has had a long tryst with India. If BJP wins 2014 national elections it may turn to hardcore Hindutva agenda and shower its proud parents with many gifts including a Grand Temple at Babri Mosque site. But if it loses the election then it may disintegrate before emerging into a new avatar.

India has definitely changed since 2009, but is it any different now than what it was in 2009? Though some vehemently would like us to believe that, but the facts need examination. According to the BJP, & opposition camp political parties, the UPA2 has failed to manage India completely. BJP want everyone to agree & approve their thesis that India is poor & faltering whereas Gujarat is rich and exponentially growing.  Well a part of body can’t be declared healthy if the heart & brains stop functioning. The heart & brains of an economy lie with the union government in Delhi.  Few strings pulled wrongly in Delhi could ruin any or all states’ economies.

BJP has to carry the load of its founding ideology, unlike Congress which has no such burden. BJP is an ideological party that exists to promote Hindutva agenda of RSS. Its core values of Hindutva simultaneously propel it forward and also obstruct its way to make an acceptable set of appeals to all sections of society in India. But the BJP hasn’t changed much over the years. BJP don’t have the freedom to micromanage & customize its core appeal at constituency level. Wise ABV knew the solution so he ruled India for a longtime by customizing the core ideology of RSS.

BJP steadfastly believe in strong leaders & leadership style. BJP behaves like a right wing masculine outfit and such behavior satisfies the emotional need of its loyal cadres. But such an appeal has limited scope only.  Some believe that passing on the baton from LK Advani to N Modi is a distinct change. But actually there is not real difference between LKA & NM, except the age gap. Ask any political marketing analyst to know that majority India feels threatened by Strong leaders & would like to avoid them.

INC, on the other hand, does not carry any burden to promote one ideology over the other. Congress is free to leverage even the Hindutva agenda, if it suits a situation in some constituencies.  Actually Congress uses many different appeals in various constituencies spread over length & breadth of India to enhance its prospects of grabbing power in each particular constituency. Congress under Sonia Gandhi is a different party than what it was under previous leaders. Moreover Sonia Gandhi cautiously avoids projecting Congress as a dominating & strong political force, which the INC actually is.

A political party with market orientation has greater chance of success in a democracy.  Selling and product oriented parties find it difficult to adjust their ‘offer’ to the dynamic needs of the citizen voters as they have to carry the burden of ideology & fixed image. If BJP could rebrand itself like Tony Blair's rebrand of Britain's Labour Party then it can reap the benefits. 

June 27, 2013

No Skills despite High Marks - Incredible India !

Who would believe that some undergraduate colleges in Delhi, don't accept students without almost 100 percent marks. How could students score such high marks? And how the teachers establish the fact that someone deserves 90 percent plus marks? Is it for real or just another mythological tale from an incredible India, the most mysterious country on the face of Earth.

In the real world a genius drops out of formal education system to blaze a trail. Steve jobs didn't like the taste of fruits served to him in college, so he left the formal system to cultivate his own Macintosh Apple.  Naturally why in the world someone with 100 percent marks in 12 the year of education be need to seek admission in some formal college? S/he could pretty much be on her/his own. But in India, innocent young people go around flashing their 'percentage prize' like a designer accessory, simultaneously, pray to god for mercy to help them get admission in a branded college. So the education in India is all about marks alone.

Though more students obtain significantly higher marks today than a decade ago but employers are complaining about poor quality of training & absence of skills in the fresh youth. How could rise in marks be indirectly proportional to skill creation in India? Govt of India has already committed itself to skill creation in India. In this direction, India signed an MOU with the US govt for setting up of community colleges in India during the recent visit of Secretary John kerry. High marks are like Himalayan peaks, very attractive but difficult to scale.

But the deluge of high marks in India is leading to more chaos on the ground than presenting a pretty picture on the canvas of economic development & industrialization of India.The absence of skills in not limited to technical & professional sector alone. India is not producing great quality managers, actors, academicians, writers, administrators and politicians.  So the education system is unable to improve on existing quality and take it to next higher level. How can India become a global power with low quality human resources?

Its time India wakes up and take steps to upgrade the quality of its citizens through formal & non-formal education. Let us end this note with an anecdote. Decade ago HUL used to invite all- India CA (accounts) topper to join its executive team. A gentleman, Mr Gupta CA topper, was invited by HUL to join its management team but the interview lasted only one minute. Later this gentleman joined a state financial corporation and has retired this year on superannuation.

May 10, 2013

Market Orientation of Political Party

Political parties don’t want to be left behind in employing any means, fair or foul, to achieve the political goal of wresting & wielding power.  Use of marketing concepts & tools has become prevalent in many developing countries including India. Although most often the political players in India don’t trust professional judgment in planning their political marketing campaign but they realize critical importance of the discipline of marketing.

Political parties, understandably so, restrict the use of marketing to political communication field alone than use it in a comprehensive manner to align its behavior according to wants & needs of citizen voters. A political party in modern democracy needs to use marketing concepts to market itself effectively than limit itself to use of marketing techniques only.

Most political parties seek professional help in marketing their party & programs to the citizen voters during election campaign. Hardly any party realizes the need for regular marketing even in India which is called the land of perennial elections. Therefore most parties approach elections with intrepid fear and or exuberance. This piece is on a more fundamental issue of market orientation of political players than the theme of campaign strategy. A political party without suitable market orientation cannot win despite a great communication strategy.   

Political players, like firms, in a democracy require suitable market orientation to win & sustain trust of citizen voters. What is the type of market orientation every political party is seeking to compete with each other to capture the trust of citizen voters? MARKOR & MKTOR scales are inappropriate to unravel the nature of orientation of political parties, as these are designed for commercial firms.  A political party need to find out whether it has product, sales or market orientation and factor in the knowledge to customize it behavior in each electoral cycle. 

Market Orientation is a business approach or philosophy that focuses on identifying and meeting the stated or hidden needs or wants of customers. A marketing orientated approach means a business reacts to what customers want. Since marketing has permeated into not-for-profit and social sector too, therefore it’s imperative that political party must be aware of its nature of orientation. It’s possible that Product Orientation of a political party may be obstructing the path to success. A Sales oriented party could fail to factor in current needs & wants into the new offer and may prefer to persuade the consumers.

Political parties in democracy are required to deliver better life to citizens. They can do it only if they try to understand what people want. And then behave in a unique manner that is appreciated by the masses. Their party policies, leaders, organization, members and symbols must align to the expectations of the masses. Political parties in democracy are required to provide leadership & vision to masses so they can’t just use marketing techniques or concept where it does not make sense. There is need to coalesce marketing & political science in a synergistic manner as both have many similarities than differences. 

April 9, 2013

Why Shoot the Messenger !

"No one loves the messenger who brings bad news" -Sophocles in Antigone

When the PM said lets revive the animal spirit of the Indian economy media let loose its dogs of war. Because last time the suave economist did it in early nineties there was an explosive growth of economy resulting in corresponding increase in the earnings/salaries of the working class. The two decade long growth gave birth to new middle class India which demands better control over their lives & freedom. 

Slowdown in global economy have made the capitalist class unsure of handsome returns on their money so they look forward to governments to make available tranches of cash to bail them out of the mess. How could the crony capitalist media let the wages grow further making it difficult for the corporate to ‘control’ the rising independent middle class? Media editorial line is dictated by the Board not he editorial head.

Spectacular success of China is visible worldwide. It has lifted a staggering part of its population out of grinding poverty & made their lives worth living. China achieved all this without taking over other economies by force to rip them of their wealth. China quietly worked hard and served the consumerism in the developed world. Quietly is the key to Chinese success. Though China held Olympics but it has managed to stay off the publicity radar globally.

China leveraged local wisdom mixed with global technology to earn a respectable place on the high table of world’s leading nations. The Great Wall of China remains the enduring metaphor of its wisdom & success. China didn't join internet revolution without tweaking it to suit its national needs. India on the other hand jumped onto the internet wagon lock stock & barrel without a second thought as to where it will take it.

India remained under foreign rule for centuries so in the middle class India feels exuberant & can't resist the temptation to have an opinion on all subjects under the Sun without regard to any exposure to the topic. Like other 'unsuccessful' people, India has also similar self defense mechanism. People suffering from inferiority complex are very touchy about criticism. Moment you point out an aberration they reject your argument by citing two unrelated facts. Truth is gold in India actually, its very expensive.

Privately run media in India represent view of powerful corporate lobby and particular cultural supremacist  group. Media like Bollywood film industry prefer to divorce truth & reality for pursuit of greed. Instead of challenging the ancient traditions for sake of a modern and more just society. Indian media contributes to perpetuation of  an ancient way of life without regard to the fact that the very same culture caused immense pain to majority of the Indians for thousand years. India has a home grown slave tradition based on work profile of individuals duly sanctioned by religion and Dharma- the caste system of sage Manu. Media subscribes & works to perpetuate the ancient order.

Chairman of Press council of India Justice M Katju has held a mirror to media lately which has forced media to close its ranks & attack the illustrious gentleman with vengeance. I see the class struggle in India getting out of hand due to size of the population. Brahmins, the upper caste group, has been attacked several times by Dalit movements successfully, second ranked caste Kashtriyas have also been targeted in Naxal movements of 70s but the third ranked & actually financially most powerful caste group of Vaishyas have never faced any direct challenge. Opening up of retail to FDI is single most critical challenge to this caste group. Trade & Industry is dominated by this caste group only in India. This is the main reason for anti government stance of the private media in India.      

Media holds a mirror to society and challenges status-quo of all shades rather than  the political establishment. Indian media has completely failed to challenge the prevalent socio-religious order which has led to sudden increase in crimes of greed & rapes. Any sociologist would infer that spurt in crimes is directly related to psychology & culture promoted by media. Its time the visionary leadership in India wakes up and allows global media into India to give India a fair & free media. India should open up news media & education to foreign players so that India could join the new world order. 

March 5, 2013

Selling to Your Sales Team !

India is the land of Micro Small & medium enterprises [MSME] and such firms face unique functional challenges to succeed in the domestic & global market. Particularly the task of organizing a powerful sales & marketing team is tremendous. Although several SME players would insist that finding cheap credit & trained workforce are far more serious than getting new orders. Well entrepreneurship is a challenge in itself and majority of SMEs are generally young firms that don’t have long experience & critical knowledge of the market garnered through years of operations I the market. However some firms fail to scale up with time due to many factors despite their efforts and vision. And majority of the times such firms show a distinct common strand of not having a powerful Sales & Marketing team to propel it to grow faster than the competition & demand in the market.
Many SMEs that have regional & national sales operations are straddled with teams that were relevant 20 years ago. Majority of such sales & marketing teams are full of people who have no formal business education and also have not been trained regularly on the job. Such teams function in a bureaucratic manner and lack creativity essential for real success in the market. You would be surprised to know that many sales professionals lack knowledge about size of market, nature of competition & consumer profile despite years of reasonably satisfactory performance. Well in a rapidly growing market it possible to sell with little or no effort but mature markets can only be dominated by a strategic approach.  
Few years ago I was hired by an established SME to rejuvenate & reengineer their sales team. The said company has been led by a technocrat engaged in manufacturing of capital equipment for high speed packaging machines catering to the need of other firms. The capital equipment they make were generally sourced from abroad at a premium & only limited domestic competition was there for them to take on. Therefore there was a ready market of export substitution at an Indian cost to the entrepreneurs.

Their commission based sales & service team had national presence and it recently had become the major bottleneck in achieving higher sales numbers to help the firm acquire critical size in the market. The promoters also enjoyed close relationship at top level in customer organizations. Business selling is a team sport and the seller has to satisfy large team at the customer firm consisting of cost & finance guys to operators. Another company engaged in manufacture of faucets, showers & bath fittings had virtually no control over the sales agent responsible for half the market. In India majority of firms involved b2b segment lack direct control over distribution network or the customers.

Several SMEs are in awe of the power & hold of their sales people on the market. Many firms are held hostage by the Sales & Marketing teams which lead to negative impact on the top line & strategic growth of such firms. There is need to create & train the sales teams to face the challenges of the contemporary market scenario in India. SMEs need to audit their sales team periodically and organize them based on their objectives such as nature of the competition, product handled, type of market and demand structure in the market.

The top management must keep two paces ahead of their sales force to get the desired results. Technical sales team must have trained sales professionals so that quality cold calling result in communicating the brand of selling firm. Sales professionals, like leaders, are made not born and regular training & nurture keep them in fighting fit condition. Sales training must be factored in the plan and be taken as ongoing activity rather than periodic break from selling routine. Healthy sales & marketing team attract customers, credit and effective team mates for other functions too as they are the external & internal ambassadors of the firm. 

February 14, 2013

Hugh Hefner & Pope Benedict XVI : two Octogenarians !

The Head-priest of Roman Catholics Pope Benedict XVI has decided to lay down his office by end of February 2013. So what happens to future of Hope Industry? Will the NAV of the well listed commodities like Hope, Courage, Mind & Body and Persistence would be hammered severely in the short run? Will the experts continue to pontificate about the value of staying invested for a long term for better returns?

Body & Mind
Hugh Hefner renewed his contract with life by taking on new responsibility by expanding his relationship sphere to include a 24 year girl recently. Pope Benedict XVI has decided retire due to ill health. Many in Motivation industry insist that good thoughts improve the physical health. In India a Hindu preacher has built huge empire by promoting a breathing exercise to millions worldwide.  Such professionals make money by preaching about enormous benefits of ‘Dhayan’ and meditation. Such preachers argue that stress is bad & should be removed by altering breathing pattern. On the contrary Yoga exponents insist on physical exercise to achieve & maintain better mental health. In a way both promise to improve mind & body health.  The Pope would have known much more than Hugh Hefner about the benefits of maintaining healthy mind & body.

Never give up. We all have read, heard & taught stories of the seminal virtue of never giving up in the line of duty. Stephen Hawking is a living example of the power of human will. You can’t give up. Most religions exhort the believers to lay down life happily in the battle for human dignity but suicide is forbidden.  In everyday office situation many executives face the dilemma of resign or continue in the job.  At home too many challenges come up. Is it possible to be courageous most of the times and face the challenges? Or would it be wiser to exit from a stressful situation? In both scenarios the line between expected & unexpected may not be as clear. Can giving up a stressful job or relationship be considered smart strategy in real world? When can you throw in the towel in the game of life? It certainly isn’t one-dimensional.  Is there more fun in being Felix Baumgartner?

Love Life
Religion tells us to love life. In history whenever mankind faced terrible tragedies it took shelter in religious teachings for courage & fortitude. Love has been given status equal to the God himself. Love for work, nature & humanity forms the cornerstone of all religions. But love is hard to define. The atheists & believers may not agree on the existence of God but they don’t spar on the value of love for living a meaningful life. The debate on what is love may never end like the search for God. Hugh Hefner definition of love may not find sanction of religious leaders. 

Question is did Pope XVI give up? Will it jolt the Hope industry and affect business of Motivation peddlers like Deepak Chopras, Shiv Kheras & Stephen Coveys ? 

January 13, 2013

Republic of Animals !

Animals and humans share this universe but humans alone make fun of animals. Scorn, I would say, ridicule too. Have you ever seen any animal laughing at a human? Will that be behaving like us? Humans find it difficult to share things easily with its own species & almost impossible with others depending upon degree of unfamiliarity. Most animal species happily share most of the available bounty with their ilk and others. We humans extensively use animal metaphors to describe our fellow humans. The most common animal metaphor used is perhaps that of dog, cat & lion. Most of us think of themselves as a Lion and others as dogs? Let's see what's popular animal metaphors are there from the animal kingdom. Let me warn you that since its humans who run the show of civilization & creation of languages concepts etc therefore animals are still said to have been living in a kingdom and not in a republic with adult franchise.

Most countries want to become a world power more in military sense than economic. And therefore military has remained a major national asset of the nationalist people. Honey Badger reminds me of the elitist navy seals of USA or other professional killing machines part of military worldwide. Who won’t like the sweet badge of honour for killing in cold blood for enlightened-self-interest? 

Donkey has long been symbol of poor hard working classes who could never get out of the rut of feeding, sleeping, breeding revolving on the axis of relentless back braking hard labor. India is home to world’s largest population of poor people. Large numbers of people are willing to work on assurance of food alone without nay wages. You won’t be surprised that our Hindu nationalist politicians have long discovered that India is shining. The ‘secular’ politicians find India as incredible. Well India surely is an incredible country where vast majority conducts their life according to movement of planets in Sky.

Monkey is generally portrayed as an animal that resemble human race a lot depending upon its various species which is endowed with ability to learn or copy human behavior. You may have herd of folk tale of ‘Monkey & Cap Seller’ in which the trader uses Monkey’s behavior to get back his stolen merchandise from him. Well moral of the story is that those who copy for living would not win the game. A nation that discourages original thinking and promotes conformity by imitating, reengineering, technology, processes and concepts from others cannot become a world leader. It’s illogical to except that a blind follower to become leader, who will he follow?  Regimented society based on group dynamics than individual recognition has no future. It would soon be dead as a dodo.

Dogs are domesticated for their unconditional loyalty. Horse is said to be most loyal among all the animals. Can you recall a famous person who is known as Dog of X-country? Not pejoratively of course. Many people are called Lion of so & so place. Punjab my homeland has a fetish for the sobriquet of Lion of Punjab. CM of Gujarat also is called Lion of Gujarat.  United Kingdom is well known for having cats as pets. Cats are add charm to life by their presence but are not known for their loyalty.

Modern corporate media is like cats, it has no value except to add some color to the business of life & governance in a country. Media no longer resent any editorial control direct or indirect as long as it has healthy bottomline like that of a feline. Gone are the days when a book or story in media could affect amendments to constitution or force parliaments to enact new laws. These days’ cats keep playing around the house without disturbing anyone except those who are looking at them. 

January 1, 2013

2013 would be a better year than the previous!

For God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love – John Donne
Well I am no astrologer but New Year has to be better than the previous or India could have its very own Indian Spring. Population growth of India is running far ahead of the GDP numbers. The unprecedented growth phase stretched roughly from 90s to 2010 has ended leaving far more people clueless about their future. The Hindu Right-Wing political groups represented by RSS clones like BJP are fast losing their patience to get another bite into power at Delhi. Never before youthful India fed & brought up on large doses of glamorous dreams through a lifestyle of entertainment want money for acquiring gadgets that it can’t seem to live without. The soup is further spiked by large number of youths from the destitute class struggling to live like their friends in the upper echelons as they too have access to same media as the consuming class.

The Elections in a democracy is like a game season. Politicians would be readying for 2014 which would put the affairs of the country on back burner. Political class disconnected from majority of population seeks to segment people on the basis of caste/religion than economic or regional factors. This results in obfuscation of economic issues and emergence of identity politics to garner the votes.  Political class in India is not media savvy so the fall into trap of Bollywood style image building depicting them as super humans capable of solving ALL problems facing the region and country. Religion in India is very entrenched in everyday life so use of religion in politics is customary in an election year.

Although India has time & again refused to elect leaders who present themselves as strong & powerful but politicians continue to project them as most powerful lords. I am sure no person with basic knowledge of marketing would believe that N. Modi’s victory in Gujarat elections has anything to do with his projection as the only ‘strong & able’ person alive in India. Modi victory is assertion of Hindu pride than his personal appeal. Such phenomena are prevalent in Punjab, J&K & many other states formed on culture identity of the people.

The 2012 could well be called as the year of Media-Manipulations rather than organic civil protests. It’s customary for media to go where the news is but in India media has demonstrated its ugly power of creating news where it wasn’t.  Taking a cue from Cyrus Barocha show 2012 was ‘the- year- that- wasn’t’ from the news media perspective. People would never have known Anna or Ramdev unless media provided them relentless coverage. Media funded by vested interests & need for sensationalism went on to organize many people protests on Dehi roads. The opposition parties also leveraged their right to oppose the govt by distract the ruling coalition from task of economic development. Therefore Indian audience had to face the double whammy of useless news & economic slowdown. The media & politicians played havoc with happiness & economic health of average Indians in 2012. Current year being closer to elections would not be any better though we pray to these monsters to let us leave alone. The UPA government didn’t allow full FDI in Newsmedia and attempted to control it which is not possible due to nature of the beast. So let’s hope that India may have a quieter 2013 so that people could get to live their life away from these monsters.

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