November 5, 2016

Journalism Ethics: Arnab, Cyril & Ravish

When I was studying journalism & mass communication at Punjabi university Patiala an editor of Dainik Tribune visited us to share his views. You would be aware that since journalism have been more of a trade or a business rather than profession therefore majority of journalist are self taught guy who prefer to toe the line than challenge the authority.  This editor from Chandigarh made a remark, which he thought was pretty innocent normal.

He said-When we (media) take government side then the readers protest and when we raise the voice of people the government dislike it. I couldn’t help myself asking him to explain such a loaded statement coming from an editor of pro-govt newspaper establishment. He looked confused to why I was asking to explain a rather routine remark. When I told him that he said could virtually imply that the democracy in India has failed.  He was stunned, began to look in the direction of the faculty as if pleading with them to make me shut up. But faculty members in Indian universities generally don’t mess with students who read more than them.
How could there be inverse relationship between aspirations & opinions of the citizens in a democracy to the government policies programs? If the government don’t want media to question them to wake them up to the views of the citizens then what is the role of media? India can’t be a North Korea clone due to size and history. When media becomes government stooge it’s the end of democracy and beginning of the end of those regimes.

Recently when Pakistan government tried bullying Cyril Almeida, majority media professionals including Hamid Mir of Geo stood up with Cyril against the government. Unfortunately majority Indian media don’t have such strong spines as our friends in Pakistan. India media have earned the adage of-Crawling when indicated to bend-long ago. Therefore its pleasant surprise to see Ravish Kumar of NDTV-India cock a snook at modi sarkar in his nonchalant inimitable sober style to protest against one day ban on the channel for coverage of the Pathankot airbase attack. NDTVIndia is just another channel having no unique access to the spot or reported anything that most other channels didn’t but it is singled out for the punishment.
NDTV India has the brand positioning of mild mannered, centrist, balanced, sans theatrics channel amongst sea of noisy pseudo hindu-nationalist channels, some of them purveys mythologies than facts in the race to please Hindu fundamentalist RSS and the government run by its cadres.

Cyril Almeida belongs to minority community in Pakistan but received complete support of the majority community to save him from government high handedness. But NDTV India seems to be in modi sarkar crosshair due to its refusal to toe the RSS line showing minorities in poor light. No one is surprised at one day blackout ban on the channel. It’s shocking to see how the RSS led government could act in such predictable manner and bring more negative publicity? Many thought RSS would rope in some educated people to guide it post stunning win in 2014.

Journalism students have choice they can be Arnab Goswamy of @TimesNow  and be a voice of Hindu fundamentalist sections , a Ravish Kumar of @NDTVIndia  who stands for the idea of India. You can chose cacophony or civil debates. Let me caution that it’s easy to be an Arnab Goswamy as most people can speak loudly but very difficult to be Ravish Kumar because you can’t be him without reading lots of books regularly. Arnab Goswamys would come and go but Ravish Kumar would be discussed in mass communication classrooms for decades.

September 5, 2016

Reliance Jio can change a lot in India

In my opinion India has been a hub of B2B family owned firms since 1947. The industry have remained under government control, still the govt wields heavy influence, because the industrial houses wanted it that way. Despite many public pronouncements by various govts since 1991 when Dr Manmohan Singh liberalized the environment doing business in India particularly in MSME domain is pretty challenging. But lets restrict discussing the grand roll out, a la Modi rally, by Reliance Jio in the huge telecom sector.

Firstly Mukesh Ambani made a Modi style speech promising big to Indians in the national interest. Although the reliance shareholders are used to such speeches as they heard such stuff during dedication ceremony of KG basin too to the nation too. But India has changed since and the youth was flabbergasted gasping for breath asking what did Mukesh Ambani invent to make such claims?

Secondly at the moment Reliance Jio is no pioneer in the telecom space. It has to contend with major established players capable of taking it on in a price war. Moreover customers have experienced Reliance service for quite a while and many don't have many positive things about its credentials. Customer trust, not the price play, is the cornerstone in service marketing in India as well as globally. Let's hope Reliance learns to win minds and consequently hearts of customers if it hopes to succeed this time.

Reliance don't have a shining record in customer facing business. Its foray into organize retail has not been able to earn it the numero uno position therefore it would have to work harder in telecom because telecom customers are spread over the rural market also. Indian firms generally lack in customer service area and in service marketing the quality of customer service can make or break a business.

How could i end without discussing launch campaign of Jio? Please ask any professional advertising guy in India to know how little space is allowed to them by the advertisers in designing the advertisement message strategy. Perhaps Ambani and family ordered the agency to prepare the layout as per their choice. I always tell my students to see the launch advertisement of Indica by Tata Motors. In my opinion the Indica launch advertisement has been the best ever launch campaign by any Indians corporate.  It contained all that you learn in a premier MBA course anywhere on the earth.

Finally let me state that i haven't got a response to my online booking of Jiofy within the stipulated 48 hour period. Speaks volume for customer service level. Anyways India need its major corporations to succeed so that we can survive and feed our enormous population,  

April 6, 2016

Can Politics be Marketed like Coke or Condom?

Consumers of political marketing in democracies run on vote-counts face torrents of counterfeit to completely fake assurances of services to garner their votes.  Going by the prevalent level of disgust for politicians in most democracies anyone can safely conclude that the majority consumers feel cheated and exploited by the politicians who enjoy comforts of a President, Prime Minister and other exalted offices way higher up the ladder than those which achiever citizens obtain through hard work and diligent education.

In the era of Societal Marketing orientation when consumers are motivated to experience only those pleasures which would not harm their present society but also ensure a safe future for the coming generations how could hazardous political products be allowed to be marketed in the name of so called adult franchise? If a seller can’t escape the consequences of dangerous products why not penalize politicians and political parties for non-delivery of adequate services? If telcos can be penalized for call dropping & lack of 
connectivity why not hold the Modi government, all governments, to similar test?

When a customer is free to change the service provider in case Airtel , Vodaphone etc fail to ensure call dropping then why demand compensation for lack of services?  Will the Indian politicians demand similar punishment for a political party & politicians for cheating them with fake promises during election campaign? Why have two standards for same crime. It’s wrong to assume that its moral to market everything from religion to insurance. Marketers the world over have accepted the principle of not extending marketing concepts, principles and tool to various category of goods and services to ensure safety of consumers. For example categories like insurance, healthcare are not allowed to be marketed like Condoms and Coke. Political advertising and marketing is too serious a tool to be left at the disposal of unscrupulous politicians who have no regard for ensuring the adequate delivery.

Isn’t it more difficult to get a driver’s job in India than acquire a gift of high political office?  Will it be fair for Rahul Gandhi to become next PM of India without working as a minister till now? What did Modi do before he was made the CM of Gujarat? How could Narendra Modi be expected to lead India to better future if he failed to find a job during his youth? Political offices need people with high degree of expertise and skills besides missionary zeal to do something for a country. Yes there are minimum standards for someone becoming a PM in India but are they enough? Any Donald Trump can charm the voters with a political marketing campaign designed and run by professionals like me but is it good for the health and future of any democracy? Its time India wakes up and lays down clear qualifications-skills and work experience, for the high political offices or be prepared to remain a poor and inconsequential country.

Political marketing is very effective and pervasive discipline having considerable impact on a society therefore it must be held to highest degree of consumer/citizen accountability in a democracy for sake for evolving it into a republic. Election manifestoes and other promises must be brought under consumer rights and the apex courts must old public trial before each election to help citizens make informed choices. Consumer can avoid Coke & condoms but not politics.

The Doctrine of Sikhism rather than Buddhism can end global terror.

Once again the humanity lost at the Brussels airport. The Innocent people were bombed butchered mercilessly in cold blood without any fault of them. They had no idea why they were drawn into wars that politicians wage to further an agenda. How can we fight terror? How to resolve conflicts & wars be minimized? What is terror and how can all forms of terror be condemned and defeated? Does the prospect of a mutually assured destruction not enough to convince war mongers?

War is often portrayed as an inevitable outcome in an unjust world that fails to ensure justice & equality to all in a fair moral manner. How could we differentiate between genuine freedom fighters & cold blooded terrorists? Can the state take to terrorism to fight with its enemy terrorists? Actually most of these questions have been answered many times by great men. It’s time we listen and bring peace to us.

It would be naïve to explain away that all wars are trade related and hence inevitable. World is engulfed in wars that are product of clash of religious, ethnic or political differences and hence must be defeated with twin force of weapons and thoughts. Terror in all its forms must be defeated and its threat to humanity need be contained. Norway has successfully demonstrated how a civilized country should fight terror when it listened to its most dangerous terrorist Andre Brevik and brought him to justice. World need to debate and defeat the ideologies that convince the Brevik, ISIS etc of the world to perpetrate bloodthirsty acts of terror before they are fought with force. Conflict is natural but terror is a disease.

India can once again be the world Guru of peace and delineate the strategy to fight the scourge of terror and establish peace in a war weary world. In my humble opinion the doctrine of the Sikhism rather than Buddhism can help prevent the next world war and save humanity from another catastrophe. Terrorism can’t be fought without use of the arms and the peace can’t be begged.  Therefore the world must listen to what Sikhism says and also see how the establishment of the Khalsa Sarkar in eighteen century Punjab led to peace in a prenatally strife torn part of India.

Almost a century before the USA bestowed the right to bears arms to its citizens the tenth Sikh Master Guru Gobind Singh ji blessed the Khalsa Panth in 1699 at Anandpur Sahib Punjab to demonstrate how weapons should be used to prepare the nectar for the sustenance of all humanity rather than poison the waters of life on earth. The doctrine of Sikhism led to establishment of the Khalsa Kingdom at Lahore Punjab based on equality & brotherhood. The Khalsa-Sarkar didn’t use terror as a weapon of the state to maintain rule of law. No peace can ever be achieved without justice & equality. The world must embrace all the humanity rather than discriminate against people of one color, race, religion or culture. All humanity is a Brotherhood of the living. The Khalsa-Sarkar of Maharaja Ranjit Singh followed Sikhism to help bring peace to the most troublesome part of the world. 

Each terror strike anywhere in the world reminds us once again of the stupidity of the Bush Administration’s unintelligent response to the 9/11 terror strike. On the hindsight majority of the Americans agree that if USA had gone after terrorists of 9/11 and brought them to justice rather than engage in an all out war perhaps the world would have been better place than its now. The wise doctrine of mutually assured destruction generally works in all cases with statistical accuracy. The state must never be seen to be acting like the terrorists and target innocents In the war against terrorism.

Post the Paris terror attacks the Pope had expressed his opinion about the beginning of the third world war. Well the wise Pope is certainly right. Look around and see how the many parts of world from the Middle East to Ukraine have been suffering from wars. The era of trade disputes resulting into wars seems to be behind us. The ongoing and potential wars are due to clash of ideologies and lack of international dispute resolution action.

It would be wise for the global power to discuss and debate before taking a one sided suo moto action to resolve global conflicts. The superpowers must leverage the platform of the United Nations to arrive at a widely accepted solution to global conflicts and avoid the third world war. Anyone on its own can start a war but one needs cooperation of the other side to end it. Global superpowers must lead the way through consensus for establishment of peace rather than leave it to individual counties to sow seeds of global terror. No country should be free to subjugate its citizens and govern its territory on other than humanitarian principles.  Sikhism teaches us to embrace all humanity and respect diversity for peace.

March 9, 2016

How to raise funds for the Universities in India?

India is incomparable to the west on most counts including quality of the education. Higher-Education in India is in sharp decline unlike USA where it is improving by the day. Whereas the private education enterprises are funded almost entirely by the students’ fees, the public universities run on government grants in India but not so in the west.

Though many Industrial houses have ventured into education but the hullaballoo about lack of skills among the graduates remains the chartbuster since last decade. Has the education system really failed to inculcate skills amongst the students? Many imagine so. Well those who are convinced about it generally blame it on the lack of funds, research grants available to the universities in India. Is it impossible to raise funds for universities in an economy which continues to grow at a healthy seven plus rate?

Universities which offer MBA/PGP programs can ask their Management faculty to plan and lead the task of marketing the institutes to stake holders for fund raising. If management faculty can train the students to become managers to contribute to the growth of commerce & technology in India they sure can help their institutes meet its challenges.

Universities produce opinion leaders therefore their economic footprint is not limited to those who earn a degree from its precincts. Marketers understand the value of opinion leaders and are eager to win over their confidence. A University campus offers widest congregation of opinion leaders in a single place which could be a prime target for any astute advertiser. Moreover universities can plan many strategic events and research projects which could attractive to the industry & commerce.

In the present form the universities in India lack a dedicated marketing team that could bridge the gap between industry and academia which could generate funds for the universities. Though the task can well be delegated to the Commerce & Management faculty if few industry experienced faculty exists on the campus. There is huge potential for any university to generate more revenue by bridging the gap between industry and academia.

Need for a law to deal with student suicides in India

Students committing suicide due to pressures of examinations is common in India. But the governments in state & centre haven’t enacted a legislation to fight the menace as if they have accepted it as unavoidable accidents. The burden of failure in exams can’t be put on the students alone. Success & failure of students in examinations have several stake holders such as teachers, parents, education system and students. My heart broke on hearing about the news of suicide by three students of ten plus two class yesterday in Madhya Pardesh India.

This post doesn’t discuss the politics of culture war in India that drove a dalit research scholar Rohit Vimula to reject India by refusing to continue to live here. Rohit Vemula could not wage a sustained war against institutional inequality in Hinduism, as practiced in India, which was fought and won by Sikhs of Guru Nanak Dev ji in Punjab longtime ago. This post deals with another monster that devours the youth of India.

Wonder why the students who fail in exams are told that it’s the end of road to a happy successful life in India? Look at likes of Narendra Modi, Smriti Irani etc who have made it big despite frugal education attainments. Besides the formal education system in India has many flaws and has been criticized often for its focus on producing scholars who are good for clerical work alone sans critical professional skills. Youth could focus on acquiring traditional economically valuable skills of carpenter, blacksmith, tailor, cook etc and make it big in their chosen profession. A carpenter is more critical to life on earth than a clerk as the later doesn’t add any economic value with his work. A driver in Canada, India too, earns much more than most clerks.

There is extreme dearth of trained teachers who understand the process of how students learn a subject. It’s not enough for teachers to master a subject without being able to understand the process of helping students learn better on their own. Most of the teachers don’t know the difference between pedagogy and andragogy. An effective teacher works with students and explain them the process of learning before taking them on the path of learning.

India needs to enact a law to deal with the menace of student suicides. Each case must be investigated and responsibility must be fixed on parents, teachers and the governments. No society can survive for long if it continues to ignore its youth and their problems. We must take care of our students now to have a better future.

January 6, 2016

Happy 2016 !
Wishing all my friends, foes & strangers
a very
Happy & Prosperous new year 2016
Have a blast 

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