December 20, 2017

Stockholm syndrome & Ramdev Patanjali Ayurveda marketing

Ramdev can’t hope to win in fmcg space dominated by women power. Yogis who consider women as bad influence thus refusing to respect them as wife or a life partner must not hope to have a bright future. I appeal Ramev to come clean on this and clarify why he refuses to love women as life partner. To those women who suffer from Stockholm syndrome my humble appeal would be to stand up and fight for equality. Don’t by products sold by celibate religious people of any religion because they stand for misogyny that makes life of women difficult on earth.

Agreed India remained under foreign rule for centuries. Accepted the Indians didn’t get independence as result of war against the occupying power, like USA or Vietnam get.  Despite 70 years of independence Indians fail to become globally competitive society as reflected in dismal performance in Olympics, FIFA world cup, Oscars or Nobel prize to name a few. Therefore many scholars tend to conclude that Indians in general are not ready to shoulder the leadership responsibility thus preferring the follower role.

Countries in Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India have already seen women head of states as PM & President, unlike the USA, despite the fact that women in the USA enjoy far better socio-religious freedom as compared to their pitiable plight in India. How could women rise to the top political jobs in countries that are notorious for subjugating women? It’s no brainer. All the women who occupied top political posts in Indian subcontinent came from political families who succeeded their male relations. Ms Mamta Bnnerjee, CM of west Bengal perhaps the only top political leader in Indian subcontinent who rose to top on her own merit sans any male patronage. Don’t you think Hillary Clinton would have won against Trump if she had not been seen as an ex-Presidents wife? All right thinking people must strive for an equal world, a culture where when women have same freedom to commit mistakes and still get accepted as equal as men have enjoyed for centuries. Women and men are made equal by Gods and no decent man can find an exception to the rule.

If you wonder how the above enumeration relates to rapid rise of a controversial uneducated religious bigot popular as Swamy Ramdev in the business world? Well Ramdev have entered low technology FMCG trade to sell commodities and packaged products which were already available in the market. Ramdev has used religious Hindu fundamental appeal to sell commodities and low technology semi processed items. His rise can be seen as ripple effect of rise of Hindu fundamentalism in all spheres of life in India from politics to education. Although rapid rise of Patanjali products of Ramdev looks logical in charged atmosphere of Hindutva fundamentalism in India but its future remains surrounded in mystery.

Will Ramdev be able to sustain his trade in the low tech and low margin trade of commodities with highly substitutable product categories sans differentiation if the wave of Hindu fundamentalism wanes in next 2-3 years? Serious business managers would seriously doubt the future prospects of Patanjali trade empire. Why would a customer buy Patanjali products sold by a religious Hindu fundamentalist Swamy when there are many normal Hindus are already marketing such products of equal quality? What will happen to Hindu fundamentalist appeal if India has to go to war against China or Pakistan? In my opinion a war with China is almost round the corner. Secondly I would like to draw attention to more fundamental and pervasive contraction threatening the future of Patanjali products.

Ramdev is riding a tiger in the low technology fmcg world. Ramdev a celibate won popularity as a religious man who didn’t marry because yogis consider women as distraction in achievement of higher goals of life. Unfortunately for all Hindu fundamentalist yogi and Swamys like Ramdev it’s the women who decide the fate of fmcg class of products. Will the women continue to buy products endorsed by a guy like Ramdev who considers women as distraction and refuses to give them equal status as life partner? In my opinion no self respecting educated women would by products from those who insult and disparage women. Ramdev can’t fool all the women for all the time. Let’s wait for the moment when women launch a campaign to boycott Patanjali products in their fight for dignity and equality in India. I am sure Ramdev has not hired a professional advertising agency or discussed the branding with an expert. No one can sell products/services to those who the seller don’t respects.

October 9, 2017

Two suggestions for 'Make' in India

You would agree that 5 year of working in a state govt industry & commerce department's single window cell are enough to understand its working to comment authoritatively on its efficiency & productivity. Well I have been there and done that. Therefore read the suggestions carefully.  India has long been relying on 5year plans to industrialse its mainly agriculture and services dominated economy. But the results offer no solace to any object analyst. All states in India have ‘single window clearance’ teams as part of industry and commerce department. 

Every ‘new’ Industrial promotion policy promises to end ‘inspector raaj’ and reduce harassment of entrepreneurs by providing all needed clearances in one place thus helping investor to navigate the paper maze in a profitable manner. But on the ground nothing seems to change since Dr Manmohan Singh liberalised the economy in early 1990s.  Present Hindu Nationalist govt in India made many promises before 2014 elections to remove the bottlenecks facing industry & commerce but their hammer & tongs approach to problem solving have further complicated the matters. Hence India is once again seemingly to fall back into hole of the Hindu rate of growth from which Dr Manmohan Singh rescued it. Question facing all industry commerce experts is how to find ways to jump start the new investments through large scale programme of industrialization.

It's not really very difficult to spawn a million MSMEs in India despite major socio-economic bottlenecks. Firstly the govt must those who are ready to set up a new business unit. Well yes its that simple. You wouldn't be surprised to know that many entrepreneurs visit govt single window services and district industry centers searching for solutions. And first question on mind of these greenhorns is ‘what are hot new profitable projects suggested by govt? ‘ it should be damn easy for industry facilitation officer of the govt to answer the question. Why it's not so is beyond logic, imagination. Govt can surely ask its officers or appoint a consulting service to draw detailed ready to use project reports for facilitating quicker decision making by the prospective investors. 

Agriculture officers of various govts work with farmers advising them on new crops and yield but such service in industry & commerce is missing. I recommend that the guys like Amitabh kant tasked with Make- in-India mission must wake up and provide tailored solutions for MSMEs through each state. Those visiting industry & commerce departments in any state must be followed up with and provided with several project feasibility Studies to spur industrialization mission. 

Secondly the central govt may engage one of India’s IT giant TCS preferably to create a competitor of Alibaba of China with thousands of downstream startups. These two are obvious suggestions besides many others could be researched and applied. Question is will the govt move beyond lofty speeches and window dressing to focus on the gargantuan challenge of creating new industries to provide jobs for huge unemployed Indians? Let's hope Indian politicians shift focus away from elections and get down to saving India.

GST roll out could not have been better

How could ‘56 inch chest’ scholars of Bharat Mata  forgive India’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanium for admitting, on NDTV in December 11, 2015 interview, that his team haven’t undertaken any research to study the impact of GST –VAT act implementation on India’s GDP? Well Arvind is widely accepted as genuine economist, like Manmohan Singh, who knows his subject better than most of Bharat Mata Sevaks and would not like a genuine scholar desist from speaking the truth. Chanting GST mantras is the new fad in the media and political circles rather than among business management circles and academia. The truth is that GST Bill may not add to the GDP growth rate in the short run at all and Modi Sarkar may not benefit from its roll out even in 2019 elections. 

Yes.Current GST bill hanging fire in the parliament is not something significantly new than the current VAT system of tax administration prevalent in India. It is merely an improvement on the present structure of tax administration in India that would be followed by several other reforms in future. The GST-VAT proposed Bill have some concrete proposals, like the Constitution of India which have been amended a hundred times already and still called a Great piece of original scholarship crafted by a team of highly revered scholars under the stewardship of Ambedkar, and many not so well defined proposals that would need to be resolved expediently to facilitate the ease of doing business in India for spurring the economic growth. Let’s examine few mythologies thrown up by political pundits extolling the virtues of the GST Bill.

First things first, there is no Ram-baan cure for India’s labyrinthine tax administration system and therefore the GST bill is no panacea. Stop and think a while you would notice that India already has VAT in place and it clocked rather mystifying GDP growth under the stewardship of a scholar PM Manmohan Singh.  Therefore India need to elect, & select, more leaders like Manmohan Singh, competent & skilled, rather than making new laws that get subverted by incompetent and corrupt Indians. Few Great leaders and entrepreneurs at the helm hold more promise of progress and fast economic growth as compared to new great laws and statues. Tighten your seat belts and wait to experience new unexpected shocks coming in the way of economic growth in India in the period post the promulgation of the GST bill. Ease of doing business in not solely predicated on the complexity of the tax administration regime.
(an old piece, left unposted)

May 24, 2017

Five Secrets of a Top Grade faculty

Higher education in India has experienced mushroom growth in past two decades. It has entered the consolidation phase already. Although most of the expansion has come from privately run institutes but considerable growth has taken place in public sector also. Few corporate have also entered education domain but largely for the CSR reasons than motivated by the mission to create a world class institutions. You could judge the priority & importance the governments in India lay on the education sector by the very fact that the MHRD don’t have put up 2017 data on its website as on May 24, 2017. The website mentions “As of 2014, there are 677 universities, 37,204 colleges and 11443 stand-alone institutions in India”.

It’s universally accepted that the quality of faculty is the most critical factor for imparting top grade education. Curriculum, Infrastructure, network and technology comes after the basic need good quality faculty. Those who have the opportunity to study from high quality faculty possess expert level skills to contribute to the profession they undertake. Anyone can be a great faculty if she/he could acquire the expertise in the following 5 factors and demonstrate it frequently.

Subject Grasp: Everyone thinks her/his grasp over the subject/s is absolutely fine till s/he put it to test. Therefore it’s recommended that the faculty must test own domain knowledge at least once every three years by solving the examination paper given to the students. The institute and the government could also make it mandatory for teachers to take a test periodically.

Domain Knowledge: Education is multidisciplinary and each subject shares concepts, tools and principles with wide variety of other subjects. Therefore it’s imperative that the faculty must be encouraged to develop expertise in a gamut of subjects required for effective teaching. Many subjects particularly from science and professional arena can’t be understood properly if a faculty lacks the field experience. A doctor without practice in a hospital would make a lousy faculty of medicine. Similarly engineering and management also put same demands on the faculty.

Communication skill: Most often it’s recommended that a faculty must have excellent communications skills. Well it’s desired that the faculty must be able to speak fluently the language understandable by the students but more critical communication skill for a faculty are reading and writing than the speech. World class faculty should be able to read and understand complex papers, journals and also write in concise clear manner.

Empathy: Good faculty must empathies with students and be able to behave like the students in the classroom.  Knowledge can be transferred easily if the learner trusts the teacher. Moreover a faculty good or bad leave an impression on the audience and also influence the personality of students. Faculty could strive to understand the psyche and group behavior of the class one intends to handle. The faculty needs to win confidence of students for positive learning outcomes.

Grasp of Edutech: No faculty can claim to plough the lone furrow in internet dominated world of education. Therefore a great teacher must work hard continuously to catch up with the technical expertise of the students. I would recommend that every faculty must be a step ahead of the students on handling edutech so as to inspire the students.

April 26, 2017

Performance versus Promise: Political Marketing in India

If you intend to find out which political party or leader are responsible for win loss in Delhi MCD elections then you could be disappointed to read this piece. But if you are interested in discovering the marketing insights underlying the recent political marketing events in India then you would have enough food for thought. Let’s hit the ground running, first things first. Why did RSS/BJP lost Bihar Punjab etc but won in UP & Delhi MC elections?

Anti incumbency isn’t always a burden in India or other places on earth due to voter fatigue and low trust in the political players. Many states in India have CMs who are returned back into power for multiple times.  Recently SAD-RSS alliance government lost Punjab despite a huge publicity campaign to showcase its achievements. How could Narendra-Amit duo lose Bihar but manage a thumping win in UP while contesting against the incumbent parties represented by similar caste combinations? There is no ambiguity in understanding why Narendra Modi don’t seems to be affected by the anti incumbency pains despite lack luster performance and deteriorating internal and external environment of India? Narendra seem to glide on promises than performance.

Political marketing in India have not yet to come of age. Most political parties continue to follow the trend than seek professional help despite recognizing the enormous critical influence of the communications strategy on the elections outcome. How could a market leader hire services of an agency which was employed by the challenger to dislodge it from the prime position? Ironically it is congress party which is credited with bringing in marketing professionals into the political communications.  Indians may have markedly different consumption habits but they don’t behave much differently than their counterparts worldwide. Indians living a difficult life in the developing economic conditions consume hopeful promises more eagerly than political claims of how much a politician contributed to their lives.

How could one miss the delphic scene at the residence of Delhi CM? Any shutterbug would find it amusing to note the absence of luxury vehicles at the residence of the CM of India’s richest state.  Well if you have missed it try going to Arvind Kejriwal residence and then following it up with a visit to the official accommodation of the PM of India. Did you notice how many luxury vehicles were parked at both the places? Delhi being richest state in India is home to the high-end luxury autos and moreover such products are meant to flaunt social class of the owner than acquired for the utility.  Point is why the rich guys who badly need the support of state machinery could maintain distance from a CM?

The privately held media in India have come under attack from various sides including the government at the centre which bestowed the titles of ‘bazaroo’ & ‘presstitues’ on some sections despite the fact that it lacks professional ethics of being the watchdog of the citizens against the excesses of governments. Media continues to blatantly hide the failures of the central government.  The recent attacks on Delhi AAP government by the media expose the helplessness of it due to dependency on huge advertising budget of the centre.  Had AAP focused more on poor performance of BJP in MCD rather than comparing it with its own work the results of elections would have been different. Indian citizens don’t vote on positive performance therefore it could be counterproductive to attempting to win elections on performance of the incumbent player. ABV failed to win in 2004 with help of  India-Shining campaign and TRS also was voted out despite transforming Andhra Pradesh into a premier destination. 

QED: It pays to promise moon than deliver LED lights to illuminate the night in India

March 4, 2017

Narendra D. Modi or its just modi Modi modi

This happens only in India. Although pandits may spun numerous twisted tales trying to prove that modi success story is a unique phenomenon never noticed in India. But its not true. Modi has achieved success by copying the classic Indian political strategy of divide & rule used by many like Indira Gandhi etc in the post 1947 era. You couldn't fault a politician for using weapons of mass destruction to obtain success, its the nature of beast. In my opinion the modi story has reached its ultimate point of diminishing marginal utility.

The modi story can be explained in three distinct chapters titled modi Modi modi. It began as a rank outsider whom Advani foisted in Gujarat CM chair without being a sitting MLA. But it didn't take him long to emerge from shadows of his mentor when in 2002 he break ranks from the competition for the prized title Hindu Hero in 2002 post Godhra train burning & riots. But Narendra isn't the first politician to brandish the Hindu Hero trishul. Likes of Indira Gandhi wielded it earlier very successfully. Hindu supremacist RSS eulogized Indira as the Durga of Hindus, praised Thakrey as a iconic anti muslim crusader then and unabashedly flaunt Narendra as their current avatar. Therefore the strategy to win Hindu vote bank in not new but it works in post 47 India.

Second chapter in modi success story of 2014 was woven by two major strands of Hindu hero worship mixed with issues of rampant corruption. Majority of political scholars agree that the dominant factor in 2014 victory of modi was mainly due to his worship by hindus as their hero. Modi could not have won in 2014 unless the then UPA govt led by an incorruptible scholar Dr Manmohan Singh would have been discredited in the eyes of Indians. The dirty job was done using media which indulged in open mud slinging on the UPA govt. Majority media firms from the north half of India are owned by Hindus who back RSS hindu rashtar line unabashedly in a secular born India of 1947. Despite the defeat of Modi phenomena in Delhi, Bihar and decline of it in several other places the hindu media continue to back modi blindly. Media's bhakti of modi is so dark that they have abandoned the professional ethical role of being guardian of public opinion. in 2017 modi has began the third chapter of his hindu conquest of India.

Indian politics revolves around the hindu vote bank and RSS operates like a holding firm of majority such organizations tasked with the job of appropriating resources and political power for enjoyment of high caste Hindus. Minorities stand no chance against the might of hindu hegemony if hindus continue to worship hindu hero and ignore their own pains of poverty and insecurity. Therefore if hindus continue to sacrifice the economic & social security of India at the altar of Hinduism then modi story could well last many more years. Question is do hindus value goal of economic prosperity more than their religion? Its difficult to hazard a guess. People are essentially social animals hence given the choice they would not mind trading beliefs for material gains. In my opinion majority people would vote for food on the table than promise of a rainbow of religious achievement. Hence the 2017 UP elections may become the ultimate chapter of the story of modi.

Narendra modi story may soon become just like that of Ram temple at Ayodhya. A story which helped RSS immensely for sometime but can't be pushed too far without endangering the future of India. 

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