Friday, November 26, 2010

Even Dhritarashtra and Bhishma were silent during Draupadi vastraharan: Manish Tiwari

Blogging after a long time due to some commitments. Of all the things I thought of penning down, this one is something in news continuously these days (or even months) - SCAMS. With scams and scamsters ruling the nation, here is a spoof on the same. Hope you guys will enjoy it.
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Even Dhritarashtra and Bhishma were silent during Draupadi vastraharan: Manish Tiwari

Reacting sharply to BJP's comments that the Prime Minister is blind to a series of scams running right under his nose, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said that even Dhritarashtra did not act when Draupadi was stripped in an open court in Hastinapura. "The BJP swears by the Hindutva. How can they forget the Hindu mythic scripture Mahabharata where Dhritarashtra did nothing to save Draupadi from being stripped? Even the scholarly Bhishma did nothing. So does it mean Bhishma is a corrupt character? Everybody revers him today. The BJP should read the Hindu scriptures thoroughly before they
preach Hindutva and pass such absolutely absurd comments " said Tiwari on Thursday en route 10 Janpath after receiving a missed call from UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

BJP had accused the Congress of providing a breeding ground for corruption after the Apex Court questioned the inaction of the Prime Minister in the 2G Spectrum allocation scandal. Taking a leaf out of this remark of the Supreme Court, senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu had said that the Prime Minister might be a man of unquestionable integrity but his ability to question the integrity of tainted ministers was highly questionable. Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray slammed the Prime Minister in his usual satire style. "He should have known a lot about the 2G. Isn't he always singing praises and eulogy of the 2Gs which is SoniaG and RahulG?" wrote Thackeray in his editorial in Saamana, a Marathi daily.

"These scams have become a daily affair. It seems to be running like the IPL. There is a scam from Bangalore, a scam from Mumbai and just like the IPL, politicians and corporate houses seem to be taking active and equal participation in them. Everytime a scam of such gigantic proportion crops up, our belief in a pro-poor, pro-farmer, pro-labour and a pro-common man economy and political agenda becomes firm and stronger" said Brinda Karat of the CPI(M) who was at a Govt. Hospital in Hooghly distributing fruits to patients to commemorate the release of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.


The Congress and the BJP meanwhile would hold a brainstorming session soon to arrive at various statements to justify their scams. Sources close to both the parties revealed that with new faces like Varun and Rahul trying to attain centre-stage, it was necessary to come out with new justification statements. "Yes, gone are the days when opposition demanded dissolution of the Parliament or Assembly or even resignations at every scam or sex scandal of a Minister. This resignation cry is now for regional leaders like Kumaraswamy and Paswan to play with. Naya Hindustan, Naya Pehchaan is the mantra and hence the public expects Kuch Naya Bayaan (new statement)" said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar. When questioned about Karnataka CM's land scam, he brushed it aside saying that the wave of Congress led scam is so strong that the BJP had no other option but to go with the flow.

With the Congress and BJP passing the ball of corruption to each others' court, ace Tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi tweeted "Sick! Never played such a long rally in Tennis too".

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lekin insaaf nahin mila hai Me Lord... insaaf nahin mila. Mili hai toh sirf yeh taareeq!

This melodramatic dialogue of Sunny Deol playing the role of an honest lawyer in the movie 'Damini' pretty much sums up the general public opinion on the postponement of Ayodhya verdict by another few days, to September 28th.

The verdict to be pronounced before September 30th is crucial (whether beams and ceilings in CWG stadiums are fixed or not) as one of the judges retire on that date and should something such occur which makes it inevitable for the judgement NOT to come out before that date, then the entire trial will have to be held once again, which means, another 4-5 General Elections can be fought on the Ayodhya dispute which is perhaps the last thing an Indian wants. Postponing the judgement by 4 days with an expectation of out-of-court settlement from the parties to title suit is too much an ask from them. It is more like the 3-day Agra Summit where we were made to believe that at the end of the 3rd Day, Kashmir dispute will be solved and all we got was a long list of savouries served to Musharraf & Co, how he exclaimed the Taj Mahal and a couple of "We will" and "We shall" assurances. If something could not be solved in 60+ years, will 60 odd hours bring a solution? Will an out-of-court settlement mean there won't be any violence? The parties to title suit don't have any control over the rioters in various parts of the country, do they? Which is that party to title suit after having fought for so long willing to go back home empty handed while the winner celebrates with champagnes and self-congratulates his own 'charisma'?

Should there be no more pleas to postpone the verdict and should the verdict be delivered on September 28th, there is still no guarantee that violence and riots will be an absolute zero. On the other hand, the entire effort by the Central Govt. to ensure peace, even though the Commonwealth Games preparation is at 'piece-piece', becomes meaningless now. Remember, quite a sizeable number of security forces are dispatched to Uttar Pradesh, from where the judgement would be pronounced, various States were on a high-alert, forces were deployed in sensitive areas and many such measures were also taken to ensure peace and civility. So now imagine, these forces have to relocate back to their pavilion or stay back until next week? What do we do with the steps taken like Sec . 144 enforcement, liquor ban, bulk SMSs ban etc.?

One more matter of concern is 28th of September falls very close to 3rd October which is the opening day of Commonwealth Games (assuming that it goes as per schedule). Athletes from different nations would be landing here next week. If security forces are deployed at sensitive and vulnerable areas (and by the grace of God, we have such areas in plenty) who will provide security to these athletes? Will we tell them that we can't provide security to you because we are deciding whether to build a temple or a mosque at some place where more than half the Indians have never visited?

Meanwhile, if more dialogues from the same sequence of 'Damini' are to be believed, then, "Do tareeqon ke beech adaalat ke baahar kaanoon ke dallaal insaaf ka dhandha karte hai.. dhandha, jahaa pe gawaahon ko khareedey jaatey hai aur beche jaatey hai.."

- Common Man

Image courtesy -
1. http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060319/spectrum/main7.htm
2. http://www.bookofirc.com/index.php?key=Deol
3. http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/supreme-court-defers-ayodhya-verdict-54268

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Harry ha Hussain? Sach sach bataa... kaun hai tu?

"Tell us... Whom do you pray Mr. President?"

Even the Khaps weren't interested to know if the Indian President's Gotra is the same or different than that of her husband's. So why this unnecessary fuss and get nosy into Obama's religion? The US, which was proud of having elected a 'Black President' (some considered this term too as derogatory) and boasted about a 'free society' now finds itself in the row of religion, something which was and is dear to India and Indians. Matter relating to the places of worship and religion always stirs emotion and passion. India gives us handful of such cases which are in public memory even today, if religiously celebrating it's 'anniversary' is a yardstick to measure. It can invite death if one tries the arm-twisting tactics and also catapult to power if the 'card' is 'played' at the right time. And, it can also be a hen that lays the golden egg. No wonder the 'hen' is alive and our (abhi)netas aren't in a mood to make a tandoor out of it.

So it all starts with the proposal to build a mosque on Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center stood earlier and was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. The row as expected due to obvious reasons spread like wildfire and reached to a point where the US Prez. too intervenes. His attempt to reshape the dented image of Uncle Sam in the eyes of 'I' nations and 'M' population worldwide became further more evident with his 'No Objection Certificate' to build a mosque on Ground Zero. His nod attracted worldwide attention and soon, the research reports which media houses conducted by way of polls perhaps were out. The finding was that 1 out of 5 Americans felt Obama is a Muslim. Those who showed that they are 'colour blind' an year and a half ago had now worn the glasses of religion. The White House was quick to clarify that -


"President Obama is a committed Christian, and his faith is an important part of his daily life"

"He prays every day, he seeks a small circle of Christian pastors to give him spiritual advice and counseling, he even receives a daily devotional that he uses each morning. The President's Christian faith is a part of who he is, but not a part of what the public or the media is focused on everyday" [Source - http://ibnlive.in.com/news/obama-is-a-committed-christian-white-house/129226-2.html] So, *Obama is a 'committed' Christian* is a news bigger than "Vishwanathan Anand is still an Indian" to Indian babus.

Now, what's the big deal if he were to be a Muslim? Won't Harry from Buffalo support Obama's war against outsourcing if he is a Muslim? If he is a Muslim, will Hussain in Baghdad prefer Pepsi and KFC over Shawarma? And whether he is a Hussain or a Harry, Harish in ITPL Bangalore will be kept busy (and have no much qualms about it) as long as India's tech giants get their share of bread & butter. Religion doesn't opiate Harish in this case you see!

On the contrary, India, a country where most times one is identified by his surname than by his achievements did better by not dragging the religion card when Kalam became the President (or even when he mentioned that he has read the Gita and the Bible too) or when Bismillah Khan was chosen over Bhimsen Joshi for the nation's highest civilian honour. The Sikhs hardly objected when Dr. Manmohan Singh was elevated to the post of the PM by the party which is infamous for the 1984 riots and several Muslim organizations assured their support to the first ever full-fledged BJP Govt.in Namma Karnataka for all developmental activities though the latter is not so unpopular when it comes to fishing in troubled waters.

It was the development card - revival of economy, enhancement of the lost pride and image - which the Prez had to offer during his pre-election campaigns and that was overwhelmingly accepted. But to dig out the religious history of the Prez over a single statement is contradictory and that The White House's affirmation that "Obama is a devout Christian" is least expected. Couldn't it have been a simple "The President's religion is his personal affair" rather than big-mouthing how he solicits advises from the clergy and how he doesn't pray in a particular way or to a particular God.

All said and done, now that Obama has given a "Yes we can" for the mosque on Ground Zero, proceedings from here on will be interesting to observe. Magar dost, ek baat yaad rakho. Jo kabhi jaati nahin hai, usse ko JAATI kehte hai.

Common Man.

Haan aur ek baat... the Khaps are yet to question the Indian President and her husband on their Gotra.

Image courtesy -http://blogs.e-rockford.com/applesauce/2009/06/09/obama-mentions-jesus-more-often-than-did-bush/

Monday, August 9, 2010

A 'Chop Shop' doesn't get listed on NASDAQ : Murthy

Tens and thousands of employees of Infosys Technologies Ltd. today submitted their resignation on learning that their company was not in the field of Software services but is a Chop Shop. Monday morning witnessed the mail servers of many HR Executives jammed as employees, who had their dreams shattered of making it to the US, sent lengthy resignation mails to their respective HR Executives. "Yes, we have received 21,345 resignations so far within 4 hours of work today. Since most of them are not yet able to believe that they are 'choppers' and not 'Techhies', most resignations, as much as 15,789 of them were emailed which were sent through Blackberry and HTC Android", said Mr. Manav Sansadhan, Sr. HR Manager who initially did not want to be named, but later agreed to, as he too had decided to resign. Further, he added "These figures are expected to reach close to 33,000 by end of tomorrow as those working in UK and US shifts are yet to reach office"

Lashing at this comment in a rather uncharacteristic manner, Infosys Chief Mentor, Mr. N R Narayana Murthy said "If we are a 'Chop Shop', how did USA list us in their NASDAQ Stock Exchange and permit us to issue ADRs? Are norms in USA so liberal that any junk and sundry firm can be listed in their Stock Exchange? This is a frivolous argument which has only made me and my buddy Premji more stronger to fight protectionism!!". Mr. T V Mohandas Pai, the Director of Human Resources who was also present nodded his head while speculations are ripe that he might switch back to his CFO role, unable to cope with mass-resignation.


When a leading Bank who figures in the Top 10 clientele of Infosys was contacted, it's Sr. Vice President - Administration said "We are aware of the developments. However, the top brass has assured us that things will go on smoothly and the Bank's operations will not be hampered. Already, Infosys has issued orders to march towards the PC to 35,000 employees who are on bench sipping coffee and playing TT and that is a sigh of relief for us. Our Credit Card customers will still have seamless access to the Call Centres". Taking cue from this statement, education segment expert from a consultancy firm, Mr. Vidya Saraswathi projected that Infosys could hire anything between 25000-30000 fresh graduates and laterals since a huge chunk of resource was getting vacant from Bench and Wipro was catching up big time in terms of employee headcount.


"The US has gone bonkers you see.. They would rather do well to close down the 'Chop Shop' that they have opened in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or worse is look into Mark Hurd's trapped in sexual her-ass-meant case", said 22 year old Phatichar Screwvala who was quick to correct himself and re-pronounce it as 'harassment'. Phatichar who had successfully completed his induction programme on Friday evening reiterated that Infosys was known for it's integrity and values and unlike in the US, it had never involved in sexual harassment scandals, unaware of the Phaneesh Murthy episode which rocked India Inc. during his high-school days. Phatichar is based out of Mysore DC. However, the farmers of Mysore said that those comments did not have any base and he was only repeating the talking points of his masters. Mr. Ketanlal Vishnudas Patel, a veteran businessman of Indian origin in USA whose short poems are the most sought after declined to comment and simply sent a one liner email saying "Time is very precious in this part of the world" when contacted.

Meanwhile, a group of disgruntled employees who are yet to submit their resignation threatened to self-immolate during the wedding of N R Narayana Murthy's son later this year. "Since you have broken it, you rather fix it or I will self-immolate during your son's wedding" said Pune based 26 year old 'Agni'vesha (name changed as he fears being ditched by his girl-friend who works as a Brand Manager with AUTOMOBILE giant Hyundai) His friends lent their hankies/undies/Boxers/sock as he wept to an extent inconsolable. "The upcoming alliance between TVS and Infosys seems to be 'motivated by business interests'. Anything is possible in India and yet no one is accountable for it" said an aggressive Indian-American Mr. 'Nexus' D'Souza who currently works with a medical equipment manufacturing giant in USA and believes any sundry claims made by the USA despite several rebuttals by his Indian friends. He even cited an incident where an Infosys employee had given a 'Hot water bath' to his maid for which he was sacked. Mr. D'Souza also gave a call to all US Corporations to stop business with companies who have employees without sensitivity towards fellow human beings but declined to comment when asked about the wage cut some of the Pizza delivery boys get in US headquartered firms.


As our Bangalore correspondent started towards Infosys' Bannerghatta Road DC from Electronics City in BMTC Bus, following conversation in Kannada between two daily-wage earners was heard - "Adeno kaddiro car mattu bike maaraaTa maaDo jaaga anta Amreekadalli yaaro Ministru heLiddarantappa... Irbeku ansutte. BeLgaadre ee Imposis aapees oLgaDe Tata Sumo, Tata Starbussu, Toyota Qualissu, namma BMTC bhaDge bussu hogod noDidre avr heLirodu kharey irbeku" (Roughly translated as "Some Minister in US says Infosys is into selling stolen cars and bikes. When we see several vehicles plying into their campus from early morning, they might be right")

"I think the whole Brand needs a revamp now. We need to start with the punchline 'Powered by intellects, Driven by values'. Probably, the words 'Powered' and 'Driven' needs to be powerfully driven off as they mostly get the automobile feel in the minds of the consumers" opined a Bangalore based Brand and Advertisement Guru and suggested punchlines like 'Borrowed intellects with no values' and 'To fix before it breaks'. He also came up with an idea of organizing events in the Americas, Europe and APAC to control the damage done and estimated the cost of events to be $5000 MN but assured that his newly commencing Event Management Firm could make it at 70% of that".


Infosys employees who are normally spotted from tea-stalls to book-stores and from airports to restaurants wearing their most coveted ID cards seemed to have abstained from wearing the same as not many employees with Infosys ID cards were found today. Psychologists from NIMHANS, Bangalore were of the opinion that it is a common trend to disown our own when something really shameful happens. "We had queries from Satyam employees whether to wear their ID cards or not when the Ramalinga Raju scandal broke out. What we have observed is employees of foreign companies aren't affected much at times of crisis than their Indian counterparts though during the economic recession it is the the other way round" said Dr. Maanasik Swasthya, a Psychologist in NIMHANS, Bangalore. Enigma Pub and Yo! China confirmed that HP hasn't cancelled their advance bookings while Bangalore One reported numerous calls from Infosys employees enquiring about the Art of Living ashram address.

All Indian IT companies as a mark of condemnation of the preposterous statement have decided to replace all white PCs with black PCs. Indian companies like Wipro and HCL have proposed to buyback HP and Dell systems and replace with their Brands. However, none of the companies wanted to part with IBM Servers. The matter is now with NASSCOM and is believed to raise serious repercussions in the USA and support is garnered from several leading BFSIs of USA and is now believed to give a twist to Barack Obama's fight for ban on job exports.

Meanwhile in an unrelated incident, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa considered himself to be in a similar situation as US President B H Obama. On the sidelines of a massive public rally organized at Hospet which is 60 Kms away from Bellary, he said when Obama was fighting a ban on job exports, he was fighting a ban on illegal mines export. The White House has released Obama's statement - "MINE has nothing to do with B S Yeddyurappa"

Image courtesy - http://www.stresstips.com/?p=23
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Friends, the above look-alike of a newspaper article is just an imaginary write-up and be considered at best, a spoof. The author has high regards towards all individual and institution names mentioned above. Apologies to those who are offended with the 'remarks'.

Infosys is a client to my company and Mr. Murthy has written some real kind words about us and our work which we proudly display on our homepage. In any case, I make it clear that the 'views' or the 'spoof' here is my own creation and my employer is in no way responsible or connected to this.

Common Man.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Dear Mr. Service Marketer... the boys aren't really playing well!"

Marketing services is quite a challenging task compared to marketing products, given the intangibility of the former. With the latter, a prospect can see it before hand, touch, feel or even use the product for some time before the actual decision to buy or not to buy is made. Service is something where the production as well consumption happens together, or in quick succession. For eg. - claiming medical bills from Insurance companies or withdrawing cash from a bank or an ATM. Hence, the role of Marketing gets even more rigorous and challenging when it comes to a service. All a service provider hence can do is to come out with attractive captions, logos, Brand Ambassadors, claims & other Brand Elements and display professionalism in their interaction with the prospects as well as their clients.

However, I came across a couple of instances where 2 of the best know Brands across the country have goofed up a bit when it comes to what they claim v/s what they deliver. One of them is HDFC Bank, other is Dominos Pizza. Dominos Pizza is not purely a service brand, but a product cum service brand, given their emphasis not only on Pizzas but also on 'free door delivery' and 'delivery within 30 minutes'.

Lets talk about HDFC Bank first. A brand which is synonymous with Mr. Deepak Parekh (India's unofficial man for crisis) though he is not at the helm. A brand with whom I am associated for the past 5 years and so far have nothing much to complain. Probably because I did not frequent the bank much and got my transactions done through the internet or ATMs. However, I have been visiting one of their branches every month since March. I observed a basic flaw which I never observed with any of the public sector banks. 5 times I have deposited a cheque and each time I have noticed that the person at the counter doesn't verify if the amount written on the cheque matches with the pay-n-slip. Again, there is no verification if the amount and other details mentioned in the bank's copy of pay-n-slip matches with the customer's copy. The teller simply bangs a seal and the whole transaction is over within half-a-minute. This is in stark contrast to what happens in a public sector bank, where the teller takes almost a minute before a seal is hit to the pay-n-slip. When some may shrug it off as a petty issue, I see it as a potential to create confusion later on which might require me to visit the branch quite a few number of times (without forgetting the calls to/from Customer Care and mail trails which it will accompany)
Let me take a dig at Dominos now. Though I have not been a big fan of Pizzas, something tempted me to go for it. And I ordered it online. In about 30 minutes, I got a 'missed call' from an unknown number. This was followed immediately by a message from the same number "Sir pizza delivery boy. Not able to find your house. Please call back". I promptly reverted - "Call me back or you and the pizza can go back". I got the call and guided him to my place. Owing to no change with me, I paid Rs. 200 for what cost Rs. 170. The delivery boy requested for some time to get the change. I asked for his name and asked what do I need to do if he doesn't turn up within the mentioned time. He simply uttered his name and said "Call up to the store and complain for your thirty rupees". I was taken aback but remained calm. I got the change, but, after 6-7 hours and after making a call and informing the Dominos store.

What is similar in both these cases?

The interface between the customer and the organization hasn't displayed credibility and professionalism. When those on top and in the Marketing role of organizations have always ensured to 'build a brand' by building credibility via various exercises, those at the grass-root and who often interact with the company's 'bread & butter' i.e. clients, have often failed to display it. This (dis)connect between what is claimed by the top management and what is being delivered by the grass-root can hamper the brand. At times, brands will not only lose that particular client but also several other clients by way of negative word-of-mouth communication about the brand by the disgruntled client. This very blog itself speaks negatively of Dominos and HDFC Bank, doesn't it? ;-)

Service marketers cannot afford to let their interface act with a lackluster attitude. No brand is bigger than a client's ego and his hard earned money. Absence of empathy, arrogance, disconcert by the client-organization interface will affect a brand much more than a goof up in a service. Afterall, products might be manufactured in factories, but brands are 'manufactured' in the minds of the consumers.

Regards... rather, re-guard (lots of brands need to take one)

Common Man

Photo courtesy
i. http://magusdialog.in/images/logo_hdfcbank.gif
ii. http://www.balloonsoverwaikato.co.nz/images/143230_DominosLogo.jpg
iii. http://marketingevolution.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/customer-service2.jpg


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kaun hai woh King or Queen of 'Good Times' ?


Read someone asking "How about Freida Pinto as the Brand Ambassador of Kingfisher Airlines?". To those who have no much clue about Freida, she is the one who featured opposite Dev Patel in Oscar-winning SlumDog Millionaire, walked the red-carpet at the Oscars, pipped to be the next Bond Girl and also claimed to be the highest paid Indian actress.

Freida for Kingfisher - Is it a good fit?

Let's first discuss Kingfisher and West Indies. The flagship brand of UB Group got registered in my mind for the first time in 1996 when India toured West Indies, where in one of the 5 Test matches, India were bundled out for some 80 odd runs, chasing a paltry 120 in 4th innings for victory. They had a TV commercial starring the players of that team. Here is the TVC - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93RtE9_Gc5I - Hence, UB via Kingfisher, sponsored the West Indies Team. That was the time when West Indies' cricketing standards hadn't reached a level where it was today and had some greats - Richardson, Walsh, Ambrose, Bishop, Lara and the likes. The 3 former names might be a terror for the batsmen when on field but the converse is also true when they are off the field, for that matter it is true with most West Indians. For those used to watch Cricket in West Indies, it is no secret that West Indies is synonymous to, say, beach, beer, partying, fun & frolic etc. Hence, so are the West Indians, not so surprisingly. Some of their celebrations after a wicket or victory look simply crazy. "Work hard, party harder" seems to be their mantra.

They had some marketing advantages with it -

1. Instant multi-country visibility (something stopped me from saying 'global' visibility'). It would anyways be visible amongst the Circket crazy Indians, but, sponsoring West Indies Team also meant visibility of the Brand outside India. The series was telecast LIVE on ESPN-STAR and it ensured that the Brand became visible in atleast 6-7 Cricket playing countries.

2. Brand Mantra was in sync with the team they sponsored. Kingfisher, be it through their alcohol Brand or airlines Brand, have always called themselves 'King of Good Times'. Their Chief, Mr. Mallya himself carries the 'Good Times' image, be it by his dressing, by his passion or actions, or even by surrounding himself with glamour. He walks that talk. Even during the heights of recession, KF Airlines did not cut down on frills which is their soul.

Sponsoring West Indies Team was a beginning. They then went on to get Saurav Ganguly and Ajay Jadeja in the late 90s. Ganguly was an upcoming Cricketer in the late 90s and Jadeja was a jovial Cricketer of his times, very chirpy and flamboyant too. This was followed by getting Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff in 2006, who were certainly the Kings of Good Times which was prevailing, following their inspirational victory in the Ashes 2005.

So it is amply clear that, one who associates oneself with UB Group (or read as Kingfisher) needs to be flamboyant, possess a happy-go-lucky outlook, bring in glamour value with him or her (unless untill they are not endorsing a dull Brand like Mangalore Chemicals & Fertilizers Ltd. of the UB Group) So when someone said Freida Pinto could be the Ambassador of Kingfisher Airlines, I felt it to be a wrong choice. First and foremost, she is not a popular figure in India, though she has several credentials on her side early on in her career. She doesn't carry the 'Good Times' image, according to me.

How about Sania Mirza? She is a face seen in a few continents, thanks to the Grand Slams (where she grandly gets slammed each time). Well known in India too, glamorous, something which Mallya desires as well as deserves. But her inclination towards attracting more Fatwahs than FAT-WAHs can be a game-spoiler. You never know when the clerics of Islam will get offended on hugging Mallya or even mere endorsing the KF Airlines since Mallya also owns 'Daaroo ka aDDa' (Daaru is 'Haraam' as per the Islamic tenets) Now, the complexities of getting Sania as an endorser might as well double with her marriage to a Pakistani and the Dubai connection. In any case, distancing from Sania is a safe choice for Brands (Burqa Brands are an exception)

Then like always, we can move towards some Bollywood actresses, who are the front-runners for most brands and products that demands glamour and skin (Now that skin-showing is no sin) Someone chubby-bubbly, like what Priety Zinta was in her debut movie Soldier is what KF Airlines requires. From the current lot, Genelia D'Souza could be a fit. Though hailing from South India, she is recognized well amongst the TG of KF Airlines. Deepika Padukone endorsed KF Airlines for sometime. Getting her back might not be a sensible move, moreover, with her growing stature, she might endorse more Brands (and Cricketers!) which might not be pleasant for the Brand as it is not 'one among all' Brand. Limited popularity of Bollywood actresses in other countries must also be considered before getting them to endorse (Though Shilpa Shetty might be on her knees and toes and even on hips as we saw in her Yoga, to endorse KF Airlines)

But, for me, one name stands tall. Only that person can carry the 'Good Times' image. Even if Mr. XYZ is appointed as the Brand Ambassador of KF Airlines, he might look ordinary against my Choice. My Choice talks and walks 'Good Times'. My Choice so far has been unbeatable in that 'Good Times' image. My Choice is Vijay Mallya himself. He is in a league of his own. He is like a proud Lion, the newbies and the wannabes of whichever field you chose, come distant second to him. He can get as many hugs from Bollywood actresses as his son who is in his early 20s get. Even the economic downfall couldn't challenge his 'Good Times' mantra. He found other ways to deal with it (Extension from the Govt. to repay the dues to Oil PSUs, 'MoU' with Jet Airways) He plays big stakes and plays openly. He can buy Tippu's sword for you in an auction, he can bring back Gandhi's possessions, he can buy a F1 Team, owns a few Yachts. Anything he does, does it in style. Though booze hasn't been ingrained in India's culture completely as yet, an Indian owns the world's 2nd largest brewery today. He is a 'Good Times' tag himself. He is the Richard Branson of India (Though he doesn't have a condom brand like Branson does)

I rest my point of view with the readers.

Regards (and loads of Oooh la la la la ooh le lo....)

Common Man

Photo courtesy -
i. http://www.singaporegp.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/dr-vijay-mallya.jpg
ii. http://blog.mobissimo.in/uploads/ambush_marketing_kingfisher_airlines.jpg
iii. http://photos.andhranews.com/airlines-photos/kingfisher-airlines-a330-200.jpg

Monday, May 24, 2010

3G v/s SoniaG - Yes Madam, We Can!

So the much acclaimed 3G Spectrum bidding has concluded and is expected to give the Govt. exchequer a whopping Rs. 68,000 crores approx. which is close to more than 2 times than what was estimated in the Budget 2010. As A Raja, the Telecom Minister was all smiles for all right reasons and 'otherwise', the Congress camp was in a spot of bother. If Pranab Mukherjee looked numb like always, P Chidambaram's pleasant and calm face had turned stern, something which would have scared the Maoists and Naxalites as well. Normally a quiet S M Krishna was looking as serious and brutal as Kamsa. Though the UPA as a whole was exuberant over the 3G Spectrum revenue, the Congress faction had a subtle, yet evident uneasiness on their face.

The Congress is now weary of one pertinent point - Will the popularity of 3G impact the Brand Value of Sonia'G? The Prime Minister took note of this issue and summoned an emergency meeting of all Congress Ministers late in the evening at the PMO (Prime Minister's Office). The possible effects of 3G overshadowing Sonia'G were discussed at length. A Ten-Point Programme has been worked out and would soo be implemented. Sources from the PMO who requested anonymity to avoid possible animosity with the Ministers shared the minutes of the meeting -

1. The total earnings through 3G bids will be showed at 10% of actuals. That way, revenue to Govt. Exchequer could also be shown less and hence, prices of essential commodities could be hiked. This suggestion had come from the mastermind of Murli Deora, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister who sees this as an opportunity to hike fuel prices. When countered by the Prime Minister, he justified his stand by saying that if fuel prices are hiked, public attention can be diverted from 3G to price-hike. He also assured that there won't be disruption from the opposition camp of BJP and Communists as they would anyways 'Walk-Out' from the Parliament.

2. 3G Spectrum will not be publicized on news channels, websites etc. Now along with opposition leaders, even the Press & Media are banned from entering the premises of the Ministry of IT & Telecommunications. A Raja's official residence will be deployed with additional CRPF forces to curb media entry into the premises. This point was put forward by the Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

3. Afzal Guru's files will make rounds from various bureaucrat's tables to New Delhi Govt. every alternate day. This idea which will attract huge attention from the BJP and Sangha Parivar was mooted by the Law Minister Veerappa Moily which made him eligible for a pat on the back by state-mate S M Krishna. If tables are further fallen short of, President Pratibha Patil in a fax-message has promised to lend her table as well. Files containing various Bills which are earlier passed to her from the Parliament will be shifted to Govt. archives.

4. Lalit Modi-Shashi Tharoor controversy will be raked up as well. Support for this is sought from Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, both from NCP which is a party to the UPA. If the NCP supremos refuse their support, Praful Patel will be accused of negligence and corruption which led to the AI plane crash in Mangalore last week and Sharad Pawar will be charged with conspiring with rich middlemen for hoarding essential commodities thereby leading to inflation.

5. A lot of arrests will be made and links will be established to various Bomb Blasts.

6. Some forgotten cases like Madhumita Shukla murder case, Lakkubhai Pathak cheating case, JMM suitcase scam, Fodder scam, Coffin scam, Stock Market scam etc. will be reopened or files will be moved bringing nation-wide attention.

7. Sanjay Dutt has been promised a ticket in the next election if he too is willing to be a part to reinvestigate the 1993 Bomb Blasts. Mahesh Bhatt's son's help will also be sought to prick the George Coleman Hadley case. Mohd. Azharuddin has been asked to lead these 2 projects.

8. Some petty fights in Australia will be showcased as 'Racist attacks' and Home Minister will visit Australia and keep India updated about the 'sorry state of affairs'. However, PM has cautioned that this ploy should not in any way impact India's Uranium business with Australia.

9. If all this falls short of the agenda, more dossiers will be exchanged with Pakistan.

10. Rahul Gandhi has volunteered to contribute in his very own way. He has already scheduled his 'Stay at Dalit homes' for the next 6 months.

As the meeting concluded and the Ministers came out of the PMO, they were greeted by angry sloganeering by the rest of the UPA allies. The Prime Minister in his usual inimitable style pacified the protestors by saying "Ghar ki BAHU-BETIYON ka sammaan rakhna hamaara dharm hai!!!!"

Common Man.

[The above is a fiction intended for some fun and humour. The author loves all politicians and plays politics himself]

Photo courtesy -
i. http://www.cplc.net.in/cplc_magazine/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/3g.jpg
ii. http://img.timeinc.net/time/2009/time_100_walkup/sonia_gandhi.jpg

Friday, May 14, 2010

Whacked in West Indies.... Backed by Bachchan!!

So now you know how tough it is to negotiate BOUNCERS. The Indian T20 squad failed to negotiate them even after spending 45 nights in PUBS. If the IPL, thanks to Modi and Tharoor got murkier day by day and hour by hour (or Tweet by Tweet), the T20 World Championships, for Indian fans got duskier match by match. Like Anil Kumble pointed out, we had lost when M S Dhoni said after losing to West Indies in the post-match presentation, "We will play Sri Lanka and go home", though there was still a chance to make it into the Semi-Finals. One had to know Permutation & Combination in-depth to know about that chance though.

'Consistently managing NOT to rise for a BIG OCCASION' can be a research topic on Indian Team. Zaheer 'Tweeted' about 'Improvement' after every game, but during match, it appeared as if he had talked about improvement in leaking runs. Rohit Sharma 'Tweeted' about him knowing 'What this team is made up of', but to some extent we got to know what Rohit is made up of after the match against Australia. Yuvraj seemed to have been confused by a dual role - Cricketer and a Celebrity. Pitch might seem like a ramp, every cheer-girl looks like Preity Zinta. And we expect him to perform amidst this misery!

Meanwhile, the debate over post-IPL parties have reached Twitter, Facebook Wall and even BCCI Headquarters. Probably the first time an Indian Captain has honestly admitted something. But why hold it a reason for poor performance? Were the players dragged to the parties or did they go on their own will?

Amitabh Bachchan has blogged in support of Team India. I find it a futile exercise to extend 'Moral support' to the Team. Even after prominent losses, our players have found 'Moral support' only in partying than in identifying problem areas are taking corrective action. Our only comprehensive performance in the series was against the South Africans. We couldn't even get the Afghanistani's ALL OUT!
Waiting eagerly for Gary Kirsten's revelations. I have never been able to find out why most 'revelations' happen in crisis! Anyways... would be fun to know some of the pot bellies of the Indian Team :)

Common Man

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beware of Branding Bandwagon

One of the most recent cum lucrative concept that has emerged in Marketing is Brand Management. While the traditional concepts like Sales & Business Development, New Product Development, Distribution Management will always hold the key in any business, Brand Management too is now a front-runner.

Ancient marketers believed in two simple fundas - Quality and Service. Several yesteryear brands like Bajaj Chetak, Ambassador, Maruti 800 (then the Common Man's car), Gwalior Suitings, Surf (which was successfully countered by Nirma), Godrej cupboards believed and flourished with these 2 very fundas. The guys sitting on the top of these companies (Karsanbhai Patel of Nirma, Rajiv Bajaj of Bajaj, A V Birla of the Birla Group) had a product with quality which appealed to their target audience, complemented by equally superior service and a customary TV Ad (and a Newspaper/Radio ad) The concept of Branding was invisible or of least significance. The only concept of today which was even present yesterday was Advertising to some extent. Again, non-conventional advertising hardly existed, TV Channels weren't in tones like today, promotional activities were unheard of. Ad Gurus and Brand Gurus hadn't incarnated as yet. The only time an organization co-branded itself with something unrelated is Godrej sponsoring the popular TV Serial 'Buniyaad'. Sports was sports then and not an entertainment industry like today, hence, no scope for strategic breaks or cheer-lead the product during matches.




But today, situation is totally different. Logos, colours, fonts, packaging, punchlines keeps changing every third day. Bolly Biggies, Cricketers endorse almost everything from Cars to FMCG to Insurance to Laptops. It gives an impression that marketing activities like Advertising, Sales Promotion, Brand Launching are primary and Products, Services and Sales are linked to it (Although I feel Sales is Primary and Marketing acitivity is just a supporting activity) A V Birla probably would have been in tears to see his son Kumaramangalam signing for the costliest TV Ad (costliest then, not sure about it now) [Here is the link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6aUTHYGSt4] Ardeshir Godrej, whose signature is also the logo (textual logo) of the Godrej Group wouldn't have in his wildest dreams ever thought that the red coloured font/signature would one fine day be a multi-coloured one. Rahul Bajaj wasn't too impressed with son Rajiv's decision to take a 'strategic time-out' from scooter manufacturing, which the latter felt is essential to revamp the brand image of Bajaj Auto to a motor-cycle manufacturer from 2-wheeler manufacturer.

Branding can be a success, logos, punchlines, Brand Endorsers, colours will mean something only under 2 conditions -

1. Deliver what you promise or commit - One cannot have Anil Kumble endorse a Brand because of his integrity and then sideline Corporate Governance, Ethics, Integrity (simply put together as 'Values') Mind you, Anil isn't a replacement for 'Values', he is only the torch-bearer of 'Values'. Mind you, just before the scandal broke, Satyam had won a Corporate Governance Award. Could Tata Nano have been a success, if it had 'Common Man' as it's mascot but made available at a price-point between Rs. 3-4 Lakhs? It's the delivery as promised, which made it a success ("A Promise is a promise" as Ratan Tata said while launching it for the first time)

2. Quality of output - You better be a powerhouse of intellects if you claim yourself to be powered by intellects. When you promise fun, provide it, come what may! Wonder La has to be a 'fun' experience, it cannot cut down on that 'fun' by cutting down on water-games with power shortage in Bangalore as an excuse.

'Walk the talk' to make your Branding activity a thumbs up. Sales is a revenue generator, if it fails, all Branding and Advertising efforts are reduced to a fruitless activity EOD. This is why the above 2 conditions are to be fulfilled under rapidly growing competition and dynamic marketing environment of today.

Happy Branding and Happy Selling!!

Common Man.

Friday, April 9, 2010

i-Pill - The chill-pill way to build Business and Brand

Oooops...!! I got it all wrong. Where there is 'excitement', there is an i-Pill and IPL is just about excitement, isn't it? Hence that slip of the tongue ;-) Call it 'Indian Paisa League' for the money that's splurged in it or call it 'India's Premiere Lalit' for the way he has left behind many a CMOs in terms of popularity and successful implementation and maintenance, the IPL 'Business' has kept everyone in a state of being busy. If guys are too busy to date their Sanias (!) in the evenings, so are several business establishments busy doing nothing, thanks to the reduced foot-fall into shops and malls. The IPL bug has even kept '@shashitweeroor' aka Shashi Tharoor Tweeting about the matches. So has been the IPL craze in India, which, when first took off, was regarded to have a mixed response. But now indeed it has been a massive success. Success of IPL and the strong promoter behind it i.e. the BCCI has ensured that a lot of top business houses and brands get associated with it.

The acceptance of IPL brought more avenues*- to the IPL in terms of generating more revenue and to the various Brands to increase their Recall Value. This exercise to become a TOM Brand (Marketing terminology, defined in the end) is being tried by a few Brands through IPL. Observe those 'Big hits into the stands'. Commentators never say "Big Six", but say "DLF Maximum". A wicket falls and they say "CITI Moment of Success'. 'Time Out' is 'MAX MOBILE Strategic Time Out'. IPL can think of more such unconventional ways of advertising/promoting Brands. Probably, as the batsman goes back to pavilion - 'PARAGON Walk', a Man of the Match - 'TVS VICTOR of the Match', a catch could be - 'HAVELLS Safe catch' etc.

Can these backfire? There are chances. Assume, a team not doing well in the entire IPL, losing 8-9 wickets in every match. Every batsman going back to the pavilion becomes a 'PARAGON Walk'. Hardcore fans of that team or a batsman might find it unpleasant to hear 'PARAGON Walk' frequently. As a result, Paragon might not be a preferred Brand by that city's or the player's fans. With most ardent IPL fans already turning frenzy, such risks are always on the cards. For all we know, India is also a Cricket crazy nation.

Associating with IPL also gives you an opportunity to network with industry big-wigs, celebrities, some top-notch Cricketers but most importantly - LAW MAKERS i.e. politicians. Do not forget most politicos in India like Sharad Pawar, Rajiv Shukla, Narendra Modi, Farooq Abdullah, Arun Jaitley hold lucrative positions in either the National level of State Level. Chetan Bhagat in a column in Times of India pointed out that if you show Corporate India a big reason to spend, you can generate big bucks from their wallet. Yes, you only got to show them the BIG REASON. Lalit did exactly that.

Thats about Business and Branding with IPL... If all this you thought was lucrative and glamorous, there is another side to it, though not associated directly with the IPL but courtsey to IPL. From what I see around. Hotels and eateries which do not have a TV see a dip in the customer turn-out. I stopped going to my regular hotel for dinner and have switched to a hotel which has got a TV for I can watch the match. Of course, it is coming at a cost. I now order extra dishes once I am done with my regular paratha/thali, so that I can watch some more of the match. Specially, if Sachin is batting, I would have a grand dinner that night and end up spending Rs. 110- Rs. 130 when on any other day I would not spend more than Rs. 30. Expecting a dip in the turnout for late evening shows, Inox and a few other theatres play IPL matches instead of movies. So what if you couldn't afford a ticket for it is too expensive or 100% sold-out a week before you thought of buying! Enjoy it in the big screen in the multiplexes. Pubs too are playing IPL matches and lavish hotels like the Taj and the likes too hold special screening of the IPL!

IPL has even made it to the Social Networking sites. Twitter and Facebook users give updates faster than Cricinfo! Most die-hard fans and supporters do not waste a minute to appreciate or criticize their favourites and their villains. Facebook 'Status Message' have temporarily turned form 'Employee Grievance Cell' to 'Player/Team performance appraisal form'. Friends have turned 'foes' for they now support different teams. 'City-based loyalty', a term coined by Lalit Modi has given him a 'Cricket-derived Royalty'.

No wonder Lalit Modi is currently the Best Indian CMO. He has sold the right product in the right market to the right customer. What is India Inc. waiting for? Hire him!

Common Man
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TOM Brand - Suppose I were to question someone "Name the IT companies of India you have in your mind" and he or she answers "HCL, Cognizant, TCS, Wipro, Infosys.... ", it would mean HCL sits on top of his mind which will be known as TOM Brand (Top of Mind), followed by Cognizant which will be known as SIL (Second in line) and it goes so on (TIL, FIL etc.). Biggest IT company is of course TCS, followed by Infosys and Wipro.. but what matters here is what sits in the top of a person's mind. Brands normally want them to be comfortably seated on TOM of the market, not that we should buy them, but because they are an option when we intend to buy. And they become some real strong contenders to other options!
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* - 'Avenues' have to do with legal and ethical ways of earning revenues and not with what Lalit seems to be more interested at. The placement of the picture adjacent to 'avenue' is highly co-incidental but the decision not to remove it is highly unintentional (Khi khi khi....) :D

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Country, My Countrymen's Life

To the South of Asia, with the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal as it's Coastal Neighbours and Pakistan to the West as a terror, stands India, My Country, whose unique achievement is never to have conquered any other nation in the world, but only liberated itself from the British and East Pakistan from it's Western counterpart and is today known as Bangladesh, is a land of diversity - diversity in terms of religion, tradition, culture, food habits, language, clothing, opinions (?) etc. It houses Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsees, Jains, Buddhists, Athesists as much as it houses Hindus who form a considerable majority of the population chunk. There is so much within My Country to see and experience and feel that never ever have I been fascinated by the eulogies of the Vegas or the Roland Garros, ascending the Qutub Minar always seemed to be worthy than earning the Kuwaiti Dinar, Taj Mahal at Agra is probably more picturesque than Niagara, Jantar Mantar would perhaps amuse me more than Eiffel Tower!

If those last few words inspired you, hang on! There is the other side to My Country as well. Not seriously exposed, or perhaps, we are too scared/busy/least bothered a lot to see it. The travails and tribulations of 'Common Man', who according to my parents, Social Studies teacher, CSR Professor, Industry bigwigs, Economists and not to forget my (abhi)Netas* form a 2/3rd of My Country's population i.e. 67%, and they have only been increasing day by day and years by years! Sometimes I wonder why this 67% is referred to as 'Aam Aadmi' or 'Mango Man' when actually Mangoes are not easily affordable to them (*Netas are the most precious assets of My Country. I will never be able to fix a value for them. This is why I pay for their security, lavish quarters with even more lavishly spread gardens bearing close semblance to the Lumbini, the trademark laal batti-stainless steel antenna-tinted glasses-bright white Ambassador which of-late has paved way for the Honda CRV, Ford Ikon, Toyota Innova - all foreign made luxurious SUVs and MUVs and from that steps down the 'UV Rays' aka Netas with an Indian made Khadi outfit and not to forget the 'Bharateeya Sarkaar' on the number plate, which should appropriately be renamed to *Bharateeya Sir's Car*. Oh.. I also pay for their regular trips to their constituencies, their 1st Class travel by Air India, their regular pilgrimage to Kashi/Tirupati/Gaya/Badrinath/Vaishno Devi, those tens and thousands of free BSNL calls, those free units of power, those thousands of rupees a day as allowance for attending the Parliament where they either dose off and gain more weight or 'Walk Out' and still lose none, those pensions and perquisites which they are entitled to post-retirement and the list is endless. Yes, I was right. You cannot fix a value to them. Priceless!)

From Netas, I move on to my favourite industry - MEDIA. The following quote which I found in one of my friend's 'Status Message' on G-Talk befits the modern day Media. "If you do not follow the Media, you are uninformed. If you follow the Media, you are misinformed". When most news channels and newspapers have remained a mouthpiece of some or the other groups, mind dates back to those DD 1 era where News was just 2 hours a day affair but gave you requisite information, though restricted but the same crap wasn't replayed, censored but not stitched. Of late, Media has also assumed the role of the Judiciary. From Reporting, they have moved a step ahead to Judgment. For example, 'Support SRK' campaign during the SRK v/s Shiv Sena tussle last month. Further, some of the 'disastrous' LIVE or EXCLUSIVELY ON XYZ has only aggrieved the situation and made it worse for the authorities to handle. The 26/11 attacks, which brought the entire news crew to one platform (if there is one at Gateway of India) was telecast LIVE on most news channels including the statements of the Heads of the Security and Intelligence Agencies . The perpetrators sitting elsewhere got a free access to the possible future steps of the NSGs and spot information which helped them weave an attack accordingly. Our Media bigwigs have more degrees and channels but less common sense perhaps.

Let's take a look at some hypocrisies in India. To begin with, the most recently concluded EARTH HOUR. How could I forget that! Switching off your lights and electric appliances for an hour to raise the awareness towards the need to take action on Climate Change. When celebrities from Bollywood and Politics supported the movement, elsewhere IPL matches making use of flood-lights were all in full-swing, notably, IPL is endorsed by several celebrities and politicos and also industry leaders who preach a lot of ethics and goody-goody CSR. Ohhh... the most CSR-centric ad by the Aditya Birla Group, 'Use Mobile-Save Paper'. Waiting for another CSR-centric ad by the same group conveying the harmful effects of heat and radiation generated by the Mobile Phones. Too much an ask ehh? I am also told that majority of the India is seen in it's villages and a majority of them are poor. Our leaders scream to make it audible to every nook and corner of the nation. Aila.... how come foreign delegates in the guise of being showcased REAL India are shown only the Rajpath and the Akshardham, Victoria Terminus and the Marine Drive, Bombay-Worli Sea Link and the Lotus Temple? But then, thank god there is a Danny Boyle who shows the world that which is censored by our leaders! And then, every year, Page 3 Toms and Jerrys gather in the Capital and participate in the Lakme India Fashion Week. I get to see costumes which are worn by probably less than 10% Indians and it is showcased and publicized as if it represents the whole of India or the REAL India. It's high time to rename it sensibly as Lakme Bollywood Fashion Week or Lakme New Delhi Fashion Week as it only represents a select few elite of the metros or the Bollywood.

Amidst all these going around and countrymen being taken for a ride, what's in store for the 'Common Man' of My Country? Is there anything rather?

"If they answer not to thy call, Walk alone, Walk alone, Walk alone"
- Rabindranath Tagore.

Regards,
Common Man.
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Corrigendum to the previous post

I had a few queries from what looked to me as disgruntled readers. Let me try to clarify them.

1. If I have a proof (an URL/written literature/recorded document perhaps) of M F Hussain saying that he draws nude only those whom he hate - Let me clarify that this is something which I either read in some website or heard during a debate on a news channel. I must confess I am not able to recall in which one of these two did I come across that piece of information, but come across I have for sure. I did some Googling to find out the URL, but did not get any. It directed me to some discussion forum though, where one of the readers claim the same about MFH as I did. But I find it unworthy of producing as a proof. Hence I confess that I do not have a proof right now. But that doesn't change my opinion(s). I am not a critic of MFH but that particular act(ivity) of his. Hate the sin, not the sinner. Mahatma or Christ told this perhaps.

2. "how do u feel that he should not respect the goddess of other faith"? - Respect has to come from within. One cannot force the other to respect someone or something. This is the point I was trying to make when I mentioned that I don't expect MFH to respect the goddesses of other faith. I also did not say 'disrespect that which is Holy to others'.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

'M'other 'F'orgive Hussain - Why we don't need more Hussains!

Whenever a great returns to soil or is on the verge of retirement, the big question arises - WHO NEXT? Be it after Gandhi's and Nehru's death or during this twilight time of Sachin Tendulkar's career. It is always difficult to fill the shoes of the greats. India's Picasso, M F Hussain too 'retired' from India recently. But the question "Who will fill MFH's shoes?" did not arise. Why? Well... he walks bare foot! His claims are that he wants to feel 'Mother Earth' which is why he stays away from footwear.

This reminded me that 'Mother Earth' is represented in various forms. Some see Goddesses as Mother Earth, some see Mother India as Mother Earth. Motherland is often referred to as 'Janani' (One who gives birth).
When Laxmana eulogized Lanka, Ram said "Api Swarnamayi Lanka Na May Laxmana Roachathi, Janani Janma Bhoomischa Swaragadapi Gariyasi" (Lanka might look like heaven, Laxman, but Mother and Motherland are more sacred than Heaven") This is true not only to the followers of one group or inmates of one country but to each and every soul on this very 'Mother Earth'.

It is not that Hussain cannot exercise his rightful 'Freedom of Expression'. But it is the haughtiness of using his vague 'Freedom of Eccentricism' to hurt the feelings of a group of Indians that irks me the most. On questioning, he reportedly replied that he draws nude paintings of those whom he hates. One (or rather, I) could still forgive him for the blasphemous image of the Hindu Goddesses but not 'Mother India' for sure. He being a follower of a different faith, I don't expect him to have any love or respect towards the beliefs of other religion, but certainly, I expect him to show respect towards India, one of the few countries in this world which can boast of endless religion and faith and still lives in harmony, treating all as equal (barring a few bizarre incidents). Moreover, it is also the duty of every Indian to uphold and maintain the secular fabric of this country rather than give scope to tear it apart. This is where Hussain has erred, and this is where I see him not being apologetic about!

What put me to AWE (rather than WOW) was a few people putting forth the Khajuraho carvings as a justification of Hussain's blasphemy. Nowhere in Khajuraho would one find Hindu Gods being depicted nude. Moreover, it just depicts common human beings in the act of sex which is common human tendency to indulge in (responsibly and legally I mean). Khajuraho paintings haven't hurt the religious sentiments of any group so far, atleast none have claimed so. So it is a spineless point to justify Hussain's paintings using Khajuraho carvings. No human being mates in open like depicted in Khajuraho, do they? The reason for all such turmoil prevailing in our country is too much emphasis on RIGHTS. For every mean act of ours, we refer the Constitution and take refuge under copious sections and laws. It's a tad too late but we rightfully need to have some sessions on DUTIES. Duty to preserve peace of the society, Duty to uphold the unity of the country, Duty not to hurt the beliefs and religious sentiments of fellow citizens etc.

Hussain is now India's past. With him accepting Qatari citizenship and India not permitting an individual to hold two citizenship simultaneously, he has naturally lost his Indian Citizenship. He claims to have not lost his Indianness though. Whether he is still the same M F Hussain to Indians matter more than what he speaks for himself. We Indians have a rich tradition of respecting the aged and the old. He is 95 and we wish him a peaceful life ahead. One only hopes he doesn't 'express' much in Qatar, for we all know how 'liberal' are the Gulf countries.

Oh My Dear Holy Mother Forgive Hussain!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

'Cult Culture' clash with 'Pub Culture'

India, as known to all has been a land of rich cultural heritage. We have countless religions, communities, languages, dialects, customs, festivals, Gods & Saints - all bundled in the 3.2 odd million sq. kms and spread across in 30+ States and UTs. Largely peaceful, but occasional differences leading to violence has also been the highlight of this diversity. Yet, it is a country that can be a guide to others on how to gel well with diverse customs.

But somehow of-late, 'attack on culture' bug has caught up big time with most of them. There are now hordes of saffron brigade opposing everything that has been the boon or bane of globalization and ends up with DAY. DAY is synonymous with 'bright' but this very DAY and the petty fights and debate associated with it looks to take us towards 'dark'. Call it irony or misfortune, but it is the reality currently.

Whats the solution for this nuance? May be we must tread the middle path and walk the tightrope. Afterall, every group in India has got the right to oppose or propose. Let all Days which entered during the 'Opening of the economy Day' be in intact. But let the reason for celebrating it be different. Possibly we can reschedule Valentine's Day, Fathers' Day, Mothers' Day, Friendship Day for the time being, review the scenario, and then move ahead accordingly. Some of the proposed solutions from my side are as follows (could also be opposed as I mentioned before)

1. Valentine's Day - May it be celebrated on the Day when Lord Sri Ram broke the Shiv Dhanush to earn Sita Mata at Janak Maharaj's court. The catch here is Shiv Sena could take offence since Lord Sri Ram broke SHIV Dhanush and not an ordinary dhanush. That can be resolved. Lord Sri Ram's ardent followers, BJP, will woo them. With the current political scenario in Maharashtra, they can afford to only stay united. We may also have to slightly alter this to Lovers' Day since St. Valentine doesn't come into picture here.

2. Father's Day - Bhishma Pitamaha in the Mahabharata on knowing that Satyavati's father doesn't want to give her hand to Shantanu (Bhishma's father) because, Bhishma would steal the chance of her son ascending the throne, Bhishma takes the oath to renounce the throne and also pledges to promise life long celibacy. The day on which Bhishma took this oath and sacrificed power and pleasure for his day can be celebrated as Father's Day.

3. Mother's Day - Kaikayee utilized the long pending wish to demand from Dasharath and asked him to send Lord Sri Ram into exile for 14 years so that her son Bharath could ascend the throne. On knowing this, Lord Sri Ram readily accepts it without any wrath or ill-feelings towards his mother, leaves to the forest. This day of great regards and respect towards a mother who wished evil for her son can be marked as Mother's Day.

4. Friendship Day - Sudhama makes it to Dwaraka to meet his childhood friend Lord Krishna. He doesn't forget to take a pack of beaten rice along with him which was Lord Krishna's favourite during their childhood days. Appalled at Lord Krishna's glory, Sudhama holds the beaten rice back and is ashamed to offer it. However, Lord Krishna spots it and forces Sudhama to give it to Lord Krishna. Surprisingly, Lord Krishna doesn't show any signs of his well-being and accepts the beaten rice with joy and hugs Sudhama for getting his favourite thing. This day when 2 friends, though financially opposite to each other showed great character and displayed true friendship can be celebrated as Friendship Day. The day when the mighty Hanuman brought an entire mountain on not finding the Sanjeevani, to save the life of Lakshamana can also be celebrated as Friendship Day.

The depth of relationships displayed by the aforesaid characters indeed have a meaning. It can move even the stone-hearted. By doing so, we don't take away the freedom of those who have embraced the entrants of globalization and also keep the conservatives happy. Those like me, who know that the various meaningless Days are just some commercial ventures for Archies, Papyrus, Expressions et al can read some better news rather than see abuse of relationship a day after the Day or read about the attacks on greeting card stores.

Now what do we do for those who want to celebrate My Beautiful Neighbour's Day, My English Teacher's Day, My Kaamwaali Baai's Day and the likes?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

From 'Not Required Indians' to 'Now Required Indians' - NRIs bring opportunity galore.

Recently our PM Dr. Singh made a statement which might have brought joy and smiles on many a NRI faces. Some NRIs who normally have a lot to brag about the 'system' in India might take it as one more "So what?" The PM's optimism that the NRIs too will vote in (or from) 2014 elections, though did not become a talk of the town in India, did attract the attention of some ardent Indians settled abroad. The Indian diaspora is a very powerful lot. Be it in terms of intellect, power, wealth, bringing in changes etc. The statement of our PM which did not become a talk of the town is what I am focusing on this time.

The technicalities of their voting first of all needs to be worked out. Whether it is a postal vote or whether it is a e-voting (highly impossible for the next 50 years though) or will there be electoral booths will be set up where there are Indians residing. That too looks an uphill task. Amidst all these complications, I see an opportunity that has gone unnoticed.

Like MNCs have an India CEO or Head for South East Asia, political parties too will now have similar posts. There will be an USA CEO, UK CEO, UAE CEO etc. Like NASSCOM or ASSOCHAM, there will be NAPPY. NAPPY = 'National Asymmetry of Political Parties for You'.

If you thought only tecchies and Managers flew on foreign assignments abroad, you will be proved wrong soon. Local MLAs and MPs will be flying to Europe, America, Middle East as Project Managers. Grassroot level workers, ward Corporators will be herding abroad as 'Resource'.

The country's hiring spree will continue further it's upwardly trend. Now you will get calls or emails from job consultancies. 'Opening in a Political Organization. Present in 16 States. Now hiring for their new operations abroad'.

MBAs from IIMs and IFIMs of the nation will have an extended Industry to choose from the lot, the companies making it to their Institutes for placements. Summer Internship will be a smooth sailing since we have by-polls and ward-elections most times of the year. Budding Managers can gain hands on experience during these chhoTa-moTa elections.

There will be an upsurge for International Marketing courses. B Schools will no more highlight 'Free Laptops'. Instead it would be, "We conduct guest lectures from eminent industry people like Vajapayee, Advani, Mayavati, Buddhadeb, Tytler, Chidambaram".

In sync with IIIT, there would be specialized Institutes catering to studies and research in politics which will be incorporated in joint association by NAPPY and resepctive State Governments. IIMs would soon have sister concerns called IIPM - 'Indian Institute of Political Mis-management'.

This will also be a recession-proof industry since our netas are the most precious assets of the nation and elections are inevitable. No ups and down will be seen and all employees would have their jobs guaranteed.

So is the red-carpet for political parties ready at B Schools?? Are youngsters willing to take up jobs in the most 'dynamic' industry of the world???

Friday, January 8, 2010

DElight horror by Shobha DE

Nonagenarian and Former West Bengal CM Jyoti Basu is in a very critical condition in the Hospital. I personally do not have much hopes on his recovery. He is put on the ventilator for almost 2-3 days now and looks like the end is near.

But I was surprised 2 days back to see Shobha De tweeting that Jyoti Basu is no more. I logged into a couple of news websites but to my awe there was nothing mentioned about his death. His condition was still the same. I did take a screenshot of Shobha's Tweet. Have a look (Click the picture to enlarge it and read)


What a DElight horror from Shobha DE. Pathetic!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Nuisance filled New Year Celebration, sad and sadistic

It was New Year's eve and like millions of people, I too was overjoyed. The very idea of celebrating it on the most happening place of Bangalore i.e. Brigade Road had enthralled me all day. I had heard a lot about Hotel Imperial, which is famous for its Kabab and Ghee Rice and decided to make it to that place with a friend of mine, since it is economical compared to the lavish ones on that locality. Such hotels and eateries are always a respite for students and those in low earning jobs. We decided to jay-walk on Brigade Road upto M G Road and then come back and have dinner at the decided venue. This was at about 8PM and the street was jampacked with little space for air to wriggle. Me and my friend somehow managed to proceed further, me utterly cautious about my cellphone, wallet and my priced possession of 2009 - the digicam. The crowd which was mostly young was drunk, something not so unusual on Brigade Road, especially on a New Year's Eve. On our way towards M G Road was Rex Theater to our left and the poster of the much acclaimed '3 Idiots' grabbed my attention. In less than half a minute, me and my friend were at the ticket counter and soon we had 2 tickets for the movie. It was a 10:15PM show which meant we would be celebrating New Year inside a theatre. Very strange, last year I had celebrated it in Mangalore, riding from a New Year party at a residential locality to Mangalore Club. We moved upto M G Road and then came back to find TV 9 and Times Now news channel covering Brigade Road fun and frill LIVE. The scribe was interviewing few people and as the camera focused over the crowd, they went berserk, with arms stretched upto sky, jumping and dancing with joy.

So far so good. I was pleased to see the crowd and the enthusiasm they carried. Old and young, men and women, youngsters and kids - all were out on streets. Me and my friend made it to Hotel Imperial where we ordered the much talked about Chicken Kabab, Chilly Kabab for starters. It was indeed worth the hype. We concluded with Ghee Rice and started to Rex Theatre straightaway. It was about 9.30PM and things weren't anything different than what we saw an hour ago. I set the reminder to wish my friend Ganesh at 12 in the midnight, whose birthday falls on January 1st. We were now in the theatre, the seating of which did not please me in any way. Perhaps we are so accustomed to watch movies in the multiplexes that we forget this is where we started watching movies from. Behind us was a young couple, in the corner 2 seats of the last row. Ahhem...! The movie began and as Aamir Khan was shown for the first time on screen, the young crowd welcomed with a huge roar, something which goes to show the fame of Aamir Khan in Bollywood. The movie hadn't been through the first 15 minutes and I started getting a call from an unknown number, the code which confirmed it to be an ISD call. I did not receive but soon I got a call from the same number. Fortunes can come anytime, any-day, anywhere. Bearing this in mind, I decided to answer the call and moved out of the theater. To my surprise, it was an elderly gentleman from Kazakhstan, with whom I had developed friendship through a debate forum. I couldn't speak much though, the anxiety of making it back to the theater and also the surprise call from him had caught upon me big time. I then made it back to the theater and continued with the movie. The curiosity of turning back to watch those couple was playing with me, somehow I resisted myself :-)


By 1:15PM the movie was over. I had sent an SMS to my friend wishing him for New Year and his Birthday. It's economical if your friends celebrate their anniversaries on New Year Day, Independence Day, Diwali, Christmas et al. You can use only one call or SMS to wish them on both occasions. I called my friend up and wished him and exchanged a pleasantries as I came out of the theatre. Well... now starts the description of what I wanted to convey through this piece of write-up. Unruly mob welcomed us out of the theatre premises. People were coming upto us and wishing us Happy New Year by way of howling as if this was the last New Year on the planet. Some even contemplated hugging, showing you how much they love you this New Year though they might not even be your distant relatives or aliens. The 'spirit' of New Year had sunk in them and was clearly visible in their behaviour and attitude. Those with their family had a tough time in safeguarding their wives and daughters and other female members of the family. Needless to say that most of the unruly crowd was that of youngsters. Riding and driving was in a 'harrakirri'. Pillion riders managed to stand on the seat and those in the cars had thrown half their body into open air, causing inconvenience to other traffic lane and rules followers. There was a traffic block near Eva Mall and what I saw there was something which I never imagined. A girl who was in her mini-skirt with a guy on his bike became the point of 'contact' for many a ruthless drunkards. People went upto her (and many a girls like her) and deliberately made contact, some even going to the extent of touching thighs, chest and back. There were some who had gathered outside pubs and bars. Later my friend told me that they were waiting for the girls to come out of those places, so that they can establish 'contact' with those girls as well. I almost got hold of a 12-13 year old lad who established 'contact' with a girl's chest who was in an auto, looking for change in her purse or bargaining with the auto-driver for fare. I was fortunate enough not to hold that lad and create a scene, else, I myself would have had to face the brunt of his like-minded 'god(dammned)fathers'. The mob outnumbered the police who did resort to 'lathi-charge' but all in vain. When the police were closing down the shops at about 2AM, several people bought soft-drinks, cigarettes, gutkas, water and fled the place without paying, taking advantage of the hurrying police. Some malls and buildings had arranged for protective nets for their entire edifice to avoid damage by way of stone pelting which gives fun and joy to some animals of Bangalore. We both witnessed this by jay-walking on the footpaths for almost an hour after the movie. But that could have been fatal as drunk & drive was happening even on footpaths. 0.5 stars out of 5 for law & order, though the cops were ruthless on troublemakers.

I only hope from next New Year nowhere including Bangalore are such celebrations witnessed. Brigade Road and M G Road are indeed heaven and there is nothing that you don't get on these streets. But on New Year eve stay away from these places, especially if you are a lone man with the female members of your family or with your girl friend or female colleagues. Be in large groups, preferably in cars (chances of stone pelting are still bright). Avoid pubs and make it to some family restaurants where there is good music and some games. Sooner you are at home, better it is for you. You can have all fun along with safety. No one will come to your rescue as everyone is concerned with their own safety. Last night I realized that Bangalore has a long way to go before calling itself a dignified and sophisticated city and we are no better than the lawless people of certain underdeveloped states. Shame on the IT Capital of India.

Wishing all my friends and readers a Very Happy and a Prosperous New Year. Have a fantastic 2010 with your family. Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu.