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Aam Admi Party & The Battle Of Perception

When the Indian oral hygiene products company Balsara launched its Promise toothpaste in 1978, it had to contend with entrenched multinational brands like Colgate. In those days, multinational companies had an aura and it was difficult for Indian companies to take them on. The aura is a certain perception in the mind of the consumer – that multinational companies offered better quality. Indian industry in its infancy, struggling to stay afloat might have willy-nilly contributed to the perception. But the issue is perception. Brands have to win the battle of perception to win in the market place. In order to gain a foothold in the competitive market, Balsara had to strategize its launch by offering a differential advantage. It positioned its brand as a toothpaste containing clove oil. In marketing parlance, this is known as claiming first mover advantage. However, industry watchers at the time pointed out that Promise was really not the … Read entire article »

Filed under: India, Politics

NYT partially corrects editorial blunders on Modi governance!

“Did New York Times pass off mishmash of local gossip as ‘editorial wisdom’? “Newspapers, as much as anyone else have a right to voice their opinions. But unlike ‘anyone else’ newspapers have a duty to propagate the truth and nothing but the truth. The duty sits heavier on newspapers with a hoary provenance, as the New York Times has. C. P Scott’s famous aphorism, ‘comment is free, but facts are sacred’ comes to mind. Therefore one looks askance if a newspaper like the NYT passes off mishmash of locally collected gossip as the combined wisdom of its Editorial Board. One uses the word gossip here advisedly, as the quality of information one collects locally depends on the ideological slant of the source. In other words, it depends not on what one gathers but who one talks to.” Those were the title … Read entire article »

Filed under: America, India, Media, Politics

‘Nehruvian socialism’, a recipe copied from an imploded state?

Left-liberal historians who came to dominate the writing of history in India credited all that was positive in the post-independent India to Jawaharlal Nehru and his dynasty. Anything negative was attributed to Hindu fatalism. This was part of a larger scheme of things that fabricated the idea of a ‘composite culture’. The fabrication appealed to the rulers and naturally planted the left-liberal historians in their good books. It might be a question of intellectual integrity but it definitely got them positions and power. Knowing which side of the bread is buttered, does help! It was a left-liberal economist Raj Krishna, who coined the term, ‘Hindu rate of growth’. If he had a modicum of honesty he would have termed it ‘Nehruvian rate of growth’. For if on the credit side, … Read entire article »

Filed under: India, Politics

Temples, Toilets & Minority Politics

We as a people have a weakness in that we look for idols in our leaders and put them on a pedestal. An idol’s word is gospel; his actions are above reproach. After all, ‘A Caesar can do no wrong!’ An idol’s actions never, ever come under scrutiny. His actions are always explained away with altruistic motives. Calling an idol’s actions into question is blasphemy.    When a society treats a leader as an idol, all criticism is blanked out. The feedback mechanism is disabled. A leader who is blindly worshipped becomes blind to public opinion. It is not in the public interest. A leader’s belief in his infallibility gives way to a certain conceit. As the leader comes to dislike criticism, his followers automatically screen it from him. It lays … Read entire article »

Filed under: Hinduism, India, Islam, Politics

Congress, Dirty Minds and Hangdogs

As the story goes, an anatomy professor once asked his class to ‘name the part of the human anatomy that can expand to eight times its normal size’. A student in the first row blushed and protested at such a question being asked in a mixed class. The professor reprimanded the student for not properly studying anatomy lessons. He added that the student not only had a dirty mind but was going to be terribly disappointed in life. He explained, ‘the part of the human anatomy that expands to eight times its normal size’ was not what the student assumed but the eye ball. A parenthetical note: whether this is a true or an apocryphal anecdote, there is no insensitivity about asking such questions in medical schools as students of both … Read entire article »

Filed under: India, Media, Politics

Formation of Telangana, Claims & Counterclaims

The principal bone of contention between the protagonists of the division of Andhra Pradesh and the votaries of a united state is unarguably Hyderabad. For the people of Seema-Andhra, Hyderabad city as it stands today is the fruit of the combined efforts of the people of all regions over a period of sixty years. They have therefore an emotional attachment to it and are quite appropriately chagrined when asked to give it all up and walk away. The protagonists of Telangana however argue that the city already had educational institutions, hospitals and infrastructure facilities for housing various administrative offices of the government even at the time of the formation of the state in 1956. By implication they wish to state that the role of the Seema-Andhra people in the development of the … Read entire article »

Filed under: India, Politics

Telangana And Political Ploys

For nearly ten years Congress, the ruling party at the centre brushed aside demands for a separate Telangana state. This is the fourth time that the issue has become a national political issue since the formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1956. Political leaders and parties either raised the demand for a separate state or supported agitations purely based on electoral considerations. Marri Chenna Reddy’s somersaults on the issue are a case in point. In 1956 he was for a united Andhra Pradesh. He later changed his stance and became a votary of a separate Telangana state. In 1968 the AP High Court annulled his election to the state assembly and debarred him from contesting elections for six years. ‘Vandemataram’ Ramachandra Rao of the Arya Samaj (and later the BJP) challenged … Read entire article »

Filed under: India, Politics

Random Reflections On The Karnataka Election 2013

If one were to name a singular failure of the intelligentsia, the politicians, the sociologists and finally the sanctimonious, ‘know-all’ media that comprise the opinion-shaping organs of the world’s largest democracy, it is its failure to build a cohesive national spirit. For, sixty five years after becoming a democratic polity, we still vote as castes and communities; ethnic and religious groups. Unlike the Americans, Brits, Chinese, French or Russians we do not think, act or behave as a nation, like Indians. We think as vokkaligas, and lingayats; forward castes and backward castes; Hindus and Muslims; Bengalese and Biharis; Kanndigas and Marathis but certainly not as Indians. Compared to these considerations, probity in public life or its converse, corruption appears to be a non-issue in Indian elections. This was earlier observed in AP in 2009 when the then YSR government accused of corruption on a gigantic scale not only … Read entire article »

Filed under: Corruption, India, Media, Politics

What is Salman Khurshid Up To?

Ivan Illich opened his seminal work, Limits to Medicine with the observation that ‘the growth of the medical establishment is a major threat to health.’ A large part of Illich’s work dealt with iatrogenic (meaning physician-induced) diseases. But to Illich, the ‘medical establishment’, also includes the pharmaceutical industry. The recent Supreme Court verdict in the Novartis’ Gleevec (Glivec) patent case has generated a lot of heat and uninformed debate in the media. Novartis challenged the order of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), for rejecting a patent for its ‘old wine in a new bottle’ first in the Madras High Court and then in the Supreme Court. Novartis filed world-wide patents for its active molecule imatinib in 1993. In India, the company filed patent in 2003 for imatinib mesylate a beta … Read entire article »

Filed under: China, India, Politics

Congress’ Communism & Empress SoniaG’s Upkeep

Cho Ramaswamy’s Tuglaq (the protagonist in the eponymous movie) says, ‘It is not possible to make the poor rich. Therefore make the rich poor and all will be equal!’ It is an unstated dictum of the communist proletariat. The communist elite (vlasti in Russian) had a different take on Marxist philosophy as George Orwell so vividly depicted in his Animal Farm. Irrespective of how they live, quite often the vlasti echo the proletarian edict, more to show that their heart is in the right place rather than because of an ardent belief that ‘all men should be equal’. Therefore it is no surprise to hear Mani Sankar Aiyar often cavil about Antilia, Mukesh Ambani’s 27-floor residence in Mumbai’s southern suburbs. Flaunting his knowledge of the Gini coefficient (a measure of inequality of wealth distribution) he often cites Antilia as an example of the deep chasm that exists between the … Read entire article »

Filed under: India, Politics