Here, I intend to write what comes to my mind about India. This could be about anything, politics, religion, movies or remote happenings. Feel free to check this blog for updates, who knows some could be of some interest to you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Brand Gandhi

If you are in India at this time and you can read/write any of the languages of this country I bet you will know what 'Mont Blanc' is or learnt about it in the past couple of weeks. If your answer is 'yes', which I am sure it is then it proves the capability of the scientific-art called 'Marketing'. Though there are many definitions, I like this which simplifies it: Create the customer, keep the customer and satisfy the customer.

On Oct-2nd-Gandhi's birthday,Mont Blanc sold a limited edition of pens with Mahatma Gandhi's image engraved on the solid-gold rhodium plated nib,and a saffron-coloured mandarin garnet on the clip costing a whopping Rs1.1m ($23,000, €15,800, £14,400).

Transliterating a proverb in Tamil, 'An elephant is worth 1000 gold coins, dead or alive'. This proverb points out that elephant when alive is worth well for the work it does both during peace or war and when dead, the money it fetches out if it's ivory, bone and other parts considered rare and important. I see that this also fits well for the Mahatma.

His name sells, that's all, be it 'Munna Bhai' or 'Mont Blanc' the mention of Gandhi's name sells. I think Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan stand only next to the Mahatma as a brand. He is our only genuine international brand so far. In fact, it was again the Mahatma who pioneered capitalizing brand power in India. He used to raise money for Harijans through autographs and photographs.

Tushaar Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's great grandson is often involved in most of the commercialization of Gandhi even though he hardly has any legal rights on his great grandfather's work. The copyright to all of Mahatma Gandhi's writings is with the Navjeevan Trust, which was established by Bapuji himself. His inheritance went to the Trust. Film footage of Gandhiji is owned by the Gandhi Film Foundation, the Government of India's Films Division and some international networks. The copyright for photographs is owned by Kanu Gandhi's descendants, the Vithalbhai Jhaveri Trust and others who took the pictures. Prasar Bharati, the Broadcasting Corporation of India, owns the audio tapes of his speeches.

NOTE: The use of any national figure's name for commercial purposes is prohibited under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. The statutory period of copyright to his writings and images expired in 2008.

A few ads that already uses him:

Telecom Italia (I like this ad)

It is long since the people have...errr, cannot say so. It's long since the politicians have forgotten his ideals (“Men say I am a saint losing himself in politics. The fact is that I am a politician trying my hardest to become a saint.” - MK Gandhi). We neither have fulfilled his vision of self-reliance, communal equality and upliftment of poor. Also, I myself doubt if his thoughts about swadeshi, anti-mechanization would hold good these days. If he had lived till now he too would've changed his thoughts keeping pace with the world and definitely come up with greater thoughts for the current situation.

Saluting Baapu, here are a few of my crazy ideas to promote more products (mis)using his image,name and quotes.

There are people who are proud of their watches and there are watches that are proud
of its owners...Our watches, are always proud of you
-RG time machines, your time keepers.

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes." - MK Gandhi
"Our erasers will take care of your mistakes, celebrate your freedom" - RG traders

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Future is here

I just noticed that its almost a year since I wrote anything light. It does not mean that I stopped enjoying ligher things around. 

Recently, I was waiting for my bus at my regular stop in front of a bakery run by Malayali (In Bangalore, if it is not an Iyengar's bakery then it is most likely a bakery run by Malayali brothers). Malayalis a.k.a Mallus attract mallus and so you get to see nice chit chats in native tongue. That day, I saw a man in his 50s, one in about late 30s and a couple of 20s who run the bakery in a very serious discussion. Thanks to Mohan Lal and Mammooty I can understand about 70% of a casual conversation in Malayalam.

The topic of discussion was cooking a particular dish with tomatoes. The 50s person with a beedee in his mouth explained his recipe and the method of preparation, the person in his 30s gave a twist to it and a variation using some lentils which the 20s guy debated as a seperate dish prepared a little differently and called as somethign else. They were damn serious of their discussion and confident of their recipes. As the discussion ended, they went their way before which each of them invited the other for lunch that was either politely declined or moved for a later day.

The above episode which lasted for just about 10 minutes before they dispersed reminded me of the numerous futuristic plays and movies made under a couple of decades ago when I was in school with a comical sense with the theme of men becoming 'house husbands' and women becoming the master of the family. 

In the world of 'house wives' such discussions were common across fences of row of houses or at the gate meetings of neighbours but one difference that was striking to me was the end, the gesture when they part.  While the women folk used to share, teach and guide neighbours on recipes at more length and detail, I have never ever seen one invite another for lunch or dinner as they part away from the discussion. Either it never occured to them or it was a social expectation that inviting neighbours and friends for lunch or dinner is the 'mans' duty.

Maybe it was one of the reasons that inspired such plays where people wanted to see themselves in the other gender's shoes or slippers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Indian Betting League

IPL (Indian Premier League) er IBL is what I would like to call the latest money machine of India.

A brain child of
 Lalit Modi a scion of a conglomorate, IPL caught the market within no time. With Cricket as the youngest religion of the country, involving modern day gods and goddesses (in term of
 their followers) like Sachin, Sourov Ganguly, Yuvraj and flamboyant brands like Shah Rukh Khan and Vijay Mallya, failure was not an option. It is money, money, money all over the place. 

Betting is not new in cricket especially in the shorter versions of it and 20-20 format provides good volume and more interest on this business due to its shorter duration. We have seen great stars of the game have a shameful exit by getting involved in betting 
and match fixing scandals. The recent announcement of competitions through SMS adds an official version to the underground betting racket.

 competitons are common in the Indian TV arena, more and more programs invite participation through SMS but the reason why I see the IPL SMS competitions dangerous is because it has the potential to burn a deep hole in a poor man's pocket before he realizes it. It is like stealing someone's money and in such a large scale of small pockets. The options are so tempting even for a person like me who hardly follows the game that it will ensure multiple transactions from each mobile phone of the nation. 

The nailbiting finishes of every match being played which invariably drags till the last over last ball scenario plants a doubt in my mind that these are all orchastrated moves. Similar to WWF, one goes boom boom boom and once there's a pause the other takes on. At times the doubt almost gets confirmed when some insignificant part-time bowler gets surprise valuable wickets while the professional experts get beaten-up. 
 With these we get to see, read and hear of off the ground tantrums of team owners, team politics, sponsorship money and of course not the least the sizzling cheerleaders. Indeed a good entertainment, it is...!

As I generally say, where there is more money and Indians, there must be corruption. I see the idea is being over exploited to maximize everyone's earnings in a short time and I fear that the golden egg laying goose will soon be killed out of greed.

P.S: My post when the idea of leagues for cricket was implementedinitially : http://indiaeveryday.blogspot.com/2007/08/india-vs-india.html

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I watched Slumdog on the Saturday before I watched it bagging 8 oscars on Monday morning.

To me it's not an Oscar material from India, but wait, it's neither an Indain movie. It's just a movie made in India with Indians participating. There are much more good films churned out each year from Indian production houses, especially from the south. These opinions does not stop me from congratulating the team escpecially AR Rahman who deserves such a big recognition for his talent.

I don't say the movie is bad too. In fact, it does not even deserve any of the cricism that was voiced in India about it showing the country in bad light. When people of most regions use their version of 'dog' commonly to abuse people why the big ho-ho when used as a movie's name? It has more positive things in it than any such negative depictions which was not mere fictious but were closer to the truth. I like the way the story is spun around the questions of 'Who wants to be a millionaire'.

Though for their talent both Gulzar and AR Rahman deserves such honour but this is not the song which shows their talent. The lyrics is not special, to me it just is a collage made out of the national song 'Vande mataram' and anthem 'Jana gana mana' even the 'Jai Ho' is a modified version of 'Jaya he' of the national anthem. So is the music. It sounds so much similar to the 'Vande Mataram' composition that AR Rahman did for Bharatbala about a decade ago.

My postive take away is that it shows how in a colourful country like India you have so much opportunities to learn so many things than just by poring through volumes of books. No other movie has shown the begging racket of Bombay in such a clear way.

The only part I did not like in the movie is the way the game show host ridicules the chai waala participant. I think that was exaggerated and unlikely to happen in such a show.

Many would say that you need good luck to win such a game show, be it a slumdog or a millionaire. Maybe the same with Slumdog-millionaire with the Oscars too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Flag story

Wish all fellow Indians a very Happy Republic Day, this day every year excites me.
I wanted to present a little hsitory of the Indian Flag as I was able to gather. I wish soemday I could display the complete set of flags dating back to stone-age.

For now I start with the Mughals - early 15th century to early 18th century. The dynasty lasted till early 19th century.

Flag of the British East India Company of 1700s

Flag of the British East India Company of 1800s

Believed to be the first tricolour unfurled. The flag was first used at an anti-partition rally in Calcutta 7 August 1906. The stars are actually half open lotuses (eight in all). Also known as 'Calcutta flag' or 'Lotus flag'.

This flag of Dr. Annie Besant's and Lokamanya Tilak, associated with the Home Rule Movement of 1917 and hoisted during the Congress session in Calcutta. This has seven stars arranged in the form of the constellation saptarishi the other name of this flag. The presence of the union jack in it made it unacceptable

1916 - The flag had two colors and a 'Charkha' drawn across them but Mahatma Gandhi did not approve of it as he said that in red color Hindu community finds representation and in green Muslim, but all the other communities of India are not represented in this flag. This was the flag approved by Gandhi in 1921. However, the colours are white, green and red, with the charka in dark blue set all over close to the hoist. This flag was not formally adopted by the Indian National Congress, but nevertheless widely used.

1931 - Some people were not at all happy with the communal interpretation of the flag. Keeping all this in view a new flag was designed which was of "Ochre" color. This color signified combined spirtit of both the religons as saffron was the color of Hindu yogis as well as Muslim darvesh. But Sikh community also demanded separate representation in flag or the complete abandonment of religious colors.

This flag was passed at the meeting of Congress Committee in 1931 at Karachi and was adopted as the official flag of the Committee. The colurs were interpreted as, saffron: courage, white: peace and truth, green: faith and prosperity. Charkha symbolized the economic progression and industriousness of the people.

In world war II Indian prisoners of war in North Africa were released to form a Waffen-SS unit, the Azad Hind Legion. Their Colour was a yellow-white-green horizontal tricolour, with the white stripe twice the size of the others and containing a "springing tiger". Lettered in white in the yellow stripe: Azad, and in the green stripe, Hind. They were captured in southern Germany at the end of the war, and shipped back to India to be tried for treason. The Azad Hind (also known as Indian Infantry Regiment 950) took an oath of loyalty to Hitler, Bose and "free India" in September 1942, at which time the Colour may have been presented

While the freedom fighters were working together in designing their independant national identity the country was still under the British rule. This flag Star of India was the flag used for most official purposes. The Star of India had a star with the words Heaven's light our guide around them, and was the badge of the Order of the Star of India, a chivalric order of knighthood.

The Star of India was replaced by the Tiranga (tri-colour) after Independance on the 15th of August 1947 in the independent Republic of India. The spoked Ashoka Chakra (the "wheel of the law" of the 3rd-century BC Mauryan Emperor Ashoka) replaced the Gandhian spinning wheel of the 1931 INC party to add historical "depth" and separate the national flag from the INC party .

I just realized that I've travelled across about 4 centuries of the evolution of the Indian flag. It scares me to think of the efforts it would take compiling the flags created within free India in just the past half a century to represent various national and regional parties. But, isn't this what we call, Unity in Diversity ?


* Any misinterpretation of facts is regretted, this is just my compilation of public material