Monday, June 7, 2010

The similarity between Marketing and Religon

Marketing has a lot in common with traditional religious practices:

  • The truth is hidden from view- for example latent brands.
  • Your reward lies in the hereafter- for example insurance for your family!!, charity!!
  • True happiness in only available to the initiated, the "insiders."- for example, premium and exclusive offers for discerning customers!!
  • Everyday reality is a sham, a waste of time, an illusion- for example an advt asking you to think beyond your shackles of this world
  • We are all defective, our personal experiences have no legitimacy without the validation of priests.- for example sponsors, expert opinion, using Sachin/ Sharukh in ads

What is in a name?Ask Indian Cos?

Shakespeare's quote would have us believe that it is the substance that matters over mere shape or appearance. This is similar to the substance over form principle in accounting where you record the transaction as per the economic reality and not merely as per legal nomenclature. Law has also taken this stand with the concept of removing the corporate veil to help the Income Tax authorities and for other purposes.

But, our Indian companies seem to believe in this strongly. Where else would you see a sugar company have the name of an engineering company- for example Triveni Engineering? Or a financial services company have the name "Vakrangee Software"?

I could go on and on, but I think the point is clear. Such names are quite misleading to any lay person. Any person who goes on the basis of a hot stock tip will not know the truth. SEBI should wake up and delist such companies- or at least have them, change their names to reflect their substance

Unity is Strength-really?

Right from the Air India strike to banks, autos, we have seen it all. One can almost predict that a PSU strike will be timed with long extended weekends/ successive holidays. The Govt will as usual condone it and sanction them bonuses and hike their DA, while the customer watches helplessly.

The power behind these strikes is the union(s) which every now and then need to flex their muscles. After all, their importance is realised then. The unions which were set up for a noble cause of 'promoting worker's unity and cordial employer-employee relationships' have only partly achieved their goal. They have ensured pay-but not performance. Bonus-but not dedication.
Gandhi and other proponents of the unions would surely be turning in their grave if they saw the present state of affairs- where people like Datta Samant used the workers as a cats paw tp achieve their political ends.

In Kerala, even debt collectors and private sector bank employees- have formed their own unions. Closer home, we have the Central Railway SC/ST employeed union!. I can understand organisation based unions but caste based unions!. Anyway, this is why the industries choose to produce/ manufacture in Baddi and Vapi where contract labour relieves their employee headache. Here of course, the loser is the contact labourer who gets underpaid- but then, why would the Mumbai unions care?

Its a dog's life

While reading the 2007 budget speech, I noticed the import subsidy on dog food. Then, it had sparked a lot of good natured(and some bad natured) ribaldy that the FM cared more for dogs/cats than for the common man. One of our better known MP's has been quoted to say that 'yeh kutta billi ka budget hai'. The Mumbai HC recently advised societies to adopt a stray dog each- for security reasons!. With this much of news prominence, though this country is not going to the dogs(or cats!) as yet, a dog is still quite lucky.

If it is born to a pet, it is gifted away or sold to happy recipent families. If it is born on the streets, then also it lives. Some members of our nation love to feed our stray canine friends daily- even if there are more pressing matters elsewhere. Many South Mumbai residents consider it a badge of pride to be an 'animal lover', and indulge in armchair criticizm of the dog control measures. They mind paying parking, suffering load shedding and consider themselves above the rest of us, but have no hesitation to condemn their suburban Mumbaikars to a dog's life of barking noise, bite, droppings and fear. Dogs nowadays get moved down less often then people sleeping on the pavements. So, Man's best friend does have it good nowadays.

Do these loaded words deceive YOU?

Open any national daily( apart from the TOI- more on that later) and you invariably see coverage of certain socio-economic- political issues like inflation. poverty, SEZ, reservations, criminalisation of politics, black money etc- this list could fill an whole blog. While the coverage itself is mostly unbiased, what is a burning concern is WORDS. Yes, you read that right.

We read words like "worker", " backward" " small" " justice" " freedom" " poor" all twisted out of context. Who would imagine for example that for BPL purposes, poverty is about Rs 25000/ year, but for creamy layer of OBC reservation- it is Rs 2,50,000/ year.

Similarly, people who have never done a day's honest labour in their lives- like social workers and politicians- claim to represent the working class. My question is- Who is a worker? A daily wage person or an IIT/IIM salaried employee?

Similarly, " social justice" is often used to justify reservations. This misses out the point that not only those who were oppressed by caste system ( like SC's) get reservations, but also those who did not suffer that stigma do so- like ST's/ OBC's etc.

Also, to justify public display of affection/ porn like movies, people say that freedom is must. Yes, "freedom" is OK, as long as it does not affect freedom of other people to have uncontaminated minds.

As far as " small goes'" , the local kiranawala opposes Wal- Mart as he says that they will gobble him up. But so what? These small shop keepers evade income tax, and mostly do not pass on the service tax/ VAT they collect from customers. That is unjust enrichment, which perpetuates the poor-rich divide. Also, the income of these "small" vendors is inflation prone- unlike salaried income.

So, to allow atleast an informed debate on these issues- let us clarify the meaning of words used in a certain context. It would throw up some surprises.

What people say- and what they really mean.

Phrase/ word Meaning Example
Consultant- Agent -Real estate consultant
unemployed- Freelance consultant
Backward- In namsake- Backward caste
Public interest -My interest- File notings in RTI not disclosed due to public interest
national benefit- Helps votebank- Slum rehabilitation helps nation
Social Justice -Injustice otherwise- Reservations are for social justice
Public servant -who takes tips -Ministers are public servants
Restructuring -Sack people -Corporate restructuring
Rationalisation- Reduce -Rationalisation of taxes. staff
Service charges- Bribes/ Loot- Service charges in hotel bills
Revision -Hike- Revision of tariffs
People -Me -Walmart's entry/ cheap imports affects people Premium Costly Premium quality
Empowerment -for the camera- Companies want to empower their employees
detention: arrest
adult entertainment: porn
mature: old
Abroad, this means the jails Dept!
dental cream: Means paste
Quiz: In foreign text books, means question bank
assessment: Exam

So, you feel India's No.1 job is of an IIT/IIM grad? Read this Orkut expose!!

Salary & Govt. Concessions for a Member of Parliament (MP)

Monthly Salary : 12,000

Expense for Constitution per month : 10,000

Office expenditure per month : 14,000

Traveling concession (Rs. 8 per km) : 48,000 ( eg.For a visit from kerala to Delhi & return: 6000 km)

Daily DA TA during parliament meets : 500

Charge for 1 class (A/C) in train : Free (For any number of times) (All over India)

Charge for Business Class in flights : Free for 40 trips / year (With wife or P.A.)

Rent for MP hostel at Delhi : Free

Electricity costs at home : Free up to 50,000 units

Local phone call charge : Free up to 1,70,000 calls.

TOTAL expense for a MP per year : 32,00,000

TOTAL expense for 5 years : 1,60,00,000

For 534 MPs, the expense for 5 years : 8,54,40,00,000 (nearly 855 cores)

And they are elected by THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, by the largest democratic . process in the world, not intruded into the parliament on their own or by any qualification. This is how all our tax money is been swallowed and price hike on our regular commodities......

Are we responsible for the spread of beggars?

You can't miss them. Whether in rags, or ochre robes outside temples, or with a bowl, or with a car cleaning cloth at traffic signals, they are omnipresent. We usually ignore them- or at best drop a 50p/ 1 Re coin. Do we ever think of what happens after that?

Madhur Bhandarkar's movie " Traffic Signal" has potrayed the nexus between the underworld and the beggar mafia. These people even go to the extent of maiming children to graduate them into the begging industry. Besides, we have able bodied beggars who still prefer this work to sweating out a living.

Some of you may feel- so what- that's only a buck. Poor fellow can hardly live. What we forget is some of these poor fellows have bulging bank balances and posh houses, as per a Mumbai Mirror expose.

My views are that giving books to kids or food to beggars is OK, but not cash in any form. That may go to the mafia, or even worse- to buy drugs.