How much do you want something?


And how much are you willing to sacrifice to get that something?

More often that not, what we want is dictated by circumstances and the environment.

A kid would throw big time tantrums for getting that candy and most likely he has not even tasted the candy but has seen it on TV, has seen it with a friend and a strong desire is formed to get it and so the tantrums follow.

As he gets a little older, wants to be an engineer, wants to be a doctor, wants to do MBA… In this case too the desire is driven by parents, peer pressure and that whole ultimate goal…. good career and money (or good career = money)

Moving further, its time for materialistic things… of course somewhere along the line, there is also the hunt for the right partner and the rest of the stuff… snazzed car, phone, the best of what the products and brands have to offer.

All these decisions are driven by the surround… by what everyone has.. by what is the politically correct behaviour in the society… by what he is told is the thing to do…

The process of evaluating choices is simple and risk averse or even if the risks are there.. mitigation plans are in place before taking the risk. And more importantly, in case of failure… enough excuses are in place for the failure.

But do all these things really make a difference? Would the absence or something similar and not exactly the same would really leave us feeling incomplete? The derived satisfaction.. is it because we have managed to build a nest with all the ‘required’ things leading to enhanced self worth? Did we make sacrifices or let go of something which was dear to us to get what we really wanted? Were we “Driven” enough?

Mahatma Gandhi was driven… He let go of many things.. including his relationships for the larger task he had assigned for himself.

Even if misguided in a big way… Adolf Hitler was driven… single minded..

Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King… they all were single minded and not so much for themselves but they wanted transformation…

Some gave their lives… some took lives but they all wanted to impact the environment much larger than their own proximity…

Somewhere deep down…buried under all the needs, wants and desires, we all have a powerful need.. a need to make a difference… We need a trigger or a flash point to bring it to surface and since we are risk averse at an individual level, we need a rallying point… contributing to or being part of a community…

Can the brands tap into this need? And I do not mean at a shallow level or lip service.

In the new economy, where the materialism led to collapse of economies… can the business rebuild with a different persepective…

Not buying fur, or peddling eco-friendly technologies or hybrid cars or CFC free etc are just very tiny steps. But the world needs something big… and it will not come from one brand or one business… it needs to be a collective consciousness…

I am not for a moment saying that we should not lead a materialistic life… its a process of evolution. But in this day and age when boundaries collapse and the world is just one click away for us.. do we need to really travel up Maslow’s heirarchy gradually? Why cant it all become just top of the pyramid…. Where everything that we buy or do, it leads to satisfaction or acquiring wordly goods but also self actualization.

Can we all as one be driven enough to tranform this world?

Everybody counts or nobody counts


The title is courtesy Mr Michael Connelly, a superb author and creator of an awesome character  – Harry Bosch. Have read every Harry Bosch book and for those who read so called self help or enlightenment books or ghost written auto biographies of the rich and famous… read Michael Connelly, Jeffrey Deavers, Nelson DeMille and many such authors.. even Stephen King… its a learning experience.

“Everybody counts or nobody counts” is a statement made by Harry Bosch in the book  – The Last Coyote. The context is that Harry will not differentiate between a prostitute’s murder or a mayor’s wife when it comes to justice and bringing criminals to book.

A very simplistic statement on the face of it. Many would say so whats the big deal but then read the statement again… with the thought in mind of how the world is around us today…

Do we treat everyone equally? Does the government and its various functions treat everyone equally? Do banks treat everyone equally? Do  organizations and brands treat everyone equally?

People with capitalist tendencies… people who have it all… people who are safe and secure would treat this statement or the blog as a ranting of a socialist… Socialism would have been a good thing if the socialists had not taken an extreme view of equality and had not padded their ownselfs instead of truly working towards equality.

Sheetal Mafatlal is miffed and so are many others because she got arrested… but whats wrong in that? You commit a crime and you pay for it… peddle all the excuses that you want… but if you are a regular international traveller, how can you not know what is legal and what is not! It’s a different issue that there may have been other forces at work in this case. Customs I am sure dont catch only one person a day or night… Bet they catch many more…. some with intent on mind and some just pure innocent and not aware… and yet these people don’t make news. They are nobodies…

And Sheetal Mafatlal by the way was caught with lakhs of jewellery on her when Indian Express says that Mafatlal Group is in deep trouble financially.. wonder what must be going through the minds of the the people who work in that organization…

General Motors executives were globe trotting in private planes when since 2004 they were getting into debt every year… Read somewhere that US$ 88 billion was the accumulated debt since 2004… laying off people because the company is not doing well and yet I am sure nothing was amiss for these executive’s lifestyle…

Raju got caught dipping into company’s kitty (ok so he confessed) and who is suffering? not him for sure… the way government and justice system functions… very soon he would be out on bail and the case would continue and media will stop talking about him… his political connections would ensure nothing happens to him…. after all, in this country you cannot build an empire if palms are not greased (and you only need to read the report about how corrupt this country is)

Corporate America is shuddering and there is fair amount of  negative PR already because or President Obama’s policies… They are afraid to share their wealth. After all, America is about opportunity and making money… For so long it has been a symbol of money power and how everyone can make it big if they have an idea… Though President and his wife could have gone easy at their inaugration (wearing a 75 carat diamond at the inagural ball is not a good idea)

Why do we discriminate? Why should banks keep giving loans to industrialist and not be as vicious and demanding to return the loan as they are when it comes to common man?

I am not against money at all.. I love it too… But I believe it should be about wealth creation for all and not just for a few…

I am all for EQUAL OPPORTUNITY.

Times are tough… go easy with conspicuous consumption… go easy with page 3… go easy with putting yourself on display… Economy would turn around because there is always a cycle… but remember.. revolutions happen because man on the street gets tired of living a stressful life… scrounging for money while the swankiest cars drive by and people inside the car give him a glare when he obstructs the way while crossing the road…

Humane is the word that needs to be part of everything that we do or say… Old cliche about ‘be nice to people on the way up because you would meet them on the way down’ holds true.

Give the majority of the population some breathing space… they are stifled right now and someone getting caught with  such expensive jewellery is not what they want to read…

Media has a huge role to play…. move away from politics… move away from cricket… focus on issues that are burning right now… The power of media can bring about the changes if only media can do some introspection and figure out the reason for their existence… Just for a while, let go off the race for advertising revenue and sensationalism and be the proactive force that can transform countries, economies and lives of people…

We need to be inclusive and not exclusive… and make EVERYBODY COUNT…

The world is racist… we are holier than thou


Before carrying on with the post.. a disclaimer – I do not condone all the on going attacks in Australia or the fiasco at the French airport or any racial attacks in US or UK or anywhere else against Indians or any nationality. 

I do not condone discrimination basis skin color and what is happening in Australia should be condemned in strongest voice. The authorities should have taken swift action and also shown restraint towards controlling the protests.

The images coming on TV from Australia… chilled my bones… we are “human” beings but what I saw was anything but human. And this is supposed to be a progressive world.

I support the parents of all the students who have suffered and wish for the speedy recovery of the ones who have been injured.

The scary thing is that this happens everywhere… not specifically to Indians but racism exists in some form all over the world. Took America so long to get a President who is not white. South Africa is going through its own transformation… Europe is the same..

Which made me ponder…

Signboard outside few up market housing complexes – “Foreigners and students are not allowed to rent apartments here”.

Foreigners being african or middle east origin!

These signs are not in any so called white countries but right here in India. Unbelievable huh?

The media goes up in arms about the incidents in Australia. They talk about discrimination shown by Air France… the net buzzes with people commenting but I believe we are the most racist and intolerent society in the world.

And if you dont believe me, step into any of the hotels and watch the staff fawning over guests whose skins are white while they neglect people from their own country.

Racism is not discrimination purely on the basis of skin color… it is discrimination of any kind based on color, caste, gender or origin and we Indians indulge in it big time… sometimes blatant or sometimes under the garb of uplifting the so called downtrodden of the society.

And politicians in this country have always used this racism for their own advantage.

They don’t want north indians to be in Mumbai.

There are reserved constituencies for “backward classes”.

Congress and parties like SP are supposed to be protecting the interests of Muslims in the name of secularism.

BJP discriminates against the Muslims under the pretext of saving Hindutva.

Fair & Lovely is such a huge brand for Unilever because we Indians like fair skin.

There are temples where “backward classes or women” cannot enter. Or for that matter people of different religion.

If people convert to a different religion, they are brutally murdered.

We look down about people who can’t communicate in English.

The huge North – South divide and the names we have reserved for people from specific regions.

Under the pretext of “unity in diversity” we have so many official languages and there is anything but unity in this country… We are regional chauvinists… Try speaking in Hindi in Chennai! or any south indian language in the north.

We kill over temples, mosques and churches… merciless killing. With so many Goddess that we worship, we still treat women in the manner that we do.

Travel to Agra and watch the locals ogling at the people of white origin. The commercial featuring Aamir Khan about Indian tourism is so true.

I could go on and on… But nope… all this cant be true… After all we are such a tolerent society. Society which goes into a tizzy when sporadic incidents happen involving Indians…

More and more we are witnessing discrimination right here in our country but we have the gall to point fingers at other countries.

And talking about the passengers of Air France being discriminated… I have travelled abroad often and have never seen one Indian smile at another Indian or talk to them at the airports… they are very happy to strike a conversation with whites but nose in the air when it comes to people from your own country.

I believe that discrimination happens when we or anyone else is in another country, we dont become part of that society. We wear our values and our indianness on our sleeves. We live in US, get the green card and yet live in very close communities and think that the outside culture will corrupt us! If we are so worried, why leave the country at all? And the way we behave when we travel abroad… the less said the better

And Mr Bachchan, very nice of you to have rejected the award from Australia… now can we see you delineating yourself from the people who pander to narrow caste and religion politics too?

I believe that I am a global citizen… ready to accept everything that makes my life better and makes me a better person… nothing else should matter… no color.. no caste… no religion…

I am a free citizen of the world and free to live my life… on my own terms.

India Inc. too has a humane side


Companies on talent hunt among pink-slip brigade Economic Times Bureau – 20th May 2009

The cynic in me obviously questions the motives. Great talent available at bargain prices and all that but then this article shows that there is hope for people who have lost their jobs.

People who were wondering what did they do wrong apart from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They had talent, they had expertise but probably did not fit into the organization culture, did not have godfather in the organization, probably rubbed a few people the wrong and had to be part of the dreaded list. It made them feel worthless. Made them question their existence. Ask anyone who has been without a job for 6 months and he or she will tell about the trauma they are going through. Every opening they apply to and not get any response. Fear of not mentioning on their profile that they were laid off because no company will hire them.

All this could be thing of the past if this article really holds true and more organizations start hiring people who have been laid off. Of course organizations would benefit because there were lot of talented people who also lost jobs and would be ready to work for far lesser than what they were getting.

But there is a very important issue that needs to be addressed here.

Will the organization beat the poor guy down on the salary because he is not in a position to negotiate? Or believe that while earlier salary might have been way too inflated in the economic boom and negotiate something which does not demean the person’s worth.

The first move is fraught with danger for the organization because the person knows why he got hired and will leave at the first opportunity he gets. Why would he be around in the organization when he believes he was taken advantage of… just because he was on back foot.

But the organization which projects that it values the person’s expertise and is there to lend him a helping hand… it has got a person who is going to give lifelong loyalty.

Our culture has instilled a belief in us not to betray trust.

More importantly in the long run… when the economy does turnaround, its these organizations which would benefit with even more great talent. Because who wants to work for people who are only fair weather employers!

A while back I had written about how Pfizer is planning to provide free prescription medicines to people who have lost jobs in US and wondered if Corporate India can ever do anything like that. This article proves it that yes… India Inc also is capable of being humane… all business and economic considerations aside.

This truly would be a  National CSR initiative if more organizations start implementing this move.

Can the Congress provide the stablity this country so needs?


I, like everyone else in this country is hoping they can! for the sake of the country and its people. I think the mandate they have got… people are telling them “we give you the power to change the future of this country… we are ensuring that you dont have to be with opportunistic and myopic partners. the ball is now in your court”

The stock market is rocking today though its not an indication of anything. One sneeze and it would go into downward spiral.

But people are brimming with hope. All the people who have lost jobs and not finding any… they are hoping that economy gets into the F1 mode. 

People want to feel secure again… they dont want to worry about a bleak future…

I will not talk about corporates because they would still peddle excuses for non-performance and dumping their most valuble assets.

This mandate for congress is not for anything great they did for last 5 years… they did not do anything worthwhile.. being shackled by their partners in UPA.

But now… for next five years… there will be no excuses… the country has given them the power.

The country wants results NOW… not as achievements 5 years from now or 3 years or even one year… Here and now is what the country wants.

Mr Manmohan Singh… you have a huge responsibility… are you up to it?  You owe it to the nation.

Pfizer teaches how to be a responsible Corporate!


“Pfizer Will Give Away Lipitor, Viagra, Other Drugs to Jobless

Tennessean
Linda A. Johnson and Matthew Perrone

May 15, 200″

Just read the above article!

Ok so it might have started as a corporate gimmick (PR would go to town with this one) but the fact is that gesture itself speaks volumes for someone in Pfizer who thought about it and managed to persuade the organization to implement it!

How many organizations have come forward with such an initiative in US? (there might be but we in the world have not heard about them and we sure need to). A great initiative which sends a message out that the organization cares. And these are the consumers who will become loyal to the the corporate brand. They would become the evangelists which every brand aspires for.

It is the organizations themselves who can help the economic turnaround. Raising the level of optimism in a larger social set up would have a positive effect on the environment. Essentially you need to show you care.

Slap on the face of those though who made the people jobless! When company lays off people.. a month or two months salary is given and the person is erased from the organization. What happens to that person… how will he survive… how will his dependents survive.. is absolutely no concern. And by the way I have heard of such things happening in organizations which have won awards for best HR practices! But if only they sat and analysed and figured that only if they let go of profits for a while.. if only they let go of the prices for their stock… if only they took a decision which would help people… Imagine the goodwill and loyality they would generate!! and of course tonnes of PR which would get that stock price rocking again anyways…

The move by Pfizer sure is not purely altruistic one. The mileage would be immense but hey.. if it helps the common man in the long run… I am all for it

Now how many organizations in India can do the same?  I bet none! most would be busy padding up their reserves.

Are we a happy nation?


India scores high on Global Happiness Index

October 17th, 2006 ·

India may be behind as far as development goes, but Indians are far happier than most in the planet. Certainly, more than the richer lot in G-8. (courtesy blog.christopherbaan.org)

We were 125 on the happiness index back then. Wonder if we are still 125.

I move around… I observe people… I look at the environment … and I get a  sense that we are an extremely unhappy lot…

We are afraid… we are very worried and doomsday is round the corner ( I sound like the guy I have seen in movies… carrying a placard that says “end is near” )

And I am not talking about Ambanis and Birlas and such others in this country. The only thing they are probably scared about right now is – will their billion dollar house create controversy (when net profit is down second quarter in the row) or the fact that Mumbai Indians probably wont make the semis (hell I spend US$ 5 million to put the Idea logo on their shirts)… No I am not talking about them… I am talking about the average joe indians.

Check out the person sitting in the car next to you at the traffic light (or a bike or scooter or even walking) … does he or she look happy?  Yes on the face of it… they probably do… but if there was a mechanism to peep into their soul… I bet things would be lot different.

And no I dont think its about the economic slowdown… terrorist attacks… losing jobs… worrying about layoffs or about the dismal nature of Indian politics… I think somewhere down the line… as a combination of everything… we have become fatalist.

We are pretending for everyone… at work.. on facebook… on text messages… at home in front of loved ones… with friends… with colleagues… 

Pretending to be happy… pretending to be carefree… pretending to be high up on every curve… planning the next holiday… planning the next party… seen at the pub… seen at the restaurants… seen on page 3..

But when the darkness falls… and its time to sleep… eyes take a while to close… breathing of your loved ones next to you.. which used to be a lullaby a while back… its a reminder… reminder to do something… reminder to stop running to stay in the same place and change track… which again has its own set of fears…

I guess why this is happening is because we have lost our reason to be happy… Its been lost in the whole materialistic new India that happened post liberalisation… From the days of scracity, we were suddenly open to goodies… goodies we had only heard about but never seen up close or experienced… and there was money too in the economy… after all if you let the products come into the market, you need to ensure there is money too to buy them. Life had become one big happy shopping cart…

And banks were  going overboard to please the customers… Turning our noses at all the public sector banks, we made a bee line for foreign banks… credit cards.. loans to buy cars… loans to buy houses… loans for holidays… anything and everything was available. Shops were full – with people and products…

Advertising agencies had a great time… selling products people didnt need… and selling lot of creative work too (Cannes was beckoning!)

And then things started going wrong… And let me tell you things were going wrong much before this “so called recession” Recession I believe is a Nazisque conspiracy to purge every person who does not have money or does not make enough or cant help corporate head honchos make more money

Credit dried up… money dried up… and let not the government and stock market fool you. ICICI bank today doesnt want to give money… but only wants money. HDFC must have spend some amount to put their logo on the Rajasthan Royals tees… they need the money back too… Though I think HDFC is probably doing the right things… at least they have backed the right horse

We were living beyond our means and never thought about it… We were optimistic about the future… India was shining you see… to many it still does… (I am one of them)

The mistake we made is that we started believing that its the products, brands and all things materialistic that define being happy (we still do)

And now when we have to stretch out lot more than earlier (easy credit is not available… banks are reducing credit limits)… we think that the things have gone bad.. blame the government (by the way government has never been responsible for anything good that has happened to this country)… blame the economy… blame everyone

And we are unhappy. Why did we ever believe that the companies that we work for.. are going to take care of us… comapnies love to point to the economy and come out with a new list of laid off people… The only thing these companies ever wanted were profits and more profits… and they are not wrong… that is why a business exists…

Happiness comes from content… from being at peace with oneself… both are in short supply right now… but we cant let the world know… about the unhappiness.. about the intense stress… about the turmoil… as the lyrics from a Billy Joel song go…

“Well we all have a face
That we hide away forever
And we take them out and
Show ourselves
When everyone has gone
Some are satin some are steel
Some are silk and some are leather
They’re the faces of the stranger…But we love to try them on”

All marketers and advertisers… how about selling some true happiness? How about selling some hope? How about selling some optimism? How about holding hands of these people and letting them know that a business can only be a business when it has got happy customers… and happiness here is not about CRM and service (they are hygiene factors now). Happiness is about the joy of living life for life itself and brands & products are there just to help.

Wonder if companies can think like that? wonder if they would ever realise that its a vicious cycle… people have no money or rather insecurity does not let them spend… they cant sell… they cant sell and they cant have profits… they cant have profits and they would let more people go… and so it goes on.

Corporates… governments (and did anyone in all this election campaign ever hear the parties talking about the plight of people losing jobs?) and we as a society have a responsibility towards each other…