Archive | June, 2007

Affluent Effluence

29 Jun
Have you ever thought about the economic boom and its implications?

To a majority of people who would read this, robust economy would only have a personal meaning – fatter pay packets, more job opportunities, dream about bigger car, next house, next vacation and spending couple of thousands over drinks every week without guilt.

But this individual relation and personalization of the unprecedented growth has a darker side to it, a much darker side.

We all are familiar with the 80/20 rule, which means that the economy grows due to the contribution of 20% of the people as these 20% people consume 80% of the goods. This can be translated in another manner growing economy makes only 20% people richer and leaves the balance 80% people on the fringes and with time poorer.

Why? When the income levels go up the sensitivity towards prices come down and the companies are able to increase prices without losing sales, these include basic necessities.

So child born in the lower middle class will never know the taste of apple, never lick an ice-cream and maybe with time also learn to eat a little less.

No growth in that sense can be exclusive or should be so damn insensitive & one sided. Growth has to be defined by the society, emanate from the needs of the society and not dictated by greed and self preservation.

The growth paeans that we are singing today are nothing but tomfoolery. This growth is meaningless and unsustainable in the larger picture. When I am asking for twenty or thirty or forty lakh salary for selling something which is as superfluous as a soap or a cola or aero-grip high traction aerospace soled shoes, I am also telling someone please go hungry.

Is this the meaning of growth?

You tell me and you tell yourself when that 6 year old little girl gets your scotch glass.



26 Jun

Someone knocked.
Someone knocked down.

Someone was waiting.
Someone came calling.

Someone was ready.
Someone was dressed.

Someone was nothing.
Someone was everything.

Someone said everything.
Someone heard nothing.

Someone was living.
Someone was alive.

Someone hoped.
Someone was hope.

Someone wanted nothing.
Someone gave nothing.

Someone was I.
Someone was you.

5 things I wish I can write

21 Jun

1. Duality of human nature
The construct for this idea I have for the last couple of years but have never been able to expand it beyond the idea.

It primarily is a murder mystery where the protagonist needs to solve the mystery in the classic whodunit format.

The only difference is that instead of one there are two parallel stories from the point of view of the central character.

Both (or the same) of them meet different people during the course of the story, these characters would say the same lines but the difference would come from the lens from which the central character would view them.

For one people would be honest & well meaning and for the other (same) nothing but blatant liars. And each in his own way would be lead to the same truth.

I have also thought of the format of the book, one starts from page one and the other from the last page with the ending in the middle.

One story is would be on white pages and with black text and the other inthe reverse.

Conclusion of the same would be on a grey page.

2. Explain “Truth is a matter of imagination”.

3. Write a murder mystery about the murder of death

4. Write about nothing

5. Write a letter

Indian Advertising – My historical perspective

20 Jun

Steven Levitt in his book Freakonomics mentions that there are certain rules to follow whenever you are looking at any problem-

1. Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life

2.Conventional wisdom is often wrong

3. And dramatic effects often have distant, sometimes subtle causes.

Lets see if we can apply these to understand one common underlying reason for the downfall of Indian advertising.

If one looks at advertising objectively ( despite subjective being the more popular refrain in the industry I am using the term objective) and delve deeper beyond consumer research, brand values, soul of the brand, the cornerstone of any great work in this industry has been trust.

I can hear someone say – Motherhood statement.

And I would agree without the context it is.

But the concept of trust runs deeper in the history of Indian advertising and has shaped the industry more than any other economic, social or moral reasons. And our industry has never been based on this foundation and has always been more of an indulgence than a necessity.

Post independence most of the big businesses that shaped our economy were in the shadows of towering personalities (Tatas, Birlas, Modis, Goenkas) and these businesses were more their fiefdoms. And these individuals were extremely secure due to the socio-economic approach the country had decided as its path to destiny (red-tapism, favouritism, non-competitive are some other modern & recent coinages for the same).

This pre-globalization business set up can be seen more in context if it is put in the framework of a kingdom rather than a professional set up, with the owner as a king of this terrain.

The king obviously has his vazirs, military advisors, generals and so & so forth. Among all this elaborate paraphernalia there is also the court jest, whose role is to amuse the king.

And in the Indian business the court jest was none other than the advertising fraternity.

Court jest technically does not impact the future of the kingdom in any way (there would be some dissenting voices, which would say in the historical standpoint jest’s role was to tell the truth to the king. Humor them, but largely I would choose to ignore them), which is decided by the advisors, they are not involved in either expansion of the kingdom or protecting the kingdom, which is handled by the generals. Their sole survival was based on their ability to keep the king in a good time and if this was done well, they were in turn indulged.

The that era of Indian advertising, the golden era, advertising was most unnecessary. I want to buy a scooter, I have only one choice (and I want it so badly that I am willing to wait fro 18 months for my turn) do you really think someone needs to tell me “Hamara Bajaj” (or whatever slogan was playing then).

Advertising was just nothing but a drum-man singing the paeans for the benevolent king.

Than came 1990’s “the independence era” and suddenly these hosanna singers were a nuisance to the erstwhile kings.

The era of nawabs and kings was over.

But like an old whore who still puts her make-up and stands on the street hoping for a customer advertising industry was literally left high & dry.

The survival required action and sound advice, which was coming from the vazirs and
generals – The professional managers.

It was fun(ny) till it lasted and as any actor would tell you, the second act is always the toughest and sequels have never done well.

Until or unless the industry does not come back as in a new avatar and adapts itself to the new reality they would always be like an actor whose time has run out.

Do let me know if you think that the joke has fallen flat.

P.S: When I had started writing the article I had planned to build on the theme of trust. The logic would have gone something like this: large businesses run by individuals needed to base their future on others they could trust. And the earlier work generated by the industry was more a result of trust that was bestowed upon them by so called kings rather than based on sound logic.

The fact this trust was not betrayed (though there can be some stray examples) exemplifies the honesty & commitment of the people who shaped our industry. This commitment is missing from the present generation and the trust needs to be earned by them rather than expected as a perk…. So & so forth.

But somewhere along the analogy of the jest ran amok like a wayward child and despite my best efforts could not be reined.

If suggested I am willing to give this thought another shot.

Bache Do he ache…. Spiral to Doom

14 Jun
Indian government for years has been propagating the need for family planning in the country. The primary logic for the same is that the population boom that the country has seen will adversely impact not only the living conditions, dissemination of the basic necessities but also the growth of the economy.

On the face of it, the foundation of the logic seems sound and irrefutable. And world over one can find ample examples where this policy has provided rich dividends for the country and the citizens.

But unfortunately for India what is true for one need not be beneficial for all. And to attribute growth only to one factor without considering other equally important factors can lead to an uncontrollable spiral.

To understand this better lets consider how our reality is diverse from the countries where this policy has worked.

1. Education: Our education levels are abysmally lower than the west

2. Disparity: The disparity in the over-all well being of the society is too vast in the country. We have three distinct classes in the country – Super Rich, middle class and the destitute. And the behavior and needs of each are as disparate as chalk from cheese.

3. Agrarian society – Despite the much hyped technology boom in the country a large portion of our economy and employment is dependent on the agriculture sector.

All these factors lead to circumstances rebut the propagation of the family planning idea in this country.

Let me explain how, the growth of the country depends on the investments that the government makes in various areas from infrastructure to education to health to industries to any other sphere that are basic necessities like water, electricity etc.

And the funds for these investments largely come from the tax-payers. And in this country who are the tax-payers, only the middle class. Rich never feel the need to abide by the law of the land, poor obviously have nothing to contribute and the farmers have been exempted by our benevolent government in addition to providing free electricity and water to them.

And out of these three who do you think will feel the need of family planning. Again the middle class. If you take all there money would they have any other option but to have less kids.

Rich see family planning a function of wants and means. Means they have in excess (remember their abhorrence to pay taxes) and can want (&have) more kids. Poor feels that he would not be able to feed even one child (one or ten counts the same), so why should he compromise on his carnal needs? Man needs some compensation somewhere.

All this cumulatively lead where, more rich people (who still won’t be paying their taxes), more poor people and declining middle numbers. Now do your mathematics, dwindling earners for the government, more mouths to feed and even less money for growth.

I call it the spiral of doom.

So lets us all open our loins be called true patriots.

Your country needs your libido.

Must watch movies- Part 1

12 Jun

Fun Movies

1. Angoor – Smart and the subtle. Crafted to perfection

2. Padosan – Innocence and jest for life of the characters makes the movie an unforgettable experience

3. Andaaz Apna Apna – India’s Dumb & Dumber. And this movie is the original.

4. Peecha Karo – Meaningless, pointless. Great joy ride.

Thinking Movies

1. Being Schmidt -To know why Jack Nickolson is an actor’s actor

2. 21 Grams – Art of direction

3. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro – Dark. Humour that will depress because of its reality.


1. Usual suspects – I bet no one can guess the end. And while you are at it also watch Hindi adaptation “Chocolate” to see how a good movie can be slaughtered

2. Departed – Matter of fact action, no melodrama, edge of the seat thrills, spellbinding performances

3. 13 Tzemati – Disturbing. The movie makes you a character in the plot and the horror of it hits like a hammer when you least expect it.

Movies that do justice to the Book

1. Godfather – Details unnecessary

2. Black Friday – Actually better than the book

3. Sin City – It is a comic book that reads on its own. Amazingly true to the art form.

4. L.A. Confidential & Black Dahlia – Movies based on the books by the same author

5. 300 – Almost there. Mandatory to read the book before you watch the movie, its not history being shown but a book being filmed.

When will people learn

11 Jun
Shiv Sena, the self appointed moral police, is now up against orkut for hosting “I hate Bal Thackeray” community.

People who started this community must be living in a self-delusionary world where they think they have a right to express their views and voice their opinions.

How could they even imagine that the king of values, the keeper of dharma, caretaker of Indian ethos would even be accountable?

You cannot judge the judge.

The right to express is granted to those with stronger lung power and the muscle to flex.

Let the people understand Shiv Sena is doing this only for their benefit. They have no ulterior motive or self interest to preserve. When people write negative about Mr. Thackeray they undermine the Indian culture and heritage. King is a shadow of God on the earth and above criticism from mere mortals.

So hear yea all, once & for ever, believers of human dignity are infidels, deaf & mute is a virtue and democracy is dead.

Long live the king.