Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reflection Trail-1 
I am back on reflection after a long break ..     .reflecting on the the unfolding of events in the year 2012 Significantly the year was marked by career progression and success in professional arena but equally traumatic on the personal sphere.The affairs of nation did nothing to assuage the feeling of despair rather added to the element of helplessness and gloom.

Where to begin the account ....the year began with the news of brother in law's sickness.Then there was Aman's tryst with a new place at Manipal . The realization that his heart was into something else and studying Engineering was perhaps a mistake came a bit too late. The worst part was that we did what a normal parent does...forcing him to rejoin B Tech  at Delhi again. I fear the worst but hope and pray for him to succeed. ..I was hopeful that I would be able to be with him and see to it that he develops interest in studies but as luck would have it...I got additional charge of Director -Development in the University ....left with hardly any time to pay attention to him. 

My brother in law eventually gave up his fight and left us. A traumatic time for Ravindra San who was already dealing with his professional issues ...fighting against corruption in the recruitment process at Delhi Technological University ( ). He was removed from the position of Head almost coinciding with beginning of my tenure as Director-Development.Watching his almost... lonely fight against the System , knocking at all pillars of our democracy without any success made me sad but his never say die attitude had to be backed by my support ( . I tried my best to be his pillar of strength but failed most of the time. My fear and apprehensions were far stronger than conviction of truth that he is fighting for !

The question is why do we fail in practicing what we preach ? I have been counselling people on career choices, giving sermons on being supportive parents,  Why did I fail do be the example of a considerate mother then ? I supported Anna not because of the person he is but out of respect for the ideals he stood for  and in spite of that pleaded with Ravindra San to give up the fight and focus on the bare minimum duty that he gets paid for.; reinforcing that the fight against this system that is thriving on  connections,corruption , collusion and connivance is fruitless and a futile exercise...what does it reflect ? I have no answers....

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gandhi Jayanti , Independence and some Thoughts !

I may be wrong but I get a feel that Gandhi was less remembered this year on 2nd October as compared to the  previous times ! Wonder if it is a reflection of the fact that we are no longer apologetic about forgetting Gandhian values and embarking on a path of materialistic growth. Government too seems to have put him aside by announcing FDI in all possible fields. Swaraj, swabhimaan and self sufficiency , why these words sound so hollow ?

Let us take up another issue, what are our achievements as a nation ? Agreed GDP has grown, literacy is higher, poverty is lesser,more jobs are available, roads are flooded with cars, malls are buzzing with people,yet we are not happy ! Crime rate is higher, women is not safe, senior citizen are murdered brutally, children disappear like the air, everybody is getting more and more intolerant, hyper and insensitive to others' plight. Where have we gone wrong ?

We were known as a spiritual nation and materialism was considered a taboo but last thirty years have seen a gradual reversal of our value system.In the rat race to acquire wealth did we as a society sacrific family bond ? Possibly yes and this transformation whether for good or otherwise is seen in all strata of the society. It is seen that people migrate from villages to cities in search of greener pasture and end up without a job. If they are lucky and have a social net to help them , it is fine otherwise they are lured into crime .Today 'Ham Log' of Doordarshan is replaced by 24 hours of nonsense on cable television with crime, lust, treachery and such other themes dominating the programming content.Are we on the right track then ?

What about leadership ? Can we name any politician who can be a role model for this generation of youth ? Some names may crop up but  they are either media creations  or dynastic awataars. The hype and hoolsh surrounding them is artificially created and the charisma is short lived. Gandhiji, Shastriji , Nehru and Tagore are mere names that children mug up to clear the exams. Hanna Montana and Katrina ; Justin Bieber and Salman Khan ...these are some of the idols . What are the lessons that this generation can get from them ?
Sometimes I feel that I am being too cynical, critical and find fault with everything !!! What to do, these thoughts invariably cross my mind.

What do I do then ? Get annoyed, grumpy and moody ? Of course not , I watch Citizen Journalist,follow good stories on twitter, watch movies like Swadesh and Three Idiots .... and do my best to bring smile on other people's face.The biggest stress buster is my grand mother , who at 97 lives alone, manages to laugh and never lets negative thoughts overpower her...and when I think of her..Swaraj, swabhimaan and self sufficiency .......these words no longer sound  hollow ....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Surrogate Advertising

Surrogate Advertising
Product advertising for liquor and cigarette companies is banned in the country since 1995 by Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act. According to Rule 7 (2) of the Act, no broadcaster is permitted to show advertisement which promotes directly or indirectly promotion, sale or consumption of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants, infant milk substitution, feeding bottle or infant food. This ban is now likely to be extended to advertising of extended brands. In June 2002, the Indian Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry served notices to leading television broadcasters to ban the telecast of two surrogate ads of liquor brands McDowell No.1 and Gilbey’s Green Label. The Ministry also put some other brands ---Smirnoff Vodka, Hayward’s 5000, Royal Challenge Whiskey and kingfisher beer on a “watch list.” The surrogates used by these advertisements ranged from audiocassettes, CDs, perfumes to golf accessories and mineral water. A market survey in 2001 revealed that advertising has a direct influence on the consumption habits of 431 million people in India and an indirect impact on 275 million `aspirants' from the lower income group. Considering this and realizing that nearly 50 per cent of the television owners have access to cable channels, there is no doubt that the hidden call for alcohol consumption behind the surrogate advertisements is not escaping the eyes of viewers in the world's fourth highest liquor-consuming country. The very purpose of banning liquor advertisements is defeated by surrogate advertising.  A surrogate advertisements is one in which a different product is promoted using an already established brand name. Such advertisements or sponsorships help in contribute to brand recall. The different product shown in the advertisement is called the “Surrogate.” It could either resemble the original product or could be a different product altogether, but using the established brand of the original product. The sponsoring of sports/cultural/leisure events and activities also falls under the purview of surrogate advertising. In India, the trend of surrogate advertisement gathered momentum with the Cable TV Network Regulation Act, which prohibits tobacco and liquor advertisements on TV channels. The liquor industry has intentionally blurred the line between products, advertising `old wine' in a `new bottle,' only this time with a soft-drink label. By August 2002, the I&B Ministry had banned 12 advertisements and leading satellite TV channels including Zee, Sony, STAR and Aaj Tak were issued show cause notices to explain their rationale behind carrying surrogate liquor advertisements. Answering to the notices, Zee and STAR stopped telecasting the advertisements, followed soon by Aaj Tak and Sony. In addition, the I&B Ministry hired a private monitoring agency to keep a watch on all the advertisements for violation of the Act.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dealing with Cultural Diversity !

I am feeling happy and contended. It was about a month back when I was told that Students from the Slovak University of Agriculture Nitra will be visiting the University as part of the Student and Faculty Exchange program . The highlight of the visit was that they would be studying the course of Corporate Social Responsibility , Human Values and Ethics which coincidentally is being taught by me. Since it was a short visit for about 15 days ,I was joined by another colleague to deliver the lectures and cover the course meant for four months( with 4 hours per week of teaching ) in two weeks ( with 20 hours per week of teaching followed by Class Test and a Comprehensive End Term Examination ).

The task was challenging , compounded by the fact that students came from different disciplines comprising of Molecular Biology , Landscape Engineering, Economics and Management, Production Engineering etc. Some were Graduate students and others were pursuing Doctoral program. The course content in itself is rather ambitious in terms of the aspects it covers ; from spirituality to sustainability, ethics to environment conservation principles, corruption to Intellectual Property Rights Protection.., advertising to internet crimes to give a small illustration !

Day one began with learning about the participants followed by teaching the value of Human Values! It was a proud moment to share with them the fact that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR )has been an integral part of corporate history  of India. Way back in 1904 Jamsetji Tata had a vision to play a leading role in nation-building laying its foundation in 1868, creating India’s first Indian-owned steel plant and developing the township of Jamshedpur ; an example of a company more engaged in the life of the community than many of its western competitors !CSR as a part of strategy is relatively a new concept in Slovakia, I was told.

Yet another issue where we seem to have different perspective is about the significance of afirmative action as part of the social justice system.While political parties and judiciary in India has endorsed affirmative action in the form of quota in education and job , apparently it is illegal there, The argument was that it hampers efficiency and growth. Besides if the government offers subsidy to corporations that employ disadvantaged groups it will be at the expense of taxpayers money which should instead be invested on augmenting overall health and education system etc.Rather convincing arguments!

Arguments took a back seat though as we celebrated the festival of Holi. The Slovak students sang Rang Barse Bheege Chunar Wali and gave us glimpse of their Folk Dance as well. Unfortunately what we offered to them in the name of fusion was Bollywood crap. The difficult moment was when I was confronted with a question as to why one of the girls from Slovakia was asked to dance with another girl in a Discotheque they visited.She said in their country it is considered strange if boys dance with boys and girls with girls .Okashii desu ne is what my Japanese friends would also say ! The fact was that the Slovak girl was very pretty and one of the young married boy wanted to dance with her . His wife got annoyed and in order to pacify her he made Eva, the Slovak girl dance with his wife ,

 But more than teaching , it proved out to be learning experience for me.While it made me learn to accept diversity of culture , I also identified that the core values of love, care, warmth and friendship are universal   which made us connect cutting across the geographical boundaries. So I am looking forward to more such programs.