Monthly Archives: January 2006

Places where you can learn more about your culture…

  1. Shopping Malls – These are fantastic places to keep oneself clued in about what the Indian customer (or citizen) is upto these days. Notice how some conservative looking ladies are overawed by the escalator, much to the amusement of “hip” youngsters “hanging around”.
  2. Airports – From the nouveau rich gujju flying for the first time to the whole low cost brigade, airports offer tremendous wisdom for any marketer. Notice how the frequent flying executive smirks discreetly as he sees an obviously first time flying family of South Indians. A related thought –> Low cost carriers should probably have air hostesses who are dressed in traditional Indian attire and speak to customers in the local language. That way travelers (particularly low cost travelers) would probably feel a little more comfortable.
  3. Mumbai locals – Notice how democracy really works at the grassroots. There is no better live example of socialism, and its associated perils than this. If we were all treated as equals in all spheres of life, life would be quite tragic – just like a ride from Churchgate to Andheri on a Virar Fast.


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Following my earlier post, here is an alternate point of view, that one of the readers of this page alerted me to…
It is tempting for journalists to see themselves as catalysts, going beyond reporting history to influencing it. Those who report on foreign affairs and national politics are the most prone to this desire to create the next morning’s headlines or at least a small ruckus in Parliament. If they are incorrigible optimists they will aspire to nudge policy makers towards a new initiative or conjure up for them a new peril. Karan Thapar falls in this last category most of the time, but others too have succumbed to this “are-you-actually-saying- this-on-this-show” excitement, from time to time. LINK HERE

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Karan Thapar’s interview of Musharraf – One Hour of Television History

A pat on the back to Karan Thapar for what was a fantastic interview of Musharraf that he did for CNN IBN. I cannot recollect having seen such a well controlled and logically conducted interview on television for a long time, not even on BBC. Thapar’s approach is simple. First, he makes a proposition to his interviewee and asks for his opinion. The interviewee inevitably gives a politically correct answer. Then, Thapar follows up with a huge pile of facts that contradict the interviewee’s statement. To see, Musharaff stutter and stammer like an errant school kid in the face of Thapar’s unforgiving logical reasoning was quite an unprecedented moment in television history.

At one point, Thapar quietly inquired whether the General was so desperate to take the peace process forward that he was even willing to take ideas from a television journalist (to which the General mumbled an embarrassed ‘yes’). Take a bow, Karan Thapar.

Observations on Musharraf:
Pervez Musharraf’s statements clearly gave him away as a authoritarian leader. He called for the Indian leadership to stop taking ideas from ‘agencies’ and ‘organizations’. He even clearly stated that any leader should be firm enough to ensure that his own ideas are implemented and if anyone does not toe the leader’s line, he does not have any place in the leader’s view of things. Variations of this theme were repeatedly expressed throughout the interview in a rather unapologetic manner.

Pervez Musharraf loves to show bravado in his words. His repeated usage of phrases like ‘this is absolute nonsense’ in the place of careful logic and argument show a man who pulls the trigger before he thinks. It is not too difficult to imagine him reaching for the nuclear button if Manmohan Singh irritates him too much! Perhaps, his not being a politician in the true sense means that his approach to problem solving is one of proposing ideas, filtering out bad ones, and picking one and executing it. Diplomacy, however does not work in the same way as an advertising agency working on a product’s positioning!

In the end, it was a fantastic 2 part series. Musharraf may regret his choice of words and his illogical bravado, but to be fair, it was quite refreshing to see some honest answers to tricky questions.
Do read the full transcript here.


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Of India Pakistan Cricket and Tandoori Chicken Pizza

As the India-Pakistan cricket series nears, some thoughts on generalists versus specialists:
Looking at the Indian cricket team, one is convinced that it is better to be a generalist – an all rounder or even a semi-all rounder – as opposed to a specialist. Specialists, owing to their focus in one area of the game end up having to put more effort to hold their places in the side. Take the case of Mohammad Kaif, an average batsman who has stuck around in the team for more than 100 international matches thanks to the added skill that he brings – fielding. Similarly, I believe that in modern organizations, it’s the generalists who will survive in the long run, particularly in a situation where the environment is fast changing. In fact, to go one step ahead, I think that mediocre people who are generalists do better, and with less effort than exceptional people who are specialists. Ganguly’s recent repositioning as a batsman-who-can-bowl-a-bit is also indicative of this theory.

The India-Pak cricket series is surely going to be exciting, but let’s pray that Rajdeep Sardesai makes it through without killing himself. Of all the Indian news channels, it is CNN IBN that has really gone to town with the hype – there is even a show called LOC (Love of Cricket), hosted by Rajdeep. To some extent the hype is not unjustified. It is after all India and Pakistan who have redefined the game of cricket from a leisurely Sunday afternoon game of white sahibs to one where emotions and passions rule. The sub-continent has this unique ability to absorb influences, and customize them radically to suit local tastes. Look at what we have done to Chinese food or for that matter, Italian pizzas – who could have ever imagined a tandoori chicken pizza!

It’s going to be a great six weeks of patriotism, lowered office productivity, controversies, centuries, political goodwill and acrimonious appealing. And so, as Shoaib Akhtar begins his warrior like run up (from somewhere near the boundary) to bowl to Sachin, a million hearts will pause temporarily, and then resonate with the drums and dholaks of celebration as the ball sizzles away to the ropes. Cheers!

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