Monthly Archives: October 2011

How many districts are there in Kutch?

India is a country of snake charmers. It is a land of jungles and Yogis. All the Indians are primitives and barbaric. This was the belief the world had about India, until a few decades ago. Until the information about a throbbing, developing, culturally diverse and rich country became available, India was grossly misunderstood by the world. Thankfully, the scene is changing, and we, the Indians, are now seen in a better light.

But, still, a lot about India remains shrouded in mystery for Indians also. That is because, India is not only a country. it is in fact many smaller countries within a bigger country. Each region of the country has its own culture, language, rituals, beliefs and way of life.

One similar veil of such mystery surrounds around Kutch, a region in Western state of Gujarat. Just like people in the world had misconceptions about India, people within India had similar misconceptions about Kutch. They thought that entire Kutch is a desert and people there live in miserable conditions with a hostile nature to battle one’s daily life against.

All this is away from the truth. Kutch is a district. It is a beautiful land with ample greenery, beaches, historical and religious places. It is as developed as any other part of India, if not more. In last one decade, Kutch has got a lot of new industrial and infrastructure projects. Perhaps, within state of Gujarati, Kutch is growing the fastest.

It has its own rich share of culture, language, craft, beliefs, festivals and history. Many communities of different religious faiths live happily together in this calm and peaceful place. Life in Kutch is beautiful, just like life in any other part of our beautiful India.

Kutchis, as the inhabitants of Kutch are called, are very amiable and loving people. They are famous for their hard work, honesty,  friendliness and simplicity. They are an enterprising community. They have spread themselves across the globe. In fact, one will find Kutchis in every country of the world and in every state of India.

Kutch and Kutchis are misunderstood because of the myopic vision of the English media. Angrez mass media in India, which is accessed by hardly 5% the nation’s populations, lives in an ivory tower, away from the realities of a multi-cultural India. Indian English media assumes more clout than it actually possesses. They do not realize that they don’t reach the 95% of the Indian population but still they dream to shape the opinions of those who are not listening, watching or reading them. They create and destroy their own castles built in the air. How in the world will this remote controlled opinion building be possible?

They also do not realize that they are also ignorant of most of the realities of India’s diverse regional varieties. Its journalists assume a power which is as hollow as the fake accent they spit out. Through their well-drafted but poorly researched reports, they take the liberty of maligning and ridiculing all those whom they don’t understand. Kutch and Kutchis are sometimes made victims of this zealous lot of articulate, sophisticated but dumb and ignorant journalists.

Such ignorance is obvious in questions like above. Kutch does not have districts within it. It itself is a district in Gujarat. It is a simple geographic fact. But, to understand Kutch and Kutchis, one needs to get to the ground. Same is true for every region of India and its locals.  From ivory towers, we may be able to see the world, but not understand it. We need to get in touch with the reality to understand it.

India lives and grows on its own terms irrespective of what some cynical intellectuals in metro cities may perceive. It is not because of them that India shines, it is in spite of them.

Marketing lesson from Salman Khan movies

Wanted, Dabangg, Ready and then Bodyguard. Salman Khan is THE star of Bollywood. Invincible.  Giving hits after hits. Why is nobody else able to match his winning streak?

As I understand, producers who are making films starring Salman Khan have identified a huge target customer segment unattended by many others. Other huge stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan are being cast into films which are ‘meaningful’ i.e. they have either some message or issue to talk about, or are based on some historical figure or event. These films make sense to only a part of the film-viewing audience – the people who are intelligent, are aware of or are concerned about  such issues. These intelligent people also have access to other modes of entertainment and films are not the only thing they spend their time or money on.

In contrast, Salman Khan movies can be watched keeping your brain aside. In fact, you may get a headache if you ‘think’ while watching them. Here, the traditional Indian hero comes alive, who can do anything. Nothing is impossible for him. And such fantasies are still in high demand in a very large audience base, who go to movies purely for entertainment, to run away from dark and unpleasant realities of life. They do not go to movies to think over some issue. They don’t wish to waste their scarce intelligence on a film. Also, they don’t have access to a wider range of entertainment options as others may have. So, they throng to cinemas, watch with awe and admiration Salman doing silliest things and clap and whistle on every cheesy line that he may speak. Everything that he does may be predictable and repetition from all his past films, but these people don’t mind all that. In fact, they relish it. Where the ‘meaningful’ cinema watcher will not be able to sit through the film for those 2.5-3 hours even if he gets a free ticket, these fans go to watch it multiple number of times buying their tickets.

Salman Khan gives aspirations to a huge number of Indians, who were earlier entertained by heroes like Mithun Chakraborty or Govinda. After them, this place was vacant. Salman Khan has occupied that slot just in time.

In the volume game where only numbers matter, target the customers who are large in numbers and are aspiring to move up in life. Make a product which suits their taste. It need not be a quality product. But remember, not all want quality. They will come and pay for watching somebody doing all things they dream to do but can’t do in life themselves.

Nobody may understand why, but it will sell like a hot cake. Just like Salman Khan films, not much brain is to be used in understanding this.

Is chilling AC killing productivity in your office?

Recently, Manoj had to take two weeks of sick leave due to pneumonia. This was his third such sick leave in last three years, all the times due to pneumonia. I met him during the recent illness and asked him “Why are you getting repeated attacks of pneumonia? What are the doctors saying?” Manoj said “Pneumonia is repeating due to over exposure to AC.” Then, he described “In our office, ACs are kept at very low temperatures. It is centralized AC and so, we can’t control it at our work desks or cabins. Many of us are troubled by this and fall sick very often, but there does not seem to be any solution to this. Our admin department is not able to recognize this as a problem. When we ask them to keep temperature at 22 or 23 degrees, they brush aside our request saying ‘Others feel hot. Hum ko kitne logon ka sunne ka??’. We are suffering due to this apathy.”

This is an obviously a simple thing, but many companies are completely oblivious of this problem. And under this cold attack, their people are being affected adversely crippling their productivity and health, losing valuable time and efficiency.

Many big public buildings have centralized AC systems.  In auditoriums and banquet halls, people are seen freezing under chilling temperatures. The attendants express their helplessness to control it. In office environment, centralized AC needs proper design and sensible monitoring of temperature levels.

There are obviously damaging effects of too low AC temperatures but somehow so many companies ignore this fact, may be unknowingly.

1) Increased exposure to artificially low temperatures, affects body rhythm adversely. it has numbing effect and people fall sick often.

2) To combat the effects of AC, consumption of Tea, Coffee increase significantly. Similarly, water intake reduces. This has its own undesirable consequences.

3) When people go out of this AC environment where outside temperature is higher. body’s thermal adjustment goes for a spin. Such suddenly confusing patterns are invitation to health problems.

4) There are well-known environmental effects of AC, contributing to  warming of outside surroundings. Even electricity companies suggest keeping AC temperatures to 24 degrees, only if we wish to pay attention.

There was a time when having an AC office was a matter of pride and people used to keep AC at the lowest temperature as if to take revenge of all the hot days they had spent earlier. I think now we should realize the damaging effects of this hidden productivity killer in our offices.