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Monday, January 31, 2011

Like or Dislike?

How do you do marketing? Especially for services which are very relation-centric? Places where maintaining public relations is important or else relation with audience is important? One trend that I have been noticing off late is abuse. Yes abuse is in!! Believe it or not, we like to see, feel, experience, know others abuse each other, insult each other. Take for example the realty shows. Till a decade ago when the realty shows were introduced the prime point of the shows were dancing and singing. Shows like Boogie-Woogie or Sa-Re-Ga-Ma (which were one of the first really shows on TV) were seen to have judges judging the performances. By “judging” I mean expressing their view calmly and solely about the performance. Then came in Indian Idol, en-cashing on weak and ugly man’s desires to become hep and happening. So people with oiled heads and smelling shirts left Indian Idol with hair that stands straight, colored in purple or jackets that would cost a fortune. All in the name of confidence building and providing opportunity to underpriviledged.And lo!! Huge sum of money in the pocket of organisors.But take a break.Becasue the next few years change the trend. Here comes judges who are hired just for abusing others, accusations, altercations...all become hep.So judges fight among themselves, contestants question judges’ discretion and what not. Even the promos change. Earlier, normally the promos used to show glimpses of the extraordinary performances. Now they show all those caustic elements. And then comes the next genre of realty shows. Be it Sach ka samna or Big Boss. Entertainment means getting a glimpse of man’s darker side. That’s it. Be it facing the ugliest of truths of one’s life with his family or acrimonious dialogues with fellow people living in the same house. Unhealthiness, abuse, acrimony are in. The latest addition to this is Maa Exchange that deals with the disgust, boredom, distrust and most importantly power play that goes on around the leading lady in a family. And does this mean that by enjoying all these the audience actually can fantasize about their deepest unhealthy desires ,at least on screen? We all know that every human being has a good and a bad part!!So "live" spying on girl friend, or trying out obnoxious(I can hardly say it brave as eating snakes and cockroaches doesn’t converge to bravery) things can make you stick to your sofa and get glued to the television. So we love to see others getting fooled, getting abused. I was surprised to see the promos of a cine awards ceremony showing Shah Rukh Khan in a caustic banter with Akshay Kumar. And in a recent Karan Johar show Deepika was seen making fun of her ex-boyfriend. Fair enough...isn’t it. After all break-ups are spicier than tie-ups.And we have known such people even in our college days too. Who could abuse anyone and everyone without any prior thoughts? Those who thought themselves as witty!!Just unaware of their inability to deliver healthy and humorous entertainment. Surprisingly there is a group of people too who consider these people as wise and great dialogue deliverers and want to somehow copy them. Who knows the NextGen Facebook may look like this:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Proposed IIT Fee Hike

IITs have recommended increasing their tuition fees from 50 k a year to 250 k a year. While I don’t deny the fact that IITs and IIMs are the finest institutes for engineering and MBA in the country, but the subsequent fee rise leads us to think certain issues.
The trend is potent. It gained momentum with the IIMs raising their fee from around 4-5 lacs to around 11 lacs .And then it followed to the other B-schools also...including my own,SCMHRD. And now IITs too vouch for the same. Premier Institutions have simply detected a growing market for their product (education that offers great career) and hence increased the exchange value. The question is what is our perception of education? Even though not the IIMs( because Management Institutes have always got that tag of capitalist, money crazy education), but IITs used to come with the perception of being the “right” place for the intelligent, who may be poor or rich. Graduation colleges are the first place where a student leaps into a world where he has got admission because of his mere self and not because of his family income, proximity to the locality or such causes. At least IITs were so. The main motivation of students to get through IITs used to be being extremely intelligent. The mere concept that “if” you are good enough, you can join an IIT, served as an energizing drink for aspirants. The solution that is being suggested by the IIT committees after the fee hike, in case of poor students is , the availability of “easy” loans. Given that India is a country with a huge chunk of its population staying in the suburbs, awareness about loans is a pain. Statistics from the RBI website suggest that only 0.6% of the loan amount allocated to education is being utilized in practice. Only 10% of the population in India has access to bank credit We should remember in this aspect that the prospective students to IITs are just Higher Secondary Pass outs; they may be brilliant but not aware about nitty-gritty of loan. And if they come from rural remote uneducated backgrounds, it is not expected for their guardians to know too.
So first question, will this fee rise not serve as a turn-off? Will it not de-motivate our young aspirants? Or else will this not motivate only a certain section of society, other left behind?
Secondly, tied to my first question, doesn’t, somewhere this has the smell of the age old problem…that we tend to add more to those who already are affluent? Increased fees of IITs, coupled with the near compulsory coaching classes in big cities, shifting the profiles of prospective students more and more towards being children of wealthy, aware parents…where does India stand in future?
Thirdly, can’t help drawing this analogy-earlier days parents used to get their unruly sons married early to “sunder, sushil bahu” who could keep them at home and tied to family. These days, educational institutes encourage students to take loans (managing yearly 2.5 lacs would be difficult for even middle class families) and tie them in the unending cycle of loans. An education loan at the age of 18, then a home loan at 25, car loan at 26 and here starts the inevitable EMIs…NO ESCAPE.
Fourthly, the primary reason premier institutes raise their fees is the want of autonomy. Accepting government grants is no longer desirable. Does this mean that premier institutes do not subscribe to the credibility of Government or it has some underlying problems that should be addressed?
Fifthly, how can we take steps collectively to increase awareness about bank loans in education and guarantee easy accessibility? There are bank managers who are reluctant or who simply not believe in the credit worthiness of students. How can we overcome such conservatives? May be Government can offer insurance schemes for students who would not be able to pay back.

However having raised this question, I would expect simple and intelligent solution to this problem such that the future remains secured…clich├ęd but true 

God,To me

Have you always not missed them when they are not around? At home, at work place, at schools and colleges? While they hail almost always from the “not so happening” group of people around us, nevertheless we need them and need them desperately!! Yes I am talking about agony aunts and blame takers!! At home , for the room being unclean ,for the food being bad, at office for the boring work you have to do, for the almost insignificant pay hike, in college for the “C”s and “D”s and for all those occasions when you were supposed to be the “game maker” and could not…just because of….yes..Because of that tolerant, calm and not so bothered face. The confident face that would easily take your blame and yet not be bolstered by it. Someone who could easily be “responsible” for your girl friend ditching you or your best friend getting an “A” for the assignment copied from yours. For ages, in families, women, typically have played this role. So while there is always a woman behind every successful man, there are a host of other women to pull him down  . In today’s age, mostly it would be people who are perceived as being weak. So is personification so inherent? Don’t we see that it is our inner weaknesses that are the main cause? Is it really needed that we tend to “blame” a “human”? But yes, of course, it is very difficult, almost impossible to redirect all our queries, regrets, and needs to our own selves. That is why it is very difficult to be an atheist.At least my brief stint as an atheist, (for about 2 years) leaves me with this. During that phase, what I realized is that, there is nobody to fall back to. There is no one who can make things uneven...We want ourselves to be the happiest, richest, most beautiful, most knowledgeable. We need God, whether he/she is there or not. We need someone to be there at least to be our greatest agony aunt and blame taker. And that is why I believe in God, this faith gives me the courage to face odd things, and in turn increases my inner strength. It gives me the desire to overcome my prejudices and weaknesses, to cleanse my thoughts. God is a name that initiates changes that are good. And it is because of this that to me, God and religious practices are not same. Religious practices to me are mostly fun, friends and family get together, coming back. So necessarily external processes. While God is very much inherent, internal, my own.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Exams over!!

Another mail from Examination Department!!!Now that I have passed out, and our convocations are also over my SCMHRD mail box welcomes this mail. These mails have been the most unwanted mails, eagerly awaited too!! Yes, because the sooner you get the bad or even the worst news the better it is because anyway Exam Department never fails to send mails!! Of course some credit we must owe to the great men or women who had managed to put chewing gum in the Exam Department's lock or those who could send mails “cancelling SAP exams".From struggling with 13 core subjects in a semester and more importantly with those non-core subjects we learnt our knowledge of statistical analysis .Since we had no clue about what exam out of those 13 is going to be given the next day morning, we indeed learnt to do some probability analysis and come out with mode values. Be it surprises like an exam on the 1st of Jan or Re-FCQs to all those privileged people, SCMHRD Exam Department rocks. I still remember the transition of perception from the time I joined SCMHRD to the time I passed out and finally to the present time. Bitterness if persisted for too long becomes a part of you and you start to like it too. May be somehow I too liked those whims of Exam Dept and now I "miss" all those. I can still visualize those print outs (sometimes "by order of Chief Learning Officer") on those notice boards. I can still visualize eager faces trying to discover something new and useful from those print outs!!And those "please allow us" sessions to ask for a Re-FCQ and then the surprised exasperation at the decision. After all who ever heard that you can "allow" for a Re-test based on your gym attendance!!They say that our MBA course had been designed to prepare us against the "uncertainty" of future, unpredictability of the world we step into after MBA, of the monotony of our professions, of the unpredictability of our boyfriends or girlfriends (who knows what makes a good choice for them!!), of the nature of what we think we know and don’t know, of each step that we take into tomorrow. And now that I have already stepped into it, I can hardly tell whether "this" helped or not. But still going back I miss Exam Department :)