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Why we cast stones

Its easy to see why in India we have books being banned, and artists hounded out. Of course, the threat of violence is real, and so stymieing such possibilities through a 'ban' may be a good idea. But the real reason for such asinine acts (read, bans) playing out is because the books and the people in question dare to take on precepts and symbols from which others in the country draw their own identity.

Our sense of identity either is nurtured from within, or is drawn from the outside. At times it may even be a combination of the two. The most dangerous of places in the world to live in are those that house people drawing their identities from the outside. Such people draw their identity constructs through deep connections they build with their country, their social class, their religion, ethnicity, and so on. If you knowingly or otherwise hurt the latter lot through for example published literature, pretty soon you'll be an author on the run. The zealots will come after you not because you've taken on the symbols, but because you've dared to play fiddle with a part of their identity.

Consumers who are marketer delights are those that draw their identity from products and services. The kid at college with an external locus of control, desperate to appear 'cool' will buy into a brand that promises him just that. The rare kid who stays aloof and sidesteps a marketer's snare will probably be the rare one who constructs whose identity from within, drawing more from fundamental principles of human character.

In some ways its good if people are the stone throwing kind. Managing them is easy as all you have to do is to pander to the symbols they hold sacred. Selling too could be a lark as long as you stick to the social norms they live by and identify with.


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