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Showing posts from May, 2012

The problem in Education

The HRD minister thinks the pressing problem in our education system is a competitive exam and so he proposes a new one. The IIT fraternity (read, faculty and alumni) think the proposed exam is the problem, and so want the old one back!

Ha Ha Ha!

The fact that the IITs (add the IIMs too) earned their hallowed status in four decades of artificial scarcity thanks to a regulatory scenario that bred mediocrity is completely lost. That fact that in those four decades the country saw measly growth rates, and zero world class products or brands is also lost.

No, it isn't scarcity of educational institutions (read supply) in a country of a billion people that's the problem, its an exam.


Marketing Megalomania

Ranjit asks if in the cartoon issue, along with the insecurity, whether it could also be a dose of megalomania, and if the two can co-exist? Also, how can the marketer manipulate that in a consumer?

As far as megalomania goes, there's material out there to show the political class may suffer from grandiose notions. 'Experts believe that disproportionate numbers of pathological narcissists are at work in the most influential reaches of society. As Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love, a bestselling study of narcissism, says: "Narcissists gravitate towards professions where they can control people and elicit adulation.They are more likely to work in politics, finance or medicine than in shoe-making.' (via article listed on Wiki)

About the co-existence of megalomania and insecurity, that's again quite a possibility. In fact the former masks the latter. As for the marketer manipulating grandiose notions of greatness, I wouldn't quite put it that way. Consume…

It isn't Humor, it's Insecurity

Most commentators seem to think the recent brouhaha over cartoons in textbooks has more to do with our political class not having a sense of humor than anything else.

I don't agree.

Humor has nothing to do with it. Insecurity, everything. Its insecure people who protest at 'seeming' insults. Secure people on the other hand laugh it off. Its a pity, though understandable how Dalit MPs reacted to a 'seeming' insult on their icon, Dr. Ambedkar. Though I would have wished otherwise I can quite understand the Dalits taking time to inculcate a sense of security after having faced centuries of discrimination.

But not so for others. But then again, there's another story there. Culturally, most of what we tend to believe in focuses on everything on the 'outside', Meaning, our sense of security comes not from within, but from 'out there'. And out there are all those symbols and icons that we hold dear and take to, so as to craft an identity for ourselve…

Happy Mother's Day

Graduating Class


Dear Class of 2012:

Allow me to be the first one not to congratulate you. Through exertions that—let's be honest—were probably less than heroic, most of you have spent the last few years getting inflated grades in useless subjects in order to obtain a debased degree. Now you're entering a lousy economy, courtesy of the very president whom you, as freshmen, voted for with such enthusiasm. Please spare us the self-pity about how tough it is to look for a job while living with your parents. They're the ones who spent a fortune on your education only to get you back— return-to-sender, forwarding address unknown.

No doubt some of you have overcome real hardships or taken real degrees. A couple of years ago I hired a summer intern from West Point. She came to the office directly from weeks of field exercises in which she kept a bulletproof vest on at all times, even while sleeping. She writes brilliantly and is as self-effacing as she is accomplished. Now she's in Afghanis…

The curse of 'Empirical Logic'

It's easy to see through the idiocy at Spirit Airlines if you consider what I call the 'curse of empirical logic'. It takes two weeks of bad publicity and threats of boycott to get Spirit to refund a dying Vietnam veteran for the ticket he is too sick to use. The usual CEO apology too is thrown in, but the damage’s done.

What is the curse of empirical logic? It’s an affliction that sees businesses focusing myopically on costs, thus evaluating everything in terms of cost-numbers. Look at it from Spirit’s point of view. They do their business with wafer thin margins. Any rise in costs puts their business model under strain. So when they are faced with a refund (never mind it’s a dying veteran), all they are thinking is ‘rising’ costs. What makes the situation worse is Spirit people not being able to predict the bad publicity that may follow (it’s in the future and therefore invisible, you see). Plus they can’t easily put a money value to such lousy publicity.

I don’t know …

God's not Dead

The 'norm' in wife-beating

Don't be shocked or even surprised at UNICEF's 'Global Report Card on Adolescents 2012' which says that 57% of adolescent boys in India think a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife. Also note that over half of the Indian adolescent girls surveyed, or around 53% think that a husband is justified in beating his wife.

To not be shocked you have to understand there's both normative beliefs and subjective norms at play that dictate attitudes, thus behaviour. Normative belief is an individual's perception about a particular behavior, which is influenced by the judgment of significant others (e.g., parents, spouse, friends, teachers). A subjective norm is an individual's perception of social normative pressures, or relevant others' beliefs that he or she should or should not perform such behavior.

Now consider what plays out as domestic violence almost on a daily basis in Indian families. Research on 'wife beating' suggests that while d…