Top 5 Strategic Initiatives of 2009

First and foremost, I’d like to wish all of you a very happy and prosperous New Year 2010. In continuation to my post on ‘The News Makers of 2009’, here is my take on the top five Marketeers of 2009. These are the people or things, which propelled themselves to the News Makers Category by smart strategic marketing, planning and adept publicity.

  • Ratan Tata and the Nano: “Two year ago, I made a promise to the people of India that I’ll surely make and deliver a car within the budgets of every common Indian. Lot of things changed in the process, including the ever increasing prices of the raw materials. But a promise once made is a promise delivered. Here is my reward, the Nano, India’s people car worth only a lack rupees.” This is what Ratan Tata said during the launch of the most awaited car of the decade. Lot of things were said about it, lot of opposition was garnered. But Ratan Tata managed to overcome every thing, including recession and managed to ruffle enough feathers in the Indian auto mobile market. The car too lived up to its pre launch buzz. Though we are yet to see Nano’s flooding the Indian roads, largely due to the fracas between ‘Didi’ Mamta Banerjee and Ratan Tata for land acquisition in Singur. Eventually Nano moved its base from East to West and now will be mass produced from Sanand in Gujarat.
  • Raj Thackeray, MNS and the Bhaiyyas: Raj Thackeray sure knows how to create a noise around himself and the places where he dominates. It is however a long debate to decide if it is a right noise. In any case, Raj who was badly beaten in the polls last season came back strongly to unsettle even those who had their feet deeply routed in Maharashtra politics. From beating the bhaiyyas out of the RRB exams to threatening Amitabh Bachchan & Karan Johar to beating Abu Azmi in full public view in the Vidhan Sabha swearing in ceremony for allegedly not taking the oath in Marathi, Raj has come a long way. His smart marketing techniques has taken the wind out of the Shiv Sena bastions. His party MNS was instrumental in BJP-Shivsena alliance’s whitewash in Mumbai in Lok sabha polls. Whereas 13 MLAs from MNS went on to win their seats in the Vidhan Sabha polls. I think Raj should win the top marketing award hands down.
  • Ramalinga Raju and Satyam: Dont be surprised to see his name in the list of top marketeers. He indeed was one of the best industrialists who built a name to reckon with… and later to disown with. Credited with one of the largest frauds in the technology sector in the world, Raju is currently suffering from a heart attack and is in jail in Hyderabad. Idolised by many, he is a cursed personality today. But you can not undermine the sheer strategic brilliance in what he did to make Satyam what is is today, or was one year back. He siphoned off the money from Satyam and used it to fund his infrastructure ambitions in Maytas (opposite of Satyam). When things started getting off hand, he tried merging the two companies to cover up. But he failed to do so. Now any one else would have still remained at the helm of the company and tried to slowly sort every thing out. However Raju was smart. He risked criminal proceedings, having gulped a lot of money already, by declaring the fraud and quitting. He knew that this will lead to the collapse of Satyam. Then he would bring in the suitor of his choice to take over at a very cheap rate and let the company resurface again. Smart Raju, except SEBI turned out to be smarter 🙂
  • Swine Flu: Didn’t we have enough reasons to panic already? Swine flu added to the misery. Though I failed to understand why the flu was so dangerous. I know for sure that more people die of Malaria and Dengue every year in India than all Swine deaths in the world put together. But of course, anti malarial drugs are available and the doctors have an experience of treating the disease. Swine Flu was new to them. Moreover no anti viral drug was available to treat it. (Closest was Tamiflu.) So it enjoyed the celebrity status in the minds of people and journalists all through out the 2009. People are still suffering. But the initial buzz has died down and now no one bothers to write or read about it. The headline news maker has now settled in the far corners of the internal pages.
  • Emergence of Daood Sayed Gilani: Do you have any idea who he is? Not really? Me too. No one knew any thing about this guy, better known as David Coleman Headley until recently. He has been accused of plotting terror strikes on India and other similar terrorist activities. Born to Pakistani father and American mother in Washington in USA, David has spent a considerable time in Pakistan during his years of growing up. Hardly known in connection to the terror strikes until recently, David or Daood changed his name to David Headley in 2006 to facilitate his entry into suspected countries. Travelling on an American passport with American name, he was hardly suspected during his numerous visits to India. He also befriended many celebrities from Bollywood and established his presence here in Mumbai. He is believed to have coordinated the terrorist attacks on Mumbai. One hell of a strategic guy!

One Year After Attacks, Have We Moved On?

In another 4 days, the dreaded terror attack on Mumbai will complete one year. A night when a handful of gunmen from across the border held the city at gunpoint will be remembered again. It was an incident, which changed the life of many people. But has any thing really changed otherwise?

As an after effect we saw both CM Vilasrao Deshmukh and Deputy CM & Home Minister R R Patil being removed from their posts. The ruling Congress party was flayed, the intelligence agencies were questioned, other political parties were criticized, Raj Thackeray was ridiculed. The people of Mumbai gathered together for a solidarity march at the gateway of India. The protests arose, the cause was raised and gradually every thing died a slow painful death. Is it an irony? I don’t think so…

The only terrorist captured alive is still living in the Arthur road jail without much discomfort. The perpetrators and conspirators are freely roaming around in Pakistan. We are (still) waiting for US to help us.  Congress came back to power both at the centre and state assembly. Vilasrao is enjoying his stint as the union minister for heavy industries, R R Patil is back at the helm of home ministry, Raj is back and busy fighting for the Marathi ‘language’ rather than the people, conducting gheraon and angry protests on issues as trivial as debating on ‘Why Hindi is not a national language’. Shiv Sena, now led by a much mellowed Uddhav Thackeray is criticizing the legendary Sachin Tendulkar because he put India ahead of any one else. It looks like they are coming back to the vandalizing best. The men who could have, should have and must be protecting us from the possible attacks, the Police are busy pointing fingers at each other, one year after we were attacked.

Nothing has changed for a normal Mumbaikar like me… and nothing ever will. Terrorism, in my opinion, is a secondary problem for us. We are battling more than that every day, every month… the ever increasing population on roads, trains and buses, the sky rocketing property prices, the water and power crisis, substandard infrastructure and a slowly retreating ghost named recession. Every day journey to the office seems like a solidarity drive.

I think Mumbai is ready for another attack. Any takers?

Well Done Raj Saheb

Raj_ThackerayMaharashtra has witnessed exceptionally grand swearing in ceremony yesterday. We have had fire crackers that could beat the best of hooliganism from Bihar and UP. 4 MLAs from the coveted Maharashtra Navnirman Sena created ruckus in the house by stalling the swearing in procedure and actually beating Samajwadi party MLA Abu Azmi. Reason? He was taking an oath in India’s national language.

Who were they? Ramdas Kadam- he had been arrested earlier for disrupting the electoral procedures on the polling day. Shishir Shinde- The famous man who dug up the Brabourne stadium pitch as a Shiv Sainik before an India Pakistan match. Ramesh Wanjale- a former NCP guy who had nothing to do with the ‘Marathi Manoos’ agenda, but changed factions just for a ticket to contest. Vasant Gite- one who lead to the revolt against north Indians in Nasik.

Best… nothing like it. This is how a ‘troubled Marathi manoos’ will be thoroughly honoured. This is how all his problems will vanish. And Raj Thackeray has congratulated his men for doing so. Wonderful! Well done Raj saheb.

Yes we ought to respect the language. Yes we need to care about our people. But no… a complete NO to hooliganism and utter stupidity. Raj Saheb, I think the ideology needs to change. Please work for the betterment of a Marathi Manoos, not to bereave him from respect and harmony.

What Does a Marathi Manoos Want?

… a question that goes unanswered in all the elections. From wherever and whenever the Thackerays started wooing the Marathi junta, I dont really remember one good initiative taken by any one to ask the real ‘Common Marathi Manoos’ as to what his real demands are.

In fact, in between the digging of the cricket pitches, the riotings and the banishing of the so called ‘Bhaiyyas’, the real cause of concern has been getting lost time and again. The situation is that now the real common ‘Marathi Manoos’ doesn’t know where to start and what does he really need from the innumerable political agendas being manifested and bulldozed on his own name. May be he has accepted the silent corrupt (read Congress) over the shouting bigots as his and Maharashtra’s saviour for a better future. Yes, Raj Thackeray has won 13 seats in Maharashtra. We have seen all the talking he did. May be we can see things improving on the ground level too. May be…

Anyway, I’m not spending too much time on who has done what and who wants to do more. I’m just addressing the plain question asked by a ‘common marathi manoos’ and I want you (YOU the reader) to answer it for me.

PS: In my opinion, all a Marathi Manoos wants is better opportunities for him, better living conditions in his own motherland, greater financial stability and peaceful dwelling. And of course he doesn’t like some one else dominating his life. But I’m sure he doesn’t care who sits next to him in his office, whether a Gujarathi or a Bihari.

I’m an Indian first, Marathi later

“Beg, borrow, Steal or snatch!” Remember this sentence, it is the theme and I will use it again in my post.

There have been huge mud slinging debates making rounds in the news papers, blogs, television channels, emails and even the lunch time discussions. So when my friend and a fellow blogger decided to eek his thoughts on the issue, I thought let me also pee some more. Why not? Afterall thats the mantra these days.

Raj Thackeray and his MNS have lately been on the rampage, breaking rules, disobeying court orders, losing moralities and literally kick butting the north Indian population out of Mumbai. They have an argument that Mumbai belongs to the Marathi junta and others should not be allowed to dwell here in peace. Unlike his uncle who, in his youth and early days (Late 60s) attacked the South Indians in Mumbai, Raj chooses to do the same thing with the north Indians. To be very frank, there is more hostility than substance in his claim to fame.

Lets go back in time just a bit. Try to find the history of Mumbai. You won’t be able to go much deeper, because there isn’t any. Mumbai was inhibited by fishermen who speak konkani and later by Parsi community who came to India via Gujarat. Britishers found great value in building ports here as it was on the west coast and moreover it never had a ruling family. They made Mumbai. The Marathi population was existent in parts and a bigger chunk jumped in later, near to the independance. Post independance, due to some shrewed politics from local leaders, Mumbai became part of a larger state ‘Maharashtra’. In fact, even Maharashtra has an interesting story behind its name. If you observe, almost all states are  either named after their religion (Ex. Karnataka) or their location (Uttar Pradesh). Maharashtra, on the contrary have been named without much logic. It wasn’t the biggest state (remember Nagpur and other adjoining parts were first part of Madhya Pradesh) nor it was a nation (as the name suggests). It was born out of some Marathi protagonist faux imagination and vacuous pride. Quoting Sudheendra Kulkarni, an article from Indian Express Maharashtra, which means ‘Greater Nation’, is an exception; its self-identification is national. It is, therefore, distressing that certain local political formations in Maharashtra succumb to the temptation of parochialism every once in a while by projecting non-existent antagonism between ‘natives’ and ‘outsiders’. Invariably, it is Mumbai, India’s first and still the most cosmopolitan city, which bears the brunt of their insularity.” That should sum the MNS intentions. But let me remind them, I can name at least 4 other cities outside of Maharashtra where sizable population (if not majority) is of marathi speaking people. They are Indore and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, Vadodara in Gujarat and Hubli in Karnataka. If they are kicked out of the cities, will Raj do some thing to accomodate them?

Whether you like it or not, we are what we are because we have build this city together. The burgeoning business in the city largely deserves a creditable mention to most of the non-marathi speaking community residing here. Lets face it, Marathis suck when it comes to business. If you have stayed long enough in Pune, you will now. In fact, read our history (specifically about Peshwas). We were best at pulling some one else down rather than advancing up ourselves. Unfortunately that is what MNS is trying to do. Shoving the north Indians away won’t do much good for the job hopefuls here in Maharashtra. In fact that reminds me of yet another thing. About 10 years back, I remember Raj and Uddhav Thackeray had summoned a meeting with leading industrialists in order to facilitate employement for local youth. I don’t remember the name but it was some Sena. It even had a website and claimed to have given jobs to a handful of people. But it might be election time and all was buried later. Now thanks to the feud between Raj and Uddhav, he can’t possibly lay his hands on the issue again. So he is making good use of his muscle power to win back the lost people. “Beg, borrow, Steal or snatch!”

All said and done, peobably the north indians are migrating to Mumbai for opportunities, for the glitz and glamour or simple for the love of the city. Whatever it is, there is a large influx coming here every day. Without doubt it is inded increasing the problems of the already exploding city. SInce we may not be able to fulfil the requirement of so many people, it might give rise to joblessness, crime and terror. And for that small reason, some where… Raj Thackeray’s fight looks for a cause. But the means and the political angle is certainly gone awry. Its only makinghim a watch dog, wanting to guard his territory in the name of a regional cause.

Not done Mr. Thackeray! If you really want to fight, gun for a national cause. Bullying around your den is useless.