Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
I am sure a lot of people out there think of this as a cheap marketing gimmick - every now and then there is a tribute to Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King, Michael Jackson...and many more. Some will say this is unethical, inappropriate, blatant exploitation of a name...
That may be - but this is not the first time...and this won't be the last time that a celebrity is being used to sell a product...cine stars, sportsmen, politicians, business/social leaders... Every company wants the "halo" of one celebrity or another to touch its brands. Here is another one featuring Gandhi from Telecom Italia...I put it here just because it sends out a good message...I have no personal stake or interest in Telecom italia... :-)
Here's the link to the original speech, where that came from...
So, why are we complaining against Montblanc? Probably because of the price tag itself - it makes the whole concept look so obscene. People are fixated on Gandhi's principles of austerity and self-reliance. People would not have complained (as much) if the pens were sold at USD 250 instead of USD 25,000. A statement from the company says that 70 pens 'allotted' to India have already been sold. So, I don't think we are too hot about austerity and self-reliance today in India ourselves either. I mean, you just have to look around...
Looking at it differently - the Montblanc thinks it is worth it to honor someone like Gandhi with a pen worth thousands of dollars. Did they have to choose Gandhi? No - they could have chosen Tendulkar or Tagore (if it had to be an Indian). Did they have to give away money to any foundation? Not necessarily. But they did.
So, I, speaking for myself, find enough reason to support Montblanc on this. (Of course, if this idea infringes on any copyright issues, then Montblanc should re-think it.) As for the Mahatma - what would he think? I do not know, but I know he never held a grudge against anyone for being rich (rich enough to buy such a pen). He asked for people to live in peace with each other, help each other, spread compassion and brotherhood. Isn't that more important than debating over the price of the pen or questioning somebody's creativity? Montblanc, though possibly motivated by profit, is giving away part of it for a good cause - that, at least, seems in synch with Gandhi's ideals.
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Sunday, 7 February 2010
That everyone cherishes
But only some of the children
Living upon this Earth
Get to enjoy this gift
That God has sent.
Childhood is meant for everyone
Both great and small
Both rich and poor.
Then what about those poor children
Sleeping on the dusty streets
Can we help?
Oh yes, but how?
What can we do to help them?
We can do a lot of things
We can adopt a family
And take care for their children
Give them education
Give them things to eat and drink
Even toys to play
And clothes to wear
You can do many more things
To help these poor children
Having faith in God in your heart.
Saniya lives in Pune (India)...I do not know (though I can imagine) what she saw or heard or felt that made her write this. It is incredible how sensitive or aware children are - most of the children I have interacted with have amazed me with the small things and details they notice.
Somewhere along the way to becoming adults we either lose this awareness (we become objective and practical or simply de-sensitized) or have simply learned to ignore it...lest it become our weakness or make us think twice about how we deal with others in this competitive world... To feel for people around you - is it really a vulnerability?
More importantly, this child, who understands nothing of how education can promote social development, economy, gender equality, etc. has shown through her words the real purpose of helping others...that the boy or the girl next to me can cherish this gift of childhood as much as I have been lucky enough to cherish it too.
Sometimes it is just as simple as that.
Sunday, 31 January 2010
All this at the cost of tax-payers - I know money seems to be flowing freely in India these days, but not like this. With estimates running in to millions of dollars for this new scheme, specific numbers don't really matter, do they?
If some recollect, this is the same personality, who was considered as a prime ministerial candidate by the so called 'Third Front' in the national elections last year - an informal coalition of Communists and smaller regional parties. I remember being completely terrified of this prospect emerging true...at that point in time, I was more apprehensive of the Communists having a say in running the country.
Looking at Mayawati, one does not really get an impression, that she really fits the bill (and it's not about the looks or language skills) as the prime minister of an emerging economy trying to find it's place in the world order - looking beyond domestic issues and constructively influencing global social, economic, and political events. Having grown up in urban India and now living in Europe, I suspected I was being partial, biased, and/or elitist - after all, what do I know about the common man in rural India or the plight of the "backward castes" still suffering from social discimination at the hands of politicians, businesses, and their upper-class countrymen? Maybe Mayawati could do better than our current economist-Prime Minister.
Now I wonder what she would truly have done as Prime Minister. Probably the same - across India? I don't know. I have always believed that national interests guide 80% of the decisions the government makes, irrespective of the party in power or who is the Prime Minister. So, maybe it wouldn't have been all that bad, but then it also takes one outlier to change the course of a nation. So, there is always a chance that she could have done something drastically different - for better or for worse.
Coming back to the present, history is witness that building statues and changing names of roads/airports/cities neither give voice to the plights of the socially downtrodden nor help their upliftment. It is investment - in education, in employment schemes, in infrastructure (housing, water, electricity), to point out some obvious areas - that will improve the condition of the people. The fact that such huge sum of money is being diverted away from these areas and being poured in such ridiculous ideas indicates that Mayawati has fallen prey to the same paranoia and insecurity that many in power seem to develop while at the top.
Mayawati might have done a lot for these people in the past, but she has clearly lost her way. The sad part is that, at one point it seemed that she could have done so much more better than indulge her own mega-ego...