Branding and marketing India
Branding and marketing India M G Warrier Till recently, world ignored India, not because the country was poor or our literacy level was low compared to the developed world. We didn't pay enough attention to branding and marketing our products and services. We are yet to exploit the tourism potential our heritage locations, hill stations, places of worship, lakes and gardens, long beaches, wildlife sanctuaries and other tourist places provide. To give just one example, some years ago, one district collector in Wayanad (Kerala) could get a feel of the potential some three or four attractive tourist spots in the district and improved the environment there. The results were excellent. Even before the focus on environment and pollution raised to the present level, believe me, those who were climbing up the mountain to see the Edakkal Caves had to deposit an amount at the base for carrying a bisleri bottle with them. The deposit would be refunded on showing the bottle while returning. From tourism angle, Wayanad District has progressed well in recent years. There are resorts and hotels (Including one from Taj International Group) functioning in the district. The current decade belongs to India. We can't afford to miss this opportunity. We won't. To reap the windfall benefits unfolding post-pandemic, we may have to come out of our inhibitions. Not only we should know and believe in our strength but we have to use our strength to overcome the weaknesses. Opportunities are knocking at our doors. Let's welcome them with open heart. There'll be threats, internal and external. Let's face realities. All is not well, thought. Next only to the pandemic which hopefully bas receded, negativism is spreading like wildfire. Till pre-pandemic days the spread of negativism was confined to electronic and social media. Of late, we hear even celebrities in various walks of life lamenting about fall in standards, poverty and corruption. Some of them have started losing hope. When I was half way through this piece, I received a story as a WhatsApp forward and in retrospect I feel, I could have started the article quoting this Tata-Vivekananda interaction of last Century. The story goes like this : "Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata was once, travelling to Germany. As he stood there, at the door of his First Class Cabin in the Steam-liner, he noticed a lot of activity on the lower decks of the Ship. On enquiring, he learnt that a great Indian Saint Swami Vivekananda was on board the same ship. Out of genuine respect and curiosity J N Tata decided to pay a visit to the great Saint. Swami Vivekananda had of course heard about the respected industrialist. As the conversation grew J N Tata explained that he was on his way to Germany. "I have with me several sacks of soil, from various parts of India. I am taking these samples of soil to Germany. I wish to know if Iron can be extracted profitably from any of these districts." said J N Tata to the Saint. To which Swami Vivekananda replied, "Well, Sir, even if these sacks contain Iron-rich soil, do you honestly believe that the Germans will tell you the TRUTH? You must understand that none of the European nations wish to see a Strong / Steel-Rich / Economically Independent India. The soil is probably rich in Iron-ore but the sad truth is, all you will get from your enquiries across Europe will be, what can, at best be described as disbelief and pessimistic reactions." (Needless to say, having interacted with several Europeans J N Tata knew this to be true.) Swami Vivekananda continued, "Why don't you start an excellent & up-to-date Research Facility and College in India?" Why don't you train some good Indian Youngsters to identify soil and conduct these tests and find ways of profitably extracting metals? It may seem like a wasteful, burdensome expenditure right now. But in the long run it will save you many trips to Europe and you can have the assurance of knowing the Truth quickly, rather than taking multiple opinions due to suspicion & doubt". As he could clearly sense J N Tata's mood was in acquiescence, Swami Vivekananda further elaborated : "Seek an audience with the Maharaja of Mysore H R H Wodeyar. Though a subordinate of the British, he will definitely help you in every way he can. H R H Wodeyar has been generous enough to sponsor my own trip to Chicago to attend the Parliament of Religions". As soon as he returned to India, J N Tata headed straight for Mysore. And indeed H R H Chamaraja Wodeyar did not disappoint him. The King granted 370 acres of land & also initial funding for the setting up of the Research Facility and College that J N Tata had envisioned and it was named "THE INDIAN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE". When two Great brains interact, they come out with solutions for the nation and for generations get benefitted." Institutions and inventions are first born in the minds of individuals. No one can predict where and when the spark needed to trigger the initiation of the right action needed to germinate the seed of imagination will get noticed by a great soul like Vivekananda. Let's make a beginning by talking about this.