Business, Leadership

Top 5 Indian Newsmakers of 2012

A lot has happened in 2012, from the demise of so many wonderful musicians, artists to a number of glorious moments, new public figures and what not.

So, basing my decision on research from numerous trends on news, search engines and public opinion these would be the top 5 Indian Newsmakers of 2012.

5. Rajesh Khanna

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He is the one who has created news even after death. He had made a nation go crazy during his stardom days and his demise was also marred by so many controversies that people continued to talk about him.

As a friend of mine said, God seems to be planning a complete movie in heaven and hence he had selected the top stars of Bollywood to be called upon in 2012. We would always remember Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Dara Singh, Yash Chopra, Bhupen Hazarika, Jagjit Singh and Ravi Shankar.

4. Sunny Leone

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Though the hype of Sunny Leone had died down towards the end of 2012, but the earlier part of year belonged to her. She was the most searched celebrity from India on all the search engines.

Poonam Pandey and Sherlyn Chopra (with her Playboy deal) are giving her a good competition in this field. Sex sells.

3. Saina Nehwal

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This year belonged to more sports than just cricket. Saina maintained her momentum throughout the year and was an inspiration to lot of women in the country to take up sports. The Olympic bronze added to her list of medals, though everybody believes she would achieve much more in years to come.

Retirement of Tendulkar has created enough buzz in the media in the recent days but that is what people had started expecting now though nobody can come out in open to say that. There were other good sportspersons to be remembered in 2012 like Mary Kom, Viswanathan Anand, Vijay Kumar, Pankaj Advani, etc. who provided remarkable feats in 2012.

2. Arvind Kejriwal

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He was a lesser known human being in 2012 and wow, he has done wonderfully to go up in the news during 2012. Call it using or misusing media, he has brought many politicians out in open. Though people have now forgotten the episodes of Robert Vadra and Nitin Gadkari, but he has created enough damage. He has even displaced Anna Hazare, his mentor from the news making point of view.

Well it is for us to see whether this is just a noise making machine or would we see a better politician this time in our country.

1. Narendra Modi

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Touted as the next Prime Minister of India, he was in limelight throughout the year. Though in the later part it was more because of the elections in Gujarat and his spectacular win there but even before that he was part of branding Gujarat and  BJP to be a development-pro party. 2013 and 2014 will be equally important for this man to achieve the plans he has made.

 

A lot of Newsmakers are still left out but then you count people “who make News” and not just “who are in News”.

2013 may belong to so many people, even some of the above ones might get repeated as well. Let’s see.

Advance wishes for a Happy new year to all the readers.

 

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Business, Leadership, Politics

Modi, the management guru

I first heard of Narendra Modi, like many others, post the unfortunate Godhra incident and the subsequent riots that shook the collective conscience of the nation. Before that, I must admit, I had never heard of him. In fact, in those days, the only two CMs of any state I knew of was the West Bengal CM and the Tripura CM – Bengal because of obvious reasons and Tripura – because the person concerned had a long reign at the top. And I knew vaguely about the Delhi CM, and knew that “one of the two” were CMs in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh

In those days, I, like most young men of my state, were enamored of so-called “leftist” ideals, and found Modi to be a hate figure. Over cups of coffee, reading about his interviews, his “methods” in various magazines, I had a strong dislike for him. Then I got admitted to an engineering college, and started concentrating on my studies. NaMo gradually slipped out of my mind, almost _ though some reports of the Best Bakery case, the Sardar Sarovar Dam protest, the “ban” on Fanaa just about kept him alive in my mind

The next time I heard of him was when a professor in the college where I was doing my MBA came out with a report on how NaMo had used masks of himself to spread his message and keep his persona alive and kicking. We had a long discussion over cups of coffee in the canteen over this strategy, and the parallel it had with the world of marketing, specifically, brand positioning

It is at this point of time that I began to take interest in the management guru (not the politician, not the stylish gentleman). Here was a man who did not have much formal education, yet symbolized and stood for many of the principles and theories taught in long lectures and to which many people owe their PhDs

I have picked here 5 aspects based on 5 incidents of NarendraBhai

1. The masks before 2007 Elections and Swami Vivekananda in 2012

It’s a oft repeated statement in marketing that if you keep reminding a customer something over and over again, chances are – he will not forget to buy the product. Here the “product” was an idea – “Brand Modi” or rather, the implicit message “Vote for Modi”. Now there is a risk in this – “what if the idea is oversold? What if the customer, here the voter, gets angered and refuses to vote?”

The answer to this is simple. Again, using a marketing parlance, if we consider the 4Ps of marketing – first P would be the “product”. If the “product” is value for money, “positioning” will bring a smile on the face, rather than irritate the customer. An example of a bad “product” over positioned and angering the customers, in the world of politics, would be, without going into great details, celebration of birth and death anniversaries of “certain leaders” in all leading newspapers, and crediting anything under the sun to them. That does not apply to NaMo. He has delivered over the last 5 years, hence the “brand recall mechanism” created through masks worked to a great positive effect (http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/modi-masks-arehottest-items-in-gujarat%60s-poll-mart/307407/)

In the past few months, NaMo has made Swami Vivekananda as his own. It is said that he is a big fan of the 19th Century Great and has spent a significant time in Ramkrishna Mission in Calcutta, which was established by Swami-ji himself. (it is rumored the respect towards Swami-ji also comes from sharing the same first name – Vivekananda’s real name was “Narendra Nath Datta”). It’s also a matter of luck for NaMo that Swami-Ji’s 150th Birth anniversary falls in 2012, election year in Gujarat. And NaMo made great use of this as a political weapon – tweets, blog posts, youth fairs, yatras, even cricket kits given away as rpizes – everything had a brand association with the great Ascetic. NaMo projected him as a symbol of great Hindu pride (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/narendra-modi-begins-month-long-vivekanand-yuva-vikas-yatra/1/216855.html). Here the management lesson seems tobe a clever association with a well known “brand” (personality in this case), who has great brand potential, yet has not been used by anyone else for some reason

2. Focus on women and children

This is not an attempt to be sexist, but the ladies generally make more rational voters. They vote based on issues which affect their livelihood, budget and less on matters of caste or religion. Modi understood this perfectly well. Right from day1, his focus has been more towards the women and the first time voters. He was faced with a serious challenge as far as women’s literacy and health and nutrition issues were concerned. And he took on these issues head on – he introduced several schemes for girls – “kanya kelavani”, giving away money earned from selling gifts given to him as charity to organizations fighting female foeticide etc (http://zeenews.india.com/news/states/auction-of-modi-s-gift-articles-gets-good-response_608102.html ) . The message was clear and simple – “Ladies’, I care for you, something very basic which many leaders in this country don’t”. This simple message found a lot of takers. Today he has a dedicated vote bank. He followed a simple management principle – choose your target wisely and kept on persisting with his promotion

3. Modi, the darling of the corporates

It’s an old fact in the history of politics that businessmen and politicians are the best of friends. The reason is not hard to fathom. Each one of them feed off the other. The politician needs funds; the businessmen need the right business environment. Modi was clever enough to realize this fact very early. He had realized how the incidents of 2002 had damaged his reputation in certain sections of society. He had to find an alternate way to build a reputation. And he chose the path of development. Development would require funds, and for most of his tenure he had had to deal with a hostile government at the center. So he thought of an alternate way – business

The people he governed are ones with good business acumen, he reasoned. So why not give them an ideal opportunity to carry out business? There is the story of how when the Tatas decided to pull out of Singur, Modi immediately send an SMS to Ratan Tata welcoming him to Gujarat, and a dejected Ratan Tata didn’t have too many alternatives but to invest in Gujarat (http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_i-just-spent-one-rupee-to-bring-nano-to-gujarat-narendra-modi_1391096 ). Uninterrupted supply of power, almost unheard of in other states of India barring a couple in the North-East, broadband connectivity in almost every village of Gujarat means both large and small scale industry has thrived as well as benefits of mdern technology could be used by the people

He has made business easier to be carried out, and this has been an invitation for investors, from not just in India, but from other parts of the world as well to flock to invest in Gujarat. The “Vibrant Gujarat” summits” have seen MoUs worth lakhs of crores being signed, and a significant portion implemented as well, which has brought huge investments to the state. Corruption has almost been eliminated, setting up business is easier than many parts of India, and the infrastructure (road networks, ports etc) compares to best in the world. Reduced costs and red tape has made investing attractive, bringing down unemployment significantly. This has had domino effects in terms of healthcare, sanitation etc and education. People have more money to buy better agricultural products, thus bringing up agricultural productivity. Higher returns mean they have more money to send their children to school; arrange for more nutritious food and make better sanitary arrangements. Thus Gujarat has entered into a virtuous cycle of higher income -> more taxes -> better quality of life. A simple lesson of finding what your customers (in this case the voters) need the most and provide that service the best turned out to be a trump card for Modi

4. Use of technology + social media and great back-up and PR-team

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Narendra Modi has 1 million followers on twitter (https://twitter.com/narendramodi ). Now, that is no mean feat. Leaders far bigger to him as far as constitutional authority is concerned, heads of state, etc have far fewer followers. It is here he scores big. He understood the value of technology and social media, something which would appeal to the youth and place from where he can take direct feedback from. It also helped him spread his message quicker and cheaper. He has taken potshots at his political rivals, showcased his methods and results and has connected to a segment of the population that is rarely given too much attention – the aspirational middle class. His use of 3-D hologram technology turned out to be a huge hit wherein he could be heard and seen, as if live in a number of places at one time (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-12-10/news/35726564_1_keshubhai-patel-sanjiv-bhatt-gujarat-parivartan-party ), as did his Google+ hangout hosted by actor Ajay Devgn(http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/287292/modi-answers-netizens-on-google-plus-hangout.html )

NaMo has a great back-up team and an efficient PR-team, which not just keeps posted about him, helps spread his message on the social media, but also does great research for him. For example, when he went to China earlier this year, he had his visiting cards made in Mandarin, besides of course, having done solid research on the business environment of the country (http://www.sunday-guardian.com/news/modi-woos-china-in-mandarin ). The Management lesson obviously is  have a good back-up team and to be well prepared when visiting a potential client (here he was wooing Chinese investors to Gujarat, and created the simple analogy of being the “two fastest growing economies in Asia”

5. Turning adversity into advantage

Narendra Modi has inherited a state ravaged by an earthquake and jolted by communal riots. Red-tapism, nepotism, poor infrastructure almost engulfed the entrepreneurial spirit of his subjects. However, in 10 years, he not just turned it around for the state, but for his own image itself – his lack of immediate family members barring his ageing mother and estranged mother (rumors of a wife were later found to be unfounded) kept him away from own personal gains, aided by his RSS-background discipline. He has cleverly molded his own image with that of Gujarat. Any insult to him was turned into an insult to “6 crore Gujarati”, his own portrayal as a “CM = Common Man” and “servant of the masses”, evoking of “Gujarati asmita” or pride has made him a man of the masses he lorded over. And the opposition – Congress, has fallen time and again into cleverly laid traps. In 2007, Sonia Gandhi called him “maut ka saudagar” or “Merchant of Death”, and he immediately used this to his advantage by claiming this was an insult to the state. Needless to say, he won by a thumping margin (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/no-2002-no–maut-ka-saudagar–sonia-cong-tread-carefully-on–muslim–issues/1042507/ ). Even this time around, during the campaign he was called a monkey by the Gujarat Congress Chief ( http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/gujarat-congress-compares-narendra-modi-to-a-monkey-bjp-files-complaint-290404  ), which he immediately turned into “Lord Hanuman out to serve Lord Ram – the people of Gujarat” argument (http://www.firstpost.com/politics/modi-in-3d-yes-i-am-hanumans-monkey-ganpatis-mouse-527686.html ). Here the management lesson is “take stones thrown at you and turn them into milestones”

It is difficult to predict whether Narendra Modi will win Gujarat, leave alone to go the national scene as a possible PM-candidate. But history will remember him as one of the longest serving CM of Gujarat. And his legacy of trying to bring all round development as well as his methods of electioneering, bringing in industries and taking care of deprived sections of the society will remain for long, a lesson in management for a lot of people

It can be argued none of this matters as far as voting is concerned, people vote a host of issues; even if he wins in Gujarat, he won’t be able to replicate it elsewhere and such claims. Well, all these can be argued, statements and counter-statements put in, but what matters is that these are some of the traits that very few leaders in India has shown. It is of little wonder then, that he will have several spokespersons who will speak on his behalf, not out of fear or greed, but out of love (http://in.news.yahoo.com/aishwarya-rai-lauds-gujarat-rapid-progress-141105303.html )

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