The advertising for KBC, which is about to roll again, is witty and entertaining. But the show, now into its fifth year, will have to live up to the expectations
The TV show 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' is about to roll again. I wonder how it will do in terms of the TRPs this time. The format has been sucked dry by the desi entertainment channels for the last one decade. Viewer fatigue will surely have set in big time. Personally, I am looking forward to it, as I do all the mindless debates on the news channels. Also, Bachchan is back as the host. In short, it's that same old, same old feeling.
However, I must admit that the ads created to generate excitement around the show are kickass. I have watched three of them, and I enjoyed all. The central theme is this: 'Koi Bhi Insaan Chhota Nahin Hota'.
One ad features Shuklaji, an honest worker in a maha corrupt government office. His colleagues are seen brazenly collecting bribes, and our man doesn't approve. He warns the chors to mend their ways, but they only scoff at him. Worse, our Shuklaji has taken a bank loan, and is worried about losing his job if he squeals on his seniors. Of course, he then participates on the KBC show, wins, and proudly tells Bachchan that he'll report his corrupt colleagues.
Another ad features a loser who's desperately trying to convince different girls into marrying him. But they all trash him because the fellow is broke. And when he wins on KBC, the man announces he will never marry any of those who rejected him, much to the girls' disappointment.
In the third commercial, a senior citizen is treated badly by his family members. Because they don't see any use of the old man in the house. And they want to dump him in an old age home. Uncle then goes on to win at KBC and declares that he will donate his winnings to an old age home, and not a paisa will be given to his family.
I like these ads. Everything is right about them. They are rooted in our culture, they are topical, witty and very entertaining. The key target segment for KBC, the middle- and lower-income groups, will enjoy these commercials even more so.
Bottom-line: Advertising has done its job. But the product, which in this case is a tired show now in its fifth season, has to live up to the expectations. Clearly the appeal of easy winnings will no longer be enough to get the TRPs. The show has to deliver more than that. Let's see how that goes.
The people of the country witnessed the entire cash-for-votes scandal on television. So, to say that the police or the parliamentary committee investigating the episode cannot find evidence in the case, is a real shame
Greed and fear are powerful human emotions, most misjudged though. However maligned the two might be, their significance in shaping human behaviour cannot be ignored. And they are as desirable as they are despised. Curiously, absolute absence of these two intrinsic evils of human nature-call them so if you wish-will rob the individual of his prudence and useful social conduct. When responsibly handled, these emotions enable us to add quality to the lives of others as well as our own lives, as we get on in the civilised world. If evidence was ever needed in support of this, it flows straight from the universally preached and practised business principle: 'highest returns from lowest investment'. It would be foolish in any corner of the world to practise the opposite of this; like saying 'give more, take less'.
Ironically, corruption springs straight from this theory. What we seldom acknowledge is that we are all corrupt in varying measures. It would, therefore, be utopian to expect total extinction of the evil called corruption. There has never been an era in human history-the Ramayana and Mahabharata periods included-when corruption did not exist. Why we are crying against it today is because it has crossed the limits of affordability.
Secondly, the role of 'fear' has altered. Instead of inducing caution in the mind of the exploiter, we are now in a reverse mode that adds an awesome, fearsome dimension. Gone are the days of 'under-the-table deals'; it is a blatantly open and an over-the-table business now. The public ambivalence over such dealings has only encouraged the perpetrators of the evil, because they are patronised by the same people who envy and hate them in private.
Politics in India has become the most lucrative business, with the fastest gains in fortune. As has been reported in the newspapers recently, the rise in wealth of our politicians averages 300% (or more, depending upon the 'capability' and 'capacity' of the leader concerned), within a period of five years, as evidenced from the affidavits filed by Members of Parliament/Members of the Legislative Assembly.
Who will not like to win over (or buy out) a pliable bureaucrat, judge or politician, willing to intercept and change the course of justice to favour their benefactors-be they from the government hierarchy, cronies from the fraternity, or an interested 'party' from the public?
Those who can pay can make the otherwise callous police and local administration move and act in the desired manner. Unlike other necessities of life, sex and money influence people in more curious ways-the more you have, the more you will want. Lust is nothing but excessive greed, which can drive you mad, like it happened with home ministry bureaucrat, Ravi Inder Singh, who was arrested in November 2010 for selling state secrets in return for sex and cash.
Fear can often lead to panic, which ultimately hampers the decision-making ability of individuals and establishments headed by leaders and officers running scared. The nation has seen this in the jittery responses of the government that is floundering in a deluge of scams and peoples' ire against corruption.
First, the government thought Anna Hazare was too tiny to deserve its attention. When the people rallied behind him with remarkable spontaneity, it scurried to appoint a joint committee with a duly notified timeframe to draft and legislate the Lokpal Bill as demanded by 'civil society'.
Then it made a mockery of statecraft in dealing with Baba Ramdev. Initially, senior ministers prostrated before the yoga guru, conceding all his demands (some quite weird) even before he could step out of Delhi airport. Even as they exchanged pleasantries, we saw the police pounce on a peaceful, harmless gathering in the sleepy hours at Ramlila ground. Statecraft was abandoned and witchcraft took over.
Corruption has now become the Frankenstein's monster of Indian politics. No political party is prepared to condemn it enough, aside from scoring points over each other in the routine 'holier-than-thou' frenzy. While the opposition is seen to be angry over the scams and is holding the prime minister responsible for the misdeeds too, no political outfit has come out in open and unequivocal support for a strong, powerful and effective anti-corruption institution like Lokpal as proposed by Anna Hazare's team. Shockingly, a jittery government is again trying to throttle people's peaceful protest, by denying the Jantar Mantar venue to Anna Hazare, the most peaceful protester that free-India has seen, even as numerous other rallies/meetings are being allowed there during the current 'ban'.
Even orthodox societies are fast evolving and adjusting to new realities. India, already well poised to lead the world, is hindered and threatened not so much by Pakistan or China, but by its very own enemy within-corruption in high places. No doubt, Pakistan-sponsored terrorism has hit us seriously enough in the past. But the menace of terrorism has also found a great ally in rampant corruption right at home.
With India topping the world with black money ($1,546 billion) more than the total of the next four countries (Russia, the UK, Ukraine and China together have $1,056 billion) in the list of black money hoarders in Swiss banks, Indian terrorists have enough to support them at home. Don't we hear politicians cry foul every time police or the army raid and arrest suspects? Not only the Batla house raid by the Delhi police, even the most blatant, daring Mumbai attack that is ominously remembered as 26/11 (to liken it to the 9/11 al-Qaeda operation on the World Trade Towers), found vociferous, if shameless, political support very much at home! First, it was AR Antulay who, when he was a minister in the Manmohan Singh government, suggested the hand of 'Hindu Zionists' in the killing of Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare (The Times of India, 18 December 2008). Lately, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh has been shooting from the hip, like an errant constable running amok, blaming the RSS and Hindus for all terrorism in India!
The whole world watched on 22 July 2008, how Members of Parliament waved wads of currency notes in the well of the house, screaming and complaining how they were bribed to vote in favour of the Manmohan Singh government, or abstain, during a trust vote after the Left parties had withdrawn their support. The government survived through murky horse-trading in Parliament. Recordings of a 'sting operation' carried out by a leading television channel captured these 'horse-trading meetings' and 'cash transactions' which were also shown to the Parliamentary Committee constituted to inquire into it. The Lok Sabha speaker asked the Delhi Police to also inquire into the affair.
First, the parliamentary committee report (not unanimous though) said they did not find enough evidence to pronounce anyone guilty. Now, after three years of investigations, the Delhi Police in its interim report says it has found no evidence pointing towards 'guilt of any politician'! Despite the glaring evidence that the people have seen in the entire episode, if the police or any other investigative authority absolves the culprits, it is an insult to the people of India.
Corruption is a secular pursuit. Politically, too, it cuts across party lines and converts enemies into friends and vice-versa. Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party was in the opposition, but only till the ruling UPA government had a comfortable majority. The moment the Left parties withdrew support, they not only jumped on the bandwagon but also went out of the way-using the cunning and innovative skills of Amar Singh-to garner additional support, by poaching Members of Parliament from other opposition parties. And we are the proud people of the largest democracy of the world!
Perhaps, if the Guinness Book of Records wanted a page on the world's most corrupt and shamelessly audacious leaders, I see no worthwhile challenge in the world-we will win hands down.
(The writer is a military veteran who commanded an Infantry battalion with many successes in counter-terrorist operations. He was also actively involved in numerous high-risk operations as second-in-command of the elite 51 Special Action Group of the National Security Guard. He conducts leadership training and is the author of two bestsellers on leadership development that have also been translated into foreign languages.)
Taking on the criticism that the monetary authority is ignoring slowdown warnings across sectors in its fight against inflation, RBI governor D Subbarao said, "Yes. We are sacrificing growth... in the short-term. But it is only to ensure sustainable growth in the medium-term."
Mumbai: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor D Subbarao yesterday said inflation can be brought down to 4%-4.5% in the medium term while admitting that the economic expansion is being sacrificed to ensure sustainable growth in the long run, reports PTI.
"I believe that there is no new normal to inflation. We can bring it down to 5%, and then further down to 4%-4.5% in the medium-term," Mr Subbarao said.
Taking on the criticism that the monetary authority is ignoring slowdown warnings across sectors in its fight against inflation, he said, "Yes. We are sacrificing growth... in the short-term. But it is only to ensure sustainable growth in the medium-term."
The governor was speaking at an event to launch a book, 'Growth with Financial Stability: Central Banking in an Emerging Market' by former RBI deputy governor Rakesh Mohan.
"Our experience shows that when inflation is low, may be you can raise it somewhat and get high growth, but up to a threshold level. Beyond that threshold level, if you try to raise growth, by raising inflation, you actually end up with higher inflation and lower growth," he noted.
Pointing out limitations of the monetary measures to tame inflation, he said, "With one instrument-that is interest rate-you cannot at the same time restrain consumption and support investment. So, in the short-term you may have to sacrifice growth to generate an environment of rapid growth and steady inflation in the medium term."
As inflation remained elevated, over the past 16 months RBI upped its key policy rates a record 11 times or 325 basis points.
Core inflation for June stood at 9.44% while food inflation for the week ended 23rd July, inched up to 8.04%, after dropping to a 20-month low in mid-July.
He also set the desired threshold level for inflation at 5%. "The question is, what is the threshold of inflation level for a country like ours" Some RBI report shows that it is 5%, may be that number has changed, but at 9.44% inflation, possibly even higher, we are far above the threshold," said Mr Subbarao.
In the 26th July policy review, the central bank had said that monetary policy alone cannot be expected to batten down prices.