Saturday, July 30, 2005

What’s in a name?

Saw a movie on Sardar Patel. Excellent portrayal of the character by Paresh Rawal was easily the highlight of the movie. The story takes one through the entire political career of Sardar. His legendary mental acuity in dealing with problems during tumultuous times of Partition and Independence was portrayed beautifully.

At one point, he signs an agreement with Lord Mountbatten for the autonomy of Hyderabad banking on the Nizam’s vazirs to refuse it. He was true. The spirit of invincibility around him made him the Iron Man. He had the foresight to look beyond Nehru’s misgivings (so says the film) in handling integration issues to the Indian Union and India’s foreign policy, especially with regard to the UN and Kashmir. But most impressive of all was the way the Government machinery worked wonders during Partition handling a million refugees in a week under two visionary leaders, Nehru and Patel (who to compound matters, had such serious differences of opinion on the question of muslim settlements that Gandhi had to interfere and make peace).

I believe that the Government is a missionary organization with the charter to server the Constitution. One finds systems which were meant to work fine in independent India fumbling today. Police, the Government, BSNL, Govt. cooperatives...

The drive to labor and strive was meant not to be motivated merely by money. That drive requires a figurehead, a living symbol of the organisation's values (like Dr. Kurien in Amul and Richard Branson in Virgin) When that figurehead dies, the organisation starts stumbling and people are no longer driven by non-mercenary values; soon the entire organisation is in shambles. The role of the top man in such organisations is vital. Some organizations realize the power of the top man in inspiring the entire workforce so much that they gave titles and accessories. This helps to transfer the imageries associated with the leadership across different types of leaders and their tenures. (An Admiral in full uniform, the Pope)

When Dettol wants to use its brand value of health and security to introduce soaps, it names it Dettol again. An Admiral who is sweared in today inspires the same confidence and security as did the earlier one. The “Admiral” brand transfers these attributes from the incumbent to the incomer.

Navy                                                 Dettol


Admiral Agrani ASM                 Dettol Antiseptic

Admiral Manvendra PVSM      Dettol Soaps

Are these concepts of branding more pervasive in our lives than we think? What’s in a name anyway?

Gokulakrishnan S



Fathima said...

In "Whats in a name?", u missed the controversy in which Mrs. Indira Gandhi named herself so. But I have a peculiar liking for this Iron lady.

Gokulakrishnan S said...

Exactly. quite an interesting point: whether Indira Gandhi have had the same effect on India had she been called something else instead.

Vijay Krishna said...

Sardar Patel is a very important leader, sadly not given his due. I believe that if Nehru had let him (Patel) have his way with Kashmir, South Asia would have been more peaceful.

Karthik said...

hey, gokul, think u r the right person... some time run an essay on the kashmir problem... how it started and all...

Gokulakrishnan S said...

Will do so sometime da..