Symbol of congress

Symbol of congress

Symbol of congress

Why did the Congress party which has been successful throughout the post-independence era, had to change its symbol twice and how did it finalize on the hand symbol?

The Indian National Congress Party under the stewardship of Nehru had the symbol of ‘two bullocks with plough’ which struck a chord with masses who were predominantly farmers. After the death of Nehru and controversial death of Shastri, Indira Gandhi carried the legacy of Congress forward. With majority of the population being illiterate, lot of importance was given in promoting the party symbol and Indira became face of the party as we had seen in an ad from the 1960s:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3436397157927&set=a.1770961003064.221799.1510418566&type=1&ref=nf

In 1969, due to some internal conflicts within the Congress party, Indira decided to break out and form a party of her own, with majority of the old Congress party members in support of her in the new party which was named Congress(I) and the older Congress named themselves Congress(O). (I for Indira and O for Organization.)

Since the bullocks symbol had become synonomous with the Congress, Indira tried to use it for her new party but due to an appeal from Congress(O), she had to come up with a new symbol and chose “Cow with calf”. In spite of the breakout and a new symbol, to the surprise of analysts, she won a landslide victory in the 1971 elections.

After the emergency of mid 1970s which witnessed the death of democracy and Sanjay’s follies, Indira finally opted for fresh elections in 1977. By then, the Congress(I) symbol of cow with calf had become a mockery throughout the country where not only the opposition but also the common man compared Cow to Indira and Calf to Sanjay 🙂
So, Indira had decided to discard that symbol and later come up with a new one this time. But at the same time, the Election Commission had frozen the symbol and asked Indira to select a new symbol as soon as possible.

There is an interesting anecdote about the symbol selection. When Indira was in Andhra Pradesh with P.V.Narasimha Rao, Buta Singh had visited the office of EC to discuss about the new symbol and EC provided him with choices of an elephant, a bicycle & an open palm. Buta, confused with the choices, decided to let Indira take that decision and informed her of the choices over phone. EC had insisted Buta to select the symbol by the next morning, failing which, the party would have to contest without a symbol. This became a matter of concern to the top party workers who along with Indira brainstormed for hours over the given choices and finally upon the insistence of RK Rajarathnam who suggested that the open palm due to its simplicity woud be easily recognizable by the people, Indira decided to select it:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xjoe8s_how-indira-s-congress-got-its-hand-symbol_news

The next morning, when Buta Singh called Indira to find out her decision, it turned out into a comedy of errors. Due to his thick accent and pronounciation, when he said “haath theek rahega?” (will hand be fine?), Indira mistook it for “haathi” (will elephant be fine?) to which she said no and said “haath” to which again Buta said “Yes. Thats what I am also saying. Haathi”. Finally, Indira gave up and handed over the phone to P.V.Narasimha Rao. PVN, master of more than 15 Indian and foreign languages immediately realized that Buta was actually saying “Haath” and asked “Panjaa?” (palm) to which Buta affirmed. That was how the hand became the party symbol for Congress party.

It is interesting to note that the symbols which Indira rejected i.e Elephant & Bicycle, were later chosen by parties who went on to gain significant foothold in Uttar Pradesh. The BSP chose elephant and the SP chose Bicycle..

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Why is it named “India”?

Why is it named “India”?

Since time immemorial, the great peninsula which lies below the Himalayas has been referred to as “India” while the habitants of this land called it “Bharata” or “Hindustan”. “Bharata” because of the name of the King who ruled it and “Hindustan” because it was considered the land of Hindus several centuries ago.

The name “India” is actually derived out of the word “Indus” which is the name of a river. The Indus river is the anglicized name for river Sindhu, which flows in the western part of the landmass (it is in Pakistan today). Sindhu in sanskrit means river and the Rigveda refers frequently to it. The Persian explorers had begun calling this land as “The land beyond river Sindhu” which became “Land beyond Indus” and later shortened to “India”.

One of the earliest references to the name “India” can be traced back to the Greeks and Persians way back in 5th century BC. So the name “India” is atleast 2500 years old!!

As you would have noticed in an earlier story, a 2200 year old world map (reconstructed) depicts “India”:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1809768413225&set=a.1921166078097.235311.1510418566&type=3

The documentary titled “Story of India” is strongly recommended and a must watch for every Indian. It is a beautifully presented documentary by the famous & neutral historian Michael Wood from BBC showcasing the 10,000 year history of India.

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Lakmé

Lakmé

Lakmé

Why was the cosmetics company named “Lakmé”?

Way back in the early 1950s, an economic survey of spendings in India revealed that Indian women were splurging on imported cosmetics. Nehru was not very happy because it was affecting the forex reserves. Maintaining the forex reserves was of utmost importance considering the fact that Indian economy was still in its nascent stage. Nehru hit upon the idea of a home grown beauty brand which would cater to cosmetic needs of Indian women.

(Although some sources claim that Nehru took up this issue because a certain women’s association approached him to put forward their concerns about non-availibility of affordable beauty products. But having studied about Nehru’s visions and views, I am of the opinion that he had considered beauty products as luxury and would have never spent any time/effort to satisfy those women’s luxurious needs. Instead, he took up the issue because it was affecting forex and related to the economy. Banning such products was impossible in a democracy, so starting an Indian company was the only solution.)

It was a challenge of its kind because it had to fulfil the needs of “Indian skin” in which foreign brands fell short and at the same time, have a brand identity which would appeal to the upper middle class women who were really the ones splurging on foreign brands. Nehru knew that only JRD Tata had the passion and entrepreneurship skills to tackle the above challenges and personally requested him to come up with a solution, which he readily accepted.

Doing market research to find out the needs of Indian women and hiring experts & chemical engineers from the beauty industry was not really a challenge for JRD but coming up with a brand identity certainly was. Finally, after giving it a lot of thought, he named it “Lakmé” after the French Opera.
A ticket of Lakme Opera:
http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lcfit224Dh1qc6wuio1_500.jpg

The reason he chose this particular French opera name was because “Lakmé” derives its name from Sanskrit for “Lakshmi”, the goddess of wealth and epitome of beauty. It was the perfect name for the company as it was actually bringing wealth to the nation (by saving precious forex), could correlate itself very well with the beautiful Goddess and it appealed well to upper middle class women due to its videshi sounding name (“Lakshmi lipstick” or “Lakshmi eyeliner” would have sounded very desi).

That was the kind of thought process which went into any job which JRD Tata took up and the results were always exemplary. Lakme was started in 1952 as a 100% subsidiary of Tata oil mill. It was a hugely successful brand and the rest is history. In 1996, Tata sold its stake in Lakme to HLL since it felt that HLL being an FMCG company will do better justice to the company and HLL have continued to efficiently nurture the brainchild of JRD. A recent survey ranked Lakme to be one of the top 50 most trusted brands in India.

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KFC outlet in Bangalore

KFC outlet in Bangalore

KFC outlet in Bangalore

1995. The first KFC outlet in Bangalore ransacked by activists and later slapped with a court order to shut it down. Although the reason for the protest was on health grounds citing the reason to be usage of excessive seasonings in KFC recipes, it would not come as a surprise to a social analyst who is aware of the intricacies and effects of globalization in a conservative country like India which was isolated from the western world for 40 years (due to socialist policies and closed economy). i.e At a superficial level, the reason for the outburst was medical, but deep down, it was social.

After the liberalization of economy in 1991, India witnessed a slew of foreign products being introduced in stores which was a cause of concern for the activists who feared the erosion of “Indian values”. [EDIT: Please read the below comments/discussion to understand what “Indian values” mean in this context].
Further entry of foreign brands in the form of dedicated glossy buildings (like KFC) seemed to have crossed the limits which led to revolts like these.

Also, another factor to be considered here is the rapid globalization of a sleepy city due to the software boom in early 90s which was the starting point for the growing disparity between middle class locals and the “elite migrants” who bagged well paying jobs in Bangalore. With such a sociological friction between the groups, it was a predictable phenomenon which would have taken place irrespective of the demographics and geographics. Maybe the transition phase was quick and took people by surprise.

Over the years, with the effect of globalization spreading to majority of the city dwellers, the social friction seems has toned down due to opportunities available for everybody across the economic and social spectrum. The locals began to prefer engineering courses over other streams starting from early 90s and ride the software boom, further reducing the disparity. With the mushrooming of several certification courses and coaching institutes like Aptech & NIIT ensured that even a 12th pass candidate could equip himself with skills required for basic tech jobs. With the advent of BPO industry, the probability of getting a quick job has improved considerably.

Although the software industry appears to be the beneficiary of this open economic model, the benefits are passed on to dependent industries like real estate, transport, restaurants, hotel, retail, entertainment, tourism and more.

Today, Bangalore is a Cosmopolitan (as well as safe) city and foreign brands like KFC & McD are buiding a thriving business with such outlets in every alternate street. It would not be a surprise if the same activists who ransacked KFC in 1995 would be visiting the same outlet with their children/grandchildren today who are the beneficiaries of globalization..

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Tajmahal during World War

Tajmahal during World War

Tajmahal during World War

This was how the Taj Mahal was protected from bomber jets in 1942 during world war.
It was covered with huge scaffold, to make it look like a stockpile of bamboo and misguide bombers.
I think the covering is still incomplete in this photo. It seems the whole of Taj Mahal was covered but this picture shows only the main dome covered. Maybe the govt didnt allow any photographers later to shoot the final scaffold cover.

During the India-Pakistan war in 1971, it was protected by covering it with a green cloth and making it almost invisible i.e camouflaged within the greenery around it.
Even in 2001, after the Sep 11 attack, Archaeological Survey of India took up the precautionary measure to cover it with cloth and it took them more than 20 days to do that!!

Isn’t it strange? You work hard and develop a beautiful asset. You get praises from everyone around the world. Later you work hard to safeguard this asset from getting destroyed by the same ppl who praised it. 🙂

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