Not Beautiful Enough

The phone rang, her first call
She said hello
and you knew you were falling
Her voice
The sound of her laughter
Her sleepy good morning wishes

That you had never
Seen her, touched her, felt her
It never mattered
For, you had felt her soul, her being
She was perfect

What a farce!
A heartbreak so pure
She came, in person
But what did you see?
Dark like the tribal women they’re afraid of
Hair with no shine
Not the most beautiful smile either
A little fat maybe?

Disappointed, disillusioned
Poor little you
Fooled by a lady
Not so beautiful too
Beauty as society understands it
Beauty as you understand it
She wasn’t beautiful enough for you.

Her intelligence, her words
always baffling you
The kindest, most humane
Serene, the tranquility of her self almost unbelievable
But did it mean anything at all?
After all, she wasn’t beautiful enough for you.

You broke to shreds, she healed you
You raged like a violent ocean, she calmed you
You laughed like a child, she laughed along
You were lost, yet never alone
All ceased to matter now
For you wanted beauty, but she wasn’t beautiful enough.

You in all your fair glory,
much wiser now
A frantic search for tranquility
only leads you to chaos
You keep looking, waiting
Your desire to find something real
Only met by pretence

You think of her,
the only thing true
You hope, but you know
she has risen, flying on
Busy painting the world
with the fire within her;

Such an air of nonchalance,
that you could never see
She wasn’t beautiful
She was a fuckin’ masterpiece.

The Last Book

O_death

The night was hot, and so was my seat. I had been sitting in the same position for quite some time now, reading a book under the faint light the lamp over my head had to offer. The seat opposite to mine was empty, and had been so since I got on the train. I looked at the seat, and wished I had bothered to look at the reservation list and catch the name of the person who was to occupy this seat. It could be a woman. Who knows, we might strike a conversation or two, and then exchange meaningless stares throughout the night. She might pretend to be a lonely woman, waiting for the right man. And I, I might speak with the arrogance of someone who doesn’t care about love, but is secretly hiding a case of heart-break. Who knows, right? Anything can happen, until it has actually happened.  The woman might just have missed the train, and I might have been destined to marry her, but we will never actually meet. Every passing minute, every passing second could change a lot for me, without me even realizing it. I could suffocate, or get robbed, or I might even find a treasure, all in the next few moments. Anything’s possible. Then how do I have any control over the course of my life. I can fight the suffocation, or kill the robber, or discard the treasure, but what if that too was supposed to happen. Is it all just a set of pre placed dominos? I got back to my book, but it did not interest me anymore, I was still stuck on figuring out how I would introduce myself to the woman who might occupy this seat. Just then, a suitcase rolled from my rear and entered the space between the two seats. Closely following this suitcase was a man, an old man who smelled of whiskey and stale food. He was dressed in a black overcoat that looked too good for someone of his demeanour. His hair was jet black, and was cleanly combed back. A sharp triangle rightly fitted itself over his neck. It carried on it a pair of thin, dark lips and a sharp, plunging nose. It also fit in a pair of eyes that seemed to change colour. If I were a man who did not play by logic, I could have sworn they were completely black for a moment. The man took the seat opposite mine and slid the suitcase underneath it. He looked straight at me, as if he could see through me. I don’t know why but I felt naked. A prepossessing guilt rose within me. I avoided his stare and got back to my book. I tried to focus my eyes on the text, but they would constantly try and record if any movement took place behind the book. I gave up on it, and finally questioned the man.

“Excuse me, why are you staring at me?”

“I am not staring. I’m merely looking.”

“Can you please look somewhere else?”

“I can, but I’d rather continue to look at you.” He replied even before I could complete my sentence.

I sighed in irritation and pushed my face back into the book. Here I was, expecting a woman, and all I got was a creepy old guy instead. The book was tough to read, mostly because I had lost touch over my mother tongue. The translation did help, but I seldom used it. How can a writer convert text from one language to another, without affecting the meaning of the former? I had my doubts, and so I struggled to find my own interpretations of the text. I was trying my best to concentrate, but the idea of an old man staring at me would not let me. There was movement in the background, and I raised my head to see that the old man had now come closer to me. He was bending his body, in an attempt to look closely at me. I threw my book on the seat and faced him, this time with intent to fight.

“What do you want?” I inquired.

“Just a look at the book you read, sir.”

“I’m reading it right now. And because I’m not carrying any other reading material with me now, I can not lend this book to you.”

“Oh no, sir. I do not need to loan it. I already know the story in it, rather too well I’d say. I only need a look. Just one.” He replied with a straight face.

I now noticed how coarse his voice was, as if something had been forced down his throat. It made me pity him, maybe he suffered of some illness. I contemplated his request, and decided to let him have a look.

“Okay, you can have a look. But you promise not to bother me anymore.”

“I do not see how I bother you, young sir. But if you allow me a look at your book, and agree to answer a question, I promise to leave this seat and find myself another one.”

“But all you said was a look at the book.” I replied annoyingly.

“I like to take actions in phases, sir. Do you accept my terms?”

I saw no harm, and hence I nodded in agreement. I passed him the book. He opened it to the last page, smiled at what he read, and returned the book.

“Now for the question.” He said. He paused, as if taking his time to think upon the question. After a moment of silence, he leaned towards me, and asked

“Do you regret killing your father?”

“What! How dare you. What gives you the right, you lonely old fuck.” I shouted at him.

“It is merely a question, my friend. I only need a simple yes or no.”

I ignored him. I did not need to answer a stranger, and especially not someone who accused me of killing my father.

The old man got up from his seat and pushed his face into mine. “Do you blame yourself, for not being at home the one night he wanted you to be?”

I pushed him aside, and threw him back at his seat. He got up, almost mechanically, and then ran his hand through his hair, trying to get them back to how they were. The colour in his eyes flickered. They were completely black for a moment there. I was sure of it this time.

He smiled at me and said. “Do you think he would have survived had you come home early that night?”

I did not pay any attention to his question and picked up my bag. I decided to change my seat with someone. If this man does not intend to leave me alone even then, I will call the authorities on him. As I turned to leave, he caught me by my hand.

“The time has come. The time to pay retribution. It shall happen tomorrow, as you complete your journey, both physically and spiritually.”

And now, I lay here on the floor, constantly replaying this incident in my mind. It is cooler than it was last night. This morning, as I got off the train, I slipped and cracked my skull open. I’m surrounded by people, but more than that I’m surrounded by blood. Somewhere in the crowd, I see a familiar place. It is an old man, with slick black hair, and dressed in an expensive black coat. He raised his hand to show me the book in his hand. It was the same book I was reading last night, but somehow I could not remember its name. As I once again remember the events of last night, I wonder, was I just following a pre-written story all along?

Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition.

henry-david-thoreau-author-the-law-will-never-make-a-man-free-it-is

Political and religious ideologies propagate in a similar fashion. Most people believe in a government or priesthood because they are brought up in a social structure that favors having similar beliefs. Whether they are rational and moral or not is irrelevant. Others believe in them because they believe it is the only option they have. No matter what form of governmentalist you are – democratic, monarchical, aristocrat or any other, the basic premise is the same – faith in an authoritarian figure or institution. President, Zeus, State or the Church. Some argue that humans are not capable of living without some form of authority to look over them. So they form a government loosely based on votes of same non reliable mass.

Other governmentalists argue, “If anarchy is so great why isn’t there any anarchist nation?” I see this as a half ass-ed version of “You cannot prove there is no god, hence there is one”. Actually there are many examples of successful free societies, in recent history; Paris in the late 19th century, Spain and Greece. But ask yourself, can they last? Can powerful militant empires have examples of a better alternatives when they threaten their existence. (They were all destroyed by major military operations and coups).

And government fanatics like these are the very reason why there are no anarchist societies. For the same reason, India is still not a secular nation even in this age of rationality. These people are scared of responsibility and reality. They themselves help create the  complex economic, political and social structures that suck every drop of life from their existence. They submit to god, to government.

Essentially they are same people who cheered for Chancellor Hitler as he ordered mass killing of Jews, who supported wars in Vietnam and Iraq, who let thousands of species go extinct, who want bombs in there backyards because of their never ending irrational fears. They support it just by not opposing it. You can only be for war or against it, there is no middle ground. “You cannot be neutral in a moving train” (Howard Zinn)

Worst part of this whole deal is that these people are not satisfied by being suppressed alone, they want their neighbors and everyone else to be ruled over as well, unreasonably taxed by their rituals like elections. It’s a taboo to talk ill of elections no matter how screwed up it is. No matter who gets majority of the votes the winner is always the ruling class and the business class. Try as hard you can to make yourself believe that these classes have interests of masses at heart. But I know you know better.

If you like and want to be ruled over, kept in sight, spied, inspected, directed, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured and turned slave in body and mind… please do so. But for the sake of your god, the government should leave the people who don’t wanna be part of it alone. People who want to live their life on their own, mind their own business, exercise their own talents, pursue their own dreams, try to be what they believe they should be. I, myself, will not resign my conscience to some holy book, the legislature or the constitution, why then everyone has a conscience?

 —————-

I often hear, ‘anarchy’ and ‘chaos’ being used as synonyms. The people who do so either have no knowledge about the field or they do it willingly to misrepresent it. In many cases they are individuals with some form of authority or at least someone to whom people listen to.  I admit there have been incidences where someone calling themselves an anarchist has engaged in some form of violence against his fellow human. (Cases where anarchists use violence against cops or military forces has always been for self defense. And in all cases they have had no fatally harmful weapons. And damaging a McDonalds or Nike store cannot be considered violence against any human or nature). That being said, there are always people who think that violence can be justified in some weird way, be that a Hindu terrorist, Muslim terrorist , Maoist, Fascist, State army or police. But no one can come close to the amount of atrocity committed by the state – wars, state sponsored terrorist acts and so on. If your notion is that when a government kills, it is justifiable, then you are a fanatic.

I have never come across a single case of an anarchist killing an innocent civilian. There are cases where they have targeted businessmen or politicians but those cases don’t even reach in double digits. So if you are looking for synonym for “chaos”, “state” will be a better option.

It might be a good time to talk about few other misconceptions regarding anarchism. We don’t make bombs. We organize workers unions, support their struggles, 8 hour work days, anarchists fought for it, paid sick days, anarchists fought for it. Equal rights for women, blacks, immigrants, minority indigenous people, Against wars, Against nukes, Against fascism, Against structural adjustment policies of IMF. We are also not a bunch of school dropout uneducated people. Kropotkin (Geologist, Evolutionary biologist) Proudhon (Economist), David Graeber (anthropologist), Noam Chomsky (Linguists), Howard Zinn (Historian), just to name a few.

But this doesn’t mean they are/were superior individuals (Well they are in some fields though!), but what is and will always remain important is what anarchism stands for:

Fight on the side of the oppressed in every domain of life, from family, to culture, to state, to economy, to the now very visible international arena of “globalization,” and to do so in creative and courageous ways – Michael Albert

Against Privatization.

I read the news today oh boy
About more privatization of commons which ‘ll be taking place.
– The Beatles

The news Paul and John are talking about is this:

Nestle-CEO-Water-is-not-a-right

water_privatization-article

So some companies proclaim that water is the next oil in a rush to turn resources into profit. Sweet, isn’t it?

If this news makes you a bit pissed off, then we can continue, but, if you consider this to be actually ‘sweet’, then maybe you should not waste your time reading this.

Now,  all of us have witnessed various sectors being privatized in last 10-15 years. And most people don’t question it, or believe in myths surrounding privatization. Like it increases productivity, quality improves, so on and so forth. But are they actually true? Let us take the latest example; most of us get water from Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Urban Development etc etc, far from best option but better than the one proposed. India has made significant progress in last decade for supplying drinking water (largely due to contribution of local communities). And we get it almost daily for minimal fee (around rupees 10 per week, i am guessing here) and almost free in poorer parts. According to myth number 1, Privatization will improve the quality of water. Well. One, Two and Three.

EWG is particularly appalled at the lack of transparency by leading bottled water sellers as to the sources of their water and whether it is purified or has been tested for contaminants. According to a recent survey by the group, 18 percent of the 173 bottled waters on the U.S. market today fail to list the location of their source; a third disclose nothing about the treatment or purity of the water inside their plastic bottles.

“Among the ten best-selling brands, nine—Pepsi’s Aquafina, Coca-Cola’s Dasani, Crystal Geyser and six of seven Nestlé brands—don’t answer at least one of those questions,” reports EWG. Only Nestlé’s Pure Life Purified Water “discloses its specific geographic water source and treatment method…and offers an 800-number, website or mailing address where consumers can request a water quality test report.”

As it happens, bottled water is probably one of the most wasteful products we produce. It costs energy and labor to run tap water through filters and bottle it, and the bottles themselves are made of petroleum products and require additional petroleum products to package and ship. The bottles are problematic, and not easily or typically recycled. Other than the convenience factor (and, let’s face it, filtered water could very easily be sold or dispensed in fountain style, similar to soda), it’s a really bad product.

All the bottled water brands they tested were within federal standards for drinking water quality, but two of them fell outside Californian state standards in that their chlorine content was too high. These were: Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Choice and Giant Food’s Acadia.

The study authors said that: “Cancer-causing contaminants in bottled water purchased in 5 states (North Carolina, California, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland) and the District of Columbia substantially exceeded the voluntary standards established by the bottled water industry.”

So much for quality and productivity, eh?

Next up, is privatization of only water is bad or of everything? Well… I would say everything. Let me try to explain here.

Let’s talk about education: Private schools, tuitions, big coaching chains, just to make you pass the god damn exam.

The quality of our public schools is worst than Arkham asylum. And it is because of privatization, first of all the “Appeal to wealth” logical fallacy that generates in parents mind. Second in private education institution like every other private institution main concern is profit. And they don’t want smart people capable of critical thinking or who don’t fit in the given mold. They will weed you out, 3rd.  Semi-skilled labor is only possible in highly industrialized and privatized societies with “division-of-labour” and alienation of human. And that is exactly what is needed in privatized world – alienation. If schools are not privatized, and are free (like they used to be in major part of Europe few decades back or still are in Sweden, Norway, Denmark) up till university levels by community funding (not by forced taxation, where you don’t have control over where the money will be used). Then only can the equal rights for education be practiced.

When we are talking about privatization, lets also discuss private land ownership (started in roman empire: the sovereign right property), privatization of oil, now food, everything that was one a gift to all humans turned into product and sold for profit of few.

And possibility of this: Dubai’s Climate-Controlled Dome. When air is privatized. Total Recall? Anyone??

In respect of property, as of all economic factors, harm and abuse cannot be dissevered from the good, any more than debit can from asset in double-entry book-keeping. The one necessarily spawns the other. To seek to do away with the abuses of property, is to destroy the thing itself; just as the striking of a debit from an account is tantamount to striking it from the credit record. – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

I am not advocating straight out state control over all aspect of life rather the contrary. Control of ordinary humans, communes and federations. And those are not the actual lyrics for A Day In Life, you should really check out “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

No Country For Men

  • A girl is raped every 20 minutes in India.
  • Only about 1% of the rape victims report their crimes in India.
  • Of the more than 600 rape cases reported in Delhi in 2012, only one led to a conviction.
  • Sexual violence within marriage is common, with 20% of men admitting to forcing their wives or partners to have sex.

Shocked, are you?
But you might already be aware of these facts. You would have seen them floating around on the internet, because that’s where I’ve picked them from. I don’t know if they are true, but most of the sources seemed reputable, and given the news I read/see everyday, I’d go ahead and say that these stats still seem modest to me. But why am I blabbering about some of the many problems Indian women have to face in India, while the article’s name clearly suggests it is about men. Because the newspaper is full of crimes and inequalities subjected on woman, and that is necessary. But who will write about us? Who will write about the men, the men of India.

I try to look for such shocking numbers as the ones I started the article with, but this time they are about men. But they are hard to find, almost not there.  Why? Is it because gender inequality only exists with women?

No.
Do you know that 98% of the 498a cases filed against men are false?
Do you even know what the 498a is?
It’s a law to protect women against any forms of cruelty subjected on them by their husband or the husband’s family. Though the term cruelty is defined in the article, the definition can easily be twisted and turned to mean a lot of things. Read this. Anyway, what the law primarily protects them from, is dowry.

Do women need protection? Obviously.
Do women need a law which resides absolute power in them by allowing them to file a case of dowry based only on their word?

No. But that is what they have, because the way IP-498a has been devised, and the way it is implemented, makes sure that there is no room whatsoever for any doubt in judgment. And why are there laws? Or a court? Or lawyers? To make sure that a citizen is not branded guilty until there is even a tiniest bit of doubt. Even the Supreme Court has branded 498a as legal terrorism. Now why would the most powerful court in the country do that, unless obviously it is true? There has been improvement; recently the Supreme Court has decided that there will be no arrests under anti-dowry law without a magistrate’s nod.

Is that good news?
Partially. Because now atleast there is some theoretical protection being offered to men. But I’ll repeat, it’s ‘theoretical’, because before you reach the court, you have to face the harassment of society, police officers, lawyers and feminist groups. The society frowns upon you because that’s what it does. Lawyers and the police do it because they are looking to make quick money, and because they are under pressure to act quickly in cases of crimes against women. Because hey, who are we kidding, they don’t even register a rape case, much less get to the victims on time. So the pressure is justified. That brings me to the final group of people, who I personally believe is the most responsible for this negligent gender inequality. It is the so called feminist groups. Do not take me wrong, I’m a pro-feminist myself. But the feminist groups you see protesting in the news are not real feminists, atleast majority of them are not. They are pseudo-feminists, much like there are pseudo-intellectuals, pseudo-gamers, pseudo- ‘anything that’s in’. Feminism as an idea is growing, and it should, but what it is also doing is injecting ignorance and superiority in some women who fail to understand the true meaning of feminism. It is about equality, not giving preference to women.

For example, let’s consider the Delhi metro, something a lot of you can relate to. I understand the concept of having a woman’s coach in the Delhi metro, because apparently men can’t be trusted around women in India (no sarcasm intended). And personally, I’m not against the seats reserved for women in the other coaches. But what people, and more importantly women need to understand is that according to equality, why should I give my seat to a woman, who’s equally capable of standing as I am, unless I’m doing it because I should as a gentleman. But in today’s world, chivalry isn’t respected, or for that matter even expected. I, or any other man, do not mind giving his seat to a lady who deserves it. And by deserves it I mean- she is aged, pregnant, or visibly in need of a seat more than I am. But even then it is a case of humanity, plain manners. But anything other than that is not equality. Then it’s just basically women using the feminism tag to take what they want. I’m 21 and I in no perfect sense understand why I should give my seat to another 21 year old women. To this, one might argue, and infact a lot of people do argue, that women are physically less strong. Wow, way to go equality. Not any human, much less feminists should be able to say that. And feminist never will, it’s the pseudo- feminists who do this, because they are the ones who share random and fake Marilyn Monroe quotes on the internet. They are all about empowering women (Rahul Gandhi, anyone?), and mostly at the cost of putting men down. But even then, I and many other men get up from a ladies seat as soon as we see a woman around. And we should, because

1) It’s according to the law, and
2) it’s what we are taught, and rightly so.

And no, it’s not a favour. No one does it because you’re a women, and that’s what this is all about. You shouldn’t be treated differently because you’re a woman. It’s a random act of kindness, something that I’ve seen a lot of young women do for aged people (they’re the real feminist now). But when I see women shouting and poaching at men to get up and give them a seat, even while these women are infact in lesser need of a seat than the man sitting on the seat, it boils me up. And before you refuse it, it happens, and this comes from someone who has spent almost half his adult life travelling in the Delhi metro. So, where’s the equality now? But then again, there is no equality, it’s just pseudo-feminists, using real victims of gender (female) inequality to express their dominance in a country (world?) that’s already biased towards men.

But is the answer to a patriarchal society a matriarchal society?
No, you don’t fight fire with fire. It’s equality.
Feminism = Equality. Feminism != Women dominance.

Now to make my case a stronger one, I’d like to put forward a few more facts/statements:

  • As per Indian laws, while a man can be booked and jailed for adultery (IPC 497), a woman can NEVER be booked for adultery
  • Again, as per Indian laws, a man can never be a victim of domestic violence. All this, when in almost half the cases of actual domestic violence, it is men who are at the receiving end. Now that’s some equality.
  • When it comes to dowry, anything or everything the bride says she’s given the groom as dowry will be taken and returned to her. Even when she hasn’t actually given anything or some things (which is wrong).
  • Exploiting these laws has literally become a scam of their own , wherein women marry and divorce almost every other month. They harass the groom and his family by not registering a false FIR in return of huge amounts of money and obviously, a divorce.
  • When it comes to 498a, the word ‘cruelty’ is not properly defined, and even a case of a light argument can be considered harassment, and in turn cruelty, and in turn a visit to the police station at the minimum.
  • If a woman has consensual sex with a man, but the man later breaks up with her/refuses to marry her, she can easily say that she was raped. A man on the other hand, if dumped by a woman can do no such thing.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that yes women have it bad when it comes to gender inequality, and we should continue to protest and fight and better ourselves to make this country a better place for women to live in. The government might have been ineffective, but really if we have to bring in any change we need to accept that we are equally responsible for all the cases of molestation and inequality against woman. But what about the inequality against men. Who will protest and fight for us? Who will protect the men of this country? Frankly, ever since I’ve known about all these things, it has instilled in me a fear of marriage. I’m too young to worry about such things, but when you look at the absolute power given to women, it does something to you, something deep down.

What stops a woman from blaming and destroying my entire life? Almost nothing!

And men have been destroyed, and they will continue to be destroyed, until everyone is aware of the inequality men have to face.

P.S.- Some incidents I think I should mention-

  • I’ve personally seen women bargain auto rates over the pre-decided rate by threatening to file a complaint of eve-teasing against the auto driver.
  • I’ve had female acquaintances who would flirt with their teachers to get extra marks and to obtain other privileges and then come home and put Facebook status’ claiming all men to be “horny desperate pigs”
  • A friend has a friend (okay, this already looks questionable) whose girlfriend’s parents called the police on him after they caught her hurting herself when the friend asked her for a breakup. The girlfriend’s parents blamed him for manipulating and taking advantage of their daughter and he had to pay the police a lot of money to avoid going to the police station.

P.P.S. – Just like all men are not assholes, the above article also talks about some women. Some feminists have been doing some great work out there, and this article is in no way intends to hurt them or someone else.
If this article has been an eye opener for you then please share it with others. Let there be equality, in the truest sense of the word.

#NoCountryForMen


gender-equality
If you’re looking for some fun stuff to read about and would really like to know how paranoid some of the men are about 498a, read the suggested points here. Some of them are hilarious, and honestly I can not vouch for how effective or ineffective they are. This post was not to make men paranoid(okay,maybe a little) and i would please request all the men out there to not get too insecure, or they might have a tough time finding a suitable bride.

Extraordinary Men. Ordinary Wars.

Soldiers

I lay there in the bushes, waiting for the sun to come up. They say the average man can survive 3 days without water. But average men are not chosen to infiltrate enemy camps. No, it takes extraordinary courage to sit in these bushes. It takes sheer strength and will power to wait here until the right moment. You might get lucky and the right opportunity might present itself within a few hours. But I’m not known to be a man of fate. No, I make my own luck. From the colour of socks I will wear on a particular day, to the woman I’m about to marry, I choose each and everything. If I’m here, it is because I choose to be. I am not the dumb soldier I’m made out to be. I’m not simply following orders thrust upon me. I’m not merely a pawn in this bigger game of chess. I have reasons to do what I am doing, and these reasons can only be understood if you choose to see things the way I do. Whilst you sit on your sofas, comfortable, cozy and warm, wrapped in a blanket, contemplating as to how the bureaucrats and politicians make us fight the war they started, I sit here inside a bush, fighting for survival, 72 hours plus on the clock, scrambling to breathe. But do you ever wonder as to whose survival I fight for? Is it just mine? How the atrocities and attacks I face every day are just a news flash for you? And what does it make you do, but flutter words in favour of peace. But peace does not really seem such a viable option when you might just wake up among dead bodies the next day. Wars are not a product of the modern century. They’ve existed ever since man has. For it has always been a fight for what is mine and what is yours. And what is yours I will eventually try and take, by force or by words. If I fail to do my job, people die. If I continue to do my job, people still die. It is merely a choice between choosing to kill the people on the other side of the line, or watching the people die on this side of the line. And what is so moral about watching a man kill another man, whilst you have the ability and means to stop this killing. Is it more immoral to kill a man who is eventually going to kill another man? But how do we justify morality? How do we measure it? The walls created by society and strengthened by superficial laws are not a significant measure. There is good and there is bad. My actions do not justify what is what, neither does the outcome. It is the intent with which I kill. My intent can be viewed as that of a person killing people, or as that of someone defending people. I see it as the latter, and that is all that matters. Your view could be different, but then every action has multiple eyes scrutinizing it from multiple angles, but the action remains same, and so does the outcome. So what changes, if not the intent? And the intent is always mine; you cannot change or affect it. So what makes you judge my actions, when only I have the power to choose them, and only I understand the intent behind them. Don’t look so powerless now, do I?  But come tomorrow, and you will continue to sit on a chair, a fan over your head, and an air conditioner on the wall, and will continue to talk about peace, love, humanity and oneness. But what about me? I’ll be alone, in a ditch, or swamp, maybe a bush, or if I’m pushing on my luck, a jungle. But I don’t happen to be a lucky man. So I’ll be somewhere on the line, protecting you, killing for you, dying for you. Spare a thought for me, for I’m not the average man you believe me to be.
The clock on my wrist beeped. Average men cannot survive 73 hours without water.

 – The author does not promote wars. It is merely a piece of fiction.

FIFA World Cup 14: A Marketing Analysis

With all guns blazing, this year’s FIFA world cup has surrounded our lives in some way or the other, which makes this an opportune time to analyse as to what makes it tick and how other brands gain traction from it. Broadly from a marketing perspective, we have the capability to analyse how the Brazil edition of the world cup has marketed itself and then we can analyse how other brands have gained from it, either by direct sponsorship or just clever marketing, even though they might not be directly affiliated with the event.

The first and foremost task for an event of such a scale is to create a logo and a mascot which stays in the viewers’ mind. And for this edition of the event, this has been accomplished magnificently. The official logo is entitled “Inspiration”, and was created by Brazilian agency Africa. The design is based around a photograph of three victorious hands together raising the World Cup trophy and its yellow and green coloring is meant to represent Brazil warmly welcoming the world to their country. Also, the mascot is known as tatu-bola, an armadillo that defends itself from predators by rolling up into a ball.

mascot

For the sponsorship of the 2014 World Cup, FIFA has created a three-tier sponsorship structure. The primary tier consists of the FIFA Partners, the second tier of FIFA World Cup Sponsors and the third tier of the National Supporters for each FIFA event. Sponsorship is an important tool for brands in growing awareness and product distribution and building relationships with its business clients. This 3-tier structure provides varied freedom to these brands in associating themselves with FIFA. The World Cup, being four-week frenzy, enables brands to fight for consumers’ attention. Only the brands in these 3-tiers have official rights to embed the FIFA logo in their ads and promotions. But this does not stop other non-affiliated brands from leveraging the opportunity to promote their visibility. Soccer being a world-wide phenomenon, allows them to use strategies such as ambush marketing to cash in on the football fever without having to pay millions to FIFA as rights fee. Many a times, the generic viewer is unable to differentiate between the affiliated brands and the non affiliated brands, in fact, they do not care. This gives the non affiliated brands an edge over the others as they are able to use the money they spent on rights fee, on having a bigger advertisement budget and creating more engaging and creative ads.

The fact that tournament’s official sponsors and partners have had to spend so much money on partnership, they want commensurate returns for it. Due to which they often gain exclusive rights and put a lock on what is put in front of consumers at World Cup venues and on TV. For example, fans hoping to enjoy a cold beer at the World Cup in Brazil will not be able to purchase local favorites thanks to a restrictive official sponsorship agreement between FIFA and  InBev, the world’s biggest brewer. This is the reason why many experts opine that companies would be well advised to consider eschewing official sponsorships in favor of emerging branding tactics that are cheaper, more innovative, and better able to connect with global audiences while respecting local stakeholders.

Although the World Cup is a big opportunity for marketers to innovate, there are inherent risks for brands too. There has been a huge uproar over the fact that a humongous amount of money has been spent on the World Cup so far. Many are of the opinion that this money could have been used to foster a better livelihood standard for many of the Brazil’s poor. Social unrest in Brazil has lead to a lot of blame being placed on the sponsors. For brands the question is whether to distance themselves from such controversies, or engage with the issues directly and take a stand. Rob Mason, managing director of sports and media business IMG Consulting International, argues that in most cases brands should avoid acting as the moral arbiters of wider issues and remember that they are ultimately “only sponsors”. If marketers can align creative and engaging campaigns with smart PR, their rewards from Brazil could be huge.

On the other end of the spectrum are other brands that gain mileage by somehow smartly incorporating the current events with their brand image to release an innovative advertisement/poster at the correct time to make hay while the sun shines. For example:

Suarez-14th-Street-Pizza-Pakistan

All it took Bud Light and 14th Street Pizza was some wit and creativity to incorporate the Suarez incident into their posters, and the brand visibility they gained without spending any substantial amount, is immense.

Also, soccer players have a great opportunity to cash in on their popularity during this season. For example, US team’s break-out star goalie Tim Howard can make a killing if he decides to dive full on it into it, as products such as sunblocks and security agencies would be willing to pay him any amount of money to rope him in their adverts.

Finally, a lingering question that is in one too many minds is that is sponsoring the World Cup worth it?  Are the millions of dollars spent by the sponsors returned in sales growth?  The answer is a bit complicated as it requires consideration of uniqueness of each of the industries. While ROI can be difficult to measure for major Sports Marketing investments, some directional results can be surmised. FIFA partners such as Coke, with immense scale and global presence, are likely benefit both in the short term and long term. The smaller, local organizations will likely find strong returns harder to attain as they do not have the scale to drive the sales necessary to recoup their investment.