Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Difficulty of Being Good

As India vies to occupy the centre-stage amongst the leading economies of the world, the fundamental power of moral values for which the country is known across the world, is somewhat on the wane. The decaying moral fabric especially across the three pillars of democracy, administration, executive and judiciary is making the life of a common man miserable. When the British Library in Chandigarh announced that Mr Gurcharan Das, the author himself would be coming to the city to launch his latest book published by Penguin India, I was there to check out his take on the moral decay that is eating into the vitals of our country.
This treatise has come at the right time, when all of us are grappling with the moral issues whether at the government level or the corporate levels with 'Satyam' episode just behind us.
Gurcharan Das says " Mahabharata is about the way we deceive ourselves, how we are false to olthers, how we oppress fellow human beings, and how deeply unjust we are in our day-to-day lives."
"The Mahabharata is about our incomplete lives," writes Gurcharan Das in the Prelude to the book, "about good people acting badly, about how difficult it is to be good in this world."
Addressing the who's-who of the city which thronged the CII Convention Centre's conference hall, Gurcharan Das dressed in simple cotton kurta pyjama and Nehru jacket, lamented the fact that though "prosperity had begun to spread across India, but goodness had not," and called upon to upgrade the level of governance which should be accountable and transparent so that the common man does not suffer.
Can this happen in India? someone asked. The book perhaps is a must for the administrators and all people in power to take lessons from 'Mahabharata' and not simply take it as an epic for entertainment or profane chit-chat over cocktails.
"The Difficulty of Being Good" also provides interesting insight on variegated concepts of envy, duty, status anxiety, war, reenge, eil, remorse, non-violence, altruism, compassion, etc. and how these impact our lives. And it also underlines the fact that 'dharma' or ethical living is possible, and we can definitely learn lessons from 'Mahabharata'.
Gurcharan Das quotes directly from Mahabharata, interprets the situation and illustrates effectively with modern day incidents and case studies. Just go for it.
'The Difficulty of Being Good' by Gurcharan Das.
Published by Penguin India
Pages: 488
Price: Rs.699

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Design is the Differentiator!



Any brand to survive the aging process must look at the design component and it is more true for the print media with its dwindling circulation (world wide, though it is a little different story in India). We have seen various newspapers experimenting with its mast and a little about the page layouts, but Hindustan Times has undergone a complete metamorphosis with its more smart-looking designing.
In a word of competing brands and mushrooming 'me-too' products, the design emerges as the clear differentiator that adds value to the money one spends.
HT has acknowledged the presence of competition and numerous other access points for a prospective reader to get information and news and entertainment, and has clearly won over the hearts of the youthful India with its make over.
The mast set in lower case in a strong Swiss expanded type font, it is Vonness, in fact, in double color, stands our strongly, and the famous Florida based designer Mario Garcia has done an excellent job in carrying the design elements across various other pull outs and add-ons.
The clever use of color to highlight select words in the headlines or other text adds zing to the entire process of going through the newspaper. These 'hooks' indeed provide an entirely new experience of scanning a newspaper for a reader who is spending less and less time with it...approximately 14 minutes on an average.
It is however would be interesting to closely watch its circulation stats as to how the youthful design is impacting the readership.

CJ

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