Hollow models versus learning from experience


A cricketer who is also the recipient of India’s highest civilian award has become more visible these days in advertisements for products ranging from fantasy cricket to solar panels. Nothing wrong in a personality earning money from advertisements but does it actually suit the person who has received the Bharat Ratna to appear in advertisements? It is not this person alone but a lot of personalities from the sphere of cricket and film industry including those who have entered politics who appear in advertisements for a range of products and services. In general the logic behind featuring such known personalities in advertisements is that since they are popular, the target customers will be influenced by them and buy the product or service being advertised. They will not waste a second to consider whether the person in the advertisement is actually qualified to speak so highly about the product being sold. It is not a secret that people get paid to appear in advertisements and often in their real lives may not even use the products which they ask others to buy in advertisements. So basically, at the customer’s end, logic takes a backseat and liking the person featured becomes the more important criterion.

Marketing skills have influenced societies for long and continue to do so. At times, they lead to good results but at times when combined with short sightedness, they lead to results which are not that desirable. Take the example of fruits in Uttarakhand. There is a range of fruits and berries that grow in the state. All have an interesting variety of taste, appearance, uses and health benefits. For example sea buckthorn which grows in the high altitude regions of Uttarakhand has multiple uses. Apart from health benefits of its leaves, the berries contain potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. They also contain considerable amounts of folate, biotin and vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and E. More than half of the fat found in sea buckthorn oil is mono- and polyunsaturated fat, which are two types of healthy fats. However, while one will struggle to find sea buckthorn berries and products in Dehradun one will easily find Kiwi fruits. The Kiwi fruit is not native to Uttarakhand but its cultivation has and is being encouraged as a means for boosting income of the cultivators. Nothing wrong in the Kiwi fruit but somethings are definitely missing at various levels if the native fruits and berries growing in the state are hard to find in the local markets here. This is not just a case of ignoring some fruits and focusing on others because this is a result of an attitude which does more harm than good.

Such replacement of ideas was also seen in the Deepawali celebrations recently. For years now, noise and pollution have become the prominent feature of the festival of lights. Every year before the festival, when the authorities take untimely decisions or actions, it starts a debate that has been going on for some years now. Some present logical while others present illogical bits to make a point. These make little difference as those who believe they are right to burst noise and toxic emitting crackers will do so next year too.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown at least one thing. People do change their habits and act as directed when they are really scared of really bad or deadly repercussions.  It is about a year since this virus brought about sickness, death and drastic changes. For many people now, it is a habit to leave home wearing a mask and to wash hands more often. Though some people still remain careless while some believe all this to be a conspiracy, Covid has proved that people and societies can change if the motivation is strong enough. If only similar changes can be brought about in other spheres a whole range of problems facing society could be resolved efficiently in a shorter span than presently calculated. For this, we actually need to learn from our experiences instead of falling for the same old model which makes people believe the personalities telling you to buy products and services.

Saturday, 21 November 2020 | Paritosh Kimothi | Dehradun

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