Should Gay Marriages be Legalized

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A male and a female holding hands.
Image via Wikipedia

‘Gay marriages’ have long been a subject of political, social and religious debate. The proposition to legalize gay marriage has many proponents as well as opponents. Many social scientists have tried to support their views with empirical research and statistical analysis. However, the results and findings obtained from these social experiments are criticized for not being free from prejudice as different social scientists have published widely diverse results. In this short article I do not refer to any collected data, results of community-based experiments or even the opinion of different cultures to present my thoughts. I am only trying to look at this concept of a legitimate gay society and evaluate it from the viewpoint of a common man.

I believe in science as much as I trust in God, hence I strongly agree with Einstein’s famous quote “God does not play dice”. From all that I have read in different scientific journals and learned from TV shows about a person’s sexual orientation I have never been able to identify the exact reason why a guy would be sexually attracted to a guy or a girl to a girl. Somehow I am not convinced of the reasons given, like the sexual orientation is coded in the genes or that it is a mental disorder. Despite the elusiveness of the code that determines the homosexual nature in humans, I have long pondered over the after-effects of its social acceptance.

The effects of legalizing gay marriages, that I can think of are:
1. Reduced Reproduction
2. Raising up adopted children or children from previous straight relationships
3. Building a society free of sexual discrimination
4. Strenuous relationships
5. Nature’s take on this transition

Healthy reproduction is the most basic need for survival of any race and legalized gay marriage is not helping it. Nature has a definite order to maintain a balance and I cannot imagine what could be further away from the order of nature than to enter into sexual relationships that are futile at helping the species evolve and grow. The concept of single parent is very prevalent in the Western countries and many have been able to provide a normal upbringing to their children. However, the presence of another parent is almost always missed by such a child. If the care of one parent can provide a normal childhood then the love and care from the parent of an opposite sex should only benefit the individual more. Furthermore, different sexes have their own way with children; while a father is more apt at disciplining the child, the mother’s love helps the child grow emotionally. Despite the odds, I am not convinced of letting the couples of the same sex to raise children.

Legalizing marriages for homosexuals will definitely start a new era in recognizing the fundamental rights of choice and action. People will be greatly satisfied and would freely choose their partners and this would lead to a healthier society as well as economy due to equal benefits given to straight and gay couples alike. However, in hindsight this seems too idealistic as it has been found with evidence that many gays turned straight again (ex-gay clubs of California) and straight people turned gay. Is it because people get bored of their sexual orientation too? We have heard of people ending relationships (marriages) due to irreconcilable differences but a change in sexual orientation points to a serious flaw in our understanding of the sexual nature of humans. Legalizing gay marriages thus can lead to strenuous relationships which in turn can lead to increased number of psychological patients. Many homosexuals have also been identified to exhibit traits of bisexuals, which strikes out the idea of they being more faithful to their partners than straight couples.

I am not against homosexuals’ right to choose their way of life but I am not up for the damages to the society posed by legalizing homosexual marriages. I feel that our government should recognize that a person’s right to freedom should not infringe upon a nation’s right to a healthy society. The government should allocate more resources into researching the psyche of humans and finding out the cause for this divergence of sexual orientation.

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Common Sense In Marketing (… contd.)

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Alright, the pill’s working now… so Shalini and Shashank here’s my side.

Now we all know what’s the real objective of all the branding and marketing exercises. As Shalini puts it, to help people connect with the company. I agree.. branding is important and maybe I expressed my views a little too strongly by saying it’s an utter waste. What I really want to say is, too much of it is a waste but branding or marketing should not be the focus of any company that is trying to increase sales. Trying to win the market from an established brand is just too much effort and money if you resort to marketing and branding. I suggest innovation and invention and it is only this which can help you break into an already mature or captured market.

There are always gaps and some unsatisfied needs of customers, which with targeted market research and intelligent analysis you can identify and fill with your products. The tip I am giving here is to become the market leader not just increase profit. Now take Apple (my favorite brand), despite the big players of the mobile phone industry, viz. Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola occupying the largest market share, it’s Apple which keeps 30% of the total revenue generated by mobile phone sales. Can you beat that? I mean Nokia and others have been around for a decade but Apple makes the most and you are probably going to tell me it’s the Brand Image of Apple. Well, my question is what is the brand image then, is it the “White Apple”? Now, this is how I see it. While Nokia and Ericsson have been upping the bar by increasing the number of pixels and improving other similar mutimedia features and HTC being a pioneer in touchscreen phones, Apple focused on functionality.

My Analysis of the iPhone’s Success

Most people didn’t care too much about 8-10 MP cameras or high-end stylus operations. They just wanted to get things done, you know – make a few calls, use the internet to find something or check mails (not to forget social networking sites) without causing too much strain on the eye. This calls for a bigger screen and an enhanced GUI, well Apple answers with their iPhone. They were the first to feature Accelerometer and a touchscreen which should work the way as we want it to work. You don’t want to pull out your stylus all the time and you don’t want to select unwanted options while using the touchscreen which means the screen should understand the movement of the human fingers and should be comfortably big to move them too. Simple, isn’t it? Aren’t these the most fundamental requirements of an interactive mobile phone? Add to this the super efficient App Store so people looking for advanced functions can pay and download what they really need. No pressure! That’s what allows Apple to charge a premium for their products and makes them a successful brand – “innovation from customer perspective“. Everything else automatically falls into line. Now all your advertising and marketing campaigns are not just telling how cool you are or how long you have been a leader in the industry. They are telling “WHY” – why you should buy iPhone and how it can improve your relationship with technology. This is all that a Brand should really be meant for, to tell the customer what the company can do for you that others cannot. So I see brand image as nothing but the overall representation of how a company has upheld its commitment to provide innovative products (or services).

Conclusion

Shalini and Shashank, marketing is not redundant because it is through effective marketing only that you can communicate to your customers. In this dog-eat-dog world, marketing is an essential tool to stay ahead of the competition but here’s the line. It is not the primary function of a company which it has today become for so many but a support function. Marketing is the glitter on the package and though it may help sell the package initially what really matters is the usefulness of the package. So concentrating on the package is way more essential than wrapping it up in glossy paper.

Harsh

P.SThis started off as a reply to the comments of my friends, Shalini and Shashank, on the previous post Common Sense In Marketing but it turned out to be lengthy enough for a new post. Besides, a post has been long due.

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Common Sense In Marketing

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The idea for this post struck me when I saw the CNBC logo flashing and rotating with a narration in the background “CNBC is my religion“. Now, this logo flashing skid is the worst part of the whole marketing clip. The clip starts by flashing people who are successful and in their different ways are always thinking over subjects that could boost their success further. There is a deep voice narrating how they always come up with new ideas and make the right decision every time, it makes me believe that they really have some heightened form of sixth sense. Now, as the clip ends with the flashing logo, the message delivered is “CNBC is my religion“. Nooo… you’ve just showed people who are intelligent and successful biz owners … you’ve just explained in the last 40 seconds how they have been relying on their sixth sense for everything related to their business. Now just capitalize on that… say “CNBC – My sixth sense” or “CNBC – My Inner Voice” or a similar line which is in agreement with the clip’s idea. The cool tag line “CNBC is my religion” goes more with a target audience that is passionate about sport, movie or fashion, but your audience isn’t cricket fans or movie fans or die-hard fashion followers. They are intellectual, smart people who are always counting, always calculating. So give them that image … with a stupid tag line as “… my religion” you spoil that great idea you just planted in my brain. I had just started listening but now I don’t want to ’cause really  “CNBC is not my religion” but I would have happily bought “CNBC as my advisor“.

Corporations tend to spend a lot on brand building and marketing campaigns. Money that could have well be used for research and product development or improving customer service is wasted on learning new marketing tactics, devising marketing strategies that attract the public and can create a buzz. Ultimately the product does not sell to your expectations and the whole buzz just fizzes out because what really mattered to the customer was functionality. But still your marketing campaign director would point out that it was only due to the marketing efforts that you were able to break through so many customers. In reality though, if the product was designed for the audience and not the brand, despite a low buzz you’d have achieved significantly higher sales. Brand may pull me into a store and even make me buy the stuff but if I am not able to use it to my needs I might just avoid the brand. On the other side a product that I might buy for cheap and comes from a not so big brand but serves my purpose well, is durable it will automatically build a brand. What I am talking of is repeat sell, which should be the objective of every brand. You want to get new customers but not at the cost of losing you already have. People who have already bought services/ products from us are more likely to buy again than new ones. Apparently, customer acquisition is more expensive than customer retention and the latter is much more rewarding.

I realize what I am talking is archaic and completely out of sync with what the current marketing pundits have to say. But I think the whole marketing part is highly overrated, what one needs is “Common Sense In Marketing” which I am told often is not very common. I worked for Bionicturtle.com for a few months and thought of many ways that could attract more visitors on the site. Not that it was my role, but due to a small exposure to market research I have always been thinking like that. Now, David (founder of Bionicturtle.com) was very sensible with his approach and avoided the many pitfalls with marketing. He always said, you don’t want to do too much logo designing, marketing and branding to promote your product. What you can do is you can improvise with the resources already at hand to improve your customer’s experience and that will matter in the long run. I completely agree to his viewpoint and realize that filling in the gaps in your current solution is much more worthy of spending those dollars than trying to animate logos and focus on aesthetical elements of the site while all your customers really care is for the content (which is the functional element of the whole business). I later realized that there was no marketing technique using SEO, link building or fancy logos that got him customers but it was the word-of-mouth marketing. Slow and steady but rewarding nevertheless. I strongly believe your growth is much more even and consistent if you invest in your customers than in your marketing strategies and that’s what David did.

So, the point is that rather than going out to find the perfect brand image that sells your products or services you can build a brand around what you already have. By this I mean, the assets you already have, the goals you want to achieve and the kind of employees you already have. For example, if you are a research firm or a consultancy you have to bring out the idea of usefulness of your research, the many ways in which it can add value to the clients’ existing knowledge base. What you can also add to the brand is the expertise of your employees. Give them a page on your site, feature their achievements and how they have completed challenging project successfully. This way you wouldn’t have to fit your company into a new image and align your goals in line with it. Instead, the brand would be supporting your business ideas, objectives and products. Rather than customizing your company to fit into a brand image I think it makes more sense to integrate the brand  into the overall fabric of your company’s operations so it speaks and promotes what you do, how you do and how well you do it. With this approach in marketing, you will realize that your brand is immensely scalable to envelope the future products and sell them effectively to your target customers.

My Wonderland !!!

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The Gate at the White House With one step on this gate and a small push from the other, I would swing into another world. Wind blew through my hair and brushed my face with gentle strokes as I would swing to and fro. As I closed my eyes I would suddenly realize an extraordinarily amplified sense of perception. I would immediately start painting a visual canvas in my mind with the brushes of my imagination. On every swing of the gate I could hear a voice in the rustling of leaves and see moving lips on tree trunks. Chirping of birds and the glimmer of sun through the leaves would all suddenly start making sense. The shimmering and glistening leaves as I go around swinging would all have their own stories to tell and I listened patiently … amused and day dreamed. This gate as it stands today was a passport to my own little wonderland where I was alone without the frightening school bullies and scaring wardens.

My own little wonderland near the white house.

Walking through a lost lane

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La Martinière School - Main Building
Image by Saad.Akhtar via Flickr

Shashank and I went out on 15th August for a casual drive through the city when we spotted the majestic “Constantia” from a distant road. I was completely overwhelmed with my childhood memories and I asked Shashank if he would like to take a tour through the school. He happilly nodded. It was drizzling and the weather was perfect. I turned in from the Golf Course and drove through the school property to park under the IIIrd dormitory (the dorm where students from 3rd to 6th standard were lodged) Barely able to cover our heads from the rain by arching our hands, we splashed through the puddles of water and jumped into the corridor…. As I walked through the dingy corridor with falling plaster all around, I was filled with a sense of belonging, a sense of non-separability. Flashes of running joyfully through these corridors, playing tug-of-war with each other’s towels in the washes and taking the cane on our bums brought me to a standstill. I gazed up at the building thinking only if I could be that young boy again I would happily give up all that I have today. What if I could turn back the hands of clock and live the most delicious memories of my life again?

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Muslim Extremists Protesting and Maligning Hindus

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In Hinduism, the cow is a symbol of wealth, st...
Image via Wikipedia

After reading this (there is a video at the bottom of Dr. Rafick’s article, make sure you watch it before reading what I have written below)

It aches my heart to find out how irrational and derogatory a few Muslims can be to Hindus. A contemptuous act degrading the whole Muslim community of Malaysia is how I see it. The Hindus have been mocked far too long by such extremists and must come together to uphold what we believe in. There is no right to anyone to insult our religion. Idiots of the highest order, that’s what they are if you ask me; constantly motivated with their hatred for idol worshipers and ignorant of what Islam as a religion stands for.

Butchering the head of cow to protest? Hindus worship her as their mother and they did it knowingly? Moreover, they dragged the pious head and stomped over it. Is this out of personal loathe against the Hindus or out of a need (to put it politely, though I see there is no reason) for an isolated land for a Mosque. This deliberate attempt to hurt a religion is despicable and I strongly resent it. What wrong did that mute animal do to them anyways? Cow is the most peaceful animal, feeds us and our children with the healthiest of all foods. It is a shameful, disgusting act unworthy of forgiveness. I am abhorred at the mere thought of it.. and to witness the event I would have rather severed their empty heads than letting them kill someone so sacred to us. These extremists must be brought to justice.

In the last 5000 years of history of humans there has not been a single record of Hindus invading another nation. On the contrary Hindus have patiently lived through several invasions – the Greeks, the Mughals and the British. We never set foot in another country to preach our religion. We never tried converting people from different faiths to ours. We have always welcomed people with different beliefs but if this benevolence is seen as a weakkness of the Hindus, it is high time to break that notion. Why is it that everyone can make fun of our Gods and what we believe in? Hindus as students of literature, have come to appreciate the legendary Greek myths, praised the Roman Gods and respected as well as welcomed their beliefs/ thoughts. Indians (where a majority of the population is Hindu) have written doctoral thesis on foreign literature and religion but blindfolded their own eyes to the jewels of the religion they were born in. We learnt to respect every religion but forgot that it is only because no religious scripture in our literature contempts believers of other faiths. We ought to stand up and fight for the right to practice our religion too. It is a shame for us that despite inheriting the most pristine and as prestigious religion as Hinduism we do not care enough for it.

I hold the author of the referenced blog post much dearer to my heart than many other silent Hindus. At least, Dr. Rafick has expressed his opinion without bias and has requested (and maybe helping too) the local government to take the sternest action possible against this indignant act.

Many thanks!

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So… what’s your objective?

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There is no objective to this blog. If there could be it would only be to give words to my thoughts. Consequently there are no categories for this blog. I realize the whole point of me taken to blogging is to collect public opinion on my otherwise solitary thoughts. It is like a mind map, so if something stirs my mind and I’d like to scribble, then it’s worth a post. So you see the grand plan of my blog? There is no plan… just think, write and stay mused.

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