BTW, have you heard the #GiveItUp ads on radio lately? Frankly, it is impossible to miss them because one is constantly badgered by them on all the FM channels. Before I get into the discussion on or about them, let me describe how the ad runs for the benefit of all those that have been ignorant about this great piece of social messaging.
At the start, we have a man sitting comfortable praising a woman (wife implied by the way he calls her by first name Radha) for her “aloo ka paratha“. The women is thrilled at the praise, and in a tone that would befit a “bhartiya nari” — dedicated to the welfare and whims of her husband — duly states that she will bring him one more. The man obviously glad, feels not a pinch about the extra-work his dutiful Radha has to do. In fact, he ever so casually adds to her burden by ordering her to switch on the TV while she is on the way to the kitchen to cook. On the TV, there is our ubiquitous PM Modi delivering a small note on how if people were to give up on Hatheir LPG subsidy, he would provide the ‘gas ka chulha‘ to all the poor homes where women still use wood stoves, and kids are raised on smoke, and diseases are rampant. The PM’s speech touches a chord and the man starts fidgeting with his cell. The dutiful wife arrives with the paratha and on seeing her husband distracted with the phone, enquires (mind you just enquires, not irritated) about the reason for it. The man emotionally narrates the tale from his childhood, how he is reminded of his mother who used to burn her eyes on the wooden chula, and now that he is economically well off, he can help the numerous mothers by giving up his subsidy (through his cell). The wife all gooey-eyed and besotted can only exclaim with a happy sigh, “I am so proud of you“.
There is even a TV version of the same ad, with minor tweaks. But the overall script largely remains the same. Watch it if you care —
Being badgered by the same ad over and over again (they sure must have huge budgets to run the ads so many times a day on so many channels), I became kinda immune to the words and was able to notice certain things, all of which alluded to the parochial mentality of makers. I mean living in the 21st century, wherein we are sending missions to Mars, we still have a role-model of a man, who makes his wife cook for him and orders her around. Once, I started noting such thing, the whole ad seemed to be written by some guy, who sits in the Khap Panchayat in the day and moonlights as copywriter in the night. Continue reading
Frankly, of the very many words the English language has in its roster (or rather dictionary) today, chutzpah truly stands out for the variety of things it represents. Of Yiddish origin, the term loosely connotes “extreme self-confidence or audacity”. But rather than a straightforward simple meaning, it is more like an oxymoron with contradictions as its mainstay. So, it could mean audacious at one moment, and mega-stupid at the other, bold at one time and arrogant at another. Effectively, the meaning of the word chutzpah keeps changing in the context it is used. Quite like the affair of Rahul Yadav, the founder and former CEO of Housing.com.
For the past few months, the saga of Rahul Yadav has gripped the corporate world. Starting with his scathing letter to Sequoia India’s Shailendra Singh, to an audacious resignation letter, to distributing his stake to employees, or posting a snap of Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka giving him a royal snub. By default or design, Rahul Yadav has ensured that he has stayed in the news all the time. Through his antics like donating his stake and tagging fellow IIT alumni Deepinder Goel of Zomato and Bhavish Aggarwal of Ola Cabs to follow suit, he must have thought that it would kick-start an ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ kind of a thing. But that was not to be so.
The saga finally came to an abrupt end with the board of directors called in for a meet and relieving Rahul Yadav on an immediate basis. The message was terse, “The board believed that his behaviour is not befitting of a CEO and is detrimental to the company.” In fact, so unsure were the board members of how Yadav would react that they had called in cops before the meeting started, anticipating a violent outbreak. Though, Yadav walked the plank pretty peacefully, much to the surprise of everyone.
In all the conundrum that has ensued, the portal Housing.com has taken a beating of sorts. With loses mounting annually and oodles of controversy surrounding it, the portal that was supposed to solve people’s housing problems, is mired in a whole lot of problems itself. There are talks about a sell out, people leaving and so on, even as competition is catching up. Started in 2012 by a dozen IITians including Yadav, Housing.com claims to have 11 million monthly visitors and raised $120 million in four rounds of funding from Japanese telecom and internet giant SoftBank, New York-based hedge fund Falcon Edge Capital, Helion Venture Partners, Nexus Venture Partners and Qualcomm Ventures. While there were a lot of competitors, Housing.com stood out simply because of its intuitive UI, and the use of technology. For instance, the portal has a whole page dedicated to data analytics that displays in real-time a whole lot of infographics gleaned from the user data that is generated. Yadav is largely credited for being able to think out of the box, or at least letting his team do so. In the tech circles, he is also renowned for his knowledge and passion, and ability to take decisions by his gut-feel. Continue reading