According to Varun Duggirala, co-founder and content chief, The Glitch, Brand India needs a singular narrative that focuses on three important pillars – diversity, openness and opportunity. “These three pillars need to spread across all sectors, so while each individual industry/focal area have their own narratives that are all built from a central set of values that are propagated,” he says. Having said that, Duggirala believes that Brand India is an interesting anomaly; “we’ve gone past the old adage of snake charmers and elephants (elephants are awesome but that’s a different conversation altogether). We’ve progressed towards an India that is modern, yet holds its culture with pride. And with this comes the unique blend of new and old, of experiences that blend old world charm with new age vibes, of modern technology and ancient mythology, of cutting edge fashion and traditional weavers and craftspeople.” For Brand India to shine it’s time to weave together various stories of our inherent diversity into a coherent narrative we can be proud of.
The pitch for celebration
Every campaign strives to either correct a problem or reinforce an existing perception for a specific audience. And in our case, we have multiple audiences. We have the majority who voted in the new Government, the pockets of saffron resistance, the unhappy industrialists, the forsaken farmers, the vigilante cowboys, the overt Hindutva bloc, the secular opposite, the liberals, the defence forces, the global leaderships, the besotted NRIs, the media motor-mouths, and the vast 1.3 billion people who have no idea what’s going on. Plus, in this post 370 atmosphere, we have a current surface reality that’s cautious, a middle layer of economic unrest and unemployment, and a bottom layer that’s built on India’s undeniable truth and potential. But despite all this, the optimists among us would like to celebrate our country.
Our pride in our home will be independent of our leadership. Regardless of what our pet peeve is at the moment, India will always be work in progress. We will always have issues and problems and monsoons. But let’s celebrate an India that’s a composite of a billion shades. For me, India is its infinite promise. For you, India could be your fading farm. For someone else, India could be its holy rivers. For yet someone else, India could be its democracy. Yet India is much larger. It can’t be reduced to a line. We are urban and rural. Wild and tame. Cricket and kabaddi. Yoga and IT. Old and new. India and Bharat.
The campaign that I’d suggest is something that works for everyone. A large umbrella of celebration. There is a mainline thought which can hold its own. It can get telescopic and include smaller reasons, and then go social – customized to what one celebrates. The campaign line is Jai Jai Bharat. Jai Jai India. It can be a headline or a tag line or a slogan. Imbued as it is with a celebratory feel. As we break it up, it works like this. Jai Jai Tarakki. Jai Jai Pragati. Jai Jai Unnati. Jai Jai Chandrayaan. Jai Jai Brahmos. Jai Jai 370. Jai Jai Diwali. Jai Jai Onam. Jai Jai Rosagolla. Jai Jai Jalebi. Jai Jai Gagan. Jai Jai Neha. Jai Jai Nusrat. Jai Jai Anyone. Jai Jai Anything. And close it with Jai Jai India. It’s long-lasting, modular, flexible, can go macro or micro, be philosophical, be contemporary, and also give it a familiar (Jai Ho) Indian yet Hollywoodish celebratory energy. Everyone and everything is part of this new Indian brand story. A campaign that acknowledges and invites everyone to participate in celebrating an India that’s all about Sab ka Vikaas, Sab ke Saath.
The transformation mindset
Aditi Shrivastava, co-founder and CFA of Pocket Aces, thinks brand India is like that mammoth old global company that is reinventing itself to behave like a nimble startup. “It is like that grandma who is becoming tech savvy, slowly becoming as aware as the millennials,” she says.
Not unnoticed is Indians’ growing awareness of issues plaguing society and the planet. She says, “We’re taking action against single use plastic, protecting our rivers, using more public transport and eating healthier. India is going to Mars, we are going to the moon, we are promoting more women up the corporate ladder, and we are promoting same sex marriage.” Therefore Shrivastava thinks “the startup positioning” would do wonders for Brand India. “The need of the hour is to continue this transformation and become even more nimble, even more aware and even bolder. It better, because that’s the only way we can get ahead, stay ahead, clean up our country and retain the best brains,” she concludes.
A new acrophony
Look around, do you think Brand India today needs anything at all by way of reinvention? Isn’t it an all-time high? On the face of it, most citizens have never felt happier, more patriotic, or more confident in their skin.
But look a little closer. What do you sense?
Why do an equal number of our citizens feel they like they do not belong anymore? Like they are adrift trying to make sense of this New India which has no place or time for old world values. Where liberal thought and human rights are seen as bad words replaced by a uniquely fake construct called urban-naxal!
The truth is in this age of heartbreaking polarisation the idea of Brand India is based on who you choose to speak to. For the sense of a shared value that binds our nation has completely gone amiss.
I think India urgently needs a positive campaign that addresses this disgusting undercurrent of alienation so many of her citizens today suffer from; who go by the labels of minority, liberal, activist, or worse, urban-naxal.
And my campaign thought would rest on giving our citizens the new acrophony, as creatively as possible. Through songs, images, posters and memes, we will rewrite the A to Z of it all.
A for Accepting
B for Broadminded
C for Civil Liberties
D for Dissent
E for Empathy
H for Human rights
I for Inclusiveness
Q for Questioning spirit
S for Secularism
T for Tolerance
… and on and on it goes.
Brand India needs to be rejuvenated in soul and spirit through the restoration of words to their original meaning.
Reclaim the terms. Reclaim the ideas.
Shift the needle from Muscular Nationalism to Sensitive Patriotism.
The need to remember
“I don’t think the need is to reconfigure, it’s to remember. The most perfect pitch for this country lies in the preamble to our constitution. We’ve all been taught it in school and these words are the need of the hour.”
We the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic and to secure to all its citizens justice, social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.”