Saturday, February 27, 2010

India – Pakistan; Image Matters!!!!

It was cold winter in Lahore; at my business school heated discussion on branding the country dominated the class. Discussion was about the global product positioning and the image of a country. Consumer’s product preference is dominated by many factors but the image of exporting country is also important.

Discussion followed by various video clips developed by tourism authorities such as Malaysia Truly Asia and Incredible India. For a while class discussed, what if we develop a video showing Amazing Pakistan to the world. Class was all in the favor of branding country but I was the only skeptic. My question was simple, when ground reality in Pakistan is different, terror attacks, suicide bombing, extremists and jingoistic media creating hatred all around, how we can fool people through creating a false image of peaceful and amazing Pakistan.

First we need to fix the basics then talk of inviting people. Being Karachiite, I hardly feel secure on the busy streets, what to talk of inviting foreigners!!!!

During my last exchange program trip to over 5 states in US, I heard unstopped praise of India, its culture, food, movies and history, so was the case during my interactions in Tokyo.

We may blame others for our plight and sit around do nothing but people face the bitter reality.

Today its Holi and whole world is glued to India, I came across this heading in a UK newspaper “From the lavish scenes of Bollywood to the rich spectrum of their cuisine, no other country in the world celebrates colors like India”.

We are a confused nation, trying to Islamize whole world, becoming more Arab than Arabs; most of us do not know the historical facts, nationhood is teetering at the brink of disaster. Be it NWFP or Balochistan, Urban Karachi or Lahore, insecurity is all around.

Can we think of positioning Pakistan????


Rabia said...

U have brought facts abt what Pakistan is in Real. The word Pakistan brings with it a kind of terror in it. Any outsider thinks alot of time to come to our country. Even One feels fear to roam abt in the roads of Karachi.

Samra said...

Brilliant article. Although I have to say, don't be so negative and pessimistic about our country. There are problems here that we cannot control, however, ask anyone who has lived abroad for a long time if they miss their country and they'll get all emotional and recall rather fondly all the wonderful things about Pakistan. I agree, that these days it has become quite difficult to live here with all the fear of terrorism and bomb blasts, and what not. But still we have all the culture, colors, liveliness, passion and spirit that any other country does, be it India or Malaysia. We just have to open our eyes, believe in the true meaning and purpose of why our country was built in the first place and support those same causes to bring back the peace and harmony amongst our people. So I say, through out the negative image and bring out the Pakistan is beautiful and truly amazing (in all aspects :P) global positioning!

Riaz Haq said...

This post seems intended for the passive consumers of the world media who believe the grass is much greener across the border in India than in Pakistan.

In an article published in the Guardian newspaper, here's what British writer and self-described Indophile William Dalrymple wrote about how he sees the two south Asian neighbors:

"In the world's media, never has the contrast between the two countries appeared so stark: one is widely perceived as the next great superpower; the other written off as a failed state, a world centre of Islamic radicalism, the hiding place of Osama bin Laden and the only US ally that Washington appears ready to bomb.

On the ground, of course, the reality is different and first-time visitors to Pakistan are almost always surprised by the country's visible prosperity. There is far less poverty on show in Pakistan than in India, fewer beggars, and much less desperation. In many ways the infrastructure of Pakistan is much more advanced: there are better roads and airports, and more reliable electricity. Middle-class Pakistani houses are often bigger and better appointed than their equivalents in India."

Please watch this video as well:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Riaz Haq is right and Dalrymple's observations are right too. India does indeed has a huge section of people that are still terribly poor and a lot of beggars in the cities (refugees from villages who can't find work, who are not equipped or those that just flipped and are not cared about...). That said, there are 2 other narratives that any scholar - sociologist, marketeer, or even a businessman such as our young "Skeptic Life" - must observe/study. India's middle class is not only sizable but very upwardly mobile, they believe in themselves. The second one is related. This large middle class has the foundation of a good education (compared to us; fair in comparison with the west); wider exposure; creative thinking abilities; fewer social hurdles. [How much ever we criticize their caste system and religions, there are far fewer restrictions there and our criticism is blind]. What this does is give them the solid base of smart workers and technocrats and an informed public for the future. My God, how far are we! Today's world is driven by service economy - it's not fertilizers or steam that are key anymore. It is Knowledge. And what kind of knowledge? The kind that is best adapted to solve problems through discourse, investigation, rational analysis, and one that imparts the confidence or courage to take risks (a.k.a innovativess). Where are we, my brothers and sisters?! How much freedom do our women enjoy (HALF our population)? I have been to India: even in small towns, women work and drive motorbikes or bicycles to work. In Mumbai, I was shocked to see 100s of lone women going home from work after midnight (no not those kind of women but very middle class office workers)!! If we have such women, they are in the upper classes (a small minority). We have the upper class and the poor and not much in between. Take the leading universities or the NASA or NIH or NSF: Indians are the largest non-white workforce. We are still feudal, parochial, and constricted in our exposure: no wonder our peoples are easily carried away by "intellectuals" like Hamid. No wonder we always look to Arabia for the flimsiest and the least rational reasons. At the risk of diversion: An Indian governs an US state, Indians lead Science & Tech dept., and IT for Obama... Let us not rest content with what Dalrymple says - he also says a lot of other stuff that is positive about India. [By the way, an "Indophile is someone who covers Indian culture which includes us because we inherit - that's is NOT a bad thing!!]. Let us not just envy India. Let us be proud of ourselves but also recognize what we can do about improving ourselves. If India has good examples we could adopt, we must. I suggest we stop bad mouthing India and silently learn what they did right. Since they are culturally closest to us than anyone else in the world, it must be easier for us to replicate than doing what Saudi did or Emirates did... If you do not believe that Indians and Pakistanis share the same genetic code and the same culture, you are either not educated enough, are under-exposed, and you are a generation behind in understanding life on earth. You are seriously handicapped, sorry. A proud Pakistani woman who wishes we change for the better and go back in time.

Anonymous said...

Dear All

I agree that there could be more beggers in India than Pakistan. However in a country of more than 1 billion, such population of beggers is obvious. Yes, we have always failed in controlling poverty.

However, Riaz, when you have visited India lately? Have you seen national & state highways now? almost 85% surface of India has better roads and connectivity, barring the areas where maoists still rule the roost.

My request is dont just try to emulate India, where it suits you, but ty to create a real Pakistani identity. We Indians have succeeded to large extent to create India a brand. Look at our exports. To fulfill demands of Indian Exporters, empty shipping containers are repositioned from Karachi/Jabel Ali or Chittagong. The reason being there is virtually no demand for empty containers at these ports (or countries), as the exports are disaml.

Almost all car brands have set up mfg facilities in India, Boeing is comming up with their hub at Nagpur, thus what else do you need? The CEO of Pepsi is an Indian WOMAN, Governor Bobby Jindal of State of Louisiana is tipped to be next US president.

By threatning USA of committing suicide, Pakistan has always been able to extract those precious dollars, but Riaz, pl understand that Pakistan as a nation has always behaved like begger. We have seen ruler after Paki ruler doing rounds of white house, with begging bowls in hand.

Anant Karandikar-Mumbai

Anonymous said...

Anant Karandikar-Mumbai,

I agree with Anant, India has been successful in managing the progress in spite of Over 1 bill population.

The way its growing along with strong fundamentals "democracy, economic planning, FDIs etc" days are not far world would be looking at India just like China.

Ironically, Pakistanis are suffering from Ostrich Syndrome. Living in Karachi, i can feel the way things are regressing. There is pessimism all around, for the first time people are convinced that Pakistan is ultimately end up as failed state.


Marc Boucher said...

pakistan is a hell. I was there last year and almost got killed in a riot. I will prefer india than pakistan in future if i want to live in.
This is little bit harsh comment but You have to accept the facts.

Mark boucher
Brisbane UK.

Sujay said...

I dont wish to compare India and Pakistan. I beleive we are siblings that were rubbed the wrong way by the Brits, they did not even leave a clear border line between the two nations.
Anyways this article is nice.
Pakistan can easily build a national image, as a sporting nation. Pakistan has one of the best cricketers and athletes.

Anyways, Imran Baloch, lovely article.