Marketing Maladies – communication

This story starts with me receiving the following email. I have edited out the names for obvious reasons, but everything else about the story is exactly as it happened.

“Dear Ramana
This is to let you know that your copy of the above was sent through XYZ Couriers yesterday. The air waybill number is 12345678.

With regards
Sumathi.”

I replied as follows:

Dear Ms. Raipure,

I am indeed grateful that you have sent the book off. Thank you. I am also impressed that you have informed me about the despatch and having given me the waybill number etc. I thank you once again.

I am an Indian. I am 65 years old and in our culture I am at an age where I am revered. I do not know how old you are, but even if you are close to retiring, I am still too old for you to take the liberty of calling me by my first name. I am offended.

I write this not because it will in any way reduce the sense of outrage, but to convey to you that it is the custom, even in the land of the most informal, the USA to get some one’s permission before addressing him by his first name. I hope that with this mail, you will be able to appreciate our customs and values, and will refrain from this obnoxious practice of calling strangers by their first names.

RAMANA RAJGOPAUL

I received the following mail in response:

Dear Mr Rajgopaul
I apologise. It was never my intention to offend you.

With regards

Sumathi.

The background.

A leading newspaper advertised a new book and offered it for sale online. I quite liked the contents of the book and placed an order online for the book. After the book was dispatched, this exchange of correspondence took place.

My observation on the event.

I suppose that modern ways of communicating with customers are different from the way we were taught to communicate. I feel sad. Perhaps I am an anachronism, fit only to live in the past. I somehow cannot believe that the apology is genuine. Neither the tone nor the brevity of the message suggests it.

Cartoon depicting Reality!

R K Laxman needs no introduction. Nor his timely comments through his cartoons.

This morning’s cartoon, depicts the common man listening to a man reading the newspaper and exclaiming, "Things are getting better. In the whole paper today, there are reports of only two murders, one bank robbery…."

Today’s Headlines cover a famour case where two young students murdered a perceived threat to their romance by poisoning him. Both got life sentences.

The next prominent front page news was one major robbery in the local electricity distribution board’s collection center from which about a lac and a half of rupees were robbed at gun point.

Not many other criminal cases inside. Things are certainly improving!!

India unifying?

My friend from Tirupur shared a problem that he faces in the new factory that he has put up at Coimbatore. He is unable to get employable workers! He personally went to some villages around Coimbatore to recruit some apprentices but was unable to. He was amazed at the response from women of these villages who were willing to come to learn and work in his plant if some kind of hostel accommodation was provided but the men were simply not interested. The reason? The various schemes given out by the government for the unemployed gave them sufficient funds to enjoy themselves without working.

Normally, I would have written off such comments as prejudice from armchair pundits. This friend however is not prone to exaggeration nor is he capable of untruth. He sincerely wished to create wealth and provide employment to people from the underprivileged background but this is what he found.

He further went on to say, that his is not an isolated instance, and other small and medium scale entrepreneurs too were faced with this problem. Both at Coimbatore and Tirupur therefore, increasingly, women from Kerala and men from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, are being encouraged to come to work. I have first hand knowledge of the imported labour from Bihar and UP in the North Western states of India as well as in Gujarat and Maharashtra and its political dimensions.

Is this now Nature’s way of unifying India? Consider the additional fact of Haryana and Rajasthani men not finding brides locally due to female infanticide etc, going to Kerala, Orissa etc to bring back brides, this certainly seems to be so!

The minus side to this development however is the fact that the women involved in all this simply slog, and the men folk of their families enjoy themselves at their expense. About that development, more in a future blog.

Aspirations

I had given a brief note about Tirupur in my post yesterday and rather mysteriously advised that I shall continue on the subject of “Aspirations”. So, here I go.

My guests are son, daughter-in-law and grandson of a very dear friend of mine from Tirupur. My friend is a second-generation entrepreneur but has concentrated on being an agent for various manufacturers and a merchant rather than go into manufacturing. His father before him too was similarly a merchant.

My friend, let us call him SG, had a lot of hopes of his only son, my guest, let us call him SM, will join him in the business after his college education. SM did try that for a while but found that working for his father was too restraining and so went off on his own into business. He is a serial entrepreneur, and was one before that term became popular. He had a series of fiascos and finally came out a winner and has been with two businesses, which are successful since the last five years.

He, his wife and two sons however find that Tirupur is not exactly the kind of place that they would like to live. They have set up another home at Coimbatore, which is only fifty kilo meters away and is the largest city in that area.

Just about every family from Tirupur is going through this problem of the younger generation not prepared to live and work in Tirupur. They want to migrate to bigger cities and even abroad. Given the background that every singly business house in Tirupur is family owned and managed, there is a kind of crisis building up with younger generations not willing to stay there.

So, from agriculture to industry/commerce and to emigration, aspirations have made Tirupur an enigma! When I probe the causes for this phenomenon, I find that information regarding the life styles of people in cities, gleaned from the ubiquitous TV is responsible for this desire to get away from the stifling family, cast and social restraints that the rather orthodox community of Tirupur insists on.

So, a kind of revolution of sorts is taking place and quite how the next twenty or so years will be handled by this buoyant town is to be seen.