Is Lobbying Dirty? The question, once again!

December 16, 2012

Union Government of India has approved an enquiry into retail giant Wal-Mart’s lobbying activities concerning India. Amid controversy over reports that Wal-Mart has spent nearly Rs 125 crore ( nearly USD  25 million) for lobbying with lawmakers to get access to markets in India. However, representative of the US Government has said that the global retail giant did not violate any American Law as far as the matter is concerned.

Wal-Mart was in parley with the Government in India since 2005 to open up the retail sector for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). According to a Times Network News filed from New Delhi, India on 13 May 2005 published in The Times of India on the next day it was stated, “The world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart International‘s president & CEO John B Menzer came calling on PM Manmohan Singh on Thursday, and sought opening of the retail sector for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)”. Mr.Menzer had reportedly said that he had a good meeting with Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh and he hoped that there would be changes in the FDI policy related to retail.

However, the crux of the matter was that the Wal-Mart controversy once again had put the spotlight on ‘Lobbying’ in India. Earlier, during 2010 Telecom irregularities case and with the leakage of the infamous ‘Niira (Nira) Radia Tapes’ lobbying was under scrutiny.

To us, the ‘Communications’ professionals, it is a point of concern if the society at large equates lobbying with immoral business practices or to put it bluntly as ‘ bribery’. In The US lobbying is an accepted way of life so are in many other developed economies. But in a country like India, where we like it or not, the democratic process is in existence but has not matured to the desired level, I suppose we need to take a lead to create awareness that lobbying is not dirty but is a process of consultation.

The problem, as I expect, is steaming from the fact that in our way of life in India we have certain sensitivities which the modern capitalist and ‘open market’ system might consider too utopian. We need to understand that the world is very competitive today and to be in the race and to win it everyone including businesses will adapt every channel of persuasion to put forward its case. I suppose, it is correct too, as long as laws of land were not flouted.

It is time that we should not drag our feet and consider issues such as, ‘Political Donation’ , ‘Institutional Sponsorship’ and ‘Lobbying’ as ways of doing business and should make them lawful by enacting process of declaration. ( for more reference please read my earlier article of 15.12.2010 in this Blog in context of Niira Radia tapes where I had discussed more points still relevant)………..link

https://devasischattopadhyay.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/is-%E2%80%98lobbying-%E2%80%98dirty-aftermath-of-leakage-of-the-niira-radia-tapes-in-india/

8 great ways to make your ‘Blog’ interesting!

December 5, 2012

G. K. Chesterton was a leading journalist of the early 20th century. An Englishman, he wrote about everything under the sun: politics, religion, history, philosophy, literature, culture and economics. He wrote novels, short stories, poems, plays, and essays as well. He was a very active and sought-after public speaker whose hallmark debates with George Bernard Shaw had attracted global interest. He also would have made a great ‘Blogger’ had Social Media been invented during his time. I dare say that he was largely popular because he used a certain method to provoke public debates through controversy. In my humble attempt, through his quotes, I will try to prove how Bloggers should approach controversial issues to promote debate than stifle it.

1.    Present the issue interestingly : “The test of a democracy is not whether the people vote, but whether the people rule.”

2.   Have a penetrating insight : “What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but absence of self-criticism.”

3.   Uplifting point of view : “There are some people, nevertheless — and I am one of them — who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe.”

4.   Find the center : “Briefly, then, we dismiss the two opposite dangers of bigotry and fanaticism, bigotry which is a too great vagueness and fanaticism which is a too great concentration.”

5.   Put your opponents in a positive light : “The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues.”

6.  Use humor : “Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.”

7.  Identify yourself with your opponents : “Somewhere about the beginning of the nineteenth century, we English came to the conclusion that we could not think.”

8.  Conclude focusing on the big picture :“In the darkness of barbarism men knew the truth without the facts. In the twilight of half-civilization, they saw the truth illuminating the facts. In the full blaze and radiance of complete civilization they found all the facts and lost the truth forever.”

Corporate Innovation – A Basic Premise – by Devasis Chattopadhyay

May 8, 2012

Mumbai Meri Jaan; literally means Mumbai My Love!

May 4, 2012

Mumbai Meri Jaan; literally means Mumbai My Love!.

Managing Shareholder Value : As I Understand It

May 1, 2012

SHARE HOLDER VALUE Creation

April 18, 2012

PR Forum

The simple dictionary definition of risk is the possibility of loss or injury.

To a risk manager, it’s also a measure of uncertainty or volatility, which is why risk can contain opportunity. According to risk communication consultant Peter Sandman( http://www.psandman.com/ ) risk has two components: hazard and outrage. Hazard is the substantive risk of something bad happening. Outrage is the public’s reaction to a risk. Because people can become outraged at a risk that has little real hazard, outrage may pose the greater threat to an organization.

Union Pacific operates North America’s premier railroad franchise, covering 23 states in the western two-thirds of the United States. One morning in the spring of 2010, Robert Turner, Senior Vice President Corporate Relations of Union Pacific, ushered a half-dozen Union Pacific executives onto a special passenger train to ride the rails through the middle of Texas, with stops in Big Springs…

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Union Pacific : http://www.up.com/ : Riding the Rails to Find and Reduce Risk – A case study and lesson for Utilities for managing communications and reputation risk

April 18, 2012

The simple dictionary definition of risk is the possibility of loss or injury.

To a risk manager, it’s also a measure of uncertainty or volatility, which is why risk can contain opportunity. According to risk communication consultant Peter Sandman( http://www.psandman.com/ ) risk has two components: hazard and outrage. Hazard is the substantive risk of something bad happening. Outrage is the public’s reaction to a risk. Because people can become outraged at a risk that has little real hazard, outrage may pose the greater threat to an organization.

Union Pacific operates North America’s premier railroad franchise, covering 23 states in the western two-thirds of the United States. One morning in the spring of 2010, Robert Turner, Senior Vice President Corporate Relations of Union Pacific, ushered a half-dozen Union Pacific executives onto a special passenger train to ride the rails through the middle of Texas, with stops in Big Springs, Abilene, Sweetwater, Midland and Odessa. Traveling with Turner,  were the railroad’s operating executives for the communities visited and the regional vice president for public affairs. At each stop, about 30 community leaders were invited on board to tour the train, have a meal in the dining car and discuss the railroad’s impact on the community. It’s an exercise Turner repeats several times a year across Union Pacific’s vast rail network, which stretches from Chicago and New Orleans in the East to Los Angeles and Seattle in the West. Sometimes the CEO rides along, too.

“It’s outreach to the community, keeping relationships up, keeping lines of communication open,” Turner explained. It also makes a significant contribution to the corporation’s enterprise risk management (ERM) program. Discussions on the train give early warnings of community concerns about the railroad. Introductions and exchanges of business cards foster communication that can mitigate a risk before it grows into a crisis.

Union Pacific meets with community leaders aboard a special train to help find potential reputation risks.

Turner offered a small example from the 2010 Texas trip. A little town between Abilene and Sweetwater was trying to rejuvenate a section of the community, but town officials didn’t know how to go about getting some old railroad tracks removed. A town representative raised the matter with Turner, who promised to find out. “It turned out they weren’t our tracks,” Turner said. But he was able to tell the representative whom to contact at the company that did own them.

A few years ago, Union Pacific noticed that it was getting angry complaints from community leaders who wanted to raise concerns with the railroad, but didn’t know how to do so, said Turner.

“People wanted to call the company, but they wouldn’t know who to call,” he said. “So they’d call the CEO. Or, worse, they’d call their senator first. I view it as a failure if there is a community issue where the first contact with the company comes in at the chief executive officer level. So we set out to change it.”

Community relations is particularly important to a railroad including all Utilities, Turner explained, because “we don’t have the option of packing up and going off to China or to a different site. So we better get along with the communities.”

Intelligence gathered on the train excursions — and through other community relations activities — informs Union Pacific’s enterprise risk management program because Turner and his subordinates are thoroughly integrated into the risk management process.

Union Pacific realizes that political and reputation risk can emanate from any part of the company. Public affairs professionals are informed when key operational decisions are made. Operations executives are required to be out talking with the community always. And, as a process, riding the rail by the senior executives to meet the community leaders have become a must and very encouraged process with in Union Pacific and by the community too.

Acknowledgement :The Foundation for Public Affairs, USA  and the members of the Research Advisory Board of the Board of Directors of the Public Affairs Council, ( excerpt from the Report of Tom Price) .

While I was speaking at the 7th Annual Corporate Communications Conference @ New Delhi, India on 12th April, 2012

April 18, 2012

A Pragmatic approach : Closing the gap between your organisation's action and the stakeholders expectations.

Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories : Interesting way of making presentation ; a must watch for Media,PR professionals and story-tellers

February 16, 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP3c1h8v2ZQ

Where did Valentine’s Day come from? Pagan festival re-discovered by Hallmark Cards !!! How much Communications must have contributed to it?

February 16, 2012

More than Hallmark Marketing, Valentine’s Day, like Halloween, is rooted in pagan partying. The lovers’ celebration traces its roots to raucous annual Roman festivals where men stripped naked, grabbed goat or dog-skin whips, and spanked young maidens in hopes of increasing their fertility, advocated professor Noel Lenski of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The ancient pagan celebration, called Lupercalia, was held every year on February 15 and remained wildly popular well into the fifth century A.D.—at least 150 years after Constantine legalized Christianity in his Empire. Lupercalia was “clearly a very popular event, even in an environment where the then Christians were trying to close it down,” Lenski said. “So there’s reason to think that the Christians might instead have said, OK, we’ll just call this a Christian festival.”

At once, the church pegged the festival to the legend of St. Valentine. According to the story, in the third century A.D., Roman Emperor Claudius II, seeking to bolster his army, forbade young men to marry. Valentine, it is said, flouted the ban, performing marriages in secret. For his defiance, Valentine was executed in A.D. 270—on February 14, as the story goes. While it’s not known whether the legend is true, Lenski said, “it may be a convenient explanation for a Christian version of what happened at Lupercalia.”

Today’s Valentine’s Day celebration is big business— during 2012  it was expected to generate $17.6 billion in retail sales in the United States only. That’s up from last year’s $15.7 billion, according to an annual survey by the U.S. National Retail Federation (NRF).The level of “discretionary spending” exhibited by survey results is “a strong indication our economy continues to move in the right direction,” federation president Matthew Shay said in a statement.

That is, from the retailers’ perspective, that the people are going shopping for candy, flowers, and jewels is a good sign for the economy.

Greeting cards, as usual, will be the most common Valentine’s Day gifts. Fifty-two percent of U.S. consumers plan to send at least one, according to the National Retail Federation survey. The Greeting Card Association, an industry trade group, says about 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year. And that figure does not include the hundreds of millions of cards schoolchildren exchange. Or the Valentine ‘s Day business world-wide,

During the Revolutionary War, Valentine’s Day cards—mostly handwritten notes—gained popularity in the U.S. Mass production started in the early 1900s. Hallmark got into the game in 1913, according to spokesperson Sarah Kolell. Since then—perhaps not coincidentally—the market for Valentine’s Day cards has blossomed beyond lovers to include parents, children, siblings, and friends. Today Valentine’s Day ‘gifts-market’ has grown way over only greetings cards and is the dream come true for Retailers.

Do we realize how much ‘Communications’ must have contributed to this modern mass fantasy.

For more read : National Geographic
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/02/120213-valentines-day-gifts-cards-history-facts-naked-romans/?source=link_fb20120214news-vdaycelebrate