Racism, Nepotism and Elitism might be dying..

Or they might not be and it is just an illusion but it does feel nice to believe so (Living in my own crystal ball!). But there must be some end to the various movements around the world against racism. Why is Hindustan Unilever doing away with the name “Fair and Lovely” for its hot-selling face cream in India? As for elitism, even Taj will now deliver food to your home!

I grew up in a world where all these 3 social problems were the accepted reality of the world. I was brown in complexion, belonged to a middle class family and my father and his father were Chartered Accountants and not some business or property tycoons. Somehow I got into a reputed English medium school and throughout my 14 years at that place, I faced these 3 social problems every once in a while. Those were the days of Fair and Lovely ads and their hypothesis, that skin color is directly proportional to success. Those were the days when you either had school bags and school shoes from Nike, Reebok and Adidas or you didn’t belong. Those were the days when nepotism was not even spoken of. Fast Forward to 2020, the highlight of social movements is “#blacklivesmatter” (Not a fan of that slogan), most “premium” brands going out of business and people pointing fingers at Karan Johar and Salman Khan for breeding nepotism. What a beautiful time to be alive. In a time when half the leaders in the world are hardline conservative yet the society is becoming or fighting for a democratic, level playing field. Ironical, isn’t it?

Covid – 19 outbreak has scared the world and rightly so. It has broken all the glass ceilings and put everyone on the same ground with no distinctions whatsoever. No matter how much money or power you have, if Mr. Boris Johnson had to be kept in ICU in his fight against this disease then nothing you earned or got in this world is worth anything right now. As my favourite journalist (these days), Mr Shekhar Gupta says “This virus makes you humble!”. After all, humility was the one thing that we needed and it is the one thing that we should have embraced, everyday, since our birth (Because we are humans!). Imagine going to a 5 star hotel for having dinner in your pyjamas (Maybe that privilege was still available to the politically connected), it just wasn’t possible 4 months back but today, they are going to serve you irrespective. In the last 3 months, 3 CEOs of the luxury hotel chains have written to me (Well maybe I was part of the the long mailing list which was invisible to me! Lol! Obviously) assuring how his/her chain will take care of me if I have to travel in the near future and how his/her chain can work out a deal with my inputs and how I will get extra points if I book a room for any date in the next 12 months. Last time I checked, they didn’t award me points because I didn’t book the room from their app. The driver in pre-Covid era was profit and in post-Covid era is survival. I also read that some of these hotel chains have now started laundry services. They will pick up your clothes from you home, clean them and deliver back to you at your home. Necessity is the mother of all inventions. To blame these radical changes purely on Covid-19 outbreak would be unfair. This process had started much earlier with the food delivery apps. They initiated the democratisation of the food and hospitality industry much earlier. Those who resisted them for long to maintain their brand equity have finally given in. Let me also help you understand why this democratisation is taking place at a much bigger macro level. Which companies in India have actually survived or benefitted from this outbreak? It’s telecom, e-commerce, health, education and agriculture. The basic underlying link connecting all these sectors is mass market. And any mass market sector/product is democratic in nature. It doesn’t differentiate. Amazon services all customers alike. There is no human interface to enable its sales. Telecom does the same and so do the others. Parle was considering closing production of the iconic Parle G biscuits last year and post the outbreak, it has registered record sales in the quarter starting April 2020. Now focus on sectors which have been badly hit by this outbreak. Hospitality, Fashion and Lifestyle and Automotives to name a few. What is the common link between these sectors? Apart from them being capital intensive, they can be judgemental while making sales as there is a human interface to enable their sales. Airways and Movie Theatres are also a couple of sectors/industries which have been ruined and there also, their business model is differentiated for different classes of society . On the contrary, video conferencing (Alternative to cross border meetings) or streaming services (Alternative to Movie Theatres) have the same service for any customer.

I am not sure how much has nepotism been dented but it clearly is becoming weak with the recent events. I have never seen the alleged perpetrators of a social problem being cornered like this except for when the #MeToo movement came to light (one should watch Apple TV’s The Morning Show to understand why this was a breakthrough movement in the West). Well fight against nepotism started a few years back when people started rejecting the same in politics (Case in Point is India’s Lok Sabha Elections in 2014, US Elections in 2016 as Hilary was seen as a privileged woman. What happened in the aftermath of these elections was obviously not a desired result of these elections but atleast people broke the shackles of nepotism very early). The evidence of people denouncing the problems like nepotism, elitism and racism is evident from the movies being made around us. It is always said that the Cinema of any era is a product of the society of those times. No wonder, movies based in tier 2-tier 3 cities communicating real stories in a very earthy and real way through character actors and lesser known actors are becoming huge hits. People all around are becoming comfortable in their skin! Speaking in Hindi, making gastronomical meals, eating with bare hands, reducing intake of junk food, embracing homeopathy and Ayurveda for healthy lifestyle is okay and slowly and steadily people are learning to avoid attaching a social taboo to these. The more quickly people around the world become confident about themselves and the more quickly the society around them becomes mature enough to allow different sets of people to co-exist peacefully, racism, elitism and nepotism would soon be forgotten. In the end, in my opinion, only United States of America is a truly democratic country (Most European nations still have monarchy, and many nations who have elected govt in different parts of the world have more often than not chosen autocratic personalities to rule them, India being no exception) as it never had a history of a monarchy and the maximum tenure of a President can be of 8 years. Look at the business leaders of that land, most successful business are professionally run companies, most actors are self made and a city like New York chose Alexandria Ocasio Cortez as their representative in the house, defeating a 20 years incumbent, Joe Crowley who couldn’t have had more funding and connects to keep winning the seat till eternity. This doesn’t mean that they are an ideal country, but they are the most comfortable in their skin hence advocate change much before any other country! Again, don’t look west for the wrong reasons, find the right examples in the world and adopt them. For happiness, look at Bhutan :)

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Abhi J

Abhi J

Inspired by stories, people and current affairs