Marshall Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist who developed the approach of non-violent communication, once highlighted how difficult it is to just observe. He said, “the Indian philosopher J Krishnamurti once remarked that observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence. When I first read this statement, the thought, ‘What nonsense!’ shot through my mind before I realized that I had just made an evaluation.”
Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest, psychotherapist and author of brilliant collections of insightful stories including Song of the Bird, made a similar observation that’s very relevant to these days, where people rush to fix, before pausing to just observe and understand.
He writes, “People ask me all the time, what do I need to do to change myself? If you are one of those people, I’ve got a big surprise for you! You don’t have to do anything. In fact, the more you do, the worse it gets. All you have to do is understand. The trouble with most people is that they’re busy trying to fix things in themselves that they really don’t understand.
“Stop fixing yourself. You’re OK. Don’t interfere. Don’t fix anything. Simply watch. Observe. These things in you that you struggle to fix just need to be understood. If you understood them, they would change.
“Most people have never stopped to consider this simple fact: Their efforts are going to get them nowhere. Their efforts will only make things worse, as things become worse when you use fire to put out fire. Effort does not lead to growth. Effort, whatever the form it takes, whether it be willpower, habit, a technique, or a spiritual exercise, does not lead to change. At best, effort leads to repression and a covering over of the root problem. Effort may change the outward behaviour, but it does not change the inner person.”
In this issue,
- Changing Times
- Another view of Afghanistan
- What’s in a name?
In his tribute to Pradeep Guha, former president of Times of India group who passed away last week, Indrajit Gupta recollects the time he worked with him in 1989. The piece also captures an important phase in the history of Indian media which was getting transformed by cutting edge marketing.
Indrajit writes, “At its very core, Response was an exciting place to work back then. Right from the start, PG had moulded it in his own style. Executives were expected to be well-groomed and presentable, just like their dapper boss. He successfully elevated a largely commoditised space selling to solution selling. Newspapers became brands. The ordinary ad rate card was transformed into the Mastermind. For national advertisers with big budgets, it offered media planners and buyers a complex web of packages covering different publications of The Times of India group. Similarly, for SMEs or local traders, there were similar tailored packages. In many ways, Mastermind was a masterstroke. Because it smartly piggybacked on the flagship The Times of India Mumbai edition, to sell a bunch of other group publications that advertisers may not have otherwise considered. PG always did things in style. He threw massive parties for staff and clients at the Taj (I unceremoniously passed out in the middle of the first one that I attended. I was reliably told PG let out a chuckle when he enquired about the casualty list the next morning).
“When Mastermind was launched, most media buyers couldn't quite figure it out at first. And that is exactly what PG had bargained for. He wanted media buyers and clients to depend on us, his army of Response executives and managers. And we knew Mastermind like the back of our hands. PG saw to it that we did. We’d go for pitches, armed with data culled from NRS reports. Upselling and cross-selling were buzzwords that I added to my vocabulary even before I joined business school.
“Those were really heady days in the world of media marketing. Every Saturday morning, we’d troop into the conference room, where PG would share his perspectives on the media business for at least three hours. We would latch on to every word he spoke.”
Another view of Afghanistan
Most stories and visuals emerging out of Afghanistan indicate that most people want to get out of the country because the Taliban is a repressive regime. That is why an essay by the academics Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale that argues to the contrary had our attention. “A lot of nonsense about Afghanistan is being written in Britain and the United States. Most of this nonsense hides a number of important truths,” they write.
“First, the Taliban have defeated the United States.
“Second, the Taliban have won because they have more popular support.
“Third, this is not because most Afghans love the Taliban. It is because the American occupation has been unbearably cruel and corrupt.
“Fourth, the War on Terror has also been politically defeated in the United States. The majority of Americans are now in favour of withdrawal from Afghanistan and against any more foreign wars.
“Fifth, this is a turning point in world history. The greatest military power in the world has been defeated by the people of a small, desperately poor country. This will weaken the power of the American empire all over the world.
“Sixth, the rhetoric of saving Afghan women has been widely used to justify the occupation, and many feminists in Afghanistan have chosen the side of the occupation. The result is a tragedy for feminism.”
What’s in a name?
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