Thursday, August 14, 2014

Independence : A State of Mind

I vividly remember the 50th year of Indian Independence celebration in Ujire. I was introduced to a Helium Balloon for the first time in my life. Ofcourse, there were a few thousands of tri-colored balloons released post the flag hoisting. Subduing my curiosity of how the Helium Balloon flies up, I asked a  relevant question to my father.

"Why did we fly so many balloons in the air on account of our Independence Day?"
"A flying balloon is a representation of our Independence and that we're free from slavery", told my dad.

"But appa, the balloons are all mixed up in air. No uniformity, no rules.. Why didn't we tie all similar coloured balloons together and then release them? Wouldn't it look neat and interesting?"

"Son, the balloons would then be free, not Independent" my father had said.

I'd stopped asking further questions, most probably because I started wondering what happened to those balloons once they reached "The Sky".

My father didn't stop my lessons of Independence just there. He made it a point to give me 10Rs at every festivals and asked me to spend the same on "anything I wished".  I would make a list of 5-6 items I wanted to buy in that money, only to realize that the money was sufficient to buy only 1-2 items out of the list. I remember fighting with father to increase it from Rs.10 to Rs20 or whatever but he was very clear.

"Nothing more than Rs.10, you buy whatever you want".
"But I want to buy so many things. Rajesh took a toy, Ashrith bought an ice cream, Manju sat in the giantwheel"
"Think, what would be those two things you really want to buy/experience. Don't do it just because your friends are doing it"

Though I felt bad then, I believe I'd learnt my first true lessons of taking Independent decisions

  • To make a list of items needed
  • assign priority to the items
  • actually spend on priority items.
  • Be accountable for the decision I made on spending.

This lesson that I learnt has percolated into many other aspects of decision making. While I had the freedom of buying anything with the resource available, I was actually made to think and act independently.

While freedom is a physical phenomenon, Independence is a mental construct.

But funny enough, as a marketing professional, I'm being trained to take this very independence away from the customers (to be very crude). While ensuring that a consumer is being contacted by the brand I represent would be my primary motive, I try my best to ensure the consumer is covered by information which would lead to a positive predisposition towards my product. Taking an example of buying a vehicle :
  • Need for a vehicle to commute being converted to a want for a luxury SUV.
  • Enough marketing impressions in newspaper, radio, malls, leaflets etc to ensure you read good things about our product or atleast know our product decently well 
  • Attempts to influence the influencers : Tech forums, Experiential Test Drives, leasing companies etc
  • Financial deals and offers which makes our product irresistible. 
  • Finally, a great after sales service to ensure you turn into our evangelist.
None of the point that I mentioned above are wrong/unethical. However, its just an illustration to let you know that our decision to buy any product has not been truly "independent". 

The same is true for the very media where we hope to seek the unbiased information "as it is". We've to admit that our stance/viewpoint on certain piece of information is based on what we read and hear.

The argument extends to our education system as well where we're studying "what's been tried/tested and OK"d by experts across the world. When my professor tells me that this particular problem can be solved by XYZ method only and this has been the "best case scenario" he's seen in his 30 years of teaching career, I definitely accept it. 

The very reason why I'm writing this post is to convince myself that I need to appreciate the subtle difference between freedom and Independence. What will truly liberate me is Independence and that I need to watch out for the detractors of Independent thinking (advertisements, curriculum, media etc). There's no control over what one normally sees and hears. But he/she definitely can control what he/she watches and listens to. 

I was in Delhi for 2 of the Independence Day celebrations. Delhites celebrate the day by flying kites. May our mind/heart fly independently like a kite with a thread of consciousness controlling the actions.  I wish all my fellow citizens and NRIs, a very happy Independence day.


amts said...

A fresh and different perspective on independence! Kudos.

Ginger Sanches said...

It looks like that event was really Custom Essay Writing Servicess interesting. So, good for you. I guess, I would like to go there somehow.