“India, in general, cannot be branded,” said Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi. He explained that because of our diversity and even more diverse problems, Brand India cannot be portrayed to the world as a whole strongly. But every Indian aspect or tradition has symbolic value that can open many doors.
India’s biggest problem is lack of self belief, stated NaMo, while addressing marketing, advertising and media marketing industry stalwarts at the IAA Global Marketing Summit, held in Mumbai yesterday, in partnership with exchange4media.
Hundred years of slavery has instilled in us such a mindset that even today when we see a 6-feet tall white Englishman, we go in our shell; we have not emerged even after 60 years of Independence, he added.
“How will we showcase a product or idea to the world if we do not believe in it ourselves?”, he asked.
“We need to take immense pride in our heritage,” stressed NaMo.
He further said that we may get many orators who will excite us, but it is very difficult to get a communicator. He threw light on what a great communicator Mahatma Gandhi was, stating that India has not seen anyone better in the last century. Gandhiji’s every word reached every nook and corner of the country, and that too undiluted – this is tremendous, he added.
“People today take the route of impressive marketing, when they should ideally work towards inspiring marketing,” said the Gujarat CM, adding that Gandhiji is an inspiration – he sold the idea of non-violence while always holding a stick in his hand; he never wore a cap, but everyone even today wears a ‘Gandhi topi’.
We need to identify our strengths – only then can we market India, he said.
Global citizens are seeking everything Indian – be it yoga, Bollywood, food, music, clothes or Ayurveda. This is Brand India. All we have to do is supply to this demand to reach the top. This is the first rule of marketing that we have been flouting, he emphasised.
In typical NaMo style, he said that selling Brand India is very difficult until we eat, breathe, sleep India. He asked why the world doesn’t know out great poet Tulsidas? Why is he called India’s Shakespeare and not the other way round? It is only because we do not take pride in our heritage. So, how will the world market appreciate it?
Talking about the burning issue of global warming, the Gujarat CM said that it amazes him that countries that have exploited nature the most are today leaders of the cause, bagging noble prizes. And India, a country that has traditionally practised nature conservation, is not even talking about it. He explained that our heritage has taught us to value and pray to rivers, trees and animals. Some outsiders ridiculed us for it, calling us backward and we believed them, abandoning our value system. “Why do we have such little faith in our traditions?”, he asked. We have answers to world problems on global warming, he added.
Giving other instances wherein India can shine, NaMo spoke about Ayurveda, stating that despite India practicing this medicine for thousands of years, it is China who is the largest exporter of herbal medicine.
Coming to Yoga, he said that we have taught the world how to breathe, but not branded it. There are rising instances of youngsters around the globe committing suicide; only if we had taken pranayam to the world map, we could teach these young souls qualities such as patience and courage.
The West today is gung-ho about vegetarianism – which is our culture; why haven’t we ever done a food festival to show people what we can offer. NaMo shared that it was Subhash Chandra Bose’s brother who introduced the concept of veg curry to Japan – something that is famous there even today.
He then spoke about organic farming and the fact that there is a huge global market for it. India has traditionally only believed in organic farming, being prevalent even today. However, there is no certification or authorisation for the same. Only if we provide a certification, a farmer who earns Re 1 today, will earn $1 tomorrow, he stated. This will fulfil our dream of Brand India.
The CM further talked about 100 years of Indian Cinema and said that it is such a powerful medium that given an opportunity, he can Brand India via the film industry. “But I have no plans to enter your industry,” he joked with the delegates.
There are so many avenues to Brand India. “You cannot sell the Taj Mahal to everyone. Give people what they want. Our problem is that we have not come out of the Taj Mahal in all these years,” he said.
“India should not try to impress the world. We should inspire the world,” concluded NaMo.
Narendra Modi was made an honorary member of IAA.