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November 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.  Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       November 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.   Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       
Issue:Sep' 2017


Virat Kohli : A whiff of clean air !


Rarely does one hear positive news these days, that too saying no to a windfall income for the sake of a cause. At a time when there are avalanches of corruption and seeking illegal gratification from all over, the news was a refreshing one.
A cricketer in true cricketing spirit keeping scrupulously away from betting and match fixing, Virat Kohli has refused to endorse products like Colas and whitening creams sacrificing millions of rupees because of their association with junk food and racism. India's much sought after master batsman for endorsement has taken an admirable decision to endorse only products he himself uses and believes in, according to reports.

If other celebrities too emulate this principle, it can end misguiding the Indian consumer. Celebrities and role models can influence the decision making by fans, particularly on consumer brands and health foods, to name a few. These fans are gullible and when a film star or a personal hero endorses a product, they just go for it.
We find in the country today celebrities endorsing products about which they know little or personally do not use or buy any of them. We find them endorsing companies offering gold loans, though they know little about their implications and exploitations, or, a celebrity recommending gold ornaments of a company without being sure of the purity of the gold.
Some recommend computer apps not knowing much about them. Similarly, air-conditioners are endorsed by our celebrities the functioning of which they may not be familiar at all. They stop at nothing from Achar to limousines, from inner wear to real estate.
Today if the advertiser is willing to pay, they can get any celebrity. They show little or no concern to the consequences of their action. They have no qualms about the immorality of endorsing something about which they know little. They are not accountable though recently there are some laws restricting such acts and more laws are planned.
For marketing products, endorsement by them has become an accepted practice. Celebrities are engaged by offering crores of rupees. Such irresistable offers make celebrities succumb to the lure of moneyand endorse any product, standard or substandard. Little do they realise that in the process they are cheating their fans who have reposed their trust in them. In the process, by doing that celebrity loses their trust and credibility at least with the disappointed fans misguided by the endorsements. Morally too, the practice is wrong.
The ultimate beneficiary is the Corporates who manage to market their products taking advantage of the confidence the celebrities enjoy. The quality of the product is ignored in some cases. Such short cuts in marketing and tricks used to make quick money do bring down the trust in Indian brands. In some cases it is marginal, but substantial when the products are substandard. Virat by sacrificing his substantial income has brought into focus a whole lot of issues of moral values, deceit, brand quality and principled living.
For, the decision of the Indian captain has come at a time when we hear almost at regular intervals shocking scandals and loot of public money. Sadly, our leaders, whether inspired by Gandhiji, Marx or Lord Rama, do not bother to live with the values propounded by these persons, divine or otherwise. We have today in the Southern State of Kerala, a situation where the revenue source of all political leaders are the same persons. In scandals or distribution of patronage if these persons are involved, neither the ruling front nor the opposition are bothered. There are a few leaders like V.S.Achuthanandan and V.M.Sudheeran who are clean enough to take on any big wig. Most others are beneficiaries of these revenue sources.
A.K. Antony prefers to live in distant New Delhi, unbothered and unwilling to take any firm moral position. BJP, even though away from power, recently found some of its leaders on the quiet making money for medical college approval and related issues, involving crores of rupees, brilliantly covered up through PR exercises.
Take the case of a minister who specialises in encroaching government land and reclaiming back waters. All parties are beneficiaries of this minister. Chief Minister is the loudest defender of this minister. Believe it or not the minister can alter government records, manage missing of files, take over temple lands and circumvent any law or rule allege reports. He thrives. Here every political party is part of the game. In Tamil Nadu the case is the same. Far too many scandals encompassing all political parties are exposed. The best of legal brains is at work in the state to meet any case, civil or criminal. We have cases of illegal mining in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka where they have mined deep below crossing the borders of the two states.
These miners have patrons not only in states but in New Delhi too. The cases of Lalu Yadav and family in Bihar, Vyapam in Madhya Pradesh, then Air India plane purchase scandal in which a Maharashtra politician is involved, scores of UP politicians, the list goes on. It is too long to elaborate. That no leader is sensitive to corruption charges is the most shocking factor. Yes they are immune to corruption exposes in India as the campaigns are held along caste and communal lines. No issues of ideology or policy figure in campaigns. The ministers without any qualms agree for any deal. Vital environmental issues do not bother them. The cancer has spread deep throughout the country.
That is why, though in a small way, Kohli has brought a whiff of fresh and clean air. There are a few in politics too, though in a desperate minority, who continue their fight against corruption with grit and determination. Such small steps do give hope. A feeling that all is not lost.

K.Gopalakrishnan is editor of Pen News and former editor of Mathrubhumi