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Archive for July, 2010

Once you go black, you Can go back!

July 19, 2010 2 comments

Rohit Sharma

“I cannot believe its 2010”, a reviewer of the controversial Vaseline Men Be Prepared application rants on Facebook. Another reviewer goes, “Supporting the maintenance of insecurities about the need for lighter skin is one of the most unscrupulous things a company could do to young men and women the world over. UNILEVER = modern world fail.”

Source: Amul

Hindustan Unilevel Ltd (HUL) and controversies go hand in hand. The issue has always remained the same- they want all of us to “whiten” our skin or how many call it, get “fair”. Companies leading products like Fair & Lovely and Pond’s have always kept the women’s skin lightening debate on rage and this time men are also involved.

‘Vaseline for Men’ has launched a unique application on Facebook that asks you to upload your photograph, which you can then lighten and keep as you profile picture. The application has attracted over 900 fans and almost 9000 monthly users. However, the reviews of the application aren’t every appealing- Based on over 70 reviews, the fairness calculator has received paltry 1.6 stars out of 5. Many are offended by the application and demanding it to be removed. 

According to the research agency AC Nielsen, the Indian market in skin-whitening creams for men and women is now worth over US$430 million and is growing at nearly 18% a year.

FICCI, says that the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) market in India is worth Rs 1200 billion and HUL has a share of Rs 80 billion in it.

Top Bollywood stars- Shahrukh Khan, John Abraham, Shahid Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan have been promoting men’s skin lightening agents for sometime.  

A member of Facebook group called India against fairness creams comments, “The real issue with it, just like with any beauty campaign, is that it’s taking advantage of people’s poor body image to make a profit. But there are countless products and companies that do this every day all across the world. Entire industries are dedicated to it. If you’re going to be upset about one of them you should be upset about all of them.”  

Do you think it’s another shade of racism or merely a marketing campaign gone totally wrong?

White Trash is a trash is a trash

July 7, 2010 13 comments

Rohit Sharma

“I never knew how a bunch of people half a world away chose a random town in New Jersey to populate. Were they from some Indian state that got made fun of by all the other Indian states and didn’t want to give up that feeling? Are the malls in India that bad? Did we accidentally keep numbering our parkway exits all the way to Mumbai?”

-Joel Stein, Time Magazine. Article- My Own Private India.

Here are some reactions on blogosphere-  

“Joel Stein is a racist, xenophobic PIG. The last I checked, pigs were not Kosher.”

“I assume Stein is eating bagel and lox in his mother’s home while she cooks him a brisket.”

“I think America needs geniuses like us to keep you falling in the marsh of drugs and prostitutes. Someone with oiled-hair and extra cologne carrying an intellectual head on his shoulders is far more superior than a typical American pot-head.”

Time Magazine has apologised to the Indian community but has not removed the article from its website.

Joel Stein (who is Jewish) Tweeted- “Didn’t meant to insult Indians with my column this week. Also stupidly assumed their emails would follow that Gandhi non-violence thing.”

Do you accept Time Magazine’s apology?

The Gloves are Off: It’s Facebook vs Orkut vs Google Me

July 1, 2010 1 comment

Rohit Sharma

In February 2010, England based online trafficking agency comScore announced that Google owned Orkut is still number one in India with 46.8% of the nation’s web population using the website. Besides India, Brazil also favours Orkut over other social networking websites but that’s it! Facebook is ruling rest of the social media inclined nations with the website gearing up to cross 500 million users mark worldwide out of which 8 million are from India.

Top networking sites in India (Copyright- INRS)

According to a recent survey conducted by Indiabiz News & Research Services (INRS), Facebook is the number one networking website in India. Get these figures- 85% of users prefer Facebook, 54% of users are on Orkut as well and the much hyped Twitter is preferred only by 30%. Another recent survey by Nielsen says that Orkut is the preferred social networking site but Facebook is gaining market share in India with 50% of social media users claiming to use Facebook most often, compared to 38% for Orkut, with the most common reasons for switching include friends moving sites, preferring the look and feel of the site, and offering more features.

So what makes Orkut so undesirable or simply uncool amongst the networkers? Here’s what I feel-

◘ The homepage takes times to load thanks to ugly themes and applications that just clutter the page.

◘ The main content view has shrunk with the introduction of new template feature. Templates also increased the response time of pages.

◘ Pictures and scrap lock feature have declined the interests. Orkut spoilt us, allowed us to snoop but suddenly becoming prude because Facebook arrived didn’t go down well with the users.

◘ Lack of innovations. Third party applications came in too late along with privacy settings and comments section.

Google is not taking the Facebook threat lying down. There are strong rumours circulating that the biggest online brand will soon be attempting another battle with Facebook, with the launch of reticently titled ‘Google Me’.

Google Buzz was an embarrassing failure (it doesn’t feel good when you wake up to see your email contacts splashed in front of the world) and Google Profile wasn’t a hit either. So Google has now decided to put everything into the blender and churn out something bigger than Facebook. Features from several of its previous networking “experiments” will be used to create something mammoth. But will the heavy user base on Facebook be willing to try out something new and even consider shifting? Google Buzz isn’t a good example. Or Facebook – which has been struggling with the frequently changing privacy norms, settings and questioning users- lose its throne to Google? Will you try Google Me?