Jag Venugopal's Blog

September 12, 2010

Win the favor of your chosen god. Order today! Operators are standing by.

Filed under: India — Jag @ 4:44 pm

Time was when India was mired in socialist thinking, and desperately poor. Sure, a lot of Indians, especially in the villages live in grinding poverty, but it would appear that many in the cities are seeing better prospects. In the old days, heavenly petitions were for items essential to life such as a job and two square meals. With increasing prosperity, things that Indians demand of the gods have changed to keep pace.

On one boring evening during my visit back to the motherland, channel-surfing led me to an American-style infomercial. The item was not the latest vegetable chopper, absorbent chamois or a jedi style “Snuggie” robe. It was for a talisman to protect against the evil eye. The “Nazar Raksha Kawach” guarantees that one is protected from evil influences of those jealous of one’s progress. The program has helpful illustrations as well. In the “before” shot, a prosperous family is shown with a jealous neighbor, who emits a laser-like beam from her eyes that causes untold misery to the family. The “after” shot has the same family wearing this wondrous protectant. The same laser beam now bounces harmlessly off a  Star-wars like force field that surrounds the family. All that is needed to achieve this is a contraption made of molten glass, iron, copper and salt, meant to be worn on one’s neck or wrist.

Among the other such religious doodads is the “Lakshmi Kawach” (Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth). This particular talisman brings copious wealth to the wearer. What I’m unsure of is why the manufacturer of this particular device felt the need to sell it. Surely, he could have made a dozen or so for himself, worn them 3-4 to a limb, and have thus obtained all the money he needed. Regardless, a similar strategy can be employed by the faithful. Rather than shell a ton of money out for this kawach and that, it makes the most sense to buy the Lakshmi Kawach first. Once the money has started flowing in copiously, kawaches of every color and hue can be purchased with ease.

Of all the kawaches, the Shani Kawach is unique. Typically one wears these things with the hope of gaining the attention of the guardian god of the kawach. The Shani Kawach is worn to be ignored by Shani, the apotheosis of the planet Saturn. Shani is one of those gods in the Hindu pantheon whose presence cannot lead to anything good (Yama, the god of death is another). Therefore, this particular kawach guarantees that the wearer will not be bothered by Shani.

As an MBA (Honors) from Bryant University, I can make a few suggestions to the manufacturers of these wonderful divine talismans. Given that the number of gods in the pantheon is north of a million, there are plenty such unique kawaches that can be produced. The most appropriate strategy is to start a subscription program. Each month, the faithful are sent a kawach for yet another god, conveniently charged to MC, Visa, Amex or Discover.

India has a good proportion of Muslims and Christians, all of whom converted from Hinduism at some point in their ancestry. While their scriptures might now be different, they typically don’t leave many of their former Hindu beliefs fully behind. A series of kawaches can be uniquely created for adherents of these religions. A Satan Raksha Kawach would be especially attractive to both these groups.

Given the terrible state of traffic on Indian roads, an Accident Raksha Kawach that promises to protect against automobile crashes is sure to earn a lot of money for its makers. Similarly, a US-visa kawach is likely to find brisk sales among the hundreds of people who throng the gates of the American consulate in Chennai. Any prosperous Indian eventually finds himself in the cross-hairs of either the local gangster or the income-tax man (sometimes both). A kawach uniquely designed to guard against extortion attempts (either private or governmental) will indeed be very popular.

When visiting Bangalore, I noticed the number of Swiss watch boutiques that have sprung up all around the city. Clearly, there must be a sizable chunk of people with a lot of money; businessmen, gangsters and politicians. To cater to these “VVIP” groups, deluxe versions in 24 kt gold and diamonds, sold in shiny new mall stores are just the thing.

The Obama cabinet, buffeted by political crosswinds, can profitably use a kawach or two. The Lakshmi kawach will especially be valuable for Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke, as they struggle to revive a moribund economy and erase record deficits. Obama, Pelosi and Reid would do well to invest in the Nazar Raksha Kawach, to fend off the evil desires of the tea partiers, Senator McConnell and congressman Boehner.  Finally, rather than spend untold millions keeping poor Mexicans away from our shores, Secretary Napolitano would do well to custom-order a few thousand copies of an Illegal Immigrant Raksha Kawach and string them along the Mexican border.

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