Indian American Raj Mukherji Appointed House Majority Whip in New Jersey

first_imgRaj Mukherji, the only Indian American lawmaker in the New Jersey General Assembly, was appointed as the House Majority Whip, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced on Jan. 12. Mukherji is the first Indian American and Asian American to be appointed in this position.A Whip is meant to be a disciplinarian for the political party. The individual is meant to make sure that all party members vote in the legislature according to party policy.The 33-year-old Democrat represents the 33rd Legislative District. He is a healthcare lawyer, businessman, former Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, and adjunct professor of political science at New Jersey City University. He was educated at Thomas Edison State University, University of Pennsylvania, Seton Hall University School of Law.He became the deputy mayor at the age of 27 after supporting himself through school and university as an emancipated minor since his parents had to return to India. At 28, he won the Democratic primary election for Assembly in NJ’s 33rd Legislative District by a 36-point margin and in 2013 won the November general election by a 20-point margin.Mukherji told News India Times he was humbled by the Speaker’s trust and confidence in him. With the swearing-in this week of Vin Gopal as our state’s first South Asian senator, New Jersey joins Maryland as one of the only two states with multiple South Asian American lawmakers and one of only two states with South Asian Americans in legislative leadership,” he said.Mukherji is a third term legislator who represents the Democratic Party. He was also in the United States Marines, where he was a sergeant. The young Democrat calls himself a “champion of the middle class and working families.”According to, he pleaded guilty in federal court in 2009 to a 2004 misdemeanor charge of possession of a fraudulent identification document. He dubbed it as a “youthful indiscretion.”In the Assembly, he sits on the Budget Committee, which is responsible for crafting the Legislature’s annual appropriations bill – the entire state budget. He is also a member of the Commerce and Economic Development Committee and the Labor Committee.Apart from Mukherji, Vin Gopal is the only other Indian in the New Jersey government. Gopal is in the Senate and a Democratic Party leader as well. He was elected last November.Many Indian American legislators won during the elections in November 2017. In New Jersey, Indian American Sikh Ravi Bhalla became the mayor of Hoboken. Related ItemsIndian AmericanNew Jerseylast_img read more

Mattel Sues Sunny Leone Film for Using ‘Barbie’ Trademark

first_imgThe Delhi High Court refused to grant ex-parte injunction against the Hindi movie Tera Intezaar over a case filed by toymaking company Mattel Inc. against the use of its Barbie trademark in a song. Mattel, the makers of the Barbie doll, filed a case against the film for using their trademark in a song that features actress Sunny Leone.Mattel approached the Delhi High Court regarding the matter and was reminded earlier this week that they had been asked by a U.S. court to “chill” in a similar case.Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw refused to grant ex-parte injunction against the movie, which has a song titled Barbie girl. He instructed on Nov. 22 that a notice should be issued to the defendants, and told Mattel that they could ask the filmmakers to delete the word “Barbie” and if they refused to do so they would be liable to pay damages. Mattel owns the Barbie trademark, it said in court.The song’s title and lyrics used the trademark without the company’s permission and “in a manner antagonistic to the values and interests of the customers target base, the plaintiffs cater to,” the toymaker said.The firm also said that the actress in the song — Sunny Leone — is a prominent figure in the adult entertainment industry and that the song was not appropriate for children. Such attributes “are provocative and inappropriate for younger girls and children, tarnishing and degrading the distinctive quality of the mark ‘BARBIE’,” it said in the appeal.“If after a film has been so cleared by CBFC, the Courts were to act as super Censor Board at the mere asking, it will have the potential of imposing arbitrary and at times irrational prior restraints causing severe damage to the right of freedom and expression,” Justice Endlaw said.He added, “There is another reason for which I am of the opinion that no case for grant of ex parte order sought, restraining the defendants from releasing the film Tera Intezaar with the impugned song, ought not to be granted. The newspapers and the stories on the electronic news media in the country are today widely broadcasting the demand by one section of the society for a ban to another film. The petitions filed in the Supreme Court in this regard have not met with any success and have been disposed of as premature owing to the CBFC having not granted certificate to the film as yet. I am of the opinion that grant of any order as sought is likely to send a wrong signal to the public at large.” Related ItemsBarbieMattelSunny Leonelast_img read more

Oh, Brother!

first_imgThere’s another Jon making it in the fashion world – Sanjana, sister of flamboyant designer Anand Jon. At the recent Fashion Week in New York, she presented “First Love,” her debut collection of women’s wear. Instead of sibling rivalry, it was more like sibling revelry, with fashionistas, society princesses, media and gawkers milling around, and lots of pre and after-show partying. The brother and sister have always been as thick as thieves so a new signature line was probably bound to happen. Sanjana had co-designed a jewelry line with Anand as well as the men’s wear line. “Last May in Cannes for the Film festival the debut Riviera resort collection was shown with Princess Sorayya, and actor Daria Trifu,” says Sanjana. “I then designed the line for IG International Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins for her AIDS Awareness Tour to India.”Her new designer line includes custom-made bridal and evening wear, corporate and affordable eveningwear, and a ready to wear line. She is now launching the line in India in collaboration with Sanjay Kapoor of Genesis Colors. According to Sanjana, this company, which also represents Satya Paul, will launch Sanjana Jon stores in India and Asia, starting with the first one this month in Delhi and the next in Bombay in November.Having a Brand Name brother in the business certainly seems to have opened doors for her. Says Sanjana, “It’s my biggest strength. Having learnt everything since I had been the marketing director of Anand Jon and having co-designed with him, the transition was seamless.”How did it feel to walk the ramp with her models to the applause after being backstage for so many years? Says Sanjana, “It’s really a labor of love. It’s unexplainable, having worked on so many seasons with Anand and having really felt the pulse of it all, I never thought I would feel this kind of a rush. I had tears streaming down my face without realizing it. Related Itemslast_img read more

Emotions Are The New Rational

first_imgEmotions speak louder than words! Google India’s crossborder friendship ad or jewellery brand Tanishq’s latest commercial about second marriage are cases in point — these few seconds-long human stories are not only touching hearts and minds of all age groups but indicate how corporate social responsibility (CSR) has evolved.Thanks to the changing times, $6 billion Indian advertising industry is using emotions to make the right connect with the consumers.Google India’s latest ad is a shining example of touching human sentiments.It shows the coming together of two friends who got separated during the 1947 partition of the Indian sub-continent: how the granddaughter of the elderly person in India traces the whereabouts of her grandfather’s friend using the Google search engine and reunites them.According to TV actor Rohit Roy, it is the “best ad in recent times”.“We are selling out to flash and show, and they took us back to the real thing – emotions,” Rohit posted on Twitter.Emotions are the new rational, says Ronita Mitra, senior vice president, Brand and Consumer Insights, Vodafone India, whose new ad chronicles how a girl uses social networking platforms to share feelings and becomes an “open book.”“Touching human emotions is not a new trend in the advertising world as since time immemorial brands have narrated stories which try to hit the mind as well as the heart of our consumers.“We are in an era where product differentiation is reducing; so the only way to create differentiation is by giving your brand a personality (emotions) that resonates with consumers,” Mitra said.For instance, jewelry brand Tanishq’s latest ad depicts a dusky bride entering a second marriage in the presence of her daughter. The ad speaks volumes on the subject of second marriage, subtly and crisply, in precisely 90 seconds.Bringing emotional connect will make brands stand out, feels Priyanka Bose, who plays the bride in the ad.“Connecting to the youth with the storyline is the only way ads will work because jingles and other things won’t present the right picture. Digitally, everything is expanding so much that if you really want to make a connection with wider audience, touching the emotions is the only way to do it,” Bose said.Also, good advertisements can facilitate social change, she believed.“We can’t just emphasize only on the brand and the product. We need to feel how India is not only expanding economically but also changing in the social sense. Whatever small difference you can make in people’s lives can have a long-lasting effect. Ads can play a key role in changing society,” she added.The collaboration between Jaago Re, a social awakening group, and Tata Tea proves her point.Keeping up with the humor and cultural sentiments, Indian commercials are providing an insight to an average Indian’s life.Airtel’s “Har ek friend zaroori hota hai” was an instant hit amongst people of all age groups. Another campaign of the brand was — “Barriers break when people talk,” which was a beautiful portrayal of two children from different countries crossing the barbed wires of their nations’ boundary to play together.Life insurance company ICICI Prudential’s “Bande achhe hain” latest TV commercial pays a tribute to men. The commercial stands out from its earlier campaigns, which have essentially focused on the product’s features.The ad features men in various stages of family life. Watching it on the screen leaves people with a smile and a reminder of what they may have gone through at some stage of their own lives.Ad agencies are welcoming the change.“Times have changed and so have people and their perceptions. Talking about recent ads like ‘Tanishq — Remarriage’ or ‘Vodafone — Relationship,’ they have not just showcased change, but they portray a situation wherein women’s freedom and empowerment have been highlighted, which itself is a big thing,” Omm Dev Sharma, creative director of ad agency Maverick Innovations, said.“These advertisements narrate a true story, inspired by our own lives around us, and, yes, the driving force behind such drastic change is undoubtedly our future generations, the youth, who are giving way to a new dimension of life, happiness and emotions,” he added.Laugh on, cry and smile — the latest mantra of the ad world. Related Itemslast_img read more

Difficult Position of Yoga Position

first_imgToday, modern yoga, once considered the esoteric pursuit of Indian ascetics, has fans all over the world. The global yoga industry is valued at $5.7 billion, with an estimated 15 million devotees in America alone professing to some sort of yoga practice.But yoga isn’t just important because it helps practitioners find health, wellness or spiritual depth. Increasingly, yoga also allows people to tell new stories about themselves and how they fit in a globalizing present.In recent decades, a “yoga fiction” genre has begun to crop up in English-language bookstores. As yoga memoirs also known as “yogoirs”, yoga chick lit, yoga comedies and yoga murder mysteries flood the literary marketplace in the West, they change the way we think about one of India’s most popular cultural exports. These “yoga fictions” paradoxically make India both more and less visible in a globalizing world.Stories about yoga, and yogis, have a long tradition in Indian narrative, folklore and oral culture. In many accounts, the scholar David Gordon White shows, yogis were the classic villains of adventure tales. These fictional yogis didn’t spend too much of their time in complicated physical postures or in deep meditative breathing. Instead, they tended to be spies and soul-stealers. They worked close to kings. Yogis were hungry for power; they were fearsome creatures on the border between the human and the supernatural.In the early twentieth century, as yoga began to take the shape familiar to most of us today, influential Indian gurus who wanted to spread yoga around the world decided to start telling their own stories. Spiritual memoirs, they thought, could help them publicize their goals for a broad international audience.Paramahansa Yogananda was one such guru. After a long period of religious training in India, Yogananda was sent to the United States in the early twentieth century. In 1946, he published Autobiography of a Guru, which became a hit with spiritual seekers for decades.In this autobiography, written in English, Yogananda sought to portray Indian identity as both timelessly spiritual and fully compatible with modernity. For instance, in passages that evoke Indian supernatural stories about yogis, Yogananda liked to call attention to the mind-reading powers of his guru.But he suggested that these occult powers were really highly sophisticated forms of modern technology. Before the wireless had even made it to his part of India, he argued, his guru was a perfect human radio. Yoga allowed Indians, and India with them, to seem traditional, futuristic and authoritative all at once.Fast-forward to the present moment. In the twenty-first century, new visions of India are taking form in Western popular fiction about yoga. These new fictions include ironic memoirs, comedies of manners, self-help novels, and searing autobiographies.Many of these writings conspicuously jettison yoga’s historic roots in South Asia. One popular American yoga murder mystery series, for instance, quite literally seeks to kill off the practice’s associations with the subcontinent. In this series, written by Diana Killian, control over a yoga empire shifts from an Indian-trained American to a heroine who can only teach yoga for dogs.Yoga chick lit, as in the self-help fiction of Meryl Davids Landau, assures nervous beginners that they won’t have to struggle through any supposedly scary Sanskrit to gain the benefit of the practice.Novels like these suggest that India’s authority over yoga is now quite fragile in a Western popular imagination. Such a possibility alarms the Indian state, which has recently embarked on a major campaign to restore India as the primary cultural steward of yoga. Last December, India’s prime minister appointed the country’s first national yoga minister.Challenging both the idealization of India and its erasure is a new and increasingly vocal literary presence: the Indian diaspora. The late Indian American poet and essayist Reetika Vazirani, for example, poignantly showed how yoga could illuminate the difficulties of her family’s move to America. The United States of Vazirani’s youth, she reveals, both exoticized and distrusted nonwhite immigrants.Her essay “The Art of Breathing” brings to light the contradictions of globalizing yoga. Why can Westerners enthusiastically embrace a cultural practice from the subcontinent, while their societies remain decidedly uncertain about actual people from India? When Vazirani hears Sanskrit mispronounced in her yoga class, it feels like violence. It reminds her of the ways in which she is disconnected from India and treated as a foreigner in her new homeland.Through these different and competing stories of yoga, India takes on many identities. In some threads, yoga promotes an idealized India that need not choose between tradition and modernity. In others, yoga figures India as eminently dispensable — the nightmare of the Indian state.And in yet other visions, yoga invites us to question the complex dynamics of power, racism, and even violence that shape globally circulating ideas of India. Yoga’s difficult positions, it turns out, are not just physical.  Shameem Black is fellow, Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History and Language, Australian National University. Reprinted from The Conversation. Related Itemslast_img read more

Spirituality Gone Awry in India

first_imgThe world watched with horror this week as the rape conviction and sentencing to 20 years’ jail of “godman” Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh led to massive protests in northern parts of India.The protests by Ram Rahim’s followers resulted in the deaths of at least 38 people in Haryana, where the court held its proceedings. Many more were injured, and widescale damage to public property has been reported.This defence of a rapist spiritual guru is quite unexpected in a country that’s been home to intense gender activism and public outrage on the issue of violence against women in recent years.So, who is this “godman”? And what is Dera Sacha Sauda, the religious cult he heads in northern India, which has drawn into its fold thousands of followers ready to sacrifice their lives for their guru?Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the ‘guru of bling’Ram Rahim is known as a “baba” or “guru of bling”. Referred to as pitaji or revered father, he has lived in a sprawling compound, enjoying highest-level security provided by the government to very high profile people.Ram Rahim has had an extraordinary life filled with many idiosyncrasies. He is definitely not the average guru: he rode expensive motorbikes with his gang of followers; produced, directed and acted in his own movies; and performed in his own rock concerts wearing bizarre costumes. He also has an honorary doctorate from the University of World Records, London.Unlike his contemporary gurus who are seen as spiritual guiding lights, Ram Rahim is treated as an avatar of the almighty himself. He considers himself as the “Messenger of God”, and not just a person of higher consciousness who shows other people the righteous path.The film he made and acted in, Messenger of God, was released in 2015. In the past, he also dressed up as a Hindu god and a Sikh guru, angering the followers of both religions.His following includes many women who believe in his miraculous powers and all-embracing godly spirit.The rape of two female followers was not the only accusation against Ram Rahim. He has been charged with murder and the castration of at least 400 men to “bring them closer to God”.What is Dera Sacha Sauda?Ram Rahim is the congregation leader of Dera Sacha Sauda (meaning “abode of fair deal”), a religious cult established in 1948. Its main centre is situated in the city of Sirsa in the state of Haryana, northern India.The cult has 50 ashrams across India and branches in countries such as the US, Canada, UAE, Australia and the UK.Its website declares it is a confluence of all religions advocating a complete ban on the consumption of meat, egg or gelatin in food and intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and tobacco, and “no adultery or illicit sex”.The group has had two leaders before Ram Rahim, each of whom chose their own successors, declared as their self-avatars.With Ram Rahim jailed and no anointed heir, combined with the hefty fines imposed on Dera Sacha Sauda for the destruction of public property and arson, the cult’s future looks bleak.The free market of spiritualityThis episode has several important questions, mostly related to the crisis of spirituality and modernity in India today.Religious and cult gurus in India are celebrities who have a tremendous impact on spiritual matters and on the lives of their followers. Their close association with politicians allows them access to political power and wealth. They can belong to any religion or sect.The liberalisation of the 1990s in particular made spirituality a market enterprise: the gurus’ services could be purchased, and gurus indulged in profit-making activities.That supposedly religious gurus could be involved in fraud, political manipulation, and sexual assault is not new in India. And yet the baba business flourishes.For the poor, spiritual pathways and cult membership empowers them as they look for hope and miracles to survive the onslaught of neoliberalism. These spiritual pathways promise equality to the millions who feel discriminated, oppressed and marginalised.The middle classes, however, can experience an existential crisis – and belonging to a religious or spiritual cult gives them purpose and meaning in life. The gurus have instant answers to all their problems.The rich and powerful are also part of these cults, and they hobnob with the gurus. They have a lot to gain by following those who society follows – not just to tackle their insecurities but to cultivate a network of supporters who will always remain loyal to them.The gurus can sway elections, generate funding for welfare projects, and provide hundreds of volunteers at a short notice.The crisis of spirituality and the everyday dependence on miracles is only part of the problem. India’s political economy remains conducive for spiritual gurus to thrive and cultivate their loyal fan followings.The recent episode has exposed the authorities’ vulnerabilities in dealing with unruly spiritual-seekers who have no qualms in defending their rapist gurus. After all, the guru is God – and God does no wrong.The fates of other gurus with court cases against them, like Asaram Bapu, will be something to watch out for in the near future. Meanwhile, the unholy nexus between politicians and spiritual gurus will have to be broken to end the illegal wealth and patronage that gurus enjoy. This week’s tragic events will hopefully be a catalyst for this to happen.Swati Parashar is Senior Lecturer, School of Global Studies, University of GothenburgReprinted from The Conversation Related Itemslast_img read more

Dark Truths From the Sunshine State

first_imgGoa, a coastal state in Western India, has always been the shining beacon of modernity and excitement in an otherwise conservative country. The top tourist destination has consistently been voted as one of the best places to visit in India, not just by international visitors but also by Indians. A recent survey by online accommodation booking website revealed that Goa was the most popular monsoon destination amongst Indians again in 2017. The popularity of this beach state is also enjoying a rise as the survey also revealed that the village Arpora in Goa, saw a whopping 91 percent increase in hotel searches as compared to the data in 2016. And while in the past couple of years, international tourist inflow has been on the decline, Goa still remains one of the most frequented destinations in India for international tourists, along with Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Rajasthan. In 2015, 49,626 e-visas were issued for travelers to Goa, with Russians topping the list (25,770), followed by the UK (11,748), Ukraine (6,892) and Germany (1,113).Goan Market Scene. Illustrations by Mario Miranda /Poskem by Wendell RodricksFor years, the promises of cultural diversity, the preserved Portuguese past, beautiful beaches, colonial architecture, biodiversity and a rocking nightlife that has lured tourists to Goa.There is also a dark side to this shiny state brimming with neoteric vibes. A side that locals for decades kept deliberately under the wraps — the tradition called Poskim.Poskim (plural Poskem) is a Portuguese term used to describe young children from poor families who were adopted by rich families and made to live with them, even taking their family names. But the charity ended there. Most of these children were treated as house helps. Unlike other children in the household, they were not sent to school nor did they get any inheritance rights.In a world where talks of equality and human rights are de riguer, this secret tradition in Goa is a grisly reminder of what bonded labor in the contemporary world can look like.According to locals, the tradition is on the decline with rising awareness, concerns about child rights and also the changing attitudes of people. But the fact that it existed for years and even today many families have Poskim growing up in their midst is a grim reminder how caste and money could continue playing a role in societal divides.Recently renowned fashion designer Wendell Rodricks, who hails from Goa, blew the lid off the subject with his new book — Poskem: Goans in the Shadows. Rodricks’ book is the first on the subject and uncovers the truth of the age-old practice. The fictionalized account, set in Goa between the 1930s to the 1970s and related through a series of stories, explores the Poskim tradition, their lives and treatment. The story travels to Mumbai, Lyon and Lisbon and the cast seamlessly spill into Konkani, Portuguese and French.Goan Aristocrat Family. Illustrations by Mario Miranda /Poskem by Wendell RodricksRodricks admits that this may be the last generation of Poskem and has heavily relied on his observations, anecdotes from his mother and other elders who knew and experienced the tradition first hand. The accounts and the stories in the book are real, but the author has fictionalized them.But how is it in a state such as Goa, which has a flourishing tourism sector and boasts literacy rates of 87 percent, among the highest in India, nothing has been written before about Poskem. Rodricks minces no words in admitting that Goans realize that it is a shameful tradition and do not talk about it. Indeed, the stigma attached with the subject is so great that most Goans expressed shock on learning about his book.In a country where exploitation of household help is commonplace, perhaps Goans were inure to the practice more than seeking to keep it secret. Rodricks demurs: “Everyone knew/ knows, it is a shameful tradition. But Goans don’t want to talk about the Poskim. They feel that it is a dark secret best left unspoken about.”However, times are changing and the younger generation especially finds the practice inhumane. Rodricks says: “When I first disclosed that I was going to write Poskem, they (the locals) were in disbelief that one would approach such a subject. Many would ask ‘But what is there to write about these people? They were adopted children. That’s all.’ Imagine, these stories would never have been told until I created the characters and wrote Poskem. There are Poskim till today in Goa, but I hope after the book, this tradition stops and this derogatory word is not used again.” OriginsHow did the practice of adopting children from poor family and then treating them like servants came about ? Damodar Mauzo, Sahitya Akademi award winning novelist and scriptwriter from Goa, says: “The tradition of adopting Poskemi must have started with good intention. The poor members of the family clan would expect the well off from their own caste to look after their child. The bhatkars (landlords) with a philanthropic bent of mind generally obliged. In some cases, when a couple did not conceive for a long time after their marriage, they would adopt a child from their less fortunate kin, with a hope that the adopted child may bring in luck to them. Often, they would later conceive and then their love would shift entirely to their own child thus leaving the adopted one to face negligence. Though there are cases where the Poskim were fortunate to get decent living, the unfortunate ones outnumbered the fortunate ones.”Street in the Latin Quarter of Fontainhas, Panjim. Illustrations by Mario Miranda /Poskem by Wendell Rodricks/Om Books The tradition passed from generation to generation. Rodricks says: “I heard about the Poskem from villagers. I imagined them to be servants as they were treated as such. Later my mother explained that they were poor children adopted by families to work at home (for the most part). I found it shocking that they were given the family name, but not allowed the privileges of the other children in the home. Sometimes they were not allowed to marry, nor given a proper education. They rarely got a share of the family inheritance. Many were abused to a life of bonded labor.” Perhaps the locals realized this unfairness and were therefore careful of not bringing the practice into the open. Before Rocrick’s book very little was known publicly about the Poskem in Goa.Mauzo adds: “My guess is that the concept of Poskem came into being during the Goan exodus following rampant conversions and later the enforcement of ecclesiastical law of Inquisition. The missionaries probably encouraged the adoption of orphans left behind by the distressed parents. This may be the reason why this tradition did not prevail outside Goa.”One of the very few people who had highlighted this practice earlier is Goa based playwright Isabel Santa Rita Vas, who acknowledges that she has always known about the adoption of children as domestic workers, since it was a fairly common practice in Goa. She says: “Back in 2000 I wrote a short piece called, ‘Poskem or child of the heart?’ for a column titled ‘Pass the Mustard, Please’ that I was doing for a local paper, The Herald. It dealt with the theme of adoption practices in India. I touched upon the practice in Goa of adopting a child, generally a girl, basically for domestic work — the poskem (Konkani) or the crioula (Portuguese). I quoted a pastoral letter from the then Portuguese Patriarch in Goa, Jose Alvernaz, who wrote in 1946: “It is sad to note that, in certain civilized circles, practices of slavery in disguise should still persist, and that one should deny to one’s subordinates inalienable rights like to marry and have a family. It makes no sense at all that we should preen ourselves as modern, that we should preach so many freedoms and claim them for ourselves, that we should believe we possess a high degree of social culture — if, we simultaneously turn into oppressors of our subordinates and deny them a minimum of freedoms to which they have an undisputed right.”Goa Map. Illustrations by Mario Miranda /Poskem by Wendell Rodricks/Om BooksIgnoring the ObviousOften locals refrained from talking about the practice even though they were aware that children were being deprived of their legal rights, because many had the tradition running in their own family.Rodricks owns up to the practice: “I am ashamed to say there were Poskim in our family history. Though we were friends with them, we knew from the onset that they had a different place in the family and were technically not to be treated as family. They did not sit at table with us at mealtimes, did not sit near us in church, spent most time in the kitchen, did household chores, did not go to school and were always in the shadows, away from our comparatively privileged lives. The worst part was that the entire village called them by that dreaded name. Girls were called Poskem, boys Posko and collectively they were called Poskim.”Since the practice was concentrated in specific areas and sections of society, not much about it was known to the outside world. Goa based historian and author Fatima Gracias, who has extensively researched Indo-Portuguese history and authored several books, says: “The tradition of Poskem was not a widespread one. It existed amongst certain families in Goa, mainly, among Christian families. Hindus in Goa also adopted a child when they were childless, usually from within the family — a male nephew or cousin.”Gracias adds: “Goans and many in the Goan diaspora are aware of this tradition, even though some in the younger generation may not know it by the specific name (poskem for female and posko for male), but just as an adopted child.”There were also darker reasons families resorted to the practice, Gracias says: “Sometimes the child was the illegitimate child of the member of a family and was sheltered within the family.Goa based writer and a keen observer of the Goan life, Cecil Pinto says although the Poskem tradition may be passing, it is reemerging in other forms.Childless couples adopted a poskem or posko. At other times they were adopted with the ulterior motive of engaging them later in life in menial work, taking care of the house, elderly, fields, property, etc. They received no remuneration for their labor, except for food, shelter and basic necessities. They enjoyed no legal rights of a biological child and were usually acquired from a single mother or poor parents after providing them some kind of compensation.”Goa based writer and a keen observer of the Goan life, Cecil Pinto says although the Poskem tradition may be passing, it is reemerging  in other forms:“I don’t see the poskem tradition much, but another form of the ‘tradition’ is prevalent. Young men and women, mostly from another state, are brought in as household help. They are paid a miserable salary on the grounds that they are getting free food and accommodation.Now some may call this exploitation, it is debatable. They are free to leave, but then they usually don’t have anything much better to go back to in their home state. And some families treat these hired helps quite well and sometimes even allow them an education and later help them get married etc. It is worthy of a study.”Damodar MauzoDamodar Mauzo lived and worked all his life in Goa and saw this tradition from close quarters.This tradition that got started with good intentions lasted for centuries. However, the drawbacks of the system did not encourage people to allow their child to give for adoption as poskem. The poskim were often maltreated and abused, of course, depending upon their embraced parents. I know of poskim who were given education, married off and even given share in property. Those with good intention would adopt the child legally and those who wanted the child to slog for them did not. Secondly, the poskem always carried the stigma of being called Poskem, even publicly. With the spread of education and the awareness of democratic rights, the system has gradually died. I can site an example. A bhatkar couple in my neighborhood was childless. They adopted a girl from a poor family, clearly with intention of turning her into domestic help. This poskem, though was enrolled in school, would perform all the household chores and hence had little time for her studies. Later, when the couple realized that she may not be of any use to take care of their property matters, they adopted yet another boy. The boy’s family made it clear that he should be legally adopted as their son. Later, the boy, who got good education, got married and started living separately, as is the practice among Goan Catholic families. The couple who had grown old by then did not show any intention of marrying the girl off. The high school educated poskem when she entered her thirties, realized that she would ruin her life and wisely found a suitable boy for herself. The old couple was unwilling. But the social pressure compelled them to accept the proposal. But before agreeing to marry her off, the adopted son took her written consent that she had no share in the property. The girl is now happily married though continues to live a not-so-poor life. This is a happy story for the posko boy; but not-so-happy one for the poskem girl.Wendell Rodricks on why  he wrote his bookWhen I moved to live in Goa in 1993, there was a Poskem called Rosa who lived opposite me. Living alone in large houses, we chatted with each other across the street and became friends. We sent food to each other and enjoyed brief conversations. I think Rosa was surprised at my kindness. Neighbors told me she was a Poskem and they treated her in a condescending manner, as if she was not of our intelligence…which I found bizarre. Rosa was completely sane. Maybe she did not have a complete education but she knew to read, write, was baptized and lived a Catholic life.Wendell Rodricks. Photo : Francois Matthys She looked after the house and lived in her own lonely world. Rosa did not ever see the interiors of my home. If I called her for a cup of team she would say “But you are a bhatkar (landlord). I am too small a person to have tea with you.” That pained me. When Rosa died, I promised at her coffin that I would write about the Poskim — the forgotten Goans in the shadows. I dedicate the book Poskem to Rosa and  the Poskim people of Goa.In today’s world of human rights, this tradition will die a natural death. In my village, there is only one Posko that I know about…since Rosa. Now that some Goans know that the book will be out, they are already distancing themselves from the tradition. North Goa people say that the tradition exists in the South. And vice versa. I find it amusing that they want the stigma of Poskim to be kept away from themselves. Yet some still have Poskim in their homes; though they deny this fact. Related Itemslast_img read more

India’s New Signature Bridge Was Hailed As An Infrastructure Marvel. Now It’s A Spot For Dangerous Selfies.

first_imgIt took eight long years to build the new Signature Bridge. When it finally opened on Nov. 4, a minister called it the pride of the city and likened it to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.Now, just days after it was inaugurated, the Indian government’s flagship engineering marvel has become a site for dangerous selfies, piles of garbage and absurd traffic violations.“We did not expect that there would be such a craze around this bridge,” said Shurbir Singh, managing director of the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corp. (DTTDC), speaking to the Indian Express newspaper.The 2,214-foot asymmetrical bridge was built across the Yamuna River and connects north Delhi to Wazirabad, an increasingly populated area to its east. The cable-stayed structure also has a 505-foot-high viewing gallery.According to the Express, in just two days, police recorded 53 cases of improper parking and 24 one-way violations, and they had to tow away 27 vehicles.According to news reports in India, the bridge is littered with parked cars and thrill-seekers climbing the bridge’s suspension cables to take hands-free selfies. Street hawkers have set up stalls to capitalize on the bridge’s popularity.“The government has done a great job, but people are making the bridge dirty. It is attracting a lot of tourists for sure, but it is disorganized,” said one visitor, Om Prakash Sharma, speaking to the Hindu newspaper.India’s rapid economic growth over the past three decades is finally starting to deliver long-awaited urban infrastructure.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised flashy new transport links, including a $17 billion bullet train and 53,000 miles of new roads.According to a recent study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, about half of the world’s selfie-related deaths between 2011 and 2017 happened in India.The city of Mumbai has even introduced “no selfie zones” to prevent reckless selfie-taking.(c) 2018, The Washington Post Related Itemslast_img read more

Canada’s National Security Committee to Look Into Justin Trudeau’s India Trip

first_imgCanada’s National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) is conducting a special review of the allegations raised in context of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to India in February, specifically those relating to foreign interference in Canadian political affairs, risks to the security of the prime minister, and inappropriate use of intelligence, it said in a statement on April 9.The committee is also reviewing the security and intelligence operating procedures in relation to diplomatic and foreign visits involving the government of Canada.The special review stems from the Jaspal Atwal controversy that took place during Trudeau’s trip to India. Atwal, an Indo-Canadian convicted for attempt to murder an Indian politician in 1986 in Vancouver, was present at events in India attended by Trudeau, his Cabinet ministers and family.Canadian Member of Parliament Randeep S. Sarai took responsibility for inviting Atwal to Trudeau’s reception dinner in New Delhi, according to ANI.Conservative senators in Canada earlier introduced a motion in the parliament, asking Trudeau’s national security adviser Daniel Jean to appear before the Senate defense and security committee to answer questions about the trip. The motion was later amended and the NSICOP agreed to examine the incidents in confidentiality.Jean told the Canadian media after Trudeau’s return in February that rogue factions in the Indian government facilitated Atwal’s presence at those events since they did not want Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trudeau to have amicable relations, according to CBC. The theory floated by him blamed some unnamed Indian officials for holding grudges against Canada for being soft on Khalistan supporters.In response, India called the accusations “baseless” and “unacceptable.”The issue did not die down with Jean’s media briefing since the Conservatives demanded that he inform them about the details of the India visit as well. The Trudeau administration initially refused the proposal but later agreed to the committee’s probe into the “risks to the security of the prime minister and inappropriate use of intelligence” following a move by the Conservatives to hold a marathon voting  over the Atwal incident.The frosty relationship between the two countries continues weeks after Trudeau’s visit to India. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has cancelled a bilateral meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland that was expected to take place in the last week of April, according to the Hindustan Times. The meeting was reportedly scheduled during Freeland’s trip to India. The Indian External Affairs Ministry, however, said that no meeting had been scheduled, the report added. Related Itemsjaspal atwalJustin Trudeaukhalistan movementlast_img read more

Delegates from 150 Countries to Attend World Hindu Congress in Chicago

first_imgIndian American lawmaker Tulsi Gabbard will chair the second World Hindu Congress, scheduled to be held in Chicago in September, which would be attended by leaders of several countries with a sizeable Hindu population, the organizers of the event said on April 30, the Hindustan Times reported. The mega event will commemorate 125 years of Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago address on Sep. 11, 1893.Organized by the World Hindu Foundation, which is headed by former IIT alumnus Swami Vigyanand, the event is expected to be attended by over 2,000 Hindu delegates from over 50 countries.Gabbard is also the co-chair of the House Congressional caucus — a group of House members with common legislative goals. “With all that’s happening in the world, the universal message of aloha – love, peace, respect and unity – is so needed. I am looking forward to working with you and seeing you soon,” the Democrat Congresswoman said in a video message to the organizers, the Times of India reported earlier.The event, which is being billed as the biggest ever gathering of influential people of the Hindu community, including political leaders, corporate heads, and religious personalities from across the globe, is going to be held from Sept. 7 to Sept. 9, 2018. It will be centered around the theme, “Sumantrite Suvikrante” — Think Collectively, Achieve Valiantly. It will also feature an address from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat.The Indian politicians who are scheduled to attend the event include Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Among the religious leaders, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and Pranav Pandya from Gayatri Parivar are expected to be present. The three-day event is also likely to see top corporate leaders from India and the United States, leaders from Fortune 500 companies, Bollywood and Hollywood stars.The purpose of the event is to “ignite” global Hindu community for its political and economic empowerment, and make Hindus visible and respected across globe, Vigyanand said on the occasion of the first anniversary of Washington DC Chapter of World Hindu Economic Forum on April 30 .“Hindus should be the dominant force in the world economy,” Vigyananand said at the event. “The day Hindus –- who constitute 16 per cent of the world population — become 16 per cent of the world economy, people would start listening to them (Hindus).”The first WHC took place in New Delhi in November 2014, which was attended by 1,800 delegates from over 50 countries. The seven conferences organized then delved into how the values, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit of the global Hindu community find expression in a variety of spheres, including economy, education, media, and politics, as well as the unique leadership and contributions of Hindu women and youth. Related ItemsChicagoHinduismTulsi Gabbardlast_img read more

Statue in UK to Honor Indian Soldiers of WWI Vandalized

first_imgThe first statue in the UK to honor over 1.5 million Indian soldiers of first world war has been vandalized within a week of its unveiling.Vandals drew a black line across the plaque at the site, which had read ‘Lions of the Great War.’ They also wrote the phrase ‘Sepoys no more’ in its place, reported the Indian Express.A new public space was created for the statue by the Sandwell Council while Guru Nanak Gurudwara Smethwick funded its construction.Expressing his disappointment over the vandalism, Jatinder Singh, President of Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick wrote on Facebook, “There was some vandalism to the back wall overnight which is very disappointing. The graffiti was cleaned off and the matter was reported to the police.”He further said, “Working with the council we won’t allow this vandalism to undermine the very strong message created by this new monument and the overwhelmingly positive reaction to its unveiling.”“What makes this incident particularly distressing, is the complete disregard and lack of respect for the significance of the statue and inscriptions, installed recently to commemorate the losses felt by many South Asian families who lost their dear ones during the First World War and mark 100 years since the end of the Great War,” he added.He also appealed the people that if anyone witnesses vandalism or other anti-social behavior, they should report such incidents to the police as soon as possible. He added that CCTV footage is being reviewed to take necessary action.The 10-feet high bronze statue of a First World War Sikh soldier is to commemorate 100 years since the end of the first world war in 1918. The statue is sculptured by internationally renowned Black Country artist Luke Perry, who is also the idea behind the sculpture.In its earlier Facebook post, Guru Nanak Gurudwara Smethwick had said, “The Lions of the Great War statue, which stands on a six-foot granite plinth, is the first full statue of a South Asian First World War soldier in the UK.” Related Itemslast_img read more

‘Old fire’ fuels Petron

first_imgMOST READ Petron coach Shaq delos Santos, however, defused the building pressure and sent his squad into the knockout duel for the gold on the saddle of calmness.“We don’t have to be pressured,” he told them. “This is just volleyball. We have to play our normal game if we want to win the crown.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefMore importantly, he asked them to rediscover the energy they had rode on through all their title runs.“I just told them to bring back the old fire that made Petron successful in the past,” said Delos Santos. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netStalled in its bid for a tournament sweep en route to the crown, Petron suddenly found itself on the verge of a painful defeat.F2 Logistics, its chief rival the past few years, forced the Philippine Superliga finals into a sudden-death showdown and flaunted a form that seemed ready to flip the script of the All-Filipino conference.ADVERTISEMENT TS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening The players responded.Led by Rhea Dimaculangan, who became the first setter in four years to win an MVP trophy, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Bernadeth Pons, the Blaze Spikers slammed the door shut on the Cargo Movers, 25-22, 26-24, 25-23, in Game 3 Thursday night to successfully defend their crown.Maizo-Pontillas and Pons provided the scoring firepower while Dimaculangan made sure her hitters had prime looks at making kills as Petron bounced back from a Game 2 defeat—the team’s only loss the entire conference.“We really never thought of completing a sweep,” said Delos Santos. “We know how tough the competition is and winning all of our games will be very impossible. So instead of eyeing a sweep, what we did was prepare hard every day, give our best and respect our opponents.”Dimaculangan, the 27-year-old former stalwart from University of Santo Tomas, expertly distributed the ball to notch the MVP trophy, the first for a setter since Army’s Tina Salak pulled off the feat four years ago.ADVERTISEMENT PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion LATEST STORIEScenter_img Folayang ready for defense vs Aoki Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? Hotel management clarifies SEAG footballers’ kikiam breakfast issue Her partner during their UST days and now Petron teammate Maizo-Pontillas was named Best Opposite Hitter.Cignal’s team captain Rachel Anne Daquis was adjudged First Best Outside Hitter, while Generika-Ayala’s Patty Orendain was Second Best Outside Hitter.Another Lifesaver Marivic Meneses ran away with the First Middle Blocker honors, while F2 Logistics’ Majoy Baron was Second Best Middle Blocker.F2’s Kim Fajardo was Best Setter, Generika’s Kath Arado was Best Libero and Cignal’s Mylene Paat was Best Scorer.Also instrumental in Petron’s success were star middle Mika Reyes, Remy Palma, Ging Balse-Pabayo, Frances Molina, Pia Gaiser, Chloe Cortez, Angel Legacion, Sisi Rondina, Mela Tunay, Ria Duremdes and Jasmine Alcayde.Assistant coach Ian Fernandez should also be credited for coming up with a solid scouting report on the Cargo Movers.“This is a total team effort,” Delos Santos said. “This victory will not be possible without the he players, coaches, staff and the SMC management.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next BREAKING: Corrections officer shot dead in front of Bilibid Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting View commentslast_img read more

Premier League: Everton come back from behind to beat Watford 3-2

first_imgEverton climbed out of the Premier League’s relegation zone after coming from two goals down to win 3-2 against Watford, which missed a penalty in a 13-minute period of stoppage time at Goodison Park on Sunday.Everton looked set for a sixth straight loss in all competitions – and fourth under caretaker manager David Unsworth – after goals by Richarlison and Christian Kabasele put Watford 2-0 ahead by the 64th minute.Oumar Niasse pulled a goal back in the 67th, substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed home an equalizer in the 74th and Leighton Baines converted a penalty in the first minute of stoppage time to complete the turnaround.Tom Cleverley, a former Everton player, had an opportunity to make it 3-3 in the 11th minute of added-on time but the midfielder dragged a penalty wide after Richarlison was tripped.A first win in nine matches lifted Everton from 19th to 15th in the standings and brought a dose of positivity ahead of the international break, in which the club is expected to make a decision on the permanent successor to the fired Ronald Koeman.The thrilling win may have put Unsworth back in the frame for the job, with the interim manager having expressed his interest in the vacancy.last_img read more

Panasonic Industry Europe and OpenSynergy cooperate on WLAN Bluetooth

first_img Continue Reading Previous Bosch provides customized IoT and Industry 4.0 solutionsNext Renesas: SOTB technology eliminates the need for batteries to power IoT devices Panasonic Industry Europe and the software company OpenSynergy announce that they work closely together. The first result of this cooperation is the Bluetooth WLAN evaluation platform PAN 9026 ETU. The PAN 9026 module uses the Marvell 88W9877 Combo Controller with Bluetooth v5.0 and WLAN 802.11 n / a / g / b. The evaluation platform comes with a NXP i.MX6 hardware incl. Linux, Blue SDK Stack from OpenSynergy and WLAN drivers. Various WLAN applications (access point, client), Bluetooth audio streaming and Bluetooth Low Energy are part of the evaluation platform. This platform is part of the Panasonic and OpenSynergy IoT strategy. The combination of WLAN and Bluetooth offers maximum flexibility for connectivity in various industrial applications.The two companies have developed a common demonstrator to show the benefits of the PAN 9026 combo hardware.  It will be introduced in partnership at electronica and features: Bluetooth audio streaming (A2DP sink), Bluetooth Low Energy Beaconing (Advertising) and Wi-Fi Functions.The new module benefits customers by reducing design, testing, and calibration costs, thereby decreasing time to market compared to other solutions. The supplied software demonstrates essential features of WLAN, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy.The collaboration between PIDEU and OpenSynergy offers customers many opportunities. For example, customers can order Blue SDK software or commission development services directly for projects in this field.Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInMoreRedditTumblrPinterestWhatsAppSkypePocketTelegram Tags: Chips & Components last_img read more

The Anatomy of an Optimized Blog Subscriber Email

first_img Originally published Jan 6, 2014 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 When was the last time you paid any attention to your blog subscriber emails? “My blog subscriber emails? I’m pretty sure those just … get sent, right?”Probably. For many marketers, subscriber emails were likely something you configured when you first launched your blog — never to be thought about again.If this sounds familiar and you’re treating your blog subscriber email like just another automated email you set and forgot, you could be missing out on a wealth of opportunity. Not to blame you, though. Most automated blog subscriber emails from software are nothing to write home about. In fact, HubSpot’s own software only recently, with the launch of our new Blog tool on HubSpot’s new COS, started giving customers the ability to truly customize their blog subscriber emails.But if you do have the ability to customize these emails, they’re definitely an important asset to leverage. After all, depending on how often you blog and how many email subscribers you have, these emails go out to quite a few of your contacts on a regular basis. Are you making the most of all their potential?Using the HubSpot software’s own blog email capabilities as our prototype, let’s dissect the anatomy of an optimized subscriber email so you can identify areas for improvement in your own emails.The Anatomy of an Optimized Blog Subscriber Email1) Recognizable Sender NameMake sure your sender name makes it clear to recipients who the email is from. This is likely the first thing your subscribers notice about your email notifications, so if it’s not immediately evident to them that your email is from a known sender, your emails might end up straight in the trash.In HubSpot’s case, because multiple sections make up our blog, we use “HubSpot Blog” followed by the name of the particular section the contact is subscribed to as our sender name. This makes it easy for recipients to identify that the email is coming from, say, the marketing section of HubSpot’s blog.2) Clear, Catchy Subject LineBecause your email’s subject line is the most critical factor in whether your recipients decide to even open your email in the first place, make sure you give it ample thought.Considering your subscriber emails are most likely automated and triggered every time you publish a new post, a great approach here is to simply use the title of the blog post as your subject line — if your software enables you to do so like HubSpot’s does. Knowing this, make sure you take the subscriber email into consideration when you’re crafting your blog post titles.And be sure to avoid lengthy titles — 50 characters or fewer will ensure the subject line doesn’t get cut off in most email clients, particularly for mobile users. Also, make sure the title is catchy and interesting while also clearly indicating what the content is about. Misleading titles may get you the initial click, but over time, they will lead to the loss of subscribers’ trust — and ultimately, an increase in unsubscribes.3) Enticing Preview Text If your software enables you to customize the preview text of your email, this is another great opportunity to increase opens of your subscriber emails.The preview text is the copy that appears immediately following the subject line of your email. Use this real estate to further clarify what your recipients are getting and get them excited about what’s inside. Remind them that this is a notification email about your awesome new blog post and entice them to open it with some creative copy. But again, keep it brief! 4) Responsive Template Your email recipients are reading their emails on various devices, operating systems, and email clients — desktops, smartphones, tablets, iOS, Android, Gmail, Outlook — you name it! This means that in order to send effective blog subscriber emails, they should be optimized for each and every one of these different platforms. That’s where responsive email templates come in handy.A responsive template will automatically adjust to suit your email recipients’ individual situations — whether they’re using Gmail on a desktop, an Android smartphone, an iPad, or any other combination of software.So, if you have access to responsive email templates, use them! (Note: HubSpot’s Email tool has a variety of responsive templates to choose from and customize). If not, make sure you at least keep mobile email optimization best practices in mind when you’re designing your blog subscriber emails.5) Logo/Branding Now, on to the body of the email itself. Remember, getting your subscribers to open the email is only half the battle. The true goal is to get them to click through to the post itself. First things first: Incorporate some branding, such as your company’s logo, near the top of your email. This reassures subscribers that your email is coming from a trusted sender and adds some consistency to your blog notification emails.For instance, in HubSpot’s own blog subscriber emails, we use the same banner (with the addition of the HubSpot sprocket logo) that appears at the top of the section of the HubSpot blog the email is associated with.6) Personalization Greet your subscribers by name! If your blog software is connected to your contacts database, chances are you may know at least the names of many of your blog subscribers. Use it to your advantage and make your subscriber emails a little bit more personal using dynamic tags. Just be sure to set a default value for this dynamic tag for those people whose names are not in your contacts database.7) Introduction/Greeting You can also introduce your latest post and let your brand’s personality shine through with a quick, friendly greeting. Just keep in mind that, because your blog notification emails are automated, this greeting can easily get stale to recipients over time. If you’re going to incorporate a greeting, try to remember to switch it up every once in a while. 8) Clickable Blog TitleProminently display the title of the blog post you’re emailing about, and make sure it’s hyperlinked to the post itself. (If you’re using HubSpot’s new Blog tool, the title of your post is automatically pulled in to your email and hyperlinked for you.) This is exactly what your subscribers are looking for — and the main point of your email — so you want to make sure it’s easy to find to encourage clickthroughs.And as we mentioned earlier, when you’re brainstorming the title of your blog post, keep in mind how critical it is for generating clickthroughs from not only your emails, but also promotion in other channels like social media. For help with blog title generation, check out this simple formula for writing kick-ass titles. 9) Post Preview Some subscribers may need a little more convincing that your new post is worth the read before they decide to click through on your email. This is where the post preview comes in handy.Depending on the capabilities of your software, this is a good place to either provide a quick summary/description of your post or include the first few sentences of the post itself to draw readers in and entice them to click for more. Feel free to experiment with both to determine which generates more clickthroughs.If you’re using HubSpot’s new blog subscriber emails, you can choose to either show the post in full or just the content appearing before the “Read More Separator” (which you can set) in the post itself. Since the goal of your email is likely to drive subscribers back to your blog so they can explore not only this particular post but also your other content, I strongly recommend the latter. 10) Compelling Image and Alt TextUse the power of visual content to make your subscriber emails even more clickable by including a compelling, relevant image in your post preview. Not only will this help draw in the eye, but it will also make your emails more sharable, increasing the likelihood recipients will forward it to others and expand the reach of your blog content. And don’t forget to add relevant alt text for those recipients who either choose not to enable images in their email clients or whose email clients don’t support it. If you’re using HubSpot’s new blog notification emails, keep in mind that the image in your email will automatically get pulled in from your blog post if it’s included before the Read More Separator in the post itself. As such, you’ll need to add your alt text to the image in the post (not the email) and choose compelling images for your posts as you’re writing them. The good news is this is not only a best practice for email, but also for the social shareability of your blog content in general.11) “Read More” Call-to-ActionWe know every effective marketing email has a clear call-to-action (CTA), so how does this translate to your blog subscriber emails? Well, if you’re main goal is to drive subscribers back to your website where they can read the article you’re emailing about (and hopefully other articles), make sure that next step is crystal clear!After your post preview, include a call-to-action for recipients to read the full article on your blog. Experiment with the copy of this text link to see what generates more clickthroughs, and if your software allows, try a more prominent button CTA instead.(Tip for HubSpot COS Users: You can use HTML to display your “Read More” CTA copy more prominently, using styling like bolded text or headers.)12) Secondary CTAsThis begs the question — should you include any secondary CTAs in your blog subscriber emails? What about a CTA promoting an offer relevant to the content of the post? You know, for lead generation? To be honest, this depends on your particular goals and the type of secondary CTA you plan to use.If the goal of your blog subscriber emails is to drive traffic to your blog, then it’d probably be wise to forego any competing CTAs that might interfere. If your goal is to use these emails as another source of lead generation, feel free to experiment with secondary lead gen CTAs.For HubSpot’s own blog subscriber emails, our main goal is to drive subscribers back to our blog, so we chose to exclude lead gen CTAs. However, we do include a CTA for subscribers to download our free Newsstand app, enabling them to read our blog content optimized for their iPad — a complementary, but not competing offer.You’ll also notice that our “update your email preferences or subscribe to other sections” anchor text link is a CTA in and of itself. We have this there as a way to make sure subscribers know their options, save them from unsubscribing, and promote the other sections on our blog.  13) Social Media Follow Buttons Not every post you email is going to tickle your subscribers’ fancy. Maybe your blog is about unicorn care, and one of your subscribers is already an expert unicorn dietician. While your introductory post about unicorn diet may not be something she feels is worth the read, that doesn’t mean she has to go away empty-handed.For instance, is she following your company on Twitter yet? How about Facebook? A form of secondary CTAs, social media follow buttons are a great way to engage and nurture blog subscribers in other channels, and increase your overall social reach. Configure these buttons for the social networks in which your company actively maintains a presence.14) Footer Last but not least, customize your email’s footer. The most critical component of your footer is CAN-SPAM compliancy, so be sure to include your company’s physical mailing address and a clear unsubscribe link.You can also use your footer as an opportunity to save a few unsubscribes by reminding subscribers that they can always modify their current email preferences if they’re receiving too much email.HubSpot’s new blog subscriber emails enable you to offer subscription via an instant, daily, weekly, or monthly frequency, so if instant emails are overwhelming your subscribers, you’ll want them to know they have other frequency options before choosing to unsubscribe altogether.How else can you customize — and optimize — your blog subscriber emails? Share your tips in the comments!  Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Email Lists and Segmentation Topics:last_img read more

Why Search Volume Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think

first_img Measuring SEO Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Search volume calculates the numbers of times a keyword is searched for in a particular search engine. Previously, it was the marketer’s go-to metric to figure out what keywords would be the best to optimize around.However, as we (and search engines) have become smarter about how we optimize for SEO, that has all started to change. Why? Because these days, the emphasis should be more on quality and conversions than volume alone.4 Things That Matter More Than Search VolumeIt’s not that search volume doesn’t matter at all. Search volume is a good sign that there are people out there looking for help on a particular subject matter. But here’s what matters a lot more than a ton of search volume for a particular keyword or phrase:1) Conversion RatesIf you have 1,000 people come to your site off a keyword for which your content ranks, but only 2 people convert, does it really matter that you had 1,000 people come to your site? The purpose of SEO is much more than just attracting people to your content. It’s about attracting people to your content who find it relevant to their interests and needs. Let’s say you’re a B2B business selling analytics software for marketers. There are two approaches that you can take. You can try to create content about analytics in general, or you can make your content a bit more specific to marketing analytics. In the first case, you may attract more people who are interested in all kinds of analytics: marketing analytics, sales analytics, etc. (That is, if you can rank for the head term.) In the second case, you would attract people who are more relevant to your buyer persona.Which situation is more likely to yield actual customers? If you said the latter, I agree with you.2) FeasibilityWhen you’re creating your SEO plan, one of the first things you need to do is keyword research. But instead of basing this process on search volume, think about how likely you are to actually rank for and convert on the keywords you’re selecting.How much content are you going to create around those topics? How much content do you already have on those topics? How are you ranking now for related terms? Create your plan not just around what keywords make the most sense for your business to rank for — but how you can invest in the time and resources it takes to have a strong SEO strategy in place.3) User ExperienceFun Fact: Did you know that if someone comes to your site through a search engine and bounces to another site soon after, it doesn’t actually help your SEO?If the 1,000 people I mentioned before come to your site — but then realize your content isn’t helpful, interesting, easy to read, etc. — you’re not really doing much to help your SEO. Search engines are smart enough now to recognize and reward the sites that produce good content. And it makes sense that they’d care about this — they want to deliver the best possible search experience for their users. Think about these questions the next time you’re creating content. What does your site visitor do once they’re on your site? Are they engaged with your content? Do they click around? Do they look at various content offers you’ve created? These are all important questions to ask about your visitors that matter far more than going after keywords of a certain search volume.4) Writing for Your Buyer PersonaAbove all, your number one rule when optimizing for SEO is creating content for your buyer personas. If you can create content that will get a lot of people to your website — but they aren’t necessarily part of your target audience — it doesn’t help you grow your business. Whether you’re working on a large marketing campaign or simply writing a blog post, you always need to have your buyer persona in mind. What problems do they face? What are they trying to accomplish? What could help them do their jobs effectively or more efficiently? Your buyer personas are the key to improving your conversion rates.Like I said earlier, it’s not that search volume is the new dark horse of SEO. It’s not. But you should use it more to guide your SEO strategy than define it. The most important things to focus on are choosing topics that you can write to at a sustainable volume, improving your site conversion rates, and writing quality content that addresses the needs and interests of your buyer personas. Originally published Apr 11, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017last_img read more

The Engagement Ring Story: How De Beers Created a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry From the Ground Up

first_img Topics: Originally published Jun 13, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated June 30 2017 One of the biggest assets in a married couple’s relationship, the diamond engagement ring, might be an emotional asset and a symbol of love and commitment — but in the financial sense of the word, it isn’t actually an asset at all.In fact, it’s worth at least 50% less than you paid for it the moment you left the jewelry store. Makes you wince a little, doesn’t it?And yet, we feel compelled to buy them for our loved ones anyway. Heck, I still want one even after writing this article. How did that become the norm? It’s hard to imagine that it’s only been three-quarters of a century since diamonds became the symbol of wealth, power, and romance they are in America today — and it was all because of a brilliant, multifaceted marketing strategy designed and executed by ad agency N.W. Ayer in the early 1900s for their client, De Beers.Over the course of a few decades, N.W. Ayer helped De Beers successfully turn a failing market into a psychological necessity, all during a period of war and economic turmoil.Click here to download our ultimate toolkit for social and PR branding.How exactly did N.W. Ayer convince Americans that diamonds are the ultimate symbols of love, romance, and marriage? What were the marketing campaigns that turned the diamond industry around — and were they morally sound?De Beers’ 80-year stronghold on the diamond industry was one of the most impressive and fascinating in history. Let’s take a critical look at how the company used marketing to create and manipulate demand for diamonds from nothing.How It All StartedDiamonds haven’t been rare stones since 1870, when huge diamond mines were discovered in South Africa. Soon after the discovery, the British financiers behind the South African mining efforts realized the diamond market would be saturated if they didn’t do something about it. So in 1888, they set two audacious goals:1) Monopolize diamond prices. They succeeded by creating De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. and taking full ownership and control of the world diamond trade. While they stockpiled diamonds and sold them strategically to control price, De Beers Chairman Sir Ernest Oppenheimer cultivated a network of wholesalers all over the world.2) Stabilize the market. To succeed here, De Beers would have to figure out a way to control both supply and demand for diamonds worldwide. For this, they would need to find an ad agency.When De Beers began looking for an ad agency, the global economy was suffering and Europe was under threat of war. Their challenge was to figure out which country or countries had the most potential to support a growing diamond market, and then to hire an agency to implement a marketing campaign in those countries. Because of Europe’s preoccupation with the oncoming war, the U.S. was chosen — even though the total number of diamonds in the U.S. had declined by nearly 50% since the end of World War I.De Beers hired Philadelphia ad agency N.W. Ayer in 1938.The Birth of a VisionDe Beers chose N.W. Ayer because of their ideas on conducting extensive research on social attitudes about diamonds, and then strategically changing them to appeal to a wider audience.N.W. Ayer did exhaustive market research to figure out exactly what Americans thought about diamonds in the late 1930s. What they found was that diamonds were considered a luxury reserved only for the super wealthy, and that Americans were spending their money on other things like cars and appliances. To sell more and bigger diamonds, Ayer would have to market to consumers at varying income levels.So, how do they get more people to buy big diamonds in a bad economy? They needed to figure out a way to link diamonds with something emotional. And because diamonds weren’t worth much inherently, they also had to keep people from ever reselling them. What was emotional, socially valuable, and eternal? Love and marriage. Bingo.According to New York Times, N.W. Ayer’s game plan was to “create a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring.”The concept of an engagement ring had existed since medieval times, but it had never been widely adopted. And before World War II, only 10% of engagement rings contained diamonds. With a carefully executed marketing strategy, N.W. Ayer could strengthen the tradition of engagement rings and transform public opinion about diamonds — from precious stones to essential parts of courtship and marriage. Eventually, Ayer would convince young men that diamonds are the ultimate gift of love, and young women that they’re an essential part of romantic relationships.Creating the NarrativeThe agency wanted to make it look like diamonds were everywhere, and they started by using celebrities in the media. “The big ones sell the little ones,” said Dorothy Dignam, a publicist for De Beers at N.W. Ayer. N.W. Ayer’s publicists wrote newspaper columns and magazine stories about celebrity proposals with diamond rings and the type, size, and worth of their diamonds. Fashion designers talked about the new diamond trend on radio shows.N.W. Ayer used traditional marketing tools like newspapers and radio in the first half of the twentieth century in a way that kind of reminds me of inbound marketing today: In addition to overt advertisements, they created entertaining and educational content — ideas, stories, fashion, and trends that supported their brand and product, but wasn’t explicitly about it. According to The Atlantic, N.W. Ayer wrote: “There was no direct sale to be made. There was no brand name to be impressed on the public mind. There was simply an idea — the eternal emotional value surrounding the diamond.” Their story was about the people who gave diamonds or were given diamonds, and how happy and loved those diamonds made them feel.Every one of De Beers’ advertisements featured an educational tip called, “How to Buy a Diamond.” The instructions said: “Ask about color, clarity and cutting — for these determine a diamond’s quality, contribute to its beauty and value. Choose a fine stone, and you’ll always be proud of it, no matter what its size.”The agency saw tremendous success from their early campaigns. In just four years between 1938 and 1941, they reported a 55% increase in U.S. diamond sales. Riding this success, N.W. Ayer began perfecting their marketing strategy in the 1940s. They wanted to convince Americans that marriages without diamonds were incomplete.”A Diamond Is Forever”These four iconic words have appeared in every single De Beers advertisement since 1948, and AdAge named it the #1 slogan of the century in 1999.According to a New York Times article, the woman behind the signature line (Frances Gerety, who wrote all of De Beers’ ads from 1943 to 1968) came up with it right before bed one night after forgetting to brainstorm it earlier for the next morning’s meeting. When she reviewed what she’d scribbled down the night before, she thought it was “just OK” — and, after presenting it at the morning meeting, no one was particularly enthusiastic. It’s unclear why the slogan was chosen anyway, but it was a choice that would contribute greatly to De Beers’ tremendous advertising success. Even now, the URL redirects to De Beers’ main website.The slogan perfectly captured the sentiment De Beers was going for — that a diamond, like your relationship, is eternal — while also discouraging people from ever reselling their diamonds, as mass re-selling would disrupt the market and reveal the alarmingly low intrinsic value of the stones themselves.At the very beginning of N.W. Ayer’s campaigns for De Beers in the late 1930s, the suggested spend on an engagement ring was one month’s salary. In the 1980s, De Beers ran a campaign to reset the norm to two months’ salary. The ads said things like, “Isn’t two months’ salary a small price to pay for something that lasts forever?” The story from the campaign stuck, and De Beers’ “two months’ salary rule” is still widely accepted in the U.S. today.Scam or Genius?From the start, De Beers and their agency created and manipulated demand for diamonds by monopolizing the market, changing Americans’ social attitudes, and convincing people that a marriage isn’t complete without a diamond ring. So … are diamonds the biggest scam in history, or is this a prime example of ingenious marketing?De Beers knew their product wasn’t intrinsically valuable (like gold and silver is). So instead of marketing to their product, they mastered the art of marketing to values — in this case, the values and ethics surrounding love, romance, and marriage. No one was interested in buying diamonds when they conducted their first round of extensive market research, so they had to create that value themselves.I recently read a short Forbes article from 2011 called “There Is Only One Way To Make Money.” It’s about the difference between companies who find value, package it, and deliver it to customers, and companies who create value out of nothing.Most companies are the former, meaning they are reactive to existing value — like when Kraft Foods, Inc. changed its marketing strategy when market research showed a consumer attitude shift away from direct promotions of junk food to children. De Beers was part of the latter camp — their agency’s market research showed a major decrease in demand for diamonds, so they executed marketing campaigns that would shift, rather than accommodate, those existing social attitudes. While brilliant and successful, it also opens up a ton of ethical concerns. Regardless of which side you’re on, De Beers is a very interesting example to learn from. It’s fascinating how De Beers and N.W. Ayer created demand from nothing by coming up with a story and value proposition around their product — and it’s still successful today. Since the turn of the century, De Beers has effectively lost its monopoly of the world diamond trade, although they still bring in billions of dollars every year. But by marketing an idea rather than a product, they built a strong foundation for the $72 billion-per-year diamond industry and dominated it for a good 80 years — and that’s a story worth learning more about.So, what do you think of their marketing over the last century? I’m curious to hear your opinions in the comments below!Image Credit: De Beers, Advertising Archives Don’t forget to share this post! 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The ABCs of Compelling Visual Ads [Infographic]

first_imgThis year, 73% of content creators plan to prioritize creating more engaging content, while 55% plan to prioritize creating visual content, according to a report from Content Marketing Institute. This means more infographics, more social media images, more video content, and more visually appealing advertisements. What constitutes as visually appealing advertisement?In short: A lot of things. It needs to be simple, on-brand, targeted, actionable, understandable … the list goes on. To help you and your team better understand the underlying mechanisms that go into the creation of a compelling visual ad, check out the infographic below from Bannersnack. They’ve provided everything you need to know about visual ad creation in one infographic — and they’ve alphabetized it. 81Save81Save Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Visual Content Originally published May 6, 2016 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017last_img read more