7 Social Groups. 7 Social Brands

09 Jan,2020


By Avik Chattopadhyay


“Social brands” are a very interesting phenomenon.


What starts off merely as a means to identify or classify a group of people finally ends up as a means to differentiate, distinguish, label and finally act upon. Stereotypes are cast over a period of time eventually ending up in the “brands” being subjected to a certain preconceived notion.


It might work in certain rare cases in the positive, but in most cases the exercise of creating social brands is with a deep-down devious motive, to divide, deprive and eventually destroy.


Contexts also work hugely in granting a certain social brand its legitimacy or sheer lack of it. Hence, a “commie” is a good thing to be called in the erstwhile Soviet Union but terrible to be branded as in the US. In the former you might have got a star, but in the latter, you would have Hoover’s goons tapping your phone even if you were Arthur Miller!


We have also had our share of social brands for as a collective people we thrive on races, castes, creeds, colours and any type of differentiation that has been thought up on this planet. We create social brands out of caste, profession, region, colour, political leaning, religion and even disabilities! So, “Brahmanical intelligence” was always lauded while “Babus” are typically looked at with scorn and satire. In primary school I was introduced to “Bangalis” and “Madrasis”. In high school my world expanded to “Harrys” and “Chinkys”. And my world was never the same, adding a group here and a group there to my lexicon. The corporate world took me across borders and cultures and colours. Never been a dull moment.


Just when things were getting a bit boring, the 2014 general elections happened in our lives. And the proceedings of creating new social groups and classifying people under them gathered furious momentum. So, here are 7 new social brands that have been created in India over the last five years.


1. Sickular– interesting name…initially I thought it was about the communists…sickle and all, but then got hammered that it was all about those amongst us who propound this concept called “secularism”. This was the shroud around appeasement of minorities and fringe groups by those who have sacrificed the entitlements of the majority.


2. Bhakt– this is quite an old one but has got a fresh lease of life now, and how! This brand could make you a patriot, a nationalist, a preserver of moral values and one who serves the true interest of an entity called Bharat. On the contrary, all that could backfire on you when seen through another pair of glasses where you are this mentally delinquent flag-waving sword-swinging lout on the street. Pretty compelling on both sides. A janus brand!


3. Urban Naxal– this brand was created around 10 years back but keeps getting pulled out of the hat as the situation demands. Here, you are basically a gone case as you espouse a lost cause! You are a threat to national security, even if you actually work with tribals in the back-of-beyond trying to save their land from being gobbled up into a bauxite mine. This brand is the real serious stuff as you are always on the radar of the central government and all intelligence agencies. If one is branded so, that person has truly evolved and arrived.


4. Presstitute– I was actually impressed with the Indian who had coined this word to brand the media that is up for sale. Then I realised that the brand has been imported from the US. Some futurist had created this term in total disgust at the quality of reporting there. Here, all camps use this term liberally to brand all members of the media, as media will always have a point of view that may not pander to each camp.


5. LeLi– this is another interesting one, aimed at the “left liberals”. Let me tell you that most leftists are not liberal and the true liberal shuns the typical leftism practised in our country. It’s a bit of a paradoxical brand with fundamentally conflicting brand purposes. Therefore, can understand why those who are branded so seem peeved no end! Total identity crisis.


6. Tukde Tukde Gang– this brand has synonyms in the form of “JNU Gang”, “AMU Gang” and “Deshdrohi Gang”. Pretty powerful and damning stuff actually. This is the primary enemy of the Bhakt brand. They cannot tolerate each other. This brand is intent on breaking up all the good that the Bhakt does. This brand typically feeds in to the Urban Naxal brand. They are alleged to have a symbiotic relationship.


7. Khan Market Gang– this brand is a result of collateral damage, caught between the Urban Naxals, the Bhakts, the Presstitutes and the LeLis. The members of this brand were otherwise party-loving, mall-hopping, gin-sipping innocents who just happen to be found in a tony shopping area of Delhi. Just because they smiled at the LeLis and Sickulars as it seemed fashionable, they have now got branded and are subjected to television debates and lectures on ancient moral values.


Life in India could never be more exciting.


Never mind the farmer suicides, unemployed youth and duped depositors, it is such fun to sit at a restaurant and slot people around you in one of these social brands. Terrific timepass. Ah, that guy with a tilak on his head… he is a Bhakt! That lady reading Milan Kundera must be a LeLi. Those ‘jholawalas’ have to be Urban Naxals. Happy days are here again…



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