Home Columns Anantha Narayan Our Greek debt

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    For a country with a population as big as Bengaluru, Greece has piled up a mountain of debt. As per experts, the Greeks owe their creditors nearly $353 billion. To put things in perspective, that’s twice the size of the Indian IT industry. While the Greek tragedy unravels, it is a good idea to explore what the business world owes the nation that gave us democracy, philosophy, Olympics and more.
    Nike, the $25 billion conglomerate, began its journey as Blue Ribbon Sports. A chance decision to rename it after the Greek goddess of victory, made all the difference. ASUS, the world’s largest PC vendor after Lenovo and HP, is a $13 billion corporation. By the company’s own admission, ASUS is derived from Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology. Only the last four letters were picked from Pegasus, as it would help in directory listings.
    Olympus, the $7 billion Japanese camera giant, is named after Mount Olympus, the home of the Greek gods. Even Canon Eos, the best-selling auto-focus SLR, has a mythical connect: Eos happens to be the Greek goddess of dawn.
    Two big companies in India, Apollo Tyres (turnover, $2 billion) and Apollo Hospitals ($750 million), derive their names from the very handsome and strong god of light, who is also known to be the chief patron of medicine.
    Even demigods have been milked to create business propositions. Atlas (the Titan who supports the heavens on his shoulders) and Hercules (the son of Zeus synonymous with superhuman strength) are two of our leading cycle brands, clocking revenues in hundreds of crores.
    Trojan, America’s No 1 condom, is an ode to the virility of Priam, the last king of Troy. Priam is said to have fathered 50 sons and innumerable daughters.
    Another colourful character from the past who’s been converted into a money-spinner is Milo. The ancient wrestler, who was the grand slam champion of the sport in his times, was immortalised by Nestle as a chocolate malt beverage.
    One can go on recounting. From Eidos (meaning: ‘species’) to Omega (the last letter), there are so many brands that have leeched off the Greek cornucopia. If only the good people of Athens had found some way to demand royalty, they wouldn’t be in such a soup. Or should we say Fasolada?

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