Home Columns Anantha Narayan Rotten apple syndrome

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    What comes to your mind when you think of Veerappan? That sandalwood smuggler with the handlebar mousch, right? And what visuals fill your head when you imagine a�?Lewinskya��? Most hot-blooded men are likely to see a a�?buxom interna�� and a�?Bill Clintona��s cigara��. Leta��s take one more question. If you travelled with a bloke named a�?Godsea��, which historic incident is likely to cloud your world-view? The assassination of a much-loved old man, no?
    Dona��t you get what I am alluding to? It takes just one rotten apple to spoil the reputation of a name forever. Ask actress Mugdha Godse or parliamentarian Hemant Tukaram Godse about the kind of grief they get from strangers on account of their surname. Perhaps thata��s why they fought so hard to remove a�?Godsea�� from the list of unparliamentary words in the Lok Sabha. It took the community nearly seven decades to undo the damage caused by one Nathuram.
    I am reminded of the Bollywood number, Munni badnam hui darling tere liye, every time I come across such instances. To quote a telling example: Nithyananda is a revered 15th century Vaishnava saint in the Gaudiya faith, often seen as an incarnation of Lord Balarama. But mention a�?Swami Nithyanandaa�� to Chennaiites, and all you will elicit is sniggers and snide references to a naughty sex tape. In one stroke, the video clip ruined the reputation of a genuine godman and the aura of respectability of thousands of Nithyanandams across the world.
    Put yourself in the shoes of your neighbourhood Dr Prakash (namesake of a local smut king) to know what stigma is. Ita��s never too easy being a Ravana in Ramaland or a Judas in Jesuspuram. You always carry the baggage that comes with the name. Therea��s no escaping that.
    Fortunately, companies have a choice. They can drop their ill-reputed moniker at will and choose something with more positive associations. When ISIS, the radical Islamic group, reared its ugly head, the Belgian Chocolate maker a�?Isisa�� carried a makeover and labelled themselves as a�?Libeerta��. Ditto with the mobile wallet app a�?ISISa��. They opted for a�?Softcarda��.
    Individuals have no such luck because you cana��t chuck away your identity in a flash. Youa��ve got to live with it like a good fruit in a stinky basket.


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