Duryodhana – the new role model for young India / understanding rape in India

In the quintessential Indian epic Mahabharata, the character of Duryodhana has been of an unmitigated villain. But there is an alternative narrative about him. He was denied the throne – due to his lineage, and even though he was equal to Arjuna in skill and strength, he was less favoured by teachers and elders. He bit down snubs and insults all his life and watched his cousins be more favoured through life stages. It seemed to him that the path of dharma was created to favour those with an advantage of birth – and to forever deny him any possibility of winning the kingdom.

This virile, skilled and courageous warrior vowed to claim the throne – through fair means and foul – and avenged his humiliation by a sneering Draupadi and the mocking Pandavas through many actions deemed heinous by the nobility. He was to have been content with his lot – as meritocracy was not even an option, for questioning that would have been questioning the rightful path.

India is at a cross-roads today. We have been a nation where caste and class privileges have existed for millennia, and unspoken rules have ‘kept people in their place’ through language, culture and traditions. But the burgeoning population of aspirers are no longer willing to follow the codes of their parents. The son of a maid servant wants pizza and not the leftovers his mother ate. The daughter of a barefoot salesman wants to become an air-hostess, and no longer wants to marry a dowry seeking good-for-nothing who would take to drink and beat her up. No longer is this generation okay with anything being denied to them – because of an accident of birth. No longer are there boundaries of ‘you can see but can’t touch’. There was an unwritten code that a rickshaw driver could never hope to date an English speaking educated girl from a different socio-economic strata. Movies such as Raja Hindustani were fantasies and everyone came away happy acknowledging them as such. They were films without the realism and grit of real life. But a wildly successful movie called Raanjhana changed that fantasy into an attainable reality.

“Gali ke laundon ka pyaar aksar doctor aur engineer le jaate hai..dil chota na kar”, says Mohammed Zehshaan to Dhanush. To which Dhanush replies, “Ye Benaras hai launda yaha bhi nai jeeta toh fir kahan jeetega”. ( when his friend says that girls prefer Doctors and engineers, Dhanush replies that if he can’t win in Benaras then where is he going to win. ) In another scene, he slits his wrists to show Sonam Kapoor how much he loves her and when she protests, he says the next time will be your wrists. This underlying premise that nothing or no one is off limits is the new narrative.

The positive outcome of this has resulted in a new Indian reality where stories of a vertical transcending of boundaries abound. The son of our erstwhile gardener now works with an IT firm in Stanford, CT; and the daughter of the janitor of my school owns a successful salon. In this new India, start-up successes are from first generation entrepreneurs and opportunities hitherto available to only the English speaking ‘middle-class’ have opened up to everyone.

The flip side however, is the sense of entitlement in grabbing and taking whatever you wish. The 20 year old son of a rural contract labourer in Latur district has a Samsung Galaxy II – bought second-hand for 16k! Entirely paid for by the father (annual income 85k), the young man has no hopes of earning this. He does not want to work like his father. He is qualified for nothing else. The culture of rape – where no morality exists and no one is out of bounds and where personal gratification is the only driver – is for similar reasons. I must have it – I am entitled.

We are in the midst of deep and profound social change – and however reprehensible, the current social environment is reflective of a generation whose time has come. They will not be denied anything. This feeling is revolutionising India and creating a new social order.

In this age of Duryodhana – we need to understand this aspiration and find ways in society of bridging the social chasms and create new codes for this society. A new India needs new rules.

Every reason you should have your eyes on China this fall!

As a kid, my life was tough. My parents loved both their children equally. Except the one that played video games. They liked that one less. My mother never saw any clear line between gaming and drug abuse. But I survived and this is my story.

I have been a gamer all my life but it was quite recently that I was introduced to the world of e-Sports. That’s when I started following the League of Legends World Series.
If I ask you which is the most watched sporting event?

You may say at once- it is probably NBA or NHL or Football! Actually it is that computer game that neighbor kid of yours keeps playing. Ask the kid what is he watching on his phone and he would tell you – e-Sports.

E-Sports is full of wow moments, where much like traditional sports- underdogs will steal a victory within a second, godlike figures are brought to tears on losing. This is basic human nature. It is emotive, representative of a player beyond just their talent and skill, which is why viewers connect a lot.

The world of e-Sports is a universe in itself and is suddenly all grown up. Your old-school die-hard football fan may roll his eyes, but e-Sports—professional video gaming is way more than just an activity, it is a full-fledged spectator sport now. Garnering ticket sales, attracting major sponsorships and grabbing a growing share of advertising money, it is directly eating into the share of traditional sports.


For one simple reason- it is the most attractive segment. 71% of people who watch e-Sports have a full time job and more than 50% of these are in the age group 21-35, which is often described as the most attractive target group in marketing. More interestingly, males between the ages of 18 and 25 in the United States already prefer e-sports over traditional sports. If this is not it, hear this- Watching e-Sports ranks second in preferred media after movies. There are so many gaming titles that now belong to the e-Sports league.

But my personal favorite is the League of Legends-for it has sheer number power. More people watched the League of Legends Mid-Season invitational last year than the Euro cup final or NBA final or any sporting final for that matter. There were 360 million such people. To give you a perspective, that’s more than 5% of the world’s population.

This year the Finals will be organized in a sold-out stadium in China. This is why I ask you to keep your eyes on China this year if you are a marketer.
Now at this point, most people would disagree with me and say- Well, this may be the case abroad, India is different. We only love cricket. According to ESFI (e-Sports Federation of India) – It is estimated that India has around 264 million online gamers. That’s 20% of our population! Are you surprised? So am I- but for a different reason


I am surprised because the market is so huge and purely untapped. Marketers simply ignore the existence of this cultural phenomenon. It is important that we acknowledge that Pop Culture also changes. As technology advances it regularly effects our culture. Increasingly, e-Sports events are being held at enormous venues and stadiums. It’s one of the fastest growing industries, growing at a rate almost faster than show business. The magic of e-Sports isn’t just in the gameplay itself, but in the personalities and culture. E-Sports has changed the world as we know it. So the next time you do your regular ‘TG exercise,’ don’t just look at movies, songs and TV shows.

Reaching gamers however, can be an incredibly difficult task given that these folks can be really nasty if an outsider tries to infiltrate their culture solely for monetary gain. That’s why an authentic approach is imperative. Many of the people involved in this industry also have a lot of passion for gaming and e-Sports as a whole. They want to see this scene grow and succeed because they see the potential it has.

The people who are pushing the growth of e-Sports are all really invested. They have been working towards making e-Sports recognized as a legit sport. So much so that Paris 2024 Olympic organizers are “deep in talks” about including e-sports as a demonstration sport at the Games. Not only this, competitive video gaming will also be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games.


The league of Legends World Finals will happen in China this year. And if you really want to know what your ‘TG’ will be doing this fall, keep your eyes on China.