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Real Power

Before Alexander died he asked people to display his empty hands to the world in his last journey. He wished to convey that all the power he fought for is not being taken by him but is being left behind. The warrior code of power lost to the ultimate reality and powerlessness in death.
In the same way, after two world wars, world leaders across continents appreciated the ideology of non-violence and peace. One meaning is surely that real power is eternally superior and rock solid than its counterpart i.e. Peace is greater than war; should we say blood must flow in veins not in drains.
In India, traditionally a patriarchal society, empowering women is the new social theme and the shift is now facing resistance from traditionally men dominated sections of society. But evidently women power is the new power focus in our society. Now we wonder why Indian grand fathers acted like landlords and why Indian grandmothers were subservient and symbols of sacrifice. The patriarchal power still dominates in most parts of the country but is perhaps a melting traditional form with rising female literacy and working population.

The Counter Culture in power games is interesting. Democracy was the new power against monarchy.  Science looks rationally new power against mythology and social belief systems. Capitalism over socialism looks surely more exciting and modern. There is new community of people who want to live moneyless out of choice to promote frugality in high consumption society. These people feel they have the real power over those who have billion dollars. They think that our most valuable things in life e.g. family, community, passions, our own life is not bought with money. Deprivation makes you stronger than consumption. It is debatable as it is about which side of the line you are.

Renunciation is as powerful as acceptance. Austerity can lead to happier life too. The view and counter view makes the subject attention-grabbing. In the more homogenous material world, doing things in a new way comes from non-linear thinking. Open door policy is a new way that empowers employees. Right to information or education in democracy is the real power. If media is the new power over governance, if technology has overthrown human intuition or clinical judgment in modern medicine, if life skills & personality is the real success decider than knowledge or professional degrees, if pester power is new and patriarchal is old, we are on to an interesting discovery of insights.

There was a time when products were supremely powerful.  Mechanical ruled engineering only to be repositioned by computer sciences. Humans were in awe of powerful bikes till computers came on. New power structures represent change; a positive change that impacts society to live smarter and happier. Perhaps, brands shouldn’t be more powerful than products, but they are. Myths are more powerful than truths in shoppers’ behavior. The “real power” versus “not so real power” can be an interesting debate platform. It need not be lackluster with only social or political or economic topics but more behavioral, more insightful and more everyday to which people can relate to; can share their experiences, or even threaten Big Brother.  Ecuador recently ruled out any change in its position on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying the reasons for which he was granted asylum were still relevant. A small nation symbolizes new power as it chose to align with another icon of new power. This can be argued either ways as there is a valid case against Assange.

People often confuse new real power with underdogs or underprivileged or under the hierarchical weight of structures in society. But it’s not. In a way, real power is not the original but the challenger. It counters older notions of power, humbles them to make way for newer codes. It is evident that power when held tightly to chest dissolves in its identity. Recently an Indian leader displayed his displeasure for internal organizational issues. His resignation entitled him to be the great sulk man during that week. His power within the party eroded with his inability to make way for future; for younger leadership. This resonated authoritarian power not decentralized; new power lies in younger people, in party workers. The moral of the story is that power plans succession; in empowering others.

New trajectories of new power are an opportunity to sync with. When we say women empowerment in India, we look forward to a new change in society, at home, in our places of work. When we talk about child welfare, we look forward to right to education, right to food, right to shelter, right to safety, and right to good health. In this projected change, shifting power to children from the provider or guardian government is new trajectory.  New axis could be what Tata Group (an Indian business conglomerate) has recently announced i.e. funding business ideas from SC, ST, OBC sections of society. The trajectory of ‘socially backward entrepreneurs’ is new ray of hope for holistic development of society; is the new change currency in erstwhile government policy logjam.

The ‘power’ versus ‘real power’ obliquely implies that ‘power’ per se can be artificial in the light of ‘real power’ yet both co-exist in real world.

Atulit Saxena
28 Mar 2016
Atulit Saxena Before Futurebrands, he was Director of Euro RSCG Advertising, one of world's leading advertising agencies. A post graduate in business administration from University of Rajasthan, Atulit has more than two decades of brand development experience across apparels, FMCG, consumer durables and services. His principal areas of work and interest include Startup Brands, Brand Finance, Brand Licensing, Brand Partnerships, documentary films and teaching. Atulit has given lectures at franchising & brand licensing conferences, FICCI , CII seminars, and management schools in India.

Atulit Saxena
28 Mar 2016
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