Touche, Motherbleeper!

I met an MBA student (University of X) today who was quite young (I hope) and was a really really horrible defender of "American" (my scare quotes) values of "changing the world" (my scare quotes) by bringing corporate spaces into Indian villages. In particular, she defended the value of bringing darkness (by which I mean "e-kiosks" (her colleague's language)), sponsored by Hindustan Lever, into stores where people could get "educated" about why they should brush their teeth. By which I mean that they would be sold on the idea of Pepsodent and, presumably, henceforth sold Pepsodent.

Appalling?

Scorecard:

-10 points if you can't deal with insanity.
-15 points if you try to deciper insanity.
-5 points if you keep quiet.

There are no positive points; hence, drink up or tell someone unconnected to the events describedherein to go fuck themselves because you can't deal with the world as it is.

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P.S. "alcoholism is not a substitute for processing emotions": discuss.

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Comments

actually, i pushed it to a

actually, i pushed it to a new level.

And here I was about to forgive you for your arrogance. Have fun cleaning teeth!

Look into theories about the social production of knowledge at some point. It's helpful when you appreciate that quality information (or at least social consensus on beliefs) often comes about from discussion, challenges, competition, confrontation, etc.--not the work of any single great man or woman.

Particularly since you allegedly appreciate the market so much ;)

I agree with everything you

I agree with everything you said. My comments with Dr. Anonymous were only limited to how this would be one way to spread awareness and therefore had some value. You are absolutely correct that accessability is still an issue--the most salient issue--and not solved through this. I wasn't trying to cover that up.

The only way to create accessability is to offer affordable services. This is our challenge. Im not going to pretend like I've completely figured that out.

However, given the structure of the system people will have accessability if they can pay for such services. Its unfortunate that the present model will delay such access until the long process of increasing the size of the economy, creating more jobs, and allowing new wealth to be created. There are serious issues of accessability to this upward mobility process and meaningful economic development will address this and be committed to it. It is questionable whether those in power in India are committed to this.

Not really Dentist

Not really Dentist Patel:

Desi Italiana; a truly gujurati approach would conclude that if it is only limited sweets then you are better off because it will help maintain your figure for a good wedding match, like a dentist.

Right, very cute. But you missed the larger point of what I'm saying. You're talking about how corporations- through their desire of making profits- can plant seeds of oral hygeine via promoting their products. But that doesn't address the fact that the larger problem stil remains: people don't have access to care that really aids their well-being. People can be educated all you want, but that doesn't mean that their needs are addressed. What are you trying to say? That corporations promoting "education" fills the void of the state's failure in providing essential services? And if people are "educated" enough- i.e. prevention- care and solutions should be overlooked?

I always find it adorable that people throw around uber-academic theories about this and that but can't really address real life situations. I told you my situation, it's a real fact. My teeth hurt like hell. I've been practicing good oral hygeine all my life, particularly because I know I can't go to the dentist as often as I should. What should I do? Let my teeth rot? That doesn't take away the fact that I do not have access to dental care when I do have a dental problem. Are Crest and Colgate going to solve this issue?

Your post is an example of unqualified and unreasonable “corporate” (my scare quotes) bashing. Sure, there is a self interes for Pepsodent greater than indian people’s teeth, but you should get over that.

Why should anyone get over that in light of what I said above? You are overlooking the essential point, which is accessibility and guarancy that if you do have a problem, you have something/somewhere to turn to. So you should get over your ultra idealistic idea that the free market and corporations are going to address and solve people's health needs.

Ignorance of better standards of healthcare are.

You are a precious neoliberal, you. Supposedly the invisible hand of the market is somehow going to take care of everything, includig educating people of better healthcare standards which will presumably prevent any problems, ailments, etc. Like I said, you fail to see the bigger and more fundamental issue.You're focusing on the more superficial layer of the issue. Ignorance of better standards of healthcare is not the only thing that is appalling, but also lack of accessibility. Telling people that good healthcare is to simply "not get sick" and "take care of your teeth" is stupid. Furthermore, telling people that they should engage in good healthcare and then turn around and not offer any accessible services is apalling. What if, despite all of the preventive measures and practices- even if taught by corporations- you do have a problem?

This is the crux of the problem. And don't talk to me about "socially responsible corporations" which is an oxymoron itself or that corporations and the free market will provide accessibility to high quality health services.

Dr. anonymous: I obviously

Dr. anonymous: I obviously understand the social production of knowledge

Oh. So the implication then is that you're aware you were just being an asshole.

actually, i pushed it to a

actually, i pushed it to a new level.

I agree that quick fixes

I agree that quick fixes should not be adopted without thinking through all the consequences. I am suggesting that you are overstating those consequences (and you actually failed to address them at all in your original post, and thus my request for you to qualify).

I think as people that are genuinely concerned with the public health issues of those in the desh we should have a dose of pragmatism and reality interjected into our thoughts. This is distinct from being silent about other legitimate concerns that may arise from a chosen solution or mechanism of delivery.

In this situation you bring up a good point with Hindustan Lever's other products, such as the face whitening cream. I empathize with the concerns that arise; how are we to deal with such institutions/organizations? Are we suppose to just be hostages to corporations because they happen to fill a particular public health/social program void in one area, while furthering other problems in a different sphere?

I have been trying to suggest that in situations like this we CAN have our cake and eat it too. We can force these institutions to use their resources to do something positive and critique them when appropriate. We should NOT be silent in critiquing HL for other things. If someone was handing out toothbrushes and cigs then of course they should be critiqued for that. You are confusing the ability to develop a nuanced and pragmatic approach to criticism that tries to maximize real and immediate benefits for people with blatant complacency to corporate interests. I challenge you to incorporate such nuancy into your future bloggings.

The tragedy in my opinion is that when we allow public health voids to go unfulfilled with out alternative solutions already in place we have failed the cause to a certain degree. It seems we disagree on what that degree actually is.

You are correct that there are--theoretically--other providers of such services like NGOs, etc.. And these outlets could be sources for alternative forms of awareness and engagement on this issue. Ideally that would be more preferable than HL. However, supporting an immediate need through a source other than these ideals ones does not take away our ability to empower the ideal source.

In the end im not saying you are wrong or stupid for being angry at HL, your blogs might be worth two cents if they pushed the discussion to a new level. This is my last comment on this posting.

You're a sweet guy, Dr.

You're a sweet guy, Dr. Anonymous. No matter how many scare quotes you put up, you always make me smile. That being said, I have excellent teeth and an even more excellent dentist. Furthermore, I do disagree with quick fixes for anything (hence my abstaining from alcohol, sir) and can sympathize with your plight and your sentiments towards this MBA student.

Why is this appalling? It

Why is this appalling?

It seems like no one else is investing in educating about proper dental care. There is a time and place for credible and qualified critiques of neo-liberalism, this is not an example of one. Your post is an example of unqualified and unreasonable "corporate" (my scare quotes) bashing. Sure, there is a self interes for Pepsodent greater than indian people's teeth, but you should get over that.

Sharing health information through an "e-kiosk" that is also an advertisement for a particular product is not appaling. Ignorance of better standards of healthcare are.

Dr. Anonymous, The tone of

Dr. Anonymous,

The tone of your response is troubling and uncalled for; I simply asked you to qualify your statement. Last time I checked good arguments and well thought out points could respond to such requests. Doing so would raise the quality and credibility of this blog.

You are correct to assume that I have a basic understanding of politics and public health, and it is this understanding which is the source of my confusion on the criticism written in your original post.

You stated:
"During that time, you must have learned that in a given situation, there are any number of potential solutions, and that among those, some of them are feasible given physical, political, and other constraints (which themselves are modifiable to varying degrees)."

Absolutely, and infact this point is the driving force of my originl inquiry. The state has not taken huge or bold steps in dental health (and other public health) awareness. That is appaling to me given my theory on the role of the state. However, since this is the reality of the situation, a profit conscious dental hygiene company that delivers this awareness is serving a useful purpose. And for the record I am not saying we should give up on the state’s role, because I also agree that “such constraints can be modified in varying degress”. The fact that there is an interest greater than Indian people’s teeth for Pepsodent is irrelevant because many of the products they develop are good for the dental hygiene of the people.

These are some of the assumptions/truths I am working off of:
1) the state will not develop quality dental hygiene products. 2)They have not adequately raised awareness either.

My confusion based on the above:
If you believe that there are a variety of solutions which are feasible on different levels given particular constraints, why is this not one of them? If the state is failing to do this, and if you are actually committed to the public health needs of Indians, why is this appalling

Your second point:
"There’s no dichotomy between ignoring public health needs and allowing Hindustan Lever to promote its products in stores in the name of public health needs."

Again, DUH. My only point is that any effective public health campaign has a role for the private sector, and this role changes on a case by case basis depending on the public health concern. For dental hygiene and awareness an e-kiosk pushing pepsodent is an easy way to address dental health needs, in particular awareness and delivering a quality product to address the actual health concern.

I think a better example of private sector action in public health that is actually appalling is the AIDS medication issue. In that case the source of the dispute is how much of a gross mark up drug companies are willing to except (note, that a gross mark up is still in the picture for them which makes it all the more appalling). This is very different than the context of your original post.

I can foresee you continuing to call me a fuckhead based on the logic and reasoning of my entire post if you are don’t believe in the existence of a private sector and markets in general. That is a completely different discussion, but it maybe worth stating what assumptions you are working off of so I can understand why I “dont know what the fuck I’m talking about”.

Cheers.

whoops, I didnt use the block

whoops, I didnt use the block quote feature correctly. Im sure you can make do anyway.

Dr. Anonymous, The tone of

Dr. Anonymous,

The tone of your response is troubling and uncalled for; I simply asked you to qualify your statement. Last time I checked good arguments and well thought out points could respond to such requests. Doing so would raise the quality and credibility of this blog.

You are correct to assume that I have a basic understanding of politics and public health, and it is this understanding which is the source of my confusion on the criticism written in your original post.

During that time, you must have learned that in a given situation, there are any number of potential solutions, and that among those, some of them are feasible given physical, political, and other constraints (which themselves are modifiable to varying degrees).

Absolutely, and infact this point is the driving force of my originl inquiry. The state has not taken huge or bold steps in dental health (and other public health) awareness. That is appaling to me given my theory on the role of the state. However, since this is the reality of the situation, a profit conscious dental hygiene company that delivers this awareness is serving a useful purpose. And for the record I am not saying we should give up on the state's role, because I also agree that "such constraints can be modified in varying degress". The fact that there is an interest greater than Indian people's teeth for Pepsodent is irrelevant because many of the products they develop are good for the dental hygiene of the people.

These are some of the assumptions/truths I am working off of:
1) the state will not develop quality dental hygiene products. 2)They have not adequately raised awareness either.

My confusion based on the above:
If you believe that there are a variety of solutions which are feasible on different levels given particular constraints, why is this not one of them? If the state is failing to do this, and if you are actually committed to the public health needs of Indians, why is this appalling

Your second point:

There’s no dichotomy between ignoring public health needs and allowing Hindustan Lever to promote its products in stores in the name of public health needs.

Again, DUH. My only point is that any effective public health campaign has a role for the private sector, and this role changes on a case by case basis depending on the public health concern. For dental hygiene and awareness an e-kiosk pushing pepsodent is an easy way to address dental health needs, in particular awareness and delivering a quality product to address the actual health concern.

I think a better example of private sector action in public health that is actually appalling is the AIDS medication issue. In that case the source of the dispute is how much of a gross mark up drug companies are willing to except (note, that a gross mark up is still in the picture for them which makes it all the more appalling). This is very different than the context of your original post.

I can foresee you continuing to call me a fuckhead based on the logic and reasoning of my entire post if you are don't believe in the existence of a private sector and markets in general. That is a completely different discussion, but it maybe worth stating what assumptions you are working off of so I can understand why I "dont know what the fuck I'm talking about".

Cheers.

So to conclude this

So to conclude this threadjack, what were everyone else’s experiences regarding this topic?

You don't want to argue about dental care? :)

I also grew up overly cautious but with a streak hellbent on determining my overarching failure in life. Somehow I struggled against that, but, in the process, picked up a number of bad habits, including: alchol; other substances; experimentation with substances that I shouldn't be experimenting with; prescription drug addiction (I think...thanks Dr. Psychiatrist!!!!); possible OCD; a sex life both boring and emotionally dangerous at the same time; and a number of other really great things.

In short, I suggest, in general, not particularly to you alone, that you find people to love, and who love you back, do your best to get over your insecurities, do your best to work through your flaws before you lose the energy to do so, accept when that point has been reached and forgive yourself (and generally speaking, be forgiving), and have enough money to survive without sacrificing your dignity or integrity more than necessary, and otherwise live a healthy and fulfilling life.

And when that doesn't happen, drink.

Aha, I meant to say: How do

Aha, I meant to say: How do the rest of you deal, minus the alcohol/smokes/the unmentionables? It's hard. And it's also equally difficult not having mainstream friends because then you end up living in a bubble and forget what it was that you were up against in the first place. Like a lot of academics...

First, neem ke dande have

First, neem ke dande have done really well for my 85 year old grandfather who doesn't have dentures and still has most of his teeth! So, he must be doing something right. Hygiene doesn't have to be sold for $1.99 (or Rs. 30) in order for people to have clean teeth and a "healthy, sexy and confident smile" :P

Dr Anonymous, I sympathize I just had a conversation with someone who explained to me how single, youmg women who have affairs with MARRIED, usually older men are just equally as guilty as each other, as though everything is 'equally balanced'... And then naturally it turned into 'she shouldn't have been there nor should she have worn what she was wearing' arguments (i.e. it's her fault she's so damn hot and distracting)... so yeah, I feel your pain...

Alcohol and smokes help for all of what? five minutes - then you wake up the next day and it's shit all over again, no?

I guess my only suggestion is - don't get so emotionally invested in arguments with people, some things are worth fighting about - somethings aren't because the person espousing those beliefs is probably not the one who's make the law, making the e-kiosk, responsible for development policies etc...If and when they become that person - then give them hell! I also have resorted to coldly detaching from arguments (as I do get really 'heated up'), because I recognize I'm not talking to someone who's responsible for all that - so why waste energy? Mosst people saying those things are just usually don't plan on doing anything about it. I mean you said this person was a student. I know the person I just talked to - will never work at a rape shelter, will never make government policy, will never volunteer for a feminist organization... is it worth my head space to argue with them? I mean I did, for a bit - then I did the following:

I just tell them my pov and if then use the 'oh, that's just my take on it' liberal argument because when you oppose the person in what they say - they get just as 'vehemently invested' and defensive and then end up calling you the looney right? So, just use their tactics and subvert it "oh, i'm sorry if I've offended you. I didn't mean to - it's just my pov and I guess we're all different." And people change, you aren't going to be the one to do it sadly. Probably never. But they keep what you say in their head, especially if it bothers them enough and then think about it later.... And no, you won't get any credit for it, but oh well - c'est la vie!

How do the rest of you deal? Especially when you hear shit arguments? I mean it's hard no?

Alcohol and smokes help for

Alcohol and smokes help for all of what? five minutes - then you wake up the next day and it’s shit all over again, no?

Change your life circumstances.

I'll assume you're actually a

I'll assume you're actually a dentist for the purposes of this conversation. If you're a dentist, presumably you've passed through several levels of schooling as well as professional experience. During that time, you must have learned that in a given situation, there are any number of potential solutions, and that among those, some of them are feasible given physical, political, and other constraints (which themselves are modifiable to varying degrees).

Assuming all that (i.e. that you're able to understand politics and public health on a basic level), I can only assume that you have absolutely no idea what the f@#k you're talking about. There's no dichotomy between ignoring public health needs and allowing Hindustan Lever to promote its products in stores in the name of public health needs.

It's summed up well when you say:

Sure, there is a self interes for Pepsodent greater than indian people’s teeth, but you should get over that.

Why?

dentist patel: actually, i

dentist patel:

actually, i pushed it to a new level.

Instead of pushing things to a new level, how about you help a bhen out here.

Despite years of being inculcated with Crest and Colgate sponsored corporate propaganda dental care awareness workshops in class starting from kindergarden all the way through primary school, that hasn't prevented the agony my teeth are in right now; additionally, it sure hasn't guaranteed any dental coverage. I haven't had dental insurance for over 13 years, and as such, I haven't been to the dentist for that period of time. Five of my teeth hurt anytime I eat something sweet, to the point where I just don't chew sweets anymore but let them melt in my mouth. And it costs too much money to go to a dentist and pay the sans insurance fee.

Do I need a root canal? Or it is a case of severe cavities? And if so, will you be willing to take a look and remedy the problem?

BTW, if you really are a Patel, then we have a connection. I'm Gujju as well...more reason for you to help me out! Gujju solidarity hook-ups?

Dr. Patel, My post was an

Dr. Patel,

My post was an attack on the culture of promoting "solutions" like the Hindustan Lever one as if they are, in fact, solutions, rather than a quick fix, or, at best, a very small and potentially destructive part of a much larger set of fixes. "Appalling" was directed primarily at the person who presented the argument and the manner in which she presented it.

Your argument, as far as I can understand it, is that since there is no one who is addressing the situation as it should be addressed (however that may be), then anything that anyone does is de facto good, regardless of the power dynamics, the motives, and the possible consequences. So if someone went and handed out toothbrushes while selling them cigarettes, that would be fine. And the fact that Hindustan Lever is being promoted as a brand that will then be able to promote its other brands (like Fair and Lovely) through the same mechanism with minimal changes troubles you not.

Moreover, your "theory of the state" has little to do with what anyone else should care about. There are a million and one types of actors, from formally organized organizations (NGOs, companies, local governments, state governments) to likely even more kinds of other social organizations. You're telling me that out of all those possible players, THIS is a preferred solution, that THIS is something that doesn't carry serious dangers, that THIS is what someone ought to quietly sit by and watch without even making so much as a comment on a blog just because someone else has decided that corporate power structures only operate when it comes to dire situations like AIDS and never in "minor" places like toothpaste?

Nor, in fact, did I anywhere mention "neoliberalism" or express any sympathy for the idea that if the state had done this or a political party had, it would be far more preferable. The whole situation is damn troubling.

As for the tone of my response--well, in my opinion, it was a direct product of yours. The only thing worse than outright abuse is passive arrogance and a holier than thou attitude, used to defend a status quo that is deeply troubling with arguments that say "this much criticism is okay, but step any farther and you're out of line, even if you're just a dipshit blogger."

Trust me, I do it all the time ;)

And for the record, I never called you a "fuckhead". Please don't falsely attribute it to me again.

In the end im not saying you

In the end im not saying you are wrong or stupid for being angry at HL, your blogs might be worth two cents if they pushed the discussion to a new level.

I think I did that. See our discussion ;)

I challenge you to incorporate such nuancy into your future bloggings.

Thanks for the challenge.

This is my last comment on this posting.

And, in seriousness, thanks for the impassioned argument. I appreciate a good freeforall.

Last comment: AradhanaD, someone pointed out to me that my comment might have been taken as obnoxious. I meant it literally--I really do think the only real solution to misery and unhappiness in one's place is to change life circumstances (assuming social conditions allow you to do that).

Dr. anonymous: I obviously

Dr. anonymous: I obviously understand the social production of knowledge since we performed this wonderful tango in the commentary together. I look forward to dancing again.

Desi Italiana; a truly gujurati approach would conclude that if it is only limited sweets then you are better off because it will help maintain your figure for a good wedding match, like a dentist. I would offer a professional opinion except im not a dentist at all I just thought it would make this entire discourse a bit more interesting if I used that nickname.

I have a question relating to

I have a question relating to the drinking/smoking thing. In my hugely-sheltered-from-other- Indian-people style of upbringing, my parents succeeded in convincing me that an ideal Indian person (non-Indians have their own ideals) does not drink, smoke, do drugs, have pre-marital sex, date non-indians, get a grade lower than an A-, or eat meat. Ignoring the drug addiction, alcoholism, and the fact that half of my family is comprised of interracial marriages, I seriously bought this until I entered high school and met three or four other STD-ridden-cow-eating Hindus and thought "Well, that was bunk."

I actually still adhere to my parents' value system, despite a betting pool that's waiting for me to crack, and I deal with my problems through chocolate and hours of beating up a punching bag. I don't judge Indians who are nothing like the ideal my parents had constructed (nowadays, they tell me they never said that and were expecting my "corruption" years ago)and to be honest, it's a relief to see that. So to conclude this threadjack, what were everyone else's experiences regarding this topic?

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