For the love of Ganesh… ImageOfTheWeek.

For the love of Ganesh... ImageOfTheWeek.

One of Topman’s latest from the Summer 2013 range, is this basic Men’s tee displaying Ganesh, the Hindu deity of Knowledge. However, how many people who buy this tee will know this? How many will understand the background to this image?

Throughout the 21st Century, religious symbols/images have been commercialised and mass produced. The Christian Cross is a prime example of this. You’re not a rock star if you aren’t seen sporting a Cross Pendant… even Bollywood actors have started accessorising, regardless of their religion. This will always be controversial and will always have people on both sides saying it is either blasphemy or just freedom of expression. However, the point I wish to make, free from a religious point of view on my part, is that of Corporate Responsibility.

One defense of this view, would be that of cultural appropriation – adoption of a culture by another culture. However, here, we would be getting into a messy web of differences between culture and religion. Should Ganesh’s image be printed on an item of Indian clothing, then yes, you could say it is cultural appropriation. However, this tee is a modern item of clothing.

So why do I think this is a case of Corporate Responsibility? Because this level of controversy acts against a “regulation of social good” that businesses should ethically adhere to.  I put it in the same basket as Primark selling kid’s padded bikinis. Nothing can really stop it, but it’s just not right.

To me, this tee shirt is a symbol of a religion. Wearing it requires the respect of the traditions and values held by that religion. Mass-producing this image onto a mainstream item of clothing, to me, effectively diminishes the meaning behind it. Although the UK is multi-cultural, it is not yet socially aware enough to be ready for this type of commercialisation. It won’t be long until you see young people wearing it while obliviously eating a beefy Big Mac. This wouldn’t be out of direct disrespect, but out of a lack of knowledge and appreciation. It is about as socially aware as a person, wearing a peace sign t-shirt, casually car-jacking

On a practical note, I don’t think that the tee will do that well and feel that it is a terrible addition to the summer line. After showing the image to many of my friends, the general response has been, “..but who would wear that, though?”. Stick to the retro look, Topman.

Over and Out.


Inspiring TEDtalks – Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong!

Currently sitting on a busy train and decided to start my first (real) blog entry…

I want to share a video with you, which became the turning point for me to start adoseofpersonalwhim. It basically sums up everything I believe about social enterprise, philanthropy and alternative career paths.

Dan Pallotta is probably one of the most engrossing speakers that I have found through TEDtalks. He stresses the importance of business strategy in the non-profit sector, and that it should (in many respects) use for-profit sector models to achieve results and the big bucks.

I will leave you to listen and won’t give too much away… However I would like to make a few comments on my favourite ideas and on the criticms that that Dan Pallotta recieved for the ideas he shared.

Firstly, many of the criticisms revolve around how the for-profit sector strategies would ruin social enterprise and turn them into a business, forgetting the cause.. However these people clearly havn’t really listened to what Dan is saying.
To quote, “When you prohibit failure, you kill innovation. If you kill innovation in fundraising, you can’t raise more revenue. If you can’t raise more revenue, you can’t grow. And if you can’t grow, you can’t possibly solve large social problems.”

It’s the passion for a cause, mixed with the business strategy, that leads to results – not just a profit maximisation mentality. What I think is really important to realise is that if you start making these claims now, social enterprise will never take off… We aren’t at that stage yet where we need to worry about it – first let the firms take off and reel in the money for their cause on a large scale. Then, start regulating and changing things to make social progress sustainable.

Pessimism is the thief of success.

Secondly, something quite relevant to me, is Dan’s views on students and their perceptions of their own careers… He pins down perfectly the dilemma of socially passionate students who would love to apply their knowledge to the non-profit sector but feel that doing so would leave them worse of than their degree qualified them to be. To quote Dan – ‘it becomes a sacrafice between the wellbeing of their family or the wellbeing of the world…’. This is definitely how a number of students across a disciplines feel about their place in the Global arena.

So to conclude, although I am not an expert on the non-profit sector, I do know a bit about the problems my generation face when approaching the world of social enterprise. I thoroughly recommend you watch his TEDtalk and realise the potential of non-profit and philanthropy.

Over and out!