MUMBAI: Just hear what Indira Nooyi, the powerful CFO and president of PepsiCo and a poster-girl for all aspiring Indian executives, has to say. By comparing the US with the much-abused middle finger, she has stirred up a blog-storm stateside, especially of the right-wing variety.
All Nooyi was doing was addressing a bunch of Columbia University B-school students at their graduation ceremony: “As I grew up and started to study geography, I remember being told that the five fingers can be thought of as the five major continents.”
The index finger is Europe, pointing the way up; the ring finger is Latin America, sensual and romantic (think Salma Hayek or J-Lo); the thumb is Asia, proud and aspiring; the little finger is the Dark Continent, while the middle finger - yes, you guessed it - is the United States of America.
So, what's so strange about this? Isn't that what every opinion poll from Oslo to Okinawa, from the Andean heights to the frozen wastelands of Siberia has pointed out? But hold on. If you are an angry, self-righteous supporter of the American Republican Right, and looking to pick a fight with anyone you think is besmirching the reputation of the Land of Opportunities, you wouldn't keep quiet.
That is exactly what seems to be happening, forcing Pepsi and Ms Nooyi into damage-control mode after bloggers banged on their doors for a copy of the speech muttering darkly about how she is abusing the country that has made her rich and famous. Power Line, a well-known and powerful blog in US, picked up the story on Tuesday after receiving a call from a fresh graduate, Wes Martin.
In her speech, according to the posting on the site www.powerlineblog.com , Ms Nooyi is believed to have not only compared the five fingers to the five continents, but also made 'disparaging' remarks about Americans' image in the rest of the world, and about how a certain American businesswoman (unnamed of course) had misbehaved in an Asian country.
She is also believed to have told her audience that Americans must work on improving their image and cultivating their respect in the world.
The angry blog immediately posted on the site excerpts of the speech, as remembered by some of the students, along with some sarcastic comments. Other blogs followed up on Wednesday, along with personal accounts from other people who attended the event.
Soon, the incident had blogworld all aflutter. “It would certainly be a shame if the president of PepsiCo had gotten rich on America, while she was gallivanting around college campuses claiming that the US was giving the middle finger to the rest of the world. That would not be cricket, would it?” asked one of the blogs.
Realising that a public relations disaster was blowing its way, Pepsi quickly swung into the act and posted her speech late on Wednesday evening after initially refusing to part with it.
In her speech, Ms Nooyi says that the middle finger is the most important part of the hand, enables us to perform every function and is key to all the five fingers working together smoothly and efficiently.
“As the longest of the fingers, it really stands out. The middle finger anchors every function that the hand performs and is the key to all of the fingers working together efficiently and effectively,” she says in her speech.
But if used inappropriately, she goes on to add, the middle finger can annoy, irritate and give offence. She adds that most of the world looks at the US not as the hand that gives strength, but as the middle finger.
According to her, as the richest and most powerful country, the US must take care not to hurt sentiments and feelings and provide a source of comfort and friendship to the rest of the world.
“Remember that the middle finger - the US - always stands out. If you are smart, if you exhibit emotional intelligence as well as academic intelligence, if you ascribe positive intent to all your actions on the international business stage, this can be a great advantage,” she concludes.
Not exactly flag-burning, table-thumping stuff. But in highly-polarised America, nuances are neither acclaimed nor welcomed.
Americans dont have a sense of humor when it comes to God and cuntry
Yet 'Desecration of the Holy Quran common at detention camps'
Did u vote for Bush? go to http://jimtreacher.com/archives/001115.html
-Saby, the nutt