The Soft Sell Line
Madhu Aftab
RETURN TO PUNJAB by Prakash Tandon Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1981, 227 pp., 50.00
May-June 1981, volume 5, No 5/6

Autobiographical notes written by powerful men are usually interesting and thought provoking. One looked forward to this book by yet another not­able in the circle, Prakash Tandon. How­ever, one nibble at the book produces the feel of a well designed soap, launched into the market with the correct adver­tising line at just the right pitch. The message—free enterprises, free markets, no controls—is put across beautifully by Tandon, the star salesman behind the entry of ‘modern’ dalda into a market dominated by the traditional desi ghee. If the ordinary consumer buys toothpaste on misleading slogans of ‘cleaner, fresher breath and whiter teeth’, the target audience of the book—the adminis­trator/manager, academic and politician—is bound to lap up Tandon’s line, as the truth itself. It has all the features of a good soft sell line: source credibility—(it is Tandon himself), carefully selected facts to build up the message and humour for taste— a must if the line has to be swallowed hook, line and sinker. The last of the Tandon trilogy, Return to Punjab (J961-75), deals with the periods when he was chairman of Hindustan Lever, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), State Trading Corporation (STC) and Punjab National Bank (PNB).

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