It’s well known that wars mean big business, the economies of advanced nations often depending on the P&L of their arms makers. The success of any such producer is measured clearly by the efficiency in taking lives, whether individually or as mass mortality. Notwithstanding their inbuilt morbidity, Brands of War are like any other brand, with values, principles and even CSR obligations. Truthfully an unholy paradox, so much goodness sincerely applied for so much destruction.
Dassault, the makers of both the Mirage 2000 and the Rafale, is a fine example of such deathly excellence. Interestingly, this company also produces the Falcon Corporate Jet, the preferred vehicle for captains of industry on globetrotting escapades. HAL, founded by Walchand Hirachand, is a key strategic partner for maintaining and upgrading their equipment, currently infamous for the Bangalore test-flight crash.
F-16, the competition asset, is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, a key collaborator of Boeing over the years. Embraer, the Brazilian aviation giant, developed the AWACS technology that guided our pilots; it is also the maker of a popular series of regional passenger jets. Israel’s Rafael (a phonetic coincidence) was the source of the ‘Spice’ bombs that destroyed the terrorist camps, while the Russian Aircraft Corporation has been supplying the MIG aircraft to our Air Force for more than five decades.
It is also true that notwithstanding our relatively-peaceful era, countries will continue to invest heavily in war equipment. However, in a world bolstered by digital media where peace and sustainability are borderless agendas, companies responsible for the demise of people and environment are increasingly unwelcome. This is applicable even for Monsanto and Big Tobacco, so those in the war trade are certainly not exempt. Paradoxically, the Armed Forces enjoy a happy halo courtesy patriotism while their enablers must cope with dubious existences, employment often the only silver lining. So, how do brands of war become respected social citizens while remaining prolific business entities?
Emulating the practice of carbon credits, we must introduce the concept of demographic credits, a measurable way to ascertain their positive contribution to civilisation. Every brand can easily define their annual attrition scorecard, the annual number of people killed or affected by the potency of their weapons. A simple ratio of 1:100 or even 1:1000 will then be applied to evaluate their positive influence, as in 1000 people enjoying significant betterment for each life terminated. In the form of education and career formation for the underprivileged in Africa or even a significant monetary contribution to cancer research or environment protection. This can be monitored by a self-assessment body, under the auspices of the United Nations or even by Google, fulfilling its mission to never be evil.
Connected to this will be the culture of mandatory societal service, for each employee of such organisations. Just as 3M ensures that 15% of work time must be dedicated to proactive R&D, Dassault can insist that scientists and workers engage with deserving communities or causes. Also, employees must be willing to sign a declaration of consent prior to employment, acknowledging that they know what they are getting into and that they agree to this 15% goodness component. While the successes of the technology must be celebrated at a professional level, the damages inflicted must be voluntarily assessed to keep the demographic scorecard ticking. The compliance to the demographic credit ratio must be publicly displayed, in total transparency, activities modulated depending on the mortality scores.
All brands in this trade must also promise to resist from escalation-paranoia, provoking potential Government buyers with inflated projections of conflict. While they must demonstrate the potency of their products, it must never be through creating global opinion forums that subscribe to a ‘hawk’ culture. Clean corporate practices, including a no-bribe policy, will be one more tangible demonstration of sustainable citizenship, ensuring that exemplary integrity becomes a benchmark across industries. Finally, there must be a self-declaration page in every corporate website that announces the demographic credit scorecard in proper detail, every curious citizen made fully cognisant.
Brands of War must continue to grow for the purpose of peace, in technology and productivity. Yet, they must actively embrace a culture of demographic credits, as illustrated above. Thus, initiating a positive karmic cycle that will seal their stature as meaningful corporate citizens.
(Shivaji Dasgupta is the Founder of INEXGRO Brand Advisory and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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