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Objectification Theory: The Themes of Violence and Diverse Sexualities in Beloved and the Bluest Eye of Toni Morrison




The modern feminists such as Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigary and Irigary have expressed their opinions on the negative impact of objectification of the female body. It is unfortunate that in the traditional male dominated society the female body is closely objectified. Fredrickson and Roberts (1997) explored the detrimental effects of objectification on the mind and psyche of women. Toni Morrison is prominent Afro-American novelist who raised the cry of black women sexually oppressed and psychologically tormented by the whites. Her novels The Bluest Eye (1970) and Beloved (1987) deal with the aesthetics of sexuality and violence perpetrated on the black women. Morrison wrote her novels to depict the themes of sexual oppression of women and their marginalization. The plots of her novels depict the eternal struggle and conflicts of black women to survive in the white dominated society.  Morrison uses sexuality to show what is “wrong” with society; each of her novels depicts the anguish of the black women victimized by the whites. All her women characters, Sethe, Pecola and Denver are trapped in a situation leading them to dehumanization and degradation. No wonder, in her novels sexuality is a result of social and cultural construction.

KEY WORDS: Objectification, perpetrated, tormented, anxiety, postulated, perspective, revealed

Bartky in her essay Psychological Oppression (2006)  observes that  female body determines the identity of a woman in society. The whites never regarded black women as women but objects of sexual pleasures. They were masters and the black women were treated as slaves. The whites argued that the white man enjoys absolute rights to colonize the body of the black women. Women suffer from internal mental disorders because of objectification of female body. The female body is the basis for the distinction between the sexes. Interestingly, The biologists are of the opinion that “sexuality” refers to a person’s sexual activities and sexual feelings. Sigmund Freud also expressed his innovative ideas on the sexuality and the abuse of female body. Freud says in his book The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, (1938) observes thus:

Freud also makes the point that people who are behaviorally abnormal are always sexually abnormal in his experience but that many people who are normal behaviorally otherwise are sexually abnormal also (562–563).

In the traditional debate between biological and sociologists, the female body has often been explored in terms of its anatomical, hormonal influences on personality, experience and behaviour. Feminists aver that gender differences are problematic in a society. Feminists maintain that the body conveys social meaning and how these meanings shape gendered experience. Women who suffer objectification encounter mental health risks, depression, alienation and sexual violence. The common thread running through the novels The Bluest Eye (1970) and Beloved is the experience of being treated as a body. Sexuality is considered to be as the crucial theme in Beloved. The fear of sexual abuse, rape has haunted each of the female characters in Morrison novels. In Beloved there are the traces of rape, sexuality and white’s domination. The black women are oppressed and tortured by white men who regard them as their personal property. They enjoy absolute liberty in exploiting and dehumanizing them to derive sadistic pleasures. The blacks are treated worse than animals.

Going through the history of Afro-American we tend to discover the horrifying, terrific and traumatic experience of African-American folks. The historical incidence has totally changed the form and lives of Afro-Americans. Blacks remained as the object of oppression, violence, and racism. All of them were subjected to different sort of injustice and discrimination. They experience the immorality of white race. Suppression of black race, giving them medication scars, wounds, abusing them and sexual oppression.., all these purpose shows that white had always thought blacks as their piece of property. They think that black people are in their hands and they would do anything with black people. Blacks were treated as chattels, animals, losing all their human rights and dignity. Moreover, the black ladies had no position, standing, status in society. Since the days of slavery, black women have been exploited, persecuted, and tortured physically and psychologically by white men. They lost their real self, certainty and womanhood. In the white dominated society the black women are just treated as the objects of sexual desires. No wonder, women always become the victims of men’s gaze and are sexually oppressed. Their whole self and identity is lost. They become so much depressed with atrocities that it causes a neurotic disorder in their mind. Fear and anxiety are engraining in their sensitive mind. In the novels of Toni Morrison the component of sex is profusely found within the women protagonists. Toni Morrison has realistically depicted the struggle and trauma experienced by African American women in The Bluest Eye (1970) and Beloved. Morrison got Nobel Prize for her serious feminism.  In 1993, upon receiving the Nobel Prize, Toni Morrison exclaims:

So I’ve just insisted – insisted! – upon being called a black woman

novelist, and I decided what that meant, because I have claimed it. I

have claimed what I know. As a black and a woman, I have had access

to a range of emotions and perceptions that were unavailable to people

who were neither (Archives 4).

Morrison wrote The Bluest Eye and Beloved to depict the themes of sexual oppression and traumatic experiences of the blacks in the white dominated society. The blacks lead a life of depression and experience disorientation of mind; their future is bleak and their children suffer different kinds of oppression and lack of love from their parents. The story of the three girls illustrates how children who live in an environment of subjugation and are forced to survive in the society.

Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye (1970) deals with the traumatic journey of Pecola. The plot of the novel is set in Lorain, Ohio. Claudia is a female child. Incest is sexual activity between family members or close relatives. This typically includes sexual activity between people blood relations. Cholly rapes his own daughter in a fit of frustration. He is so much disturbed that he fails to comprehend the nature of moral transgression. The episode of Pecola is heart rending revealing that the black women were used as objects of sexual pleasures. The Bluest Eye is the story of two sisters, and particularly of Pecola who thinks that if she only had blue eyes, people would be nice to her. Pecola is a twelve years old innocent black girl; she is a fragile and delicate child. Morrison has depicted her journey from innocence to her insanity in the most touching lyrical language. In many of her interviews, Morrison explains that she narrated the Pecola’s story keeping her dignity intact despite her rape.  Pecola’s rape is symbolical and be understood in broader perspective. The incestuous rape is nearly impossible for a reader to comprehend. While literary critics have postulated that the rape is the soul product of Cholly’s desolate past or an expression of his hatred of women. Pecola is depicted as a representative of black community suffering from poverty, fear and oppression. Pecola has often observed her parents fighting in a brutal manner. She hates the disorderly environment and longs to disappear. She feels lonely and depressed. Claudia narrates parts of The Bluest Eye from a child’s perspective and sometimes of an adult looking back. Like Pecola, she suffers from racist beauty standards, poverty and fear. Pecola is passive when she is abused but Claudia emerges as a fighter. When Claudua is given a white doll she does not want, she dissects and destroys it. When she finds a group of boys harassing Pecola, she attacks them. When she learns that Pecola is pregnant, she and her sister come with a plan to save Pecola’s baby from the community’s rejection. Morrison found a touching way to explore the damaging effect of notions of beauty in America. Claudia is the main narrator, her voice is touching; she is pure, innocent, and possessing beauty. It reinforces the reader’s awareness of the tainted gaze of racism in American society. Pecola lives in a world of fantasy and she believes that if she were blessed with bluest eyes the people would change their opinion about her. Pecola is a symbol of the black community’s self hatred and belief in its own ugliness. Barbara Christian comments in her “A Promise Song” that Pecola’s story does not follow “the usual mythic cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, from planting to harvest to planting. Hers will proceed from pathos to tragedy and finally madness” (140). In the first section “Autumn” Morrison tells the story of Pecola, Ferida’s failure to plant marigold is mentioned thus:

We had dropped seeds in our own little plot of black dirt just as Pecola’s father had dropped his seeds in his own plot of black dirt. Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair. What is clear now is that of all that hope, fear, lust ,love and grief, nothing remains but Pecola and the unyielding earth.Cholly Breedlove is dead, our innocence too (9).

Pecola’s tragedy and insanity are inevitable in the novel. the plot of the novel is loaded with illusions. Claudia provides the facts that the whole black community is in turmoil as she establishes the time, place and structure of the novel. There are so many hints given by Claudia suggesting the conflicts and confusions in the community. The readers are told that Mr. Henry “our roomer “has committed some unspeakable act. We are informed that “ old Dog Breedlove has burned up his house, gone upside his wife’s head, is now in the jail” (17) The Breedloves  are victims of a racist, class- conscious society; they suffer extreme poverty and deprivation. Morrison has highlighted the most insidious effects of racism on o are fear-the minds and sensibility of the blacks who are fear-ridden. Claudia explains that although “the poverty of Breedloves was traditional and stultifying, it was not unique. But their ugliness was unique” (17) Claudia observes thus:

The master has said,” You are ugly people”. They had looked at themselves and saw nothing to construct the statement; saw, in fact, support for it leaning at them from every billboard, every movie, every glance..” (34).

In Morrison’s world women are oppressed due to gender politics. The plot of The Bluest Eye depicts the insidious and destructive story effects of low self-esteem, violence, drinking, poverty, abuse, incest and shame. Morrison’s Beloved is packed up with the pictures of female molestation, sexual assault and murder. The plot of the novel depicts the picture of slavery, rape, sexual assault and violence. Whipping, shootings and other physical abuse dominate the scenes Paul D. and Sethe describe from their lives as slaves. All these traumatic experiences are common for blacks. Morrison gives a factual story of Margaret Garner to deliver truths that even history fails to convey.Morrison reconstructs the complex psychological background that forced the woman to kill her own offspring. Andre Levy concedes that Morrison confronted the greatest challenge “because the institutionalized parameters of guilt and responsibility do not provide the vocabulary to ‘tell,’ legally or narratively, the anomalies of a slave mother’s infanticide” (Grewal 97).The novel presents very strong characters such as Baby Suggs, Paul D and Sethe find “definition of freedom, which becomes a practical tool to eliminate the suffering caused by repression” (Kella 142).

All the struggles of black women appear futile and absurd as they are confronted by the heartless patriarchal society and oppressive white culture. In Beloved, black women lose their identity, freedom, consciousness and self. Sethe undergoes through horrific sexual oppression. She was viciously exploited by whites especially by school teacher and his nephews. The memories of sexual abuse and rape haunted Sethe. The plot depicts the heartrending scene of milk stealing from the breasts of Sethe.  The school teacher acts as the master of slaves ordering the nephews to steal the milk from Sethe’s breasts. Sethe labels it as:  “They used cowhide on you?  And they took my milk. They beat you and you was pregnant. And they took my milk” (Beloved 20) Sethe had saved her milk in her breasts for her infant daughter. They all were aware of the fact that Sethe is pregnant even though they performed such an awful act of stealing milk. The two boys with their mossy teeth sucked the milk from Sethe’s breasts. One of the nephews beat Sethe and sucked the milk from her breasts while the other held her down. She dared to complaint about this inhuman act to Mrs Garner but the School Master again tortured her. The nephews physically tortured Sethe mercilessly and ducked her “with cowhide, making psychic scars, wounds on her back which looks like a chock cheery tree.” Sethe lost her consciousness and turned a neurotic. In desperation she killed her own daughter to save her sexual oppression from the whites. She doesn’t want her daughter to suffer the same as she suffered as a slave. She was physically assaulted many times. She was always haunted by the scenes of assaults, sexual abuses, and white’s domination. It was Sethe’s love for her daughter that motivated her in killing her own child by saying: “I took and put my babies where they be safe” (118). The ghost’s arrival marks a turning point in the protagonists’ lives: Sethe is given a chance to revise her past and reenact it, whereas Denver is challenged to responsibility for her family, which results in her subsequent transformation from being a girl to becoming a woman. The appearance of Beloved, however, is both therapeutic and destructive. Morrison’s depiction of Sethe presumes an understanding that the black female body has been treated as the “Other”, Sethe is viewed in terms of physical characteristics such as skin color, hair and facial features. For example, Schoolteacher tells his nephews to write down Sethe’s “human characteristics on the left; her animal ones on the right. And don’t forget to line them up” (193) Sethe gives vent to her inner trauma thus:

That anybody white could take your whole self for anything that came to mind. Not just work, kill, and maim you, but dirty you. Dirty you so bad you couldn’t think it up. And though she and other lived through and got over it, she could never let it happen to her own. The best thing she was her children. Whites might dirty her all right, but not her best thing, her beautiful, magical best thing the part of her that was clean (251).

Toni Morrison’s Beloved evaluates the inner self of the black women. The ghost was troubling everyone by creating different sorts of problems. The ghost was there to take revenge the injustices committed during their slavery. Nan tells that she and Sethe’s mother “were taken up by the crew” during their journey (Beloved 62). Sethe’s mother was mostly used for fulfilling of sexual desires of the crew. The mother of Sethe was so displeased and disgusted by the frightful experiences that she abandoned the child. Baby Suggs articulates her anguish thus:

…. Men and women were moved around like checkers….What [Baby Suggs] called the nastiness of life was the shock she received upon learning that nobody stopped playing checkers just because the pieces included her children (27-28.

In Beloved Sethe discovers that she has a marginalized status. She was not valued as a woman owing to her black skin which signifies darkness and immortality. She wants Beloved to understand why she took this monstrous act. Sethe recollects her sweet home but white hegemony ruined her domestic happiness. Barnett argues that home is a predominant metaphor in Beloved for resolution of the tension between self identity and self-exile. The end of slavery for Morrison means the recovery of home. The School master destroyed all the slaves in sweet home plantation.  In her article, “figurations of rape and the supernatural in Beloved,” Pamela E. Barnett argues that “Morrison revises the standard slave narrative by insisting on the importance of sexual assault over other experiences of brutality” (Barnett 420). Paul D explains it as: “The box had done what sweet home had not, what working like an ass and living like a dog had not: drove him crazy so he would not lose his mind” (Beloved, 49). The traumatic experiences of rape were hidden under Paul D’s “tobacco tin” buried inside his chest. Sethe’s body narrates the history of slavery and her scarred body is depicted as a site of pleasure. Her body is activated when it is desired maternally or sexually. When Sethe’s body is touched attentively or lovingly, she speaks about her past rather than just remembering it silently. Sethe’s relationship with Paul D., “the kind of man who could walk into a house and make the women cry” (17) re-establishes her body as a site of pleasure. Sethe narrates her horrifying experiences thus:

His body an arc of kindness, he held her breasts in the palm of his hands. He

rubbed his cheek on her back and learned that way her sorrow, the roots of it; its wide trunk and intricate branches (17)

Sethe’s infanticide is symbolical in the novel; in destroying her child, she also maims her own body and suffers physical and psychological agony.  Beloved becomes a ghost symbolic of the death of the millions of African slaves. She stands for every daughter and sister – and relation of every kind – that was lost because of slavery. The supernatural intensifies the tragedy of Sethe:

Shivering, Denver approached the house, regarding it, as she always did, as a person rather than a structure. A person that wept, sighed, trembled and fell into fits. Her steps and her gaze were the cautious ones of a child approaching a nervous, idle relative … . (29)

Sethe’s daughter Denver too is captive in her own home and had a fear of sexual violence always haunted her. Ella is a black woman sexually molested by her father and son. Ella cried out in anguish thus: “You couldn’t think up…” What them two done to me (119). Beloved cries out expressing her desire to unite with Sethe: “‘She is the one. She is the one I need. You can go but she is the one I have to have” (76).

To conclude, Morrison has depicted the traumatic experiences of the blacks in her novels The Bluest Eye and Beloved using the images of folk lore; historical myths and images of violence and hatred deeply rooted in the minds of the whites. Barbara Christian (1993), calls Beloved “not just a novel, but a prayer, a healing ritual for our country’s holocaust of slavery “(364)


Work Cited

Bjork, Patrick Bryce. The Novels of Toni Morrison: The Search for Self and Place Within the Community. New York: Peter Lang, 1992. Print.

Braidotti, Rosi. Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. New York: Columbia University Press. 1994. Print.

Bouson, J Brooks. Quiet as it’s Kept: Shame, Trauma, and Race in the Novels of Toni Morrison. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000. Print.

Butler-Evans, Elliott. Race, Gender and Desire: Narrative Strategies in the Fiction of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.1989. Print.

Elizabeth Kella, Elizabeth. Beloved Communities: Solidarity and Difference in Fiction by  Gates, 2000. Print.

HenryLouis Jr & Appiah, KA.Toni Morrison, Critical Perspectives Past and Present. New York: Amistad Press Inc.1993. Print.

Grewal, Gurleen.  Circles of Pain, Lines of Struggle: The Novels of Toni Morrison, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998. Print.

Harris, Trudier. 1991. Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.1991. Print.

Heinze, Denise and Lewis, Catherine E. ‘Toni Morrison’. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 143: American Novelists Since World War II, Third Series. The Gale Group. Bruccoli Clark Layman.1944. Print.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Penguin, 1999. Print.

—. The Bluest Eye, New York Penguin, 1969. Print.

Primlyn, A.Linda. “The Concept of blackness in Toni Morrison’s Beloved”.IRWLE (2012). Print


Identity Crisis in Sea of Poppies

Evanjalin Mary Stella

Research Scholar, The American College, Madurai


The present study examines not only the individuals’ quest for representing themselves in various means but also how the characters in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies attempt to reconstruct their identity by hiding their names, bodies, caste and racial origins and ultimately restart their lives to fill new essence.


Identity ,  oppression, colonialism, rootlessness, self- invention

Identity construction is a prominent element in this novel but appears to be influenced by the ethico-political and socio-economic dynamics that constantly change characters’ roles and trajectories to reconstruct new identities in new milieu. Colonial upheaval interrupts the contours of the roles assumed by the persons in the social context. A superficial reading of the novel might give the impression that it is a historical novel set in the colonial period as it records the dramatic turn of events and destinies befalling the main protagonist and her interaction with a hodgepodge of other characters with whom she moves from land to river and climactically travel through sea. But the creation has a deeper level that Ghosh has effortlessly gone to sea depths by carefully peeling its social, economic and political layers and at a still deeper level, the metaphysical. The episodes which follow the main character, Deeti stress at one level, the struggle between capitalism and socialism; at another level, the narrative appears to be a clash for the hierarchical power. Deeti can also be seen to transform herself into a new identity allowing for meta-fictional reflection and an acceptance of destinies as indicated in her decision to marry Kalua who rescued her from sati.

Even then she did not feel herself to be living in the same sense as before: a curious feeling, of joy mixed with resignation, crept into her heart, for it was as if she really had died and been delivered betimes in rebirth, to her next life: she had shed the body of the old Deeti, with the burden of its karma; she had paid the price her stars had demanded of her, and was free now to create a new destiny as she willed, with whom she chose… (SOP 178).

It seems that Ghosh’s manner of constructing Deeti’s identity in his narrative is a two dimensional process. On the one hand, he combines and imaginatively interprets and interweaves the textual traces from the pages of Sir Gierson’s diary. Gierson mentions in this historical record about his encounter with the father of a female coolie in a village along the Ganges noting that the man “denied having any such relative, and probably she had gone wron

g and been disowned by him” (Bahadur). This diary provides only a little mention of this woman with a processing number, while Ghosh attempts to recreate and fill the blanks left by the archives with his imagination as a novelist and with impulses as an anthropologist.

On the other hand, in the process of narration, Deeti’s character is developed as a product of its origins and circumstances; is also a process of self-invention. Moreover, the two aspects are integrally related with regard to the recognition and construction of identity. According to Singh “Though Deeti assumes another name and caste thus erases her caste identity, she is distinctly recognizable for hereditary caste characteristics.” The meaning of her new name ‘Aditi’ suggests to a mythical Hindu goddess who releases from sin and to a person having a deep inner desire to use her abilities in leadership and to have personal independence. The leadership traits that Deeti possess can be associated to Bass’ transformational leader who creates significant change in the life of people. The followers of such a leader feel trust, admiration, loyalty and respect for the leader who offers an inspiring vision and give them an identity. Towards her fellow people on the ship, Deeti’s conduct is typical of a considerate and trustworthy leader. Soon she comes to be known as bhauji and for many she is a friend, protector and confidant. It happens naturally, as she takes responsibility and speaks for truth and justice. Even Deeti shoulders the responsibility of guarding the single women like Munia, Sarju and Heeru throughout their journey to Mauritius.

The central theme that runs through the novel is identity. Throughout it we learn how a person’s identity can be defined by different aspects, including appearance, family, relationships, men, oppression and liberation, motherhood, and age. The novel explores the devastating effects of colonialism on individual’s lives, and how it has consequences on the rest of their lives.

Work Cited

Ghosh, Amitav. Sea of  Poppies. London: Penguin, 2008. Print.

Auradkor, Sarika Pradiprao. Amitav Ghosh: A Critical Study. New Delhi: Creative

Books. 2007. Print.

Grewal, Inderpal. Gender in a Transnational World. New York: McGraw Hill, 2001.


Jaishree, N. ‘Struggle, Displacement and the Quest for Identity in the Select Novels of

Amitav Ghosh.’ Diss. Bharathiar University, 2008. Print.

Kachru, Braj. B. “South Asian English: Toward an Identity in Diaspora.” South Asian English:

Structure, Use and Users. Ed. R.J. Baumgardner. Delhi: Oxford University

Press. 1996. Print.

Pennycook, Alastair. English and the Discourses of Colonialism. London: Routeledge,

  1. Print.

Weil, Simone. The Need for Roots. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.



Corporate Branding: Utilising Colour and language on the Internet

Lee Qingwen Christopher

Working Paper

January 2017


In this 21st century, the concept of corporate branding holds much significance to organisations engaged in business-to-business marketing. As organisations face multiple challenges and increasing expectations from their stakeholders, there is a growing realisation that a strong corporate brand requires contributions from both the organisation and its stakeholders for it to be sustainable. This paper facilitates a comprehensive review and understanding of the implications of corporate branding for brand management in a competitive market. Moreover, the paper integrates the abilities of both colour and language to develop a unique branding concept that adopts a three-step process model (AER) – attraction, engagement, retention that serves as a guide to organisations on how to strategically communicate their brand in a way that stakeholders are willing to identify with.


Brand management, Brand strategy


There has been much discussion over the significance of corporate branding for organisations engaged in business-to-business marketing. An interconnected and integrated world brings multiple challenges and complexities to organisations seeking a competitive advantage. As such, organisations recognise the need to build a sustainable corporate brand in order to meet these challenges.

Today the concept of an organisation is such that it is no longer a static entity but rather a dynamic social co-construction negotiated by all its stakeholders.1-2 Jones3 argues that organisations’ need to establish their corporate brand to meet the increasing expectations of their stakeholders in order to maintain corporate legitimacy. As such, Taylor and Van Emery4 therefore argue that the corporate brand should not be considered a construct separate to communication but rather a result of communicative processes between all stakeholders.

The Corporate brand

Argenti and Druckenmiller5 argue that an organisation engages in corporate branding when it markets the organisation as a brand. However, while the original concept of the ‘brand’ can be traced back to the marketing approach adopted when selling a product, the corporate brand aims to differentiate the organisation from its competitors and has an added dimension of interacting with multiple stakeholders.6

In addition, unlike product branding which is focused solely on marketing the product, corporate branding is a process that involves building stakeholders’ emotional affinity with the brand,7 and in this way the organisation is able to create value for both its stakeholders and other businesses. Moreover, the corporate brand has the potential for greater strategic impact than product brands for it is based on a more credible brand identity, namely, the identity of who the organisation really is and what it is really about.8

The corporate brand has several implications for brand management at the organisational level.9 For example, a corporate brand shapes the image its stakeholders and other businesses have of the organisation and helps stakeholders identify with the brand. In other words, the corporate brand allows the organisation to relate to all its multiple stakeholders through inculcating a relationship between stakeholder and brand.10

The corporate brand and its stakeholders

Stakeholders are “groups without whose support the organisation would cease to exist”.11 Stakeholders need to be considered when organisations make strategic decisions. In addition, as stakeholders experience and relate to the corporate brand, they evaluate and draw informed conclusions about the corporate brand.12 In essence, the profitability of the organisation is dependent upon the organisation’s willingness and ability to recognise all its stakeholders as important contributors to the corporate brand.13

In this paper, consumers are not included as stakeholders. This is because this paper focuses on corporate branding for organisations engaged in business-to-business marketing. Moreover this paper finds that product branding and its target audience is a construct separate to corporate branding. Therefore, stakeholders are defined as other businesses, as well as the organisation’s internal employees, who interact with the organisation.

Stakeholders are presented the corporate brand through their interaction with the organisation’s internal employees.14 As such, Harris and de Chernatony15 argue that the organisation’s employees are central to the process of building a brand. They explain that employee behaviour can either reinforce the values that are communicated by the organisation or undermine the credibility of the brand. The organisation’s core values influence the consistency and credibility in the building of the corporate brand.16

Gylling and Lindberg-Repo17 explain that because corporate brand communication has shifted from ‘what the brand has to offer’ to ‘the brand is who you are’, the organisation should ensure that its employees’ live the organisation’s core values and thus its brand. Stuart18 argues that it is essential for all employees of the organisation to speak the same language of the corporate brand in order to live the organisation’s brand. In other words, the employees must present the “corporate story” especially through the way they interact with stakeholders and other businesses.19

As the organisation’s internal employees interact with stakeholders, the more consistent the stakeholders’ brand experience is with the stated brand promise, the higher the competitive advantage the organisation has.20 Therefore as part of any organisation’s branding strategy, while the corporate brand should be representative of the organisation’s values and culture, more importantly, organisations’ should engage in internal branding as part of their branding strategy.

Significance of the corporate brand in the 21st century

The corporate brand reflects the organisation’s strategy21,12 and how the brand is communicated shapes the organisation’s reputation. Brands, according to Keller and Lehmann22 are one of the most valuable assets that organisations have. A brand “creates value and influence”.23 Furthermore, the organisation’s brand has the ability to “motivate members by imparting value”24 if the organisation is able to establish a sustainable corporate brand.

The concept of integrating sustainability in branding has taken on increased importance especially in today’s context. Porter and Kramer25 argue that sustainability is “an inescapable priority for business leaders in every country.” In addition, a report published by World Business Council for Sustainable Development26 explained that a brand can increase its value by integrating sustainability into its current organisational practices.

In an increasingly competitive commercial environment, the corporate brand becomes a valuable resource in helping organisations differentiate themselves from their competitors.27 Moreover, as stakeholders seek an emotional affinity with the brand, they often look to brand differentiation that is meaningful based on its sustainable practices.28

This paper aims to show why developing an effective branding strategy on the Internet is crucial to establishing a sustainable corporate brand. This paper proposes that organisations adopt a three-step process model (AER) of developing their brand communication strategies through the dimensions of attraction, engagement and retention. Moreover, relatively little research has focused on exploring how colour and language together, impact organisational branding strategy on the Internet. This paper develops a branding concept utilising both colour and language that serves as a guide to organisations on how to strategically design and communicate their brand values in a way that stakeholders are able and willing to identify with.

Corporate branding on the Internet

The Internet has effectively integrated all forms of communication technologies. Ross et al.29 argues that similar to the function of both the telephone and television, the Internet provides an avenue for individuals to conduct intimate conversations with friends and family, and has the ability to efficiently convey information to large groups of audiences, respectively. As such, the Internet has resulted in a fundamental shift as to how people communicate.

Today organisations recognise the capability of the Internet as a platform to communicate, how their brand operates as a collective entity as well as their values. More often than not, stakeholders are seeking a brand that shares the same values as them. Bartels et al.30 explains that a setting that allows for open communication such as the Internet will lead to greater willingness to identify with the brand.  Therefore, it is beneficial for organisations to develop a branding strategy on the Internet.

According to the Global Internet User Survey31, more than 98% of Internet users indicated that they view the Internet as essential when accessing knowledge and education and “nearly 75% of users strongly agreed that access to the Internet allows them to seek any information that interests them”. Therefore, developing an effective branding strategy on the Internet is crucial to establishing an organisation’s brand.

Insert Table 1 – Internet User Statistics, here

The Internet today has more than 3 billion consumers32 (see Table 1). Over the last ten years 2005-2015, there has been an increase of about 2150 million consumers. This works out to be a more than 200% increase in consumers’ online presence since 2005, making it rather imperative for organisations to target this demographic.


When developing a branding strategy, organisations need to consider how the individual mentally represents the world, whether he or she thinks ‘in pictures’ or ‘in words’33. This is because it is important to consider how the brand is communicated, for the brand message can be positioned to either be visual or more informative in nature to meet the needs of the organisation’s stakeholders.

This paper proposes that organisations utilise colour as a strategy when building a brand that is attractive and sustainable. Colour affects individuals because of certain innate unlearned associations. This is because as we grow up, we learn to associate various colours with our environment. Colours attract our attention, especially those that are vibrant and distinct. Colours suggest different values, remind us of the things we see and identify us with our culture. At times, we use colour as a heuristic when making decisions34. In other words through colour, a brand can establish an effective visual presence that stakeholders are attracted to and can identify with.

The seven-second-colour theory as explained by Chang and Lin35 states that as individuals, we have the ability to recognise and memorise the colour and shape of any brand within seven seconds. In addition, Gatewood, Gowan and Lautenschlager36 found that with stimuli that was initially viewed as neutral or positive, repeated exposure to an object resulted in an increased in the positive evaluation of the object. This effect occurred even when subjects were not instructed to evaluate the objects to which they were exposed.

A major point of interest is that these findings indicate that mere exposure to information is central to an individual’s perception of image.37 In essence, these two studies showed the importance of utilising colour effectively to establish favourable stakeholder perception towards the brand during the crucial first seven seconds or when the individual first encounters the brand.


Brand communication campaigns should utilise stakeholder involvement. Stakeholders are more likely to be engaged with the brand when they perceive a connection between the brand message and their self-concept.38 Moreover, stakeholders are more likely to remember the brand that engaged them the most.39 Volkswagen, through their advertisement helped individuals identify their values with the corporate brand. Volkswagen depicted a black sheep amongst other sheep in a flock to portray how an owner of a VW Golf should be an independent and self assured person just like the personified characteristics of the car. The personality of a black sheep in Italy is the symbol of independence and willingness to go one’s own way40. Therefore when developing a branding strategy, organisations should inspire stakeholder identification with the values espoused by the brand.

Another way to engage stakeholders is through the establishment of brand communities. Brand communities perform important functions on behalf of the brand such as the sharing of brand values and perpetuating the culture of the corporate brand.41 In addition, the low cost of interaction with stakeholders and other businesses in cyberspace42 allows organisations to establish their brand presence through the setting up of niche brand communities (eg. Muniz and O’Guinn43). These niche brand communities in turn create opportunities for the organisation’s stakeholders to share their brand related feelings and experiences with others.44 Therefore, it is imperative that organisation provides the necessary support to sustain these communities.

Chang and Lin45 in their study selected several international brand logos among the top 100 brands from ‘Interbrand’ that included Coca-Cola (Red in colour), Starbucks (Green in colour), IBM (Blue in colour) and Burberry (Black in colour). Participants were then asked, “What messages do brand colours convey from the corporate perspective?”  Interestingly participants were able to identify the brand’s identity and personality through its colour traits34.

Participants in Chang and Lin46 research considered the red of Coca-Cola to represent excitement and passion, while blue conveyed stability and reliability of IBM’s products. Also, Fraser and Banks47 found that the colour blue connotes intelligence, communication and trust. Connelly et al.48 noted that brands that used the colour green were perceived to be more ethical in their organisational practices. Some participants even noted that that red curve of the letter C of Coca-Cola represented energy. Perhaps it is also worth considering how a purely black and white brand design can be useful as a differentiation tool from other brands, especially in such a competitive market.

Language too, matters in branding. For example, Nike’s advertisement slogan “Just Do It” comes across as compelling us to do something, perhaps to buy their latest designer sports shoes or celebrity endorsed exercise attire. Why slogans such as this are important for corporate branding is because besides evoking emotions and creating a positive association with us, Nike, through their slogan attempts to create a meaning that resonates with the values of their stakeholders. Furthermore in the process of doing so, Nike gets their stakeholders involved in communicating their slogan and therefore their brand.

Eastman49 explained that he chose the name Kodak for his brand because the “K” had an “incisive sound” and as a result it could not be easily confused with other words or brand names. Therefore it is important for organisations to choose words that are unique to communicate the brand. Moreover, it is important to ensure that the words chosen are part of everyday lexicon so that the corporate brand is understandable and relatable.

Language can sometimes be utilised as a directive in brand communication campaigns. Alka-Seltzer in the early 1960s, marketed their discomfort and pain relief tablet with the slogan “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh, what a relief it is”. What makes this slogan effective for corporate branding is that contained within its slogan is model behaviour to follow. Upon further analysis, we see how the individual is encouraged to use twice as much of the product. To their stakeholders, Alka-Seltzer presents itself as a corporate brand that is approachable and one they can seek out for assistance.

Language conveys brand attributes and has the ability to shape stakeholder perceptions and attitudes towards the brand. Using an example closer to home, SpeedPost is a courier service in Singapore. In addition, their services include international deliveries. “SpeedPost” conveys the impression that you will be engaging an efficient courier service.

Therefore as we have seen, language matters in branding. Every word used in crafting the brand communication campaign plays a role in shaping stakeholders impression of the corporate brand. This is because language used in such communication campaigns tends to be associated with the image of the brand. Therefore when developing a branding strategy, organisations should invest the effort to create experiences that engages their stakeholders and shapes their attitudes towards the corporate brand.


Organisations should use metaphors when developing a strategic corporate brand. Sackmann50 defined metaphors as mental pictures that are able to substitute a thousand words. Moreover O’Malley and Tynan51 argue that the language of branding is becoming more metaphoric in nature. In corporate branding, metaphors can be utilised as a personification metaphor where the “brand is person”52, whereby human characteristics are ascribed to a brand53.

Lakoff and Johnson54 suggested some examples of metaphors included “ She’s weighed down by responsibilities”, “Tomorrow is a big day” and “I see what you mean”. Lakoff and Johnson55 suggest a technique for structuring metaphors is to use a TARGET IS SOURCE format. Gibbs56 in explaining the mapping of the metaphor “Love is a Journey”, showed how this metaphor is created. The knowledge about journeys is mapped onto knowledge about love and, this correspondence allows us to reason about love using the knowledge we use to reason about journeys57.

Applying this metaphor-mapping concept to corporate branding, Microsoft, in their brand communication campaign included the question “Where do you want to go today?” This conveys a sense of potential achievement for both stakeholder and Microsoft when they embark on a metaphorical journey together. In other words through this metaphorical association of going somewhere, Microsoft conveys their corporate brand as relevant and accomplished. The New York Times described this global branding campaign as a “humanistic approach to demystifying technology”58.

Allstate Insurance serves as a good example of utilising both metaphors and colour to convey brand attributes. Allstate with their slogan “You’re in good hands” conveys a sense of support and concern towards stakeholders, which accentuates the positive aspect of the corporate brand. Moreover Allstate has successfully utilised the colour blue in the design of their logo that has the additional positive effect of, portraying themselves as competent and efficient59.

Therefore as we have seen, metaphors are relatable and relatively easy to interpret. In addition metaphors help stakeholders and other businesses to elaborate on the distinctive features of the organisation’s corporate logo that aids in their processing of brand attributes. Moreover metaphors help stakeholders to draw inferences that they might not have made should the mappings have been explicit60. Therefore when developing a sustainable corporate brand, organisations should consider utilising both colour and language to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Conclusion and management implications for corporate branding

This paper has brought to light the importance of utilising both colour and language as a branding strategy to establish a sustainable corporate brand. In addition, this paper has showed why developing an effective branding strategy on the Internet is crucial to establishing a sustainable corporate brand. Moreover, this paper presents a unique branding concept that adopts a three-step process model (AER) that serves as a guide to organisations on how to strategically communicate their brand in a way that stakeholders can identify with.

Insert Table 2 – Application of Colour to branding, here

Insert Table 3 – Application of Language to branding, here

Insert Figure 1 – Proposed process model (AER), here

In this 21st century, the concept of corporate branding is of much significance to organisations engaged in business-to-business marketing. The role of the corporate brand has changed. As organisations seek a sustainable competitive advantage, the corporate brand can no longer “just stand there, they must stand for something”61. The corporate brand must reflect the value system espoused by the organisation. In today’s context, the organisation’s employees are representatives of the corporate brand to the organisation’s stakeholders and other businesses.

This necessitates going beyond employing a short-term strategy simply in pursuit of increased profitability for the organisation. Building a sustainable corporate brand necessitates a long-term commitment from the organisation and its employees, to their stakeholders. The organisation must align its core values with its human resource practices such that their employees will reflect the values and culture of the organisation that invites stakeholder identification. Moreover for a corporate branding strategy involving colour and language to be effective, the organisation’s employees must believe in the brand message being communicated and most importantly, they must live the brand. Therefore it is the hope of this paper that organisations will see the value of making the long-term investment into establishing a strong corporate brand.


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India as Knowledge Economy: Status, Challenges & Solution


Phil Scholar, Economics Department


Abstract : Neo -classical growth theory come out as a path breaker  by considering knowledge as a major component of economic growth, instead of considering economic growth led by productivity. Recently, global economies has also started recognizing the contribution of knowledge to total factor productivity and consequently to sustainable long term economic development .Keeping in view the emerging trend, this paper analyze the status of India as a knowledge economy at national and global level and trace the issues which come in the way of India to become a knowledge based economy.

Keywords– knowledge economy ,KEI, status, issue


The term “knowledge-based economy” results from a fuller recognition of the role of knowledge and technology in economic growth. Knowledge, as embodied in human beings (as “human capital”) and in technology, has always been central to economic development [].  In the last few years , importance of knowledge is recognized in economic development as it play catalyst role in making country more dynamic.

There are certain elements which are essential for a country , in order to transform itself into a knowledge economy, which includes – investment in education, incentives to innovations, up-to-date information infrastructure and competitive and cooperative economic environment. Collectively, these elements constitute the framework of knowledge economy

Thus, investment in these four pillars of knowledge economy required to create its simultaneous effects on consumption and production sector, which will automatically assured the sustained economic development accompanied by  social and economic welfare. Thus, being one of the largest economies and fast growing economy (GDP growth rate: 7.6% in 2017), it is essential to trace the status of India in terms of becoming knowledge economy.


D.Chen,C.Dahlman ; analysed the importance of knowledge for long term economic growth by introducing the knowledge economy framework.Paper also explained the knowledge assessment methodology (KAM) used by world bank.

  1. Research methodology and objective

The study was based on the secondary data collected from websites books research paper etc. There are three major objectives of the study:

  1. To analyze the status of India as a knowledge economy at both national as well as global level ;
  2. To examine the challenges in the way of India to become a knowledge economy ;
  • To provide suggestions to overcome those challenges.




  • India’s position in the Global knowledge economy:


There are various methods used and developed to analyze  nations performance in terms of knowledge readiness. Among them, one globally recognized method is knowledge assessment methodology  (KAM) was developed by world bank to benchmark  countries position relative to others in the global knowledge economy. India’s position in the global knowledge economy was analyzed through three indicators which are explained below :

  • Knowledge economy index (KEI):

Knowledge economy index is the average of the performance score of a country on the focus performance of knowledge economy. Figure. 1 shows the performance of India in KEI at global scenario.

Although,  from figure .1, it was cleared that  India’s performance not improved since 1995 ,but it was only performing well then South Asia region , thus still more need to be done to fully utilize knowledge for its development.

Figure .1 Knowledge economy index : India   and the world,1995 and most recent period.

Source: World Bank ,knowledge assessment methodology  ,


  • India and four pillars of knowledge economy:

 India’s position can also be analyzed at global level on the four individual pillars of the knowledge economy as shown in figure 2.

It was clear from the figure below that all countries ,except S.Africa and India, have improved their recent performance since 1995 , in comparison to 1995 .Overall KEI score of India slightly shift in back position due to non appreciable performance in the education pillar and in information infrastructure pillar, completely contrary to its major competitors China ,which has marked its position at global level in information  infrastructure.


Source: World Bank ,knowledge assessment methodology  ,

  • India’s knowledge economy scorecard:

Scorecard of nation includes three variables for each of the four pillars of the knowledge economy ,accompanied by one variable of performance HDI as shown in figure 3.

India’s performance is not appreciable  if it was compared with its closest competitor Brazil and China. It can be interpret from figure 3 that India was able to mark its presence among other nations only in the case of indicators related to economic and institutional regime( regulatory quality and rule of law ) but still lags behind China and Brazil relative to the indicators of information infrastructure ,researchers and education pillar of knowledge economy.

 Figure .3 India, China  and Brazil         knowledge economy scorecard



Source: World Bank ,knowledge assessment methodology  ,

4.2  Indian states and knowledge status :

After analyzing India status as a whole in the global knowledge economy, it will be appropriate to analyze the status of education within the country a glimpse of Indian states knowledge status is shown in figure 4 below.


SOURCE:  Census of India. (2011). State of Literacy. Provisional Population Totals – India, 1–


5 . Issues& solutions :

Some of the main issues which come in the way of India to transform itself into any knowledge economy were discuss below:

  • .Efficient utilization of public resources required to improve the quality and efficiency of education system and system must be developed in such way that it will full field global and domestic market labor related requirements.

  • more focus on the primary and secondary education in terms of quality.

  • inducement and support to all higher education in order to improve their quality, instead of focusing on certain like IIT.

  • Inducement to private sector to make investment in research and development.

  • In order to transform to a knowledge economy, India required integrating the demand of the market into the education system..
  • In order to recognize its position in emerging global innovation market India also required progressive patent laws and a robust IPR regime.

  1. The arena of innovation not to be limited to few areas or sectors. For instance, in India R&D is always supposed to be linked to science related field like pharmaceutical, and so on and that s why research in these areas normally more funded and sponsored, which ultimately discourage the investment in research and development related to others streams or field.

  1. New product development is necessary for intra industry trade as commodities involved in intra industry trade is equally profitable as inter industry trade commodities.

  1. Absence of proper planning, lack of effective project management methods and lack of technical literacy are major challenges for managing a ICT projects in India.


  In order to tackle down above shows following steps and strategy required to be adopted

  • Defining priorities and establishing budgets

  • Adopting systemic, integrated approaches for the different policy planks at all levels of


  • Mobilizing state governments, which are key to the Indian economy and its modernization

  • Multiplying experiments and publicizing concrete initiatives that clearly exemplify the

move to a knowledge-based economy.

  1. Conclusion

Although , India is able to mark its position in the global scenario as one of the emerging nations, but still transforming itself into a knowledge based economy is hard nut to break ,in the fast growing technical global environment .It will be beneficiary for India to fully utilize its human resources  by making investment and focusing to increase its productivity , in order to generate spread effects  as done by China.


Census of India. (2011). State of Literacy. Provisional Population Totals – India, 1–140. (E)


Data, C. (2014). Gross State Domestic Product ( GSDP ) at Current Prices ( as on 31-05-2014 ), (18), 2014.

Distribution, G., & Co-operation, O. F. O. R. E. (1996). THE KNOWLEDGE-BASED ECONOMY, (96).

Economy, K. (n.d.). Knowledge economy.

Economy, K. (2005). II Singapore ’ s Transition to the Knowledge Economy : From Efficiency to Innovation, 79–87.




Profitability Determinants of Islamic Banking in Sri Lanka

Hiruni Nirmali, HongKong and Shanghai Banking Corporation,Colombo, Sri Lanka


Dr. R. P. C. R. Rajapakse[1]

Senior Lecturer, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka. 


Amana Investments was established in 1997 as the first Islamic bank in Sri Lanka. Islamic Finance is Sharia compliant finance because and is based on the teachings in the Holy Quran and sacred scripture of the religion of Islam. The aim of this research is to provide an overview on the Islamic Finance Industry of Sri Lanka by identifying the factors that affect the profitability of the industry. The profitability of Islamic banks is measured by three dimensions, i.e. return on assets, and return on equity, earnings per share. Internal explanatory variables include bank size, gearing ratio, asset management, deposit ratio, non-performing loans ratio, asset composition, capital adequacy ratio and operating efficiency, whereas external explanatory variables include gross domestic product (GDP) and consumer price index (CPI). Since Islamic Banking is a relatively new industry within Sri Lanka, there is a high potential to make profits by considering the components of the ratios used as independent variables in the study. Although some components indicated to be profitable, the risk associated with those variables and the other factors such as liquidity and profitability also have to be considered. Results were similar to the other researches done for other countries

Key words: Islamic banking, Shairia, Murabaha, Mudarabah, Ijara,



  1. Introduction

1.1 Islamic Banking in Sri Lanka

The history of Islamic banking sector in Sri Lanka extends back to 1997 where Amana Investments was established. The amendment of the Banking Act No. 30 of 1988 in 2005 to permit licensed commercial banks and licensed specialized banks to offer selected Islamic finance instruments was a major step towards encouraging Islamic banking in the country and today there are state banks and commercial banks practicing Islamic Banking. There are many other institutions including Islamic Micro Financiers offering Murabaha, Mudarabah, Ijara, Wakal, Musharaka, Diminishing Musharaka, Takaful etc. In order to pursue industrial development in the Islamic Banking sector, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has given permission to open up a fully fledged Islamic Bank and also a fully fledged Islamic Fund.

Islamic Finance is regarded as Sharia compliant finance because it is developed based on the teachings in the Holy Quran and sacred scripture of the religion of Islam. Amana Bank is the first Sharia compliant bank in Sri Lanka under the local regulations and the only bank that operates with the requirements of the Sharia law. On the 29th July 2011, it has witnessed the official launch as a Central Bank Licensed Islamic Bank.. Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad, AB Bank of Bangladesh and Islamic Development Bank of Saudi Arabia are three of the strategic stakeholders of Amana Bank PLC. Most of the other banks have established windows for the conduct of Islamic Banking which have created a healthy competition between the players.

 Murabaha and Mudarabah and Two Tier Mudarabah are most popular financial products offered. Researchers have found that the most common financial product in the Islamic Finance Industry in Sri Lanka is Mudarabah.  Musharakah is another product that is same as Mudarabah but only difference is that partnership finance would be used. In this, the bank and the customer would be jointly invest in funds and management capabilities in a particular project. Diminishing Musharakah is another product where the bank and the customer would own assets or capital under joint ownership with the mutual understanding that the customer will purchase the units of the asset at periodic intervals and at the end becomes the owner of the product. This is commonly used for the purchase of property, plant and equipment. Ijara is also a product that is coming under Islamic Finance which is basically about Sharia compliant leasing. This is very common in Sri Lanka.

  1. Literature Review

To measure a firm’s financial performance in terms of how effectively and efficiently the assets of the firm are utilized to generate revenues for the business, profitability measures play an important role. These assess the financial health of an organization and allow comparisons among companies as well as different sectors (Slaper and Hall, 2011). The main motive of an organization is to earn a profit for the betterment of the firm, which allows a firm to expand its activities and operations.

Profitability can be defined as the final measure of economic success achieved by a company in relation to the capital invested in it. Also this is considered as the excess amount over costs of a business. Profit and Profitability are two different measures, where profit is an absolute figure, while profitability is usually expressed as a ratio, explaining the rate of profit using a base measurement, for example, assets, investments or equity. Increase in profitability tends to achieve business success and hence the financial managers should focus on improving the profitability of the firm. (Uremadu and Enyi, 2012) Profitability ratios can be categorized as profitability on sales, and profitability on investment.

Considering the measures or the ratios employed to assess the profitability of a firm, the theoretical base and researches have suggested using Gross Operating Income Margin and Net Operating Income Margin as profitability measures on sales and Return on Assets (ROA), Return on Equity (ROE), Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) as profitability measures on investment. However, there are also certain other measures used as proxies for firm profitability.

According to the study of profitability determinants of Islamic Banks in Pakistan by Ijaz et al. (2015) for the period of 2006 to 2013, Bank size, gearing ratio, operational efficiency, asset management, and capital adequacy ratios were used as independent variables along with ROA and ROE as dependent variables.

In the research of Kosmidou and Zopounidis (2008), ROA was used as the dependent variable in measuring the performance of Greek Banks for the period 1990-2002. The independent variables used are the cost to income ratio, the proportion of equity to total assets, the proportion of loans to customers and short term financing, the proportion of ratio of loan loss reserves to gross loans, the bank’s total assets accounting value (bank size), the annual change in GDP, inflation rate, growth of the money supply, stock market capitalization, and the proportion of ratio total assets of the deposit money banks divided by the GDP. The results showed that there is a positive relationship between the bank’s profitability and bank size and the annual change in GDP and a negative relationship was found with inflation rate.

The study on Thailand Banking sector by Sufian and Habibullah (2009) aimed at analyzing the impact of internal and external factors on the profitability of the bank measures in terms of ROA and ROE considering the period from 1999-2005. The results showed that bank size, economic growth, and capitalization have positively impacted on the profitability while a negative impact was brought by the non-interest income, per capita GDP, credit risk and overhead costs.

Singh and Chaudhary (2009) have conducted a study for the period of 2001-2007 concerning the profitability determinants of Indian Banks. The results revealed that investments, per capita income, index of industrial production, wholesale price index, foreign exchange reserves, and exports were having a positive impact on profitability of banks in public, private and foreign sectors.

According to the study of ten commercial banks listed on Istanbul stock exchange conducted for the period of 2002-2010, a positive influence was found between the bank profitability and factors such as asset size and non-interest income on banks’ profitability and a negative relationship was found between the banks’ credit portfolio size and loans under follow-up. (Anber and Alper, 2011). The real interest rate as a macroeconomic variable was found to have a positive relationship too.

Flamini et al. (2009) have studied 389 banks of 41 Sub-Saharan African nations with considering different variables and concluded that a banks’ ROA is linked to the bank size. And also the macroeconomic variables such as regulations, market power, and systematic Risk are having an impact on the profitability. Further banks’ size, deposit ratios, and interest picking up ratios were found to be affecting the profitability of banks according to the study of 40 banks by Burki and Niazi (2010) for the period of 1991-2000.

A comparison of accounting profitability measures with economic factors was carried out by Olson and Zoubi (2011) for the period of 2000-2008 focusing on the Middle East and North African (MENA) regions and ROA and ROE were used as the accounting profitability measures. Bank size was found to reflect a positive relationship with the accounting profitability. Same accounting profitability measures were used by Ostadi and Monsef (2014) in their study of Iranian banks and have concluded that the bank size and bank concentration had more impact on the level of profitability among the bank deposits, bank size, bank capital, liquidity concerns, and keeping money prerequisites that were used as independent variables.

According to Nirmali& Rajapakse( 2016),there is a clear gap of research on Islamic Banking profitability for Sri Lanka. The relative newness of the industry and the lack of information availability would have caused this gap of knowledge which would be aimed to be bridged with the aid of this study. Islamic Finance Industry is a relatively new area to Sri Lanka. There is relatively less number of researches done.

3.    Significance of the study

The aim of this research is to provide an overview on the Islamic Finance Industry of Sri Lanka with the objective of identifying the factors that affect the profitability of the industry through an assessment of the quantitative factors. Promotion of Islamic Finance in a non Muslim country like Sri Lanka would be of great importance because of its ability to contribute to economic development. This is because of the ability of the emerging Islamic Finance Industry to contribute to the Sovereign Sukuk Market where foreign financing could be used as an alternative to the issue of Sovereign Bonds. The transition of Islamic finance into the mainstream global finance has created an opportunity for Sri Lanka to pursue funds for economic development. The findings are expected bring insights to the Finance Industry as a whole and also to the foreign investors to identify Sri Lanka as one of the potential success hubs for Islamic Finance.

4.    Research Problem and Questions

This study tries to assess factors that affect the profitability of Islamic banking industry in Sri Lanka measured in terms of Return on assets (ROA), return on equity (ROE), and earnings per share (EPS) with considering internal and external factors such as Bank’s size, gearing ratio, non-performing loans (NPL) ratio, operational efficiency, asset composition, asset management, capital adequacy ratio, deposit ratio, gross domestic product (GDP), and consumer price index (CPI). The question addressed here is whether the above mentioned factors have an association with the profitability of Islamic banking industry in Sri Lanka.

5.    Research Objectives

The main objective of this study is to test the profitability of Islamic banking industry in Sri Lanka.

The research question had been decomposed into objectives systematically as follows.

  • To examine the relationship between Return on assets (ROA) and Bank’s size, gearing ratio, non-performing loans (NPL) ratio, operational efficiency, asset composition, asset management, capital adequacy ratio, deposit ratio, gross domestic product (GDP), and consumer price index (CPI).
  • To examine the relationship between return on equity (ROE) and the Bank’s size, gearing ratio, non-performing loans (NPL) ratio, operational efficiency, asset composition, asset management, capital adequacy ratio, deposit ratio, gross domestic product (GDP), and consumer price index (CPI).
  • To examine the relationship between the earnings per share (EPS) and Bank’s size, gearing ratio, non-performing loans (NPL) ratio, operational efficiency, asset composition, asset management, capital adequacy ratio, deposit ratio, gross domestic product (GDP), and consumer price index (CPI).

  1. Methodology
    • Data

The profitability of Islamic banks is measured by three dimensions, i.e. return on assets, and return on equity, earnings per share. Internal explanatory variables include bank size, gearing ratio, asset management, deposit ratio, non-performing loans ratio, asset composition, capital adequacy ratio and operating efficiency, whereas external explanatory variables include gross domestic product (GDP) and consumer price index (CPI).This study is aimed at the analysis of profitability factors regarding Islamic Banking with considering Amana Takaful Bank PLC which is considered to be the only fully Sharia complying bank in Sri Lanka. It is a listed entity in the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and thus the required secondary data on internal variables are collected from the quarterly financial statements obtained from the Colombo Stock Exchange website. A total of 8 internal variables and 2 external variables are used for the research study on annual basis. The data on internal variables are collected from the World Bank website and the publications of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Since the bank was established in 2009, data were collected from the year 2011 until 2015 with covering twenty quarters.

Bank Specific Independent Variables


  • Bank Size: The total asset base of the bank is used to measure the size of the bank. The relationship between the profitability of an entity and its size measured in terms of total assets is regarded to be positive in most of the literature.

  • Gearing Ratio: The ratio of total liabilities to total equity of the bank is termed as the Gearing Ratio. High gearing will be a positive factor for profitability given that the distress conditions are not reached.

  • Asset Management: Asset management refers to the management of investments on behalf of the clients of the bank. It is represented by operating efficiency divided by total assets. It is obvious that if the investments are managed properly, it will positively impact on the profitability of the bank.

  • Deposit Ratio: Deposit ratio is given as the ratio of total deposits to total assets. This is another indicator of liquidity of the bank. Higher amount of deposits would ensure that the bank has more funds which may lead to more investments and loans and hence increase the profitability.

  • Non-Performing Loans: A non-performing loan is a loan that has been classified by the bank as default or close to default as per the criteria set in. It is measured as a ratio to the total value of the loans. High ratio means low profitability of the bank.

  • Asset Composition: Asset composition another measure of the liquidity of the assets that has been linked to loans. The impact of loans on the level of profitability is intended to be measured by incorporating this ratio into the model. It is explained by total liabilities (loans) divided by total assets.

  • Capital Adequacy Ratio: The relationship between total capital to risk weighted assets is measured by capital adequacy ratio. The ability of the bank to absorb risks generated to shareholders is measured by this ratio. Higher the ability to absorb the risks results in higher profitability.

  • Operating Efficiency: Higher the operating efficiency of the bank would result in higher profitability. It would be an indication of how efficiently the bank uses its assets by incurring costs in order to serve the customers and earn profits. It is calculated as operating expenses divided by total assets.


Macroeconomic Independent Variables


Gross Domestic Product: The annual GDP is taken for the study which means the total economic production within the boundaries of the country. Since the significance of the services within the total GDP is rising, it could be expected that the banking industry too contributing more to the total GDP. In a narrow sense, higher the GDP, higher would be the personnel income that would result in more deposits and demand for loans and hence result in bank’s profitability. In a broader sense, the factors like tax and others would have to be considered in order to arrive at a conclusion.

Consumer Price Index: Consumer Price Index refers to the Colombo Consumer Price Index in Sri Lanka where it could be measured as the weighted average of prices of a basket of goods and services for a definite time period.

Definitions and Notations of variables

ROA = Return on Assets Annual net income

Average total assets

ROE = Return on Equity Annual net income

Average total equity

EPS =Earnings per share Net income

Weighted Average No. of shares

SIZE = Size of the bank in terms of total assets Log of total assets
GR = Gearing Ratio Total liabilities

Total equity

NPL = Non Performing Loans Ratio Non-performing loans

Total loans

AC = Asset Composition Total liabilities

Total assets

AM = Asset Management Operating income

Total assets

OE = Operating Efficiency Operating expenses

Total assets

DR = Deposit Ratio Total Deposits

Total Assets

CA = Capital Adequacy Ratio Tier I + Tier II capital

Risk weighted assets

GDP = Gross Domestic Product Annual GPD
CPI = Consumer Price Index Annual CPI

3.2 Methodology

The Data collected will be studied for their nature and behavior using the descriptive statistics. The methodology aims at identifying the determinants of profitability of Islamic Banking, the independent variables involved in the study would be compared against the dependent variables as three separate models.  The Pearson’s correlation coefficient is calculated for the relevant variables for this purpose. The nature of relationship between each and every component would be tested in the study with the profitability would be identified and then the study would conclude the determinants of profitability of Islamic Banking in particular.

The methodology designed for identifying the determinants of profitability of Islamic Banking would lead to the achievement of the objectives of the proposed study. Further, the analysis of collected data would involve using statistical packages and also an incorporation of qualitative factors for increasing the effectiveness of interpretations.

  1. Analysis

4.1 Descriptive Statistics

The analysis of the descriptive statistics relevant to the variables considered in the study is being presented below. Descriptive statistics can be used as a measure to describe and discuss the general characteristics, providing an overview of a sample. Mean and Median values will be used as measures of Central-tendency and the standard deviation would be used to measure the dispersion of the sample. The volatility of the data would be measured through the standard deviation measure. A low standard deviation implies that the data lies close to the mean value.

When considering the ROA, taking 5 annual observations, the mean ROA had been -0.006 with a maximum of 0.010000 and a minimum of -0.020000. This shows the variation caused in ROA since the bank was incorporated. Most of the profitability indicators are having minus mean values. It means that the bank had been improving over the years since inception with indicating a growth.

The maximum and minimum values of the firm size had not been deviated very much over the five year period although there had been some level of improvement. The maximum and minimum values of Non Performing loans too are not deviated very much from the mean value and it is a very low amount compared to the other peers in the industry. The mean gearing ratio is also high with a high standard deviation of 1.601252 which means that the bank highly depends on debts compared to equity. Since the bank is in the growth stage of its life cycle with facing high level of business risk where it is earning slight profits and cash flows with competition from new entrants though it finds increasing sales growth rate, high level of financial risk seems to be too risky.

When considering the macroeconomic variables, the natural logarithm of GDP is having a maximum value of 29.97387 and a mean value close to it. The standard deviation is quite high indicating high volatility. In contrast, the natural logarithm of CPI has low volatility indicating a standard deviation of 0.076118.

 Mean -0.006000 -0.015017 -0.065091  10.39568  5.025209  0.011740  0.044703  0.045447  0.160905  0.797729  0.825180  29.76858  5.133377
 Median  0.000000 -0.015913 -0.064180  10.36918  4.443260  0.011040  0.045285  0.045132  0.207036  0.795727  0.816287  29.79138  5.159917
 Maximum  0.010000  0.047592  0.161711  10.68018  7.366668  0.017715  0.075005  0.059196  0.254639  0.837431  0.880478  29.97387  5.201347
 Minimum -0.020000 -0.077960 -0.326985  10.16306  3.622225  0.006948  0.012238  0.028557  0.003882  0.768579  0.783654  29.50946  5.020366
 Std. Dev.  0.013416  0.054177  0.213158  0.216308  1.601252  0.003943  0.022274  0.013778  0.099908  0.026443  0.042077  0.189028  0.076118
 Skewness -0.111111  0.005578 -0.090969  0.234001  0.584242  0.459309 -0.161060 -0.081535 -0.796098  0.505026  0.302381 -0.298234 -0.616533
 Kurtosis  1.398148  1.396876  1.411732  1.546486  1.777495  2.336682  2.480731  1.396477  2.196801  2.107932  1.480303  1.680124  1.857460
 Jarque-Bera  0.544857  0.535444  0.532437  0.485777  0.595807  0.267469  0.077792  0.541225  0.662545  0.378332  0.557337  0.437051  0.588719
 Probability  0.761528  0.765120  0.766272  0.784359  0.742373  0.874822  0.961851  0.762912  0.718010  0.827649  0.756791  0.803703  0.745009
 Sum -0.030000 -0.075086 -0.325453  51.97838  25.12605  0.058700  0.223516  0.227233  0.804527  3.988647  4.125900  148.8429  25.66688
 Sum Sq. Dev.  0.000720  0.011741  0.181746  0.187156  10.25604  6.22E-05  0.001985  0.000759  0.039926  0.002797  0.007082  0.142926  0.023176
 Observations  5  5  5  5  5  5  5  5  5  5  5  5  5

4.3 Correlation Analysis

The purpose of the Pearson’s correlation analysis is to understand the relationship between the profitability determinants used in the study as independent variables and the profitability measures that are incorporated into the model as dependent variables.

ROA Pearson Correlation 1 .960** .942* .383 .605 -.570 .669 .816 .309 .532 -.633 .436 .409
Sig. (2-tailed)   .010 .017 .524 .280 .316 .217 .092 .612 .356 .252 .463 .494
N 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
ROE Pearson Correlation .960** 1 .996** .284 .606 -.759 .662 .662 .089 .488 -.542 .292 .219
Sig. (2-tailed) .010   .000 .644 .278 .137 .224 .224 .887 .404 .346 .633 .724
N 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
EPS Pearson Correlation .942* .996** 1 .323 .657 -.807 .708 .599 .005 .521 -.573 .317 .228
Sig. (2-tailed) .017 .000   .596 .229 .099 .181 .286 .994 .367 .313 .603 .712
N 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).


The overall results of the correlation analysis show that the relationship between the independent variables and the profitability measures show the same results. The profitability indicators of the bank ROA, ROE and EPS are positively correlated with the size measured in terms of the assets of the bank in the particular years. This shows that the increase in the asset base of the bank contributes to the profitability of the bank.

The Gearing Ratio is positively correlated with the ROA. Since the significance level is greater than 0.025, the results could be confirmed to be significant. It could be concluded that the increase in debt component with compared to the equity in the capital structure results in more performance results or profits. But the gearing ratio is very high with compared to the industry norms and given that the bank operates in a relatively new industry within Sri Lanka and it is in the growth stage, the level of business risk is very high. Therefore the financial risk has to be low whereas the bank has a high level of gearing which is risky.

The NPLs have a negative correlation with the ROA, ROE and EPS. That is, the increase in the level of NPLs result in reducing the profitability measured in terms of ROE, ROE and EPS. Loans are one of the most contributing sources of the total interest income of the bank. The amount of NPLs in Amana Bank is very low compared to the industry norms which is a positive aspect.

When considering the Asset Composition (AC), it is positively correlated to the profitability of Islamic Banking in terms of ROA, ROE and EPS. Loans bring in interest income to the bank and hence the increase in loans in the asset portfolio of the bank would result in more interest income and thus more profits. Asset Management (AM) is also positively correlated to the profitability of Islamic Banking. Therefore it is clear that the management of investments on behalf of the clients of the bank would result in investor confidence, high returns, increased customer foot fall and thereby increase profitability.

When considering the Operating Efficiency (OE), it shows positive correlation to the profitability. The variable is highly correlated to the ROA and then to the ROE and EPS respectively. This shows the incurring of expenses for the day to day functioning of the bank with the purpose of serving the customers in the best possible manner would result in more profitability. This would be derived from the increased level of customer satisfaction due to the facilities and service enjoyed by the customers.

The deposit ratio is a key aspect in determining the profitability of Islamic Banking as savings are the primary income earning product of the bank. Deposits act as a source of making investments with which the bank would earn returns. Therefore when the amount of deposits increase within the total assets of the bank, there will be more investments and hence profitability ensured.

The capital adequacy is negatively correlated with the profitability measured in terms of ROA, ROE and EPS. It shows the ability of the bank to absorb risks generated to shareholders. Risk weighted assets had been increasing at a faster phase when compared to the total capital. Therefore the capital adequacy ratio reduced over the latter part of the period concerned. Profitability ratios had also shown mixed results. Therefore without taking the whole picture, as far as the individual data points are concerned, there could be seen a clear negative relationship between the capital adequacy ratio and the profitability measures as indicated below. The highest impact is generated upon the EPS. When the capital adequacy ratio changes to a specific direction, the EPS moves the opposite direction at a faster rate.

GDP also has a positive relationship to the bank’s profitability. It could be inferred that when the total national income rises as shown by the GDP, there will be more purchasing power and thus more ability to save. Therefore the banks would get more funds from customers or making investments and as well, there would be more investment opportunities in the economy.

When considering the CPI, the increase in CPI brings in positive correlation with the ROA, ROE and EPS. Inflation is caused by an increased movement of the CPI. In an Inflationary situation, the returns on investments too increase. Hence it could be concluded that the bank earns more returns in nominal terms.

  1. Conclusion

This study has aimed at the analysis of determinants of profitability with regard to Islamic Banking in Sri Lanka. The Amana Bank was chosen for the study which is considered to be the only fully Sharia complying bank in the country. The profitability measures considered in the study were separated as bank specific and macroeconomic variables. The macroeconomic variables are the nominal GDP and the Consumer Price Index whereas the bank specific factors are the Gearing Ratio, Asset Management, Asset Composition, Deposit Ratio, Non Performing Loans Ratio, Operating Efficiency, Capital Adequacy Ratio, and Size of the bank. Annual data on the components of the ratios were collected since the bank’s inception: hence for the period between 2011-2015.

The results were the same as for all of the profitability measures with regard to the determinants considered as independent variables in the study. Out of the bank specific factors, the Gearing Ratio, Asset Management, Asset Composition, Operating Efficiency, Deposit Ratio and Size of the bank shows positive relationship with the level of profitability of Islamic Banking whereas the Non Performing Loans Ratio, Capital Adequacy Ratio shows negative relationship to the profitability of the bank. According to theory, the Capital Adequacy shows the ability of the bank to absorb the risks and hence the findings seem to be contradictory to the theory. But the theory was justified when the individual data were analyzed. Both of the macroeconomic variables considered in the study; GDP and CPI shows positive relationship with the level of bank profitability.

The research provides insights to the entire banking industry on the components of bank profitability. Since Islamic Banking is a relatively new industry within Sri Lanka, there is a high potential to make profits by considering the components of the ratios used as independent variables in the study. Although some components indicated to be profitable, the risk associated with those variables and the other factors such as liquidity, profitability also have to be considered.

Results were conforming to the other researches done in other countries whereas with regard to Sri Lanka, Islamic Finance Industry is relatively a new area. The inadequacy of data due to the fact that Islamic Banking was established very recently made a limitation to the study. And also this research focuses only on Amana Takaful Bank PLC which is considered to be the leader in Islamic Finance Industry by being the only organization wholly based purely on the Islamic Finance concept. But when considering the island wide performance, there are many financial institutions which are into both commercial banking and also Islamic banking. There are also village societies among the Muslim community where the same principles of Islamic Finance are being applied. These societies or organizations are most of the time reluctant to disclose information and thus considering the availability of information, the listed bank has been selected for this research.

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[1] Corresponding Author

Group Discussion: A Strategy for Enhancing Soft Skills

Mr. K. Karkuvel Raja M.A.

Research Scholar, The American College, Madurai 625 002

Background of the study

            Business organizations are made up of personnel who play a vital role in attaining profit and progress.  Soft skills are mandatory for an employee to work in an organization.  Teamwork, group activity, team compatibility becomes essential in the modern business world.  Personnel have to make sure that he/she has developed the required soft skills to work in an organization.  Communication is a part and parcel of business environment.  Miscommunication of the data leads to misunderstanding between the personnel in a team.  Group discussion is an activity that tests the team co-ordination, compatibility and coexistence to a great level.  So, interpersonal relationship has to be improved to maintain unity among the employees.  Thus, more emphasis is given to the group discussion which not only helps to develop communication skills but also to improve the soft shills of the personnel.


            The researcher attempts to prove that group discussion can be considered as an effective strategy in improving soft skills of the personnel.  Enhancement of communication skills is achieved during the course of group discussion.

Research Questions

  1. Why should a learner learn Soft Skills?
  2. How soft skills can be acquired?
  3. If group discussion a strategy for acquiring soft skills?
  4. How can group discussion help to improve communication skills?
  5. How can Group discussion be implemented in a Classroom?
  6. What is the role of the teacher while conducting a group discussion?


            Business is not only about profit and loss, it also involves with the management of human resources.  For a learner of Business Administration course, the need to have Soft skills is of high priority.  Soft skills develop the personality of an individual.  The attitude, behavior, personality plays a vital role in the organizational behavior.  Soft skills groom an individual’s personality by making them adjustable to the working environment.  Proper behavior, attitude can be achieved only through soft skills.

            For a learner of Business Administration, the need to learn soft skills is inevitable.  The learners should learn soft skills in order to make them flexible to different complex situations.  The leadership quality, coordination, time management and other quality can be only possessed by individuals who have acquired soft skills.  Business students who are trying to enter into the business world should consider soft skills as a mandatory factor.  Soft skills help to trim one’s personality and make it suitable for the working environment.  Thus soft skill has to be acquired by the learners so that, they can become successful in their business in future.

            Acquisition of Soft skills is fundamental for everyone in the modern scenario.  Soft skills cannot be learned, it can only be acquired.  Teaching soft skills to a learner is not enough, and then the true purpose of soft skills will be degraded.  Printed materials and notes cannot be enough to teach soft skills.  Practical experience and training helps the learner to acquire soft skills.  Leadership rights, coordination, cooperation, and tem work can be achieved only when learners are put into such a situation.  Practical knowledge paves the way for the acquisition of interpersonal relationships.  Situations are the perfect masters to teach soft skills.  Thus, acquisition of soft skills has to be obtained practically and not theoretically.

            Group discussion has become a part of the cooperate sector.  Group discussion is even considered as a stage in the selection process of an interview.  Even students of Business Administration are taught that the group discussion as a management game.  Group discussion is considered is an activity that gives opportunities for all the participants to quote their ideas.  Situational analysis and decision making plays a tricky role in the progression of a business.  Nowadays, Group discussion has been promoted from a management activity to a common activity that all are meant to perform.

            For an individual to sustain in a group; coordination, cooperation, team work, correlation, and trust are fundamental.  Group discussion provides the chance to improve coordination among the group.  Each and every individual can contribute to the discussion which encourages them.  The participation of all the individuals makes them believe that they are also important for the group.  By listening to other’s ideas and opinions mutual understanding between the learners can be enhanced.  Leadership ability can be tested with the help of these kinds of discussions.  Encouragement, motivation leads to a healthy discussion.  All these traits shape the personality of the personal.

            Group discussion provides opportunities for all the participants.  By giving their ideas in front of all other participants’ one can learn how to speak in a group.  Giving space for others to speak, team unity can be improved.  Through discussions the participants can know about one another, their coordination can reach the greater level.  Team work is the key element for every business.  Students who want to enter into business should possess interpersonal relationships in order to run a business.

            Language is essential for a communication.  Even though business communication is different from the ordinary communication, Language plays a vital role in it.  For a communication to happen proficiency over a language has to be improved.  In group discussion, communication makes the discussion worthwhile.  It is in the part of the participants to avoid miscommunication.  The information that is spoken in the discussion should be accurate.  All the ideas should be noted so that the individuals will feel that they are given importance in the discussion.  They are certain nuisances for how to conduct a group discussion.  All those should be taken into consideration in a discussion.

            Communication skill can be enhanced through group discussion.  For a business man, communication is mandatory.  Communication determines to the profit and loss of the business.  For a learner of business administration, Communication is much important as the management skills.  Students should have good language proficiency so that they can be fluent and flawless in their communication.  Proper practice and experience can help the students to improve their interpersonal relationship.  In a classroom the discussions should be provided for them to gain more soft skills.  By giving those situations which can acquire in the business and making them discuss their views knowledge about the problems in the business can be obtained.

            In business, art of communication is must.  One must know when to speak and how to speak.  Giving right information at the wrong time may also ruin the Business process.  Group discussion also teaches the art of communication.  Interactive skills can be improved by practicing group discussion.  The freedom to communicate and address the group encourages the students to speak.  Group discussion is not only a management tool for business students but also a strategic tool to improve interactive and soft skills of the students

            Soft skills are essential for all students.  It plays an important role in our life.  Grooming one’s personality is much important as gaining knowledge.  Classrooms are the place where ample opportunities are provided for the students to nurture their personalities.  Group discussion can be performed in a Classroom; this increases the involvement of the students and encourages them to participate in all other activities.  Making students to discuss an issue in a classroom helps them to understand about a group and its behavior.

            By putting forth an argument among students their knowledge on that specific topic can also be examined.  The knowledge they possess over that issue will help them to solve business problems in future.  Problem analysis and decision has to be done simultaneously.  In group discussion, students are provided with the chance of knowing more about a single issue and they can also get much solution which can solve that issue.  Students of all discipline should be given soft skills training so that they can cultivate good interpersonal skills.

            If group discussion is to be done in a classroom, teacher should take a key role.  The teacher should act as a guide in need.  The teacher should teach about the soft skills before conducting the discussion so that the students will know about the skills that they have to develop.  During the discussion, the teacher has to make sure that all the students participate in the discussion.  Repeated participation of a single student has to be avoided.  Teacher should act as a facilitator during the course of the discussion.  A model group discussion can help the learners to know the reason behind the group discussion.  After the discussion is over the teacher has to identify the skills that the individual is lacking and the skills that the individual is good at.  From the next time onwards, the teacher should stay out of the discussion; so that the students can perform freely without any intrusion.  By repeatedly making the students engage in such programs soft skills can be enhanced.

            Group discussion is seen to be a management activity but it has influence over one’s personality.  An individual can be judged by the way he performs in the group discussion.  Personality of an individual can be examined with his/ her performance in a discussion.  Attitude, time management, coordination and the leadership quality can be improved during the course of a group discussion.  By making students practice and involve themselves in such task based activities like group discussion; the involvement of the students and their interest will also be encouraged.  Time management plays an important role in our life.  Group discussion is a strategy to avoid unwanted communication.  Thus, in total group discussion can be considered as a strategy to cultivate soft skills.  So it is necessary for all the students to practically participate in a group discussion.  By doing so, not only interpersonal relationships but also all the other soft skills of an individual can be developed.


O’Connor, M. C., & Michaels, S. (1996). Shifting participant frameworks: Orchestrating thinking practices in group discussion. Discourse, learning, and schooling, 63-103.

Gigerenzer, G., & Selten, R. (2002). Bounded rationality: The adaptive toolbox. MIT press.

Bass, B. M. (1949). An analysis of the leaderless group discussion. Journal of Applied Psychology33(6), 527.

Stasser, G., & Titus, W. (1985). Pooling of unshared information in group decision making: Biased information sampling during discussion. Journal of personality and social psychology48(6), 1467.

Aronson, E., & Mills, J. (1959). The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology59(2), 177.

Challenges in English Language Teaching


M.Phil, Research Scholar,

Research Department of English,

The American College, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.


            Language is dynamic and is arbitrary.  To teach literature is an easy task while teaching language to a learner is a real hard task.  For humans, language is not innate and human language has discrete, distinguishable sounds so they depend on various sources to acquire a language.  The only way of acquiring a language is through learning.  Learning is facilitated by different factors.  A learner acquires the target language from his surroundings, media, from the people he interacts but top of all classroom learning plays a pivotal role in learning a language.  Classroom learning is a mutual process in which both the teacher and the student involve, enhance and enlighten each other.  This leads to few challenges for both the teacher and the student in the learning process.  A teacher has to keep it simple and make the students get the essence of his ideas.  A teacher should know the calibre of the students and teach accordingly.  On the other hand a student has to respond correctly and should try to apply the concepts. ELT classroom learning, challenges both the teacher and the learner.  My paper throws light on the challenges faced by both of them.  The more the challenges are the more the innovations can be made which makes learning not a tedious and a monotonous task.  Challenges in English language teaching will open portals for novel methods of learning.

Keywords: classroom learning, challenges, teacher and student relation.


Language is a medium of communication.  Without knowing the structure and the proper usage of a language one cannot effectively communicate.  So language plays a significant role in day to day life.  Acquiring one’s mother tongue does not involve much labour but learning a second language gives the learner a hard and a challenging try.  Learning or acquiring a language is the ability to read it, speak it, write it and understand it when it is spoken.  In the present era learning a language is facilitated by variety of tangible factors like media, e- learning, and with the aid of advanced technology.  Recently there mushroomed few language classes which assure the audience of acquiring a language within thirty days.  With all these progressive methods taking their plight, classroom teaching had taken its stance from the very beginning of our educational and learning methods.  The teachers and the students support and enable each other.  To quote Bacon,” Language most shows a man: speak, that i may see.”  This quote of Bacon expounds the essential role played by language.  To teach a learner who has been newly introduced to the source language allows high end risks and challenges to the facilitator and the learner.  The challenges faced in ELT classrooms pave way for creative and innovative methods to make the learners understand and comprehend what they learn but all the while these methods had not effectively been an ultimate solution to the challenges but had been used as replacing tools which would establish a better way of learning.  Challenges have been a part and parcel of the teaching and learning process.  Both the student and the teacher face challenges in their own way. In reference to literature the challenges are comparatively less because literature reflects reality and it is the art of living.  On the other hand in the context of teaching a language the teacher has to be objective and has to start from the very basics and a student while learning a language creates a second identity.  Language is the launch pad for literature. One has to gain proficiency in language to plunge into literature.  There has been a pre-constructed notion that literature classes are lively and make the learner easily relate to the concepts and ideas discussed by drawing examples from real life incidents but language classes are way too boring because it mainly focuses on grammar, structure and the four skills.  Being put into this confined notion, language teaching take tough grounds to explicitly express itself to the learner.  Therefore English language teaching involves much challenge for both the teachers and the students.

Objective of the study

The main objective of the study is to expound the challenges faced by both the facilitator and the learner in an English language teaching classroom.


The following are the hypotheses of this explanatory study

(1) Teachers fail to motivate the students individually and their main objective is to finish the portion

 (2) Teachers focus only on the classroom goals not beyond it.

 (3) Learner’s morbid fear to learn English and their lack of interest.

 (4) Learners ego towards the target language.

Research Questions

The following are the questions addressed in the research paper

 (1) Why do the English language teachers fail to give the students their desired knowledge? (2) Why do innovative methods in teaching English language one way or the other fail?

 (3) Why do learners find it difficult to converse in English even though they are exposed to all skills?

Review of Literature

Rivers (1983) discussed the importance of discovering the student’s needs and motivating them towards the goal. Arora (2012) elucidated on the learner centred approaches.


Firstly, let us throw light on the challenges faced by the teacher in an ELT classroom.  In a bird’s eye view Teachers are looked upon as the disseminators of knowledge and the ones who enlighten the students in all aspects of their life.  The role of teacher is to teach.  Their profession to teach make it look very easy from outside but a teacher faces many challenges in and outside the classroom.  To narrow down, let us discuss the challenges faced by a teacher in an ELT classroom.  The language teacher in all cases need not necessarily be a native speaker of the language so the first challenge a teacher faces is to gain a thorough command over the subject because students mostly imitate their teachers.  Secondly the teacher should make the students understand the structure of the target language because students are familiar and are thorough with the structures of the source language.  A language teacher has to make it clear to the students about the differences first yet this is not an easy task because the students are soaked for years together in speaking, reading, writing and listening in their mother tongue.  Next the teacher should be the bright light that shines upon the students to drive out their ignorance and fear.  Students face morbid fears in learning a new language and in case of English it is very intense.  Most of the students do not develop a love for English for they find it difficult to learn.  The students face an ego in learning a language.  The teacher should nourish the students by positive comments and outlook towards learning it.  To motivate the students is definitely a hard task for the teacher. Motivation is an abstract factor which will effectively aid the learning skills of the students if it is done in the right way.  Motivating a class as a whole will not help effectively but a teacher should find time to motivate the students individually.  A teacher’s main challenge is in knowing the students culture, background, linguistic capability and their emotional state.  The main challenge faced by a teacher in ELT classroom is in knowing the calibre of each student and designing the syllabus and the teaching methods accordingly.  A single student’s progression does not project the whole performance of the class.  So it is hard for the teacher to implement a lesson plan which will enable the students of mixed abilities.  It is difficult for the teacher to get in pace with every students learning speed because as for the class it is an amalgam of both potential students and slow learners.  The teacher should make it to the point that he should not bore the high calibre students by repeating the drills and thereby making the class tedious and should not rush up so that the slow learners will find it difficult to catch up.  As language is primarily speech it is a challenge for the teacher to make the students pronounce and spell the right word.  Since language is ambiguous the teacher should make the students understand the different meanings of the same word.  Example: Bank, mobile.  As for writing the teacher’s challenge is to make the students understand the different audience for whom they write.  Teachers should make the students not to mess the existing inherent structure of their mother tongue with the target language’s structure.  Since speaking in English is practised only in English class the teacher has to constantly motivate the students to speak in English in every other class.  The teacher should not only teach the students but also give them ample opportunities to use the language. Creating such opportunities demand creativeness and tireless effort from the side of the teacher.  Since language is taught to students from different discipline a teacher should be able to draw references from their main stream study to expound the concepts in an easy way.  There is always a stark line between the language teachers and the subject teachers but they should cross their lines to make the learning process easy in classroom.  A language teacher has to be creative and should think out of the box often.  Language teaching has to be a balanced mixture of activities and classroom teaching.  As for the language games it is not always convenient.  Certain games are impractical to apply in a classroom ambiance so for this kind of inconvenience a teacher should find alternative methods to engage the students.  Language teachers should not be like that of the clichéd subject teachers who demand the passiveness of the students in class.  The teacher should make the students involve in classroom activities.  A language teacher should cater to the needs and wants of the learner.  So a teacher should adopt learner centred approaches.  English language teacher to the optimum should avoid using the source language in the class but it is really a difficult task because it is hard for the students to understand certain abstract ideas and concepts and in the side of the teacher he would beat about the bush rather than keeping it simple.

The teachers are not the only people who face challenges in an ELT classroom.  The students do find it difficult.  In an ELT classroom the student faces the challenge of learning something alien to him.  The student is at ease while speaking his mother tongue because he hears it often, listens to it and is used to it but learning a language which is totally new to him subjects him to fear and quite a times makes the student feel inferior.  With all these things weighing him down, a student cannot proceed learning a language which will be an ultimate failure.  The learners are afraid to commit mistakes because they are shy.  This is universal but a learner should be ready to refine himself in the process of learning thereby by to confront all the challenges without any fear.  The learner is much used to his mother tongue, the structures of it and how they work it gives them a hard time to imbibe the new structures of a language which often leaves them confusticated.  The students use translation to understand English but this will not help them in a long run because if they are asked to speak in English it takes a whole lot of time for them to think in their mother tongue and translate it and then to speak.  So the students must not encourage themselves to think in their mother tongue but to think in English which will improve their learning skills.  To think in English by students can be rightly defined by John Keats’s quote, “To think is full of sorrow” but a student should practice it.  The slow learners in the class should not be discouraged or feel bad for making mistakes in learning process because “Learning is not being successful but becoming successful”.  A student should always focus on the goal rather than washed out by the temporary failures.  A student should try to understand his errors and should not feel hesitant to clear his doubts.  Many students concern of learning English is to crack their final exam but they have to downplay the final exams and should focus on the rewards of learning English can fetch them.


English language teaching in the midst all its challenges has find a way to widen its arena by the innovations made in this field.  A language teacher should play the role of a facilitator rather than considering them as the authoritative power and the students should develop a desire rather fears to learn English.  The challenges in ELT classrooms pull the student and the teacher out of their own zones and put them in a space to confront it thereby shaping them for betterment.


Rivers, M. W. (1983). Communicating naturally in a second language theory and practice in language teaching. Cambridge: Press syndicate of the University of Cambridge.

Arora, Navita. (2012). English language teaching approaches and methodologies. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill Education Private Limited.

Abercrombie, David. (1963). Problems and principles in language study. Hong Kong: Peninsula Press Ltd.


Discourse Techniques in African Poetry: A Review of Literature

Stanley Somtochukwu Ebede, CNP, MA.

School of Kinesiology, Allied Health and Human Services

University of Northern Iowa, USA

203 Wellness and Recreation Center, Cedar Falls IA 50614


The study of discourse techniques in African written literature not just limited to poetry is a crucial and important area of study in the fields of academic as literature is becoming more indigenized and localized to suit author’s environment, language and culture and world view in multi-language society. The purpose of this study is to perform a detailed analysis of discourse techniques used in African poetry specifically examining the techniques used in two African literary works: Chants of Despair authored by Ngozi’s Chuma Udeh (2010) and Omeile Vol one authored by Asika Ikechukwu (2011) The study examines the use of language, proverbs, code mixing and code switching, and even nature names used. Furthermore, the findings will highlight some hidden and unfamiliar meaning as well as providing a clear-cut and detailed discussion of some of the discourse techniques that might enable individuals to understand and interpret the message in African poetry and other genres of literature. Generally, this study will provide techniques for analysis of some hidden thematic issues, critical and scholarly review of literature as well as paving way for future studies.



African, Discourse Techniques, Literature, Poet, Poetry



For African authors to be well understood, the need to understand their language, culture and worldview become necessary. This is where discourse techniques play crucial roles in the understanding and interpretation of the indigenized works of art that reflect on the African aliment. Discourse techniques help to unveil and unfold hidden meanings in the works of art and literature. The role of poetry in society can never be over emphasizes neither will its study and interpretation be exhausted. African authors are greatly influenced by the social, cultural economic, religious as well as political happenings in societies. According to Ofoegbu (2012), discourse techniques refers to the language techniques used by authors to achieve an aim in a given piece and it is considered as the language of the writer in a work of literature. According to the author, these discourse techniques include (1) use of language, (2) local idioms, (3) proverbs, (5) code mixing and code switching, (6) unfamiliar terms and comic expressions, (6) transliteration and (7) use of nature names. The written literature we know today which consists of three genres of literature including poetry, drama and prose are part of the western acclimatization as a result of colonization and acquisition of the western education. The art of writing and literacy are part of African colonial heritage and Africans have over the time explored this gain of written literature to express the social –political, as well as economic realities around them. There was a great need for African literature through a colonial legacy to speak in African voice and these are part of the obvious reason that trigger African writers to search inwards for that which will help to elevate their literature and mark it out from the rest of literature produced in all parts of the world.

Olateju (1998) posits that discourse techniques are used to describe activities and various disciplines and human endeavors such as socio-linguistics, psycholinguistics, philosophical linguistics, computational linguistics and education. The analysis of discourse techniques in any work of art is very important. Style is the manner of linguistic expression in prose or verse and it is how a speaker or writer says things. The characteristic style of a work or a writer may be analyzed in terms of its diction, the sentence structure and its syntax (Abrams & Hogg, 1990). The concreteness of the details chosen, the diction, the images and figures of speech contributes to the meaning of a literary work (Nwoga, 1981).

African authors have to turn the oral tradition, folktale materials and other social-cultural elements around them to express themselves in a unique way; to speak in the typical voice of their people in such an artistic manner in which the quality of the message of their writing is not lost to the outside reader. The best African today is the writer who blends and experiments with traditional passion of his people and should make such sense to the outside world. The word ‘writing’ is clarified not simply to mean the graphic notation of language, but to include the unpleasant distinctions of language that are derived from an intricate historical intertextual process within which an utterance or a text is situated (Akingbe, 2014). This is what we witnessed in the works of many authors including the two volumes of poetry; Chants of Despair and Omeile Vol 1 by Ngozi Chuma-Udeh and Asika Ikechukwu respectively which are the main focus in this study. The scope of this study is limited to the works of these African poets (Nigerian poets). Both poets are from the eastern part of Nigeria.

Asika (2011a) asserted that authors play a prominent and significant role in the social-reeducation, re-orientation, and re-direction of their societies. Literature functions and help to shape one’s attitudes and lifestyle. Poetry though one of the earliest genres of literature seems to be the most dreaded of all other. Abada and Ezenwa (2009) explored poetry from several related dimensions. The authors asserted that some people have considered poetry from the point of view of rhythmic articulation. Poetry has become one of the variable tools ad writers articulates their perceptions and beliefs as it affects the society (Chukwueloka, 2011). Authors are greatly influenced by the social, cultural economic, religious as well as political situations in the society. In search of the message of authors hidden in symbols and languages, we attempt a study of discourse techniques in the works of two selected poets and their collections (Omeile and Chants of Despair).


Omeile is a poem that focused on the ranting, chants and travails of an uncivilized warrior Omeile, who has refused to accept the changes necessary in African’s modern era rather would hold tenaciously on his cherished and idealized views of the primitive and ways of life that is fast breaking.  The poet makes his collection of poetry a master piece by his use of language, code mixing and code switching, figures of speech, transliteration, proverbs and these have a much desired appeal on both readers and critics alike.


Proverb as a discourse technique used in Omeile by Asika Ikechukwu aid the readers in understanding and appreciating the message of the poem and enhances them for a feeling of change in attitude. Ofoegbu (2012) posits that the use of proverb in Omeile are very strategic as they capture and bound a reader, leaving the person to wonder at the mastery and usage of proverbs by the poet. The author further suggested that the use of proverbs sometimes flow with the line of literary work because the writer structures them in such a way that one might think that the proverbs follow themselves. However, it is a discourse technique used by the writer to captivate the readers.

In Omeile, the first few proverbs used by the poet occurred when the main character Omeile summons and appeals to the spirit. In Asika (2011b), the proverbs read:

The mother goat knows on whose skin the drummer rattles (pg.8)


The leopard knows in his head whose skin adorns the shoulder of the of the mighty king (pg.8)


When the sound of the king’s tusk is heard, the elephant remembers the voice of the lone brother lost (pg.8)


See the little bird perching on the Ngige, is full of dance (pg.8)


The old woman never grows old in a dance that she knows in heart (pg.9)


The above proverbs used in the in the introductory part of the poem did not only warn the African people about the danger of abandoning their culture but on the dangers of colonialism and the loss of African culture. Omeile tries to tell the readers his knowledge of the tricks and cunnings of the white men who exploited African to build their own world of civilization and he tries to express all these in his heavily worded proverbs. The over-emotional proverbs exist to remind the African people about the beauty of traditional culture which they are at the very of abandoning totally. This is a culture that motivates and inspires him and he wishes us to see a culture as a traditional way of life. Another proverb reads:

            Where a child cries and point, if the mother is not there, the father it (pg.10)

This proverb reinforces the seriousness of his message, for he knows why he is really crying about the loss of African traditional value. He believes that lack of culture robs ones his dignity and personality and that is what Omeile believes that happened to many Africans including himself. He used to be a warrior, but his marriage to Ekemma, a symbolism of his acceptance of civilization robbed him of all his warrior pose.

In the proverbs of Ikenga, another character in the poem, the poet recounts how we went wrong and how African culture was abandoned in pursuance of foreign culture in the name of modernism and civilization.  Ikenga used the following proverbs:

Forward……forward is the movement of a monkey, once it jumps backwards, it will fall into the traps pf death (pg.13).


Remember it is the leaf that sweet a goat/that kills it (pg.14)


Omeile, the bush that detest the basket let it meet and produce mushrooms (pg.14)


He who wants to know all the Nso ala. Does he want to live in the sky? (pg.14)


Omeile, the hen that has a face should not lose its side gaze (pg.14)


The person whose elephantiasis of his scrotum is under cure, may his stomach not swell as well (pg.15).


The going of a war is not like the coming (pg.15)


The above proverbs were used by Ikenga to warn Omeile when they were going to war. Ikenga was warning him of his dignity and manhood. This is also a warning about Africans’ negligence which brought about civilization and how their acceptance of it reduces us to mere mortals chasing after culture that is not theirs. The poet used proverbs as a discourse technique to strategically give way to hidden meanings and add values to the ideas and views expressed by Omeile. This will enable the reader to see a reality of the gains and losses of civilization.


The use of code mixing refers to the mixing of two or more language varieties in a discourse or sentence strings (Ofoegbu, 2012). In the poem, each line goes with the presence of code mixing. The use of code mixing enhances the work and the message intended. The blood nature words from the Igbo language present the reader with an environment of Igbo traditional scene. Code mixing was used to express specific ideas with specific terms.

I have a palm kernel smeared in Ukpaka and Mangala fish (pg.6)


Like the memories of Omarimma, my first love (pg.7)


Let the Yokiliyo sound be heard (pg.8)


We stood before the chief priest Ikenga, the great (pg.11)


I painted your eyelashes with Otengele dark as Indigo (pg.32)


May Amadioha… May Ngene… May Omaliko… (pg.63)


Let Ulasi… (pg.63)


It is all man for himself now, Onyenankenya (pg.84)

The use of code mixing in the above lines is very significant. The poet used code mixing as an escape hatch and as a means of expression of facts that Omeile is warrior caught in chains of civilization. The discourse techniques may not be peculiar to the poet alone. Ofoegbu (2012) asserted that code-mixing is the very foundation of Omeile because the names of the actors Omeile and Ekemma were also derived from Igbo Language. The author further stated that the poet would have gone for western names rather he chose to remain in Africa.


          The diction and placement of words in Omeile cannot be overlooked because they are very significant. Ofoegbu (2012) defines diction as an author’s choice of words while placement of words refers to the way an author arranges his words. The diction in Omeile is multidimensional because of the use of biblical passage as style of writing. For example

Land, fame, ventures and things of the world. It was there before we come; they still will remain rooted to the earth years after our voices are hushed (pg.26)


No sunshine ever hurts you during the day nor the terrifying rainfall in the night (pg.34)


Let this hour be his last, let no breath come again his lungs, let him be cursed and blinded to death, let him drink from the cup of their vengeance, let him die the death of a coward (pg.57)


The above lines look like that of the bible in the book of Ecclesiastes chap 1 vs 2 that talks about vanity upon vanity; Psalm 121 vs 6 that talks about “the sun will not harm you by day, nor moon by night”; and Psalm 109 vs 6-20. Omeile’s choice of words falls under the simple and everyday vocabulary. It is enclosed, concise and clear. The poet abided the use of high sounding and jaw breaking grammars.

            The placement of words is done in such a way that meaning is not lost and the element of Igbo language is not lost too. The following are some of the examples used in the poem.

Ikenga stood before me, eyeball to eyeball we look (pg.13)

When gbalagbala goes excessive, it becomes madness (pg.14)

Red oil of blood (pg.15)

But the precious liquids form the eyes of the goddess (pg.28)

May your soul rest in peace (pg.54)

Like hinge beaten dogs, they are (pg. 59)

The aforementioned examples show how the poet puts certain words side by side thereby creating word pictures in the minds of his readers. As a descriptive writer, the poet describe Ekemma in Omeile just as Ofoegbu (2012) asserted that description is the habit of Omeile and it has helped in adding flavor to the boiling pot of poetry. In other words, diction and placement of words are one of the basic foundations in poetry writing.



Chants of Despair is poetry collection where the author tries to draw people’s attention to the monumental abuse, injustice, and poverty glaring in the society. The collection focus on the action and inactions of the government who are supposed to better lots of the people but they end up amassing wealth, depositing millions of Naira in foreign accounts and spelling out poverty and doom on the entire civilization. Ujowundu (2011) conducted in the collection just as Ofoegbu (2012) did with Omeile. The study ranks among the pioneering efforts in interpreting the message that lay buried in the collection.

            Ujonwundu (2011) asserted that Chants of Despair is a poem in three parts which portray the individuals’ frustration. Chuma Udeh, is just as angry as the older poets who have lived to satirize the society through their creature as the protest is not the end an expression of hate for humanity. The discourse techniques entail a wide range of ideas and patterns. They include the use of language and diction which boils down to choice of words and sentence pattern. The use of foregrounding of imagery, proverbs , code mixing and switching, figures of speech, direct transliteration, allusions and symbols among many others. No single study can be able to critically and meticulously examine all these because it can amount a textbook of his own. A research can only select aspects of these techniques for a detailed discussion. Other researchers with similar interest will pick up several other areas of these discourse techniques all geared toward a holistic understanding of the message in a given work of art. The use of language and the use of proverbs in Chants of Despair as part of discourse techniques will bring the message to limelight and serves as a key to unlocking hidden meanings and inter-textual materials in the poem.


            Language is very essential to the understanding of any work of art and is a tool available for any writer. Authors use language in such a way that any serious minded reader will understand their message. Ofoegbu (2012) asserted that the use of language had remained a very important issue in the analysis of any discourse. Discourse involves language plus context according to some discourse analysts. It looks at how language can be used to achieve aims and objectives in human development.

            Language is central to any work of art and can never be over emphasized. According to Umeh (1991), language is the medium for poetic utterances, the vehicle with which the poet transmits his message. The effectiveness or otherwise of this utterance of this message depends largely on the nature and quality of language used. In modern Nigeria, language has helped immensely in determining meaning sometimes. It has also helped to direct and clarify meaning while at other times language has helped to impede and distort meaning.

            The poet’s success in her writing could attribute greatly to her use of language. She used language to give out message to the readers. She describes the level of poverty and actions of African leaders with passion and hatred. The port also used foregrounding of imagery to draw imageries so close to the forecourt of the readers. The following lines analyzed the argument.

I was named Despair not because my mother had the good grace to know the commonest of English syntax; nor because of the stabs of bleakness swarming around me like our ever present neighbors, the green eyed houseflies; not because of the reality of the stark is because of the abject scarcity which has become my dearest companion….my status has nothing to do with the genesis of my name (pg.3)

I was named Despair because when I was born beside the putrid, shaking gutters, behind our rat infested, rickety shanty. Where my mother had no choice than to function as both doctor and midwife put together, my mother’s strangled gnarls of pains, My mother’s helpless labor screeching attracted the hand of fate, as she labored aided by hordes of flies (pg.4)

I was named Despair because Ikoro spoke out of Revulsion. Ikoro spoke out of frustration. Ikoro spoke out of cheer disgust. Ikoro spoke from the depth of his very demented soul. Ikoro spoke from the very profundity of his frenzied psyche. Ikoro expostulated out of cheer antipathy for wickedness before him. Ikoro summed up the episode in the scene before him in a phrase, a phrase that clinched accurately my fate and that of my mother (pg.7).

…little did she not realized that some other woman, just a few kilometers apart; in our mosquito infested ghetto was at the same time undergoing the paroxysm of parturition near the putrid maggot sewer. With swarm of flies as the doctors on call and the rodents as ever dedicated nurse, waiting to devour the afterbirth and god help the baby if it comes hitting the head by the edge of the gutter (pg.17)

I tell you my brother, poverty is not a disease. Poverty is far from affliction. Poverty is not a lack or want …. Real poverty is a fate worse than cancerous virus. It gives no chance but eats up everything. It is worse than a corrosive acid. It devours a man and leaves him a weakling carcass. It makes a man a shadow thing (pg.11)


The above lines point out the picture of poverty, want, scarcity, suffering, and oppression and bring them closer to the reader. One can argue that so many poets can do this enhance the beauty of their work. Ujowundu (2011) asserted that the poet’s diction has rein structure as to reasons for naming her despair and the images portray depravity. Such expression as the stabs of bleakness swarming around. The images are so everlasting and real. One could feel and imagine how the stench odor and hordes of flies could become part of situation of poverty and suffering. The description of the environment portrays abject poverty and want. Even the absence of medical professionals all epitomizes helplessness and deprivation. These were made possible by the foregrounding of imagery and choice of words employed by the poet. The words “strangulate”, “gnarls of pain”, helpless labor screeching”, and hordes of flies” all expressed despair and decadent environment.

The poet with conscious and consistent use of language presents the living conditions of average citizens in Nigeria. The above words “revulsion”, “frustration”, and “disgust” are all expressions of anger disenchantment and frustration. The level of rise of imagery coincides with rise of anger in the voice and mind of the poet. In the poem, Ikoro is a picture of a wretched teacher who is highly intelligent but no money to justify his patriotism and excellence in knowledge. He is a stereotype of some forsaken teachers in Nigeria who languished slowly in various schools in rural areas. Poverty is being described with images of “mosquito infested ghetto”, “swarm of flies”, “rodents” and “gutter”. All lasting pictures of poverty and deprivation yields the message of the poem to the readers through the use of language.


            Another discourse techniques commonly used in the poem is the use of proverbs. Proverbs were used in such a level that they become the backbone for the interpretation of the message of the poem. Proverbs did not give the poet an authenticity as an African poet but also helped and structured the pattern and flow of her poetic thoughts. Proverbs in this poem are so weaved together that one cannot easily separate the two elements (spoken words and proverbs).

Do not laugh yet at the old woman whose wrapper is torn at the bottom until you get to the root of her dilemma between her buttocks and the wrapper (pg. 1)


How can you attempt a guess of which fly is blind, when you have never cooked the garri paste? For if you want to know the fly that is blind in one eyes, seek the help of the woman who cooks ogiri (pg.2)


How do you master the walking gate of the man with sagging waist cloth when you have never suffered from testicles hernia? (pg.2)


Perhaps soul brother, you may not understand the anguish of being Despair. It is only he who ate the meat knows the exact tooth its piece were stuck into…..Only he who wears the ant-infested trouser knows the exact place of the bites (pg.9).


It does not matter how long the chicken angles for the corn in the covered basket, it yearns in vain….Even if the rat does a hundred maters dash around a pot covered with another, in vain does it toil (pg.26).


If you want to understand the language of the sand, seek the counsel of the arts….if you want to decipher the whispers of the wind, solicit for the interpretations from the leaves….If you want to speak the language of the cloud, do not hesitate to ask the birds….if you want to know the language of want, seek the true color of hunger….ask me (pg.37).


The use of some proverbs in a rhetorical form in the above lines captivates the reader to fully appreciate the message of the poem. These proverbs were series of warning, cautions, and appeals which allow us to put ourselves in the shoes of poor individuals. The poet narrated the suffering and excruciating situation of a woman giving birth which made Ikoro to exclaim after watching the sordid and heart touching scenario. The poet further suggested that we should feel the woman’s pain suffering on amidst of plenty. These proverbs recommended that we are yet to understand the level of poverty in Nigeria and yet this a country that has the capacity and economy to cater for the citizens. The rich are getting richer, the poor poorer and this boils down to inequality and uneven distribution of wealth in the society. The wide gap between the rich and the poor is glaring and no matter how much the poor strive, they can never escape the poverty level. This is what the poet expressed with the above proverbs, a situation we must rectify in the future. In conclusion, the poet used proverbs to bring the message closer to the reader and make her message more sensible and authentic.


As earlier discussed and examined, poets are the voices of their societies. They project societal norms, ills, and evils which they hope to win freedom and redeem their societies through their artistic visions and creative ingenuities. Literature has become the most viable way through which poets and authors, in general, express their individual’s concerns, fears and worries about society and cast aspersions on several institutions of evil and vices. Through this means, they hope to achieve peace and harmony for societal growth. This is an idea that makes language an essential part of writers’ work of art to be better understand the composition, construction, sentence patterning, presentation of imageries, use of figurative expressions and handling of some native issues.

This study examined the use of proverbs is Asika Ikechukwu’s Omeile. There were many proverbs used in the poem were neither accidentally nor unconsciously used. One with a thorough mind or critical mind will discover how these proverbs were weaved into various segments of the poem in order to heighten effect and achieve a desired purpose by the poet. These proverbs were structured in such a way that they combine effectively with the works of the poet and glued together that one anticipates a lot action, suspense and other series of event at the mention of any proverbs. The proverbs are so structured and well-tailored that when removed from the context will remain lifeless. In Ngozi Chuma Udeh’s Chants of Despair, the poet used foregrounding of imagery to demonstrate her appalling for the failures of African leaders and politicians which has reduced the citizens to poverty by expressing her thoughts in such a way that one can feel the bitterness and disgusting ideas. In addition, the poet also structured proverbs to direct the flow of her poetic thoughts and used foregrounding of imagery and other discourse techniques to bring hidden meanings to limelight.

Conclusively, the discourse techniques used in this study will enable individuals to easily penetrate, bring out so many hidden meanings, and digest the truth in art as well as being mindful of discourse techniques that were used in other genres of literature. This study demonstrated how the use of language and techniques of good poetry provide us with an understanding of some hidden thematic issues in any given work of art. Furthermore, the discourse techniques used in this study revealed many hidden truth and highlights how these poets used poetry to better the lots of African society. Future research are recommended to explore and analyze more discourse techniques in works that outcross other cultures and background for a more productive conclusion.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The author declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.



This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.






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Stanley S. Ebede is a doctoral student in the School of Kinesiology, Allied Health and Human Services (KAHHS). He holds a Masters of Arts degree in Leisure, Youth and Human Services from the University of Northern Iowa, USA.  He co-authored the book Bugle Sounds for the Legend.  His current research studies revolve around student involvement and development of skills. He is engaged with Friends at Home as a Resident Assistant. Previously, he was employed as the Assistant Director for STEM program at the University of Northern Iowa, USA.


Enriching Relevant Vocabulary in Business English through Magazines


M.Phil Scholar, Research Department of English

The American College,Madurai


In the modern scenario, communication determines the success or growth of the business. Different terms and words are used in Business English. The people who are in business field must have relevant vocabulary to make an effective communication. Business magazines serves as a medium to learn vocabulary related to business. There are magazines like the business world and the economist which are exclusively for the business people. Entrepreneurs can gather knowledge of vocabulary by reading business contents and share market statistics in magazines. This paper throws light on enhancing vocabulary with the help of business magazines.

Background of the Study

Communication determines the success or the growth of the business.  Different types of words are used in business English.  The people in business field must have effective communication.  Magazines serves as a medium to learn vocabulary related to business.  There are some magazines like business world, economic times which are exclusively for business purpose.  Words in a sentence constitute its vocabulary.  Students can enrich their vocabulary through reading, listening, speaking and writing.  Vocabulary enrichment is very much needed in business environment.  Both producer and consumer need vocabulary to develop their business. Without communication business deal can end up in failure.  Students must have good vocabulary to have bright future in business field. Magazines play a major role in business field. Magazines are very much useful for students to enrich their vocabulary in business English. Students are encouraged to read magazines for developing their vocabulary.  Reading is must to students for enriching relevant vocabulary in business English.  Students can improve their vocabulary in business English by reading magazines which are also useful for them to improve their knowledge and ability.  In future, if students have business contract with foreigners, there is a necessity for them to have good communication with god vocabulary and that can also paves way for the success of their business.  Students can read business related article in magazines to improve their vocabulary.

Objective of the study

            The main objective of the study is to enrich vocabulary of MBA students in business English through magazines


The following are the hypotheses of the study

  1. Magazines help MBA students to have effective communication
  2. Students can enrich their vocabulary by reading
  3. Business related article helps the students to move forward in their business
  4. Magazines promote business English

Review of Literature

            Without vocabulary, nothing can be conveyed (Wilkins).  Words one like bottles and contain ideas just as bottles contain medicines (H. Dipple).  Passive vocabulary is the new method based on the principle of recognition or receptive vocabulary (Dr. West).  Reading makes a full man (Bacon).  Modern English usage and a god dictionary of synonyms which analyses the differences, should prove of great assistance (Mr. Fowler).

Research questions

  1. What is mean by the term vocabulary?
  2. Why do students should enrich vocabulary in business English?
  3. How do magazines play a major role?
  4. How can MBA students develop their vocabulary skills?
  5. Do magazines really help the students?
  6. What is the creative method that teacher can explore to teach business vocabulary?


            Vocabulary is a fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge. Acquiring an extensive vocabulary is one of the largest challenges in learning a second language. There are different types of vocabulary like active, passive, good vocabulary etc.  Without vocabulary nothing is possible.  Communication is very much needed for a successful business growth.  Vocabulary grows throughout our life.  Students expand their vocabularies by playing word games, print media help in enriching relevant vocabulary in business English e.g. magazines.  Students should enrich vocabulary in business English.  Without vocabulary there is no possibility for foreign trade.   Agreement between Indians and foreigners cannot be made. Communication is must for the growth of English.  A student can also be judged by others based on his/her vocabulary.

As per my study, MBA students have done many case study regarding business.  Many students are not aware of business magazines.  Students must enrich their vocabulary reading magazines like business world, the economist etc.  Vocabulary can be enriched by students in many ways like listening to news, reading newspapers, listening to some speech, etc but magazine also paves way for their vocabulary enrichment.  Learning vocabulary is the first step for trading in foreign companies.

The acquisition of new vocabulary is an ongoing process.  Learning new words in day to life encourages the students and increase their knowledge and ability.  Magazines and that too Business magazines play a vital role in enriching students’ vocabulary.  A student must have serious knowledge towards business.  BUSINESS INDIA is a magazine which is famous in our state.  It leads not only with business news but also deals with games, movies special, sports; cooking etc.   Nowadays students are much interested in sports and politics.  Magazines have separate allocation for Sports.

 I made a small study with an MBA student.  She says that she was very much interested in sports and she reads only sports news first both in magazine and newspaper.  Also she said that she came across many new vocabularies regarding business and she got interested in that. Students are encouraged though business magazines.  They can easily enrich their vocabulary in business and also they enrich their knowledge.  In the magazine called THE ECONOMIST is also the best business magazine which also deals with several issues with new varieties. Magazines make the students to develop their vocabulary skills.  Students can easily enrich relevant vocabulary by reading not only business articles but also other related news which includes several new vocabularies.

An MBA student will be useful if they read their related article in the magazine.  The same person as said before, she said that she got much addicted to the magazine because when she read the magazine she came across the article related to their MBA program.  She said that the article was very much useful to her.   From that article, she came across many vocabularies relate to business.  By reading magazines, by learning new vocabularies, students’ vocabulary can be enriched and they will be ready for the business scenario.  Magazines help the students to develop their communicative skill and also enhance their vocabulary skill.

            Teachers can use some creative method to teach business vocabulary.  Students can learn vocabularies in an interesting way.  The teacher can make the students to form a group.  5students carries a group. Several tasks can be given to students in a group.  An article can be given to a group and so five articles can be given to five groups and teacher can ask the students to read and to find new vocabularies which they don’t even come across before.  Students will be encouraged by the teachers by doing this way.   A case study can also be given to the students to each group.  By doing this students can be able to think of the idea and if they find new vocabulary they tend to think and refer dictionary and so they can improve their knowledge and thinking ability.

            Teachers can make the students by making them to engage in group activities. Each student can involve individually in a group activity.  They can easily think of new words and shows their individuality in their own way.  Teachers can also make their students to show their ability and knowledge.  Teacher can also encourage the students by have some group games and also they can give some compliments to the students and so the students can feel free and learn new vocabularies.  Teachers can make the students to communicate effectively by teaching them relevant vocabulary in business English.


In the present scenario, Vocabulary plays a major role in business world.  Student who wants to become a good Entrepreneur must have good vocabulary skills so that students can make them ready for global business scenario and they can get success in their business field. Magazines can be much useful for enriching vocabulary n business English.


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Rivers, M. W. (1983). Communicating naturally in a Second Language Theory and Practice in language teaching. Cambridge: Press syndicate of the University of Cambridge.

Dash, B. N. (2004). Teaching of English. New Delhi: Dominant Publishers And Distributors.

Use of One Act Plays for Developing Soft Skills

Hari Narayanan MA

M.Phil Scholar, Research Department of English

The American College, Madurai


This paper is an attempt to show how One Act Plays can be used for developing Soft Skills.  Soft skills are important for those who aspire to become part of business world.  In Indian Universities, certain undergraduate courses like, BBA, etc., are the most sought often courses of study.  There is a dire need to develop and cone the conversational and soft of the students who chose management courses aspiring to become successful entrepreneurs.  This paper seeks to present how one act plays can be used to hone/shape the soft skills of the students.  One act plays are more appealing to the contemporary youths than full length plays for convenience’s sake.  One act plays present life like situations through the conversation of the character involved.  By imbibing characters reaction in the Plays students unconsciously develop soft skills to become successful entrepreneurs in business world.  By teaching soft skills through one act plays the students can better their interpersonal relationship in business too.


            Soft skills are life skills. Soft skills are important for those who aspire to become part of the business world.  In Indian Universities and colleges, certain Undergraduate courses like, BBA, etc., are the most sought often courses of study.  There is a dire need to develop and hone the conversational and soft skills of the students who choose management courses aspiring to become to become successful entrepreneurs.  Soft skills include communication skills, courtesy, flexibility, positive attitude, interpersonal skills, etc.,  Of these said skills, developing interpersonal skills that include other professionalism, team work, work ethic, time management skills, coping with pressure, self confidence, critical thinking and problem solving is of foremost importance for aspiring entrepreneurs.  This paper seeks to present how one act plays can be used as a strategy to teach soft skills, especially for developing their interpersonal skills needed for future entrepreneurs.

Objective of the Study

            The aim of the study is to use staging of the play as a pedagogic technique to teach students to develop their interpersonal skills for successful entrepreneurship.


  1. Stage of play involves multi-tasking that requires interpersonal relationship and cooperation.
  2. Play will develop the participants’ soft skills in an implicit and interesting manner.

Research Questions

  1. Can interpersonal skills be developed in a controlled environment like classroom?
  2. If, yes whether pedagogic skills are available to teach them?
  3. How will staging of play be useful as a pedagogic technique to teach soft skills?


            Soft skills are needed to interact with the external world of conglomerate customer for a successful businessman.  One has to interact and communicate in order to gain acceptance in the modern world of intensive competition.  Soft skills help to build social relationships.  These skills, mainly the interpersonal skills form the core of anyone involved in management and business.  They develop positive self esteem which helps in defining a businessman’s role in the society.  If an individual involved in management cannot communicate or work as a team, then he/she will feel alienated and withdrawn.  Interpersonal skills form an indispensable part of the life of an entrepreneur.

            Customary classrooms do not provide ample scope or space for the students.  In a teacher-centred classroom, the students become passive listeners.  Passivity blunts the students’ ability to develop the necessary interactive soft skills, i.e., interpersonal skills need for learner-centred activities become essential to develop the much needed skills.  Teacher-centred classroom make the students conscious of their shortcoming and does not provide the atmosphere for mastering the interpersonal skills naturally.

            One act plays can be used effectively to enable the students since enacting the plays can develop their communicative skills unconsciously.  A trained memory is the great asset a student can develop to be successful in life.  When the students are involved not only in parroting the conversations in the plays but also in stage managements, their socially acceptable traits like self awareness, self-regulation, empathy and self-motivation develop unconsciously.

            A successful entrepreneurs needs to be good at planning, organizing, staffing, heading, controlling and motivating the co-workers or his team mates.  Rehearsing and staging one-act plays provides the right opportunity and platform to develop these opportunity and platform to develop these skills since these skills involve all the skills that come under soft skills or interpersonal skills.

            There are many problems faced by working personnel like lack of communicative ability, failure to communicate ideas while involving in team work and management, organizing, leading and other management skills.  Training the students in managing and staging one act plays offers enough scope for the students even within the classrooms to acquire these managerial skills effectively.

            Staging a one-act play involves the back stage or preparatory activities like selection of the play, casting and rehearsal.  The production of the play involves stage management, costume selection; make up, lights arrangement, promotion, seating of audience, and above all stage performance.  All these activities can be turned into a learner-centered activity once the students are divided into groups to take care of each activity.  Then the groups’ responsibility and roles can be reshuffled to provide enough scope for all the students to learn all the skills.

            Learning the language skills through literature is the main purpose of using one-act plays as a pedagogic tool.  Students can memorize the conversations in the play and play their roles.  This will enhance their communication skills.  Hearing other characters’ conversations will develop their listening and cooperative skills.  The students learn the need to empathize with the other characters and learn the importance of listening which is an essential component of interactive skills.  Rehearsing the play enables the students to become fluent and spontaneous in conversation, and this will boost their morale, confidence and positive attitude.  These are the basic skills needed for aspiring entrepreneurs, while playing different roles, some characters are vigorous speakers, some active listeners and some flexible passive participants relying on their body language to express their emotions.

            To stretch the experience of the learners a little further, it is not a mere assumption that acquiring language skills (communicative skills) are no small task. Wordplay precedes character.  One can win or lose a situation by the proper use or misuse of words.  Words can be ironic, deceptive, artful, innovative, ambiguous, equivocal, suggestive, crafty or plain (straightforward).  Words are used for thought transference.  The learners by playing out situations as presented in the one-act plays can learn the nuances of vocabulary.  This will further boost their confidence when they meet people in real-life situations.  Learning the proper usage of words will enhance their wit, intelligence, inventiveness and understanding since words can ne figurative, funny, literal, gainful or painful.

            Thus teaching soft skills or interpersonal skills by involving the students in one-act plays makes learning a learner-centered one.  Further entrepreneurs acquire the work ethic, team work and management skills by allowing them to choose the roles according to their ability.  Enacting one-act plays keeps the students engaged and active.  The teacher can help in choosing the right one-act plays for the future entrepreneurs.  Involving the students in one-act plays also provides maximum speaking practice while enacting real life contexts.


            Staging of plays involves interpersonal relationship irrespective of the roles the participants play.  The interesting nature of the activity increases the participatory involvements of the students by thus increasing learners’ interest by better results.

The out of the text learning experience give greater weight age to learning, which is students-centric, then teaching which is teacher centric.  One-act plays are more appealing to the modern youth since it is less time consuming.  By imbibing characters’ reaction in the plays, the students unconsciously develop soft skills to become successful entrepreneurs in the business world.  By learning soft skills through out one-act plays, the students can better their interpersonal relationship in business too.


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