Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Strength of Bharat - the Base of India’s Pyramid

The 2009 Lok Sabha elections have brought out many things in the light. Among many others it has also converted a hypothesis into law – If you have to survive you can’t be niche any longer – you’ve to be just very common.  The power is no longer at the top of the pyramid – but at its base.

When I started my career in semiconductors in mid nineties we used to strive to work in the most advanced and niche areas for creating chips which would go into some of the fanciest electronic gadgets. For obvious reasons US used to be the most desirable place to work because that was the centre of all research and development.

Since then most companies producing electronic products have invested heavily in technology to produce things which are no doubt fancy and hi-tech, but not always useful. But then people had money and could afford buying umpteen number of useless things. Even till recently people used to change mobile phones once in every few months. It’s not that they all really needed new phones so frequently. But they can’t be blamed. The electronics industry used to create such hype around the useless gizmos that the innocent consumers would think that their lives would be really useless if they didn’t have one of those useless things.

This vicious circle of demand and supply of things, that can’t be ever called value-for-money products and in most cases too useless, stayed for almost fifteen years when suddenly no one had any money to buy them anymore. People moved away from luxuries of replacing phones every few months to cost effective and value-for-money products.

For the first time people understood the futility of seeing a movie in the small screen of a phone. Not only such an act is unergonomic and poses serious threats to health but also the experience is a debacle compared to even watching the cheapest television. 

That’s when the entire electronic industry faced the biggest ever slow-down.

The story is same for most other industries. When the going was easy people never thought of investing in useful value for money things. Most of the products were always out of reach of the Aam Aadmi and were targeted only for the niche and rich people – the ones that constitute the pinnacle of the pyramid. When the going became tough since last year the only available consumer market was the base of the pyramid – which was deprived of useful things all these years. Then suddenly the focus shifted from niche to simple and common things. Intel is thinking of $100 notebooks with wireless broadband, sales of mobiles are restricted only to the low end categories, FMCG companies are coming up with even smaller sachets of their products primarily for rural markets – the whole industry is euphoric about the prospects of Bharat rather than India.

The age of niche products seems to have come to a temporary halt.

No longer I’m proud of working on the latest technologies to produce hi-tech gizmos for the sale in upmarket malls in Europe or US – because they are no longer in demand there. Rather I should work on simple things that can be sold in a Reliance Outlet in India’s hinterland.

The importance of Bharat is clearly seen in the outcome of recent elections. Even though faulty at many places, still the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme of the UPA government did manage to give the 700 million strong rural Bharat some amount of buying capacity. When the economy went into a whirlwind downfall throughout the world one of the very few markets with purchasing power was indeed India’s Bharat. Perhaps that’s the only reason why our GDP growth didn’t turn negative. The rural economy kept the wheels of India’s economy moving. When my purchasing power was shrinking with every month Bharat was buying 15 million mobile phones every month.

The impact of the recent slowdown was not felt in a significant way in Bharat. That’s surely one of the main reasons why the UPA didn’t feel the heat of anti incumbency. None of the poll predictions could assess the strength of Bharat - the base of India’s pyramid - in such a strong way. Not only is the Bharat driving the economy of our country, but also has proved to be a decisive element in India’s democracy.

There’s no doubt that BJP failed to tap the potential of Bharat. The issue of security or inflation or economic breakdown didn’t have much relevance to Bharat. It was only the India that was bothered with all those!!

It’s the writing in the wall – take care of Bharat.... India is Bharat.

1 comment:

Sarsij said...

nice post.....very true.....India always forgets Bharat in good times :(

and adding one more view to this India vs Bharat divide......probably not much effort has been made in past to join the India and Bharat. So this power of Bharat we are seeing in recent times is nothing less than a blessing in disguise.

[read your article for the first time ... I quite appreciate your views.....keep writing]