The emerging India

The emerging India

This article is an excerpt from McCann’s study of the extent to which people in the SEC C, D and E categories in India are part of the bigger waves of consumerism that are inundating the metro and class one towns

This article BANNER1 is an excerpt from McCann’s exploratory study of the extent to which people in the SEC C, D and E categories in India are part of the bigger waves of consumerism that are inundating the metro and class one towns. This segment is currently residing on the peripheries of consumption, dipping its toes occasionally in the running waters of a new India. In the days to come, it is going to emerge as an important consumer segment of the new India.

The members of this segment watch it all from the opposite side of the road, from the crooked windows of their slums and ‘jhuggis’, nestling side by side with the shinning skyscrapers where the neo moneyed middle cheap jerseys class vies with each other to flaunt their wallet power. What we found was a group of human beings that is anything but simple and predictable.

Rather, this is a community that appears to be full of contradictions. They talk of living hand to mouth, but they repose major trust in brand values. They talk about ‘mehangai’, yet do not hesitate to buy soap costing five times their regular bath soap just to please their children.

Throughout the day, they fight constraints, and yet they extract a strange contentment from their deprived existence. Lack of space compels them to live in isolation, but in many ways, they are far more strongly bonded with their invisible extended family and the heterogeneous population they call their community.

In their own way, they run a parallel system which includes shelter, placement, finance, transport, arbitration and training whatever is needed to keep the pot boiling. In any family, you will find people who are not part of the family, but staying with them in the city: “Humra gaon ka mera rishtedar ”

Q: Who stays in your house (one room in a chawl)?

A: Two of us and our two children, then the three children of my elder brother and the son of my sister.

Q: Your brother’s and sister’s families also stay here?

A: No, only their children stay with us. They are here for education.

A clerk in Nashik

“Joginder, the driver of our company, used to run a finance company. We used to get soft loans of up to Rs 5,000 from him; on salary day he used to recover the money from us.”

A typist

Q: What are these girls doing in this tailoring shop?

A: They are learning, they help me.

Q: Do you pay them, or do they pay you a fee for learning?

A: No one is paying anybody.

A housewife who is running a small tailoring shop from her home.

They have common water and electricity, and share bathrooms, sometimes even resort to a Sulabh Shauchalay. Benches in front of a chai shop act as a universal drawing room. When a cricket match is on, they crowd around the common TV set and cheer the proceedings lustily. Amidst this shared existence, there is an intense effort to create a sense of exclusivity inside their own dwellings.

Q: “If you get a lot of money, what would you do?”

A: “Stay nicely, eat good food, have good clothing.”

“A good house” features number one on their wish list. An attached bathroom is a luxury and also features high on the list.

They say a woman’s domain is her kitchen. We did not see a single kitchen that was disorganised and dirty, even inside the slums stainless steel gas stoves, sparkling rows of stainless steel utensils, neatly stacked PET jars storing spices and cereals, casseroles, mixers, pressure cookers, water filters, TV sets, fridges, even some second hand washing machines, a bottle of Zeoline, phenyl, you name it, they have it.