11 September 2005

Redefining the rural

I grew up learning that rural India was about poverty. That three-quarters of the population of India who lived in rural India were engaged in agriculture and, although they ensured the food on my table everyday, a great majority of them lived below the subsistence level. They had no electricity, nor education, nor healthcare. People in rural India died – by the millions – from hunger, scarcity of water, pestilence. I grew up learning that rural India was poor – no one had any money there.

Today, the newspapers and the media tell me a different story. Rural India is buying up tractors, trucks, 4-wheel drive vehicles and motorbikes. They are living in houses made of bricks and cement, with electric bulbs and tubelights lighting up their nighttimes. They are watching television, talking over mobilephones, wearing branded jeans, taking personal care using branded soaps and shampoos, eating branded glucose biscuits with their branded teas, and cooking meals in branded cooking oil. Some are even using the Internet.

It seems a huge change has come over rural India. No longer are people poor there. Now, they seem to have the disposable income and the eagerness to spend it – not just on essentials, but on lifestyle products as well. For corporate India, this is a tremendous opportunity. And, like a band of brothers, they are making their way there. They forecast that sales from rural India will give them the much-needed growth they are looking for (as urban markets are becoming saturated)… and fatten their bottomlines.

Soon, corporate India will redefine the rural. Rural India will no longer be the same.


Charu said...

actually the tractors and electricity are just one side of the story - a small portion - and rich prosperoius pockets have always existed in rural India... "No longer are people poor there" - no way!

branding and marketing have already made their mark in rural India through ecomony packs and sachets. most fmcgs are sold as sachets even in the more prosperous areas.

arzan said...

What you write is correct, but i dont think this is happening in a majority of the villages. There are large areas where its the same situation as existed two decades ago.

And frankly material wealth is very fluid. A lot of the tractors etc are bought with loans from the govt. which are political gimmicks.

Govar said...

Beg to differ. I agree that some of the towns and big size villages in some of the states (south, west and punjab etc) have grown fast and have access to these... but a majority are stiill living in the same conditions. Just one travel around BIMARU... you'll find the situation.