‘Real India Conclave’ is an attempt by Jagran and exchange4media to bring to the forefront the huge opportunities that are waiting to be tapped in the emerging states of India. It is a thematic forum and the first edition focuses on the state of Bihar.
Discussing the phenomenon of emerging markets per se, Pradeep Kashyap, Founder and CEO, Mart and author of ‘Rural Marketing’, noted that emerging markets such as India, China and Russia have been showing steady growth.
“Earlier, we were able to sustain but with our GDP going up, we have not been able to do so, unless we bring FDI into the country; we are running short of dollars,” he noted.
“My focus is on rural markets only; we have known Bihar as a backward state wherein consumption levels of FMCG products and consumer durables have been rock-bottom and the worst in the country,” remarked Kashyap.
Bihar has had problems but it is changing under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Roads are the lifelines that connect rural areas to mainline India. Now, the reach of products has become better. Despite corruption, maximum benefit has come to Bihar. The state has been supplying a major part of India’s workforce. But under the Mahatma Gandhi scheme, now they don’t have to go anywhere. They can stay at home and can get Rs 100 per day. Thus the purchasing power at the bottom of the pyramid is growing. This is driving growth in the rural markets.
Kashyap also pointed out that there is a clear divide between the old and young – while the old are cautious, the young take more risks, are experimental and attracted to brands. Moreover, education has picked up in a big way in Bihar, which has led to increase in employment levels, and resultantly better incomes. Also, the youth have become net-savvy and comfortable using mobile phones. Not just boys, girls too were at the forefront of getting education in the state.
“The socio-cultural change happening in Bihar is huge,” he said, adding that this has led to more aspirations and more confidence, leading to better quality of life. “The transformation is deep,” he said.
A note of caution
Dheeraj Sinha, Regional Planning Director, Bates 141 and author of ‘Consumer India: Inside Indian Mind and Wallet’, is a bit more cautious in his observations. He remarked, “We need to be careful and some assumptions need to be evaluated, for example, the aspirations are far more serious than in the metros. The size of desire and ambition is far higher. You have to be value-based and have to innovate. People here want to live better lives, have better entertainment.”
While there is no doubt about the growth taking place in Bihar, it is too early to celebrate, Sinha noted. Bihar has been in the doldrums for decades but is now beginning to emerge from that. Bihar needs far more participation from its people, who also need to change their mindset.
The first session of Real India Conclave will take place on June 29, 2012 at Taj Mansingh, New Delhi.