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Bihar – A story of resurgence and resilience

Author | Shree Lahiri | Saturday, Jun 30,2012 8:29 PM

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Bihar – A story of resurgence and resilience

Against a host of challenges, emerging markets of India today have become a force marketers cannot afford to ignore. This was the focus of discussion at the ‘Real India Conclave’- 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. The first edition focused on the state of Bihar.

Time to get ‘real’
In his opening speech, Chetan Sharma, TV anchor and business journalist, who also hosted the show, said that at this “real-ity show, it was time to get real” and that Jagran and e4m had realized that it was time to put in real effort, acknowledgement to take the test of time. He recalled that last month he had attended a forum abroad where it was clearly pointed out that the economy of the world cannot grow without India. “I said not ‘without’ India but ‘within’; the growth has to come from within,” said Sharma.

When you go to the interiors, it’s a different experience altogether. ‘Within’ meant Tier 2 and Tier 3, which are now sparkling with opportunities to take the country forward. To make India into a new brand we talk of India and the different states; “we talk of BRICS, but India has a state that will define BRICS – Bihari Rising In Consorting Society”! Therefore we have a new brand – Bihar; and what is this brand all about?

Building brand Bihar
Dheeraj Sinha, author and brand strategist emphasized that before he spoke of a new Bihar, he had to talk about what it meant to be a Bihari. No matter how much education you got in Bihar, you had to go to Delhi to get polished, he observed. Bihar was a “land of lawlessness” - that was the perception of the state; it had brilliant individuals, it was resource rich, but was economically poor. “My first experience of this change was four years ago, the village I came from had no light, but now solar lamps, roads have come up,” he said. That was the first sign that the state was churning.

Another remarkable factor was the rising aspirations. Brands like Lee, Puma have made their appearances. Consumerism is palpable, there’s change in taste. The ‘sattu’ has given way to Chinese noodles and so on. The bottom of the pyramid strategy strips all costs, and wants to be top in status. In the state of Bihar, ambition is the same as you and I. The fact that the word ‘Narbhasana’ finds pride of place in the Bihari Dictionary (on Facebook) is a symbol of the state coming out of the shadows and celebrating being a Bihari.

There are numerous stories of individual pursuits for eg – a person who started as a child labourer but moved on to own a flourishing catering business; he still did not own a car, but his children were studying, wanting to crack IIT!

Bihar has been making headline for its resurgence. It’s not all celebration, but it’s just the beginning; it’s too early to celebrate (the per capita income is 1/3 of the national average). “While there is s definite upswing, there’s no need to celebrate,” noted Sinha. But what is happened is the support of the government. The 3 key components for real revolution are that people should want to change and the role of business and brands. He concluded by showing an international case study where the brand Levi’s partnered with Braddock, an old steel city to rebuild the city; it was a fascinating story where business and people revolution can go hand-in-hand.

The last task for Bihar is to awaken its people potential, for participation of people is important.

The re-branding of Bihar should happen. There should be a participative approach for brands and business. “It’s for marketers to provoke and make it a personal revolution, so that you are proud of being a Bihari,” he concluded.

The first session of Real India Conclave took place on June 29, 2012 at Taj Mansingh, New Delhi.

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