Aspiring changes; inspiring futures

I’ve been in New Delhi this past week for some work and its been interesting to see the shift in thinking and aspirations. The first few visits in the early 2000s showed the dramatic surface changes of a noisy market opening up to the rest of the world. Today it struck me that many of those obvious things were simply cosmetic – more billboards, more shops and more traffic, a larger variety of consumer goods – all the things that had never been seen before in pre-liberalization India where swadeshi was all important.

If asked to describe what I’ve sensed this week as my overall impression I would say its the subtler, deeper indicators of the increase and importance of aspirational decision making. A humble example from the home would be all the complaints of there is no more household help to be had, not even migrant workers from the impoverished parts of the nation like previously. They don’t want to move to the city anymore now that there are schemes which offer them monthly grants from the government and employment opportunities are increasing right near their homes.

Unpacking that last shift, the seeming and perceived reluctance of rural residents to move to urban metros seeking employment, is a project in its own right, but even so, its implications are significant, imho, even if still in the form of weak signals.

I went out deep into the greater National Capital Region for a meeting yesterday at an office complex and while I couldn’t pinpoint each and everything I observed without stopping for a deep analysis, my first impressions left me with a sense that the benefits of employment, education, communication… heck, call it modernization… were now available much much further down the socio-economic strata than ever before.

Has India magically become Singapore? No, and I don’t think that is even something that is viable given the scope and scale and magnitude of the change. But in a very Indian way, even with all the problems, my country has managed to make a toehold on the first world rung of the ladder in the past two decades and emerged from its cocooned pigeonholes.

I look forward with anticipation to any opportunity to take pulse of the rural market towns and regional centers to see what the India under the radar thinks. I think the key word will still be aspiration but more critical will be how its interpreted and understood in context.

This entry was posted in Analysis, Assumption filter, Base of the Pyramid, Consumer Behaviour, Culture, Economy, Ecosystem, Emerging Markets, India, Indigenous & Traditional, Innovation Planning, Marketing, Perspective, South Asia, UCSD, urban, User research. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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