India doesn’t need consumers. Nobody does.

The juggernaut of debate on the state of the Indian economy (and the world) keeps moving. This week it’s about how demand is down. Which happens nearly every alternate week. Yes, demand is down. Nobody’s denying that. But, demand for what?

I refer to two trends:

  1. An exclusive report by Somesh Jha published in the Business Standard on how consumer spending is down for the first time in 40 years, a result of slackening demand in rural areas. Link here: https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/consumer-spend-sees-first-fall-in-4-decades-on-weak-rural-demand-nso-data-119111401975_1.html
  2. An opinion piece by Bloomberg’s Andy Mukherjee titled: India has people. It needs consumers. Link here:
    https://retail.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/view-india-has-people-it-needs-consumers/72083588

The above have whipped up a content storm on LinkedIn, which is just as well. “Kuch toh log kahenge” and whatnot.

The point is also that “Logon ka kaam hai kehna”. In these times of Social media, yes, we all have found a voice. But, we also all of us have found extra responsibilities. Or, unpaid work, as one might see it. I certainly do. Sometimes.

Wanting to engage on social media is one thing. Having to do so is quite another. You see, once upon a time, there was a cost to everything. Today, freebies rule. Once upon a time, you held a certain position somewhere – be it your own business or in someone’s company, that was it. Today, we have to do that and market ourselves too. It’s now part of the ask. Or rather, the expectation. Like, I’m this ex-journo, content writer and stuff, but I also need to keep proving it to everyone out there. (I’m not complaining, I love what I do). I just don’t believe I am the ideal consumer of all the gyaan sessions that take place all over social media. Nor do I buy the idea that my reality as a content writer hinges on my ability to show up on social media with “6 posts a day” and all that. Kudos to those who do but that’s work too.

All of this, thought leadership, tips, protips, and more are what? Work you’re handing out for free, right? Earlier, you wrote these in a book and if someone out there thought it worthy of publishing it, they paid you. Your readers paid you for it. You earned a royalty. Now? Nothing.

If you believe that time is the only true wealth you have – Jusssst. Think about it for a moment. Time is the only thing you’ll absolutely never get back. – you’d think twice about sending one more tweet / post down the rabbit hole of Social media. Tells you what?

You’re spending more time (certainly with less effort than ever before) to make the same amount of money you were making when you didn’t have this. And this is true for most of us. What does this mean? Modern life has got dearer and not less. More expensive and not less. Riskier and not less. Technology has reduced – and in many cases removed – effort but it’s kind of like if earlier we were bartering used clothes and utensils, today we’re trading in family jewels. We’re exchanging something far more valuable today: our time.

They’ve sold us this new way of life because once we wanted to simply have smooth hands, or be pretty or good looking. Today, we want to be an influencer. It’s the marketing and it’s always the marketing. I know this is sounding like a rant but do think about it. Why do you think you must share your pix on social media and give all the data away for free?

Now what does all this have to do with the Indian economy and our consumers not really delivering the dividend we were expecting? Everything. Consumers the world over are junking this faulty product called consumerism. It’s a slow movement but it’s catching up. People have had enough.

They’re framing the question differently: What do I want to experience, rather than what do I want.

And believe me, this is leading to a host of different answers.

More… later.

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