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With the Indian economy slowing down and the income inequalities among people rising, the government is on the horns of a dilemma. Spending by the rich or spending for the poor? Let’s see the impact of a decision on the daily lives of the people by way of the brands of clothes, food and accessories they use, or simply, their lifestyle.


Left

Be it a Rolex, an Audemars Piguet, a Titan or any other brand, the primary feature and purpose of the watch remain to tell the time. Why then, do people have to spend great deals of money on branded, metal – studded watches? Some people in our country – in fact, the majority – don’t even have access to essential commodities of life, such as water and food. On the other hand, few people spend lakhs of rupees on a single meal in a 5-star hotel. All this is the play of brands.

The government spends crores of rupees annually on importing the merchandise of globally known, reputed and expensive brands, to provide an outlet to the rich to expend their surplus money on ‘better quality’ articles. The government says that it is necessary to boost consumption demand in the economy. As the rich earn more, they can spend more. Also, it promotes good relations with other countries.


But shouldn’t the aim be to make the essentials available to everyone? The primary objective for the functioning of the government is to serve the people, to ensure their welfare. In this case, its decision must be based on the greater good of its people, and not just for the few well-off.


The government can put in more time, efforts and money to ideate and come up with a standardized and centralized system of providing such goods. These must be available to everyone at a fixed rate as per their need.

This can aid in achieving the target of providing a reasonable standard of living to everyone, thereby reducing poverty in the country.


When everyone buys the same and consumes the same, there is a sense of belongingness and community among the people as well. Thus the line in the society which divides the people into different classes and strata gradually vanishes.


While this concept seems like protectionism, it’s different in the regard that foreign brands offering products priced near the standards are not barred from entering the markets.


Right

Suppose, one day, a person decides to try out a newly opened restaurant in his locality. He likes the food there. The next day, he tells his friends and colleagues about it, and slowly, the restaurant’s popularity increases. In this case, what did the person do?


He marketed a BRAND. Similarly, people keep promoting places, events, experiences, ideas and even people every time, every day. They all become brands. They have become a part of our lives now. They add spice, colour, excitement and fun to our lives.


People have their own money to spend wherever they wish to and satisfy their social and status symbol needs. Brands make lives convenient and predictable, as they know what to expect from a particular company.


Every seller wants to have his/her standing in the market. There shouldn’t be any problem if a particular seller has created his/her customer base through their unique experiences. Consumers want happiness and satisfaction in their lives, which is mostly affected by the lifestyle they follow, i.e., the products they buy. Their consumption pattern is also a reflection of the self–image they wish to create in the world. It becomes their identity.


With increasing interaction and exchange of factors of production among countries and the world becoming a global village, people have started exploring and accepting new brands and products. French perfume, Italian marble, etc., have become familiar products in the market. This way, people have the choice to consume the best.


A huge source of revenue for India is its exports. This is because our goods have some worth in the global market; maybe because a product is exclusive to India, or India makes it best and cheapest. In this way, the traditions and cultures of various regions and countries also find a place in the products consumed daily. These exclusivities and endemic features make them unique and thus, raise demand all over the world.


Centre

The society has always sought – and tends to move towards – balance and equilibrium.


On one side, it is about people’s freedom, their life and their choices. If buying an expensive watch is the desire, nobody. These are people with money. Money, when spent, starts the demand and investment cycle in full swing and turns the wheels of the economy faster. This phenomenon is very much desirable for any country, especially when the world outlook is gloomy, like current times.


But equitable distribution of income and growth is equally indispensable, of course. Now that we have an opportunity and a reason to put everything at stake for development, we should do it the right way. If proper and standardized goods and amenities are provided to the underprivileged at affordable prices, then surely our country will benefit from the expenditure incurred by them and the increase in output from their enhanced contributions.


I believe that other than the streamlined primary commodities provided by the Central government, a step can be taken towards reducing the volume of imports of foreign, branded goods. In place of that, regional Indian industries of handicrafts, food processing, textiles, etc. can be encouraged throughout the country. These already have a good market standing at the global level. The question to be asked is where does this lie in the priority hierarchy of issues to be discussed.


If more and more people take to these, it will provide greater employment opportunities to Indians and boost their confidence. The money will be spent in India only and could be used for further growth and expansion purposes. It will also, in the long run, satiate the want of the people with a preference for brands.

Thus, I see it as a win-win situation altogether.


By Smriti Pawha

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