December 13, 2013

Why no Amul from Punjab? Verka & Food brands !

Punjabis are known for hard work and entrepreneurial nature. They happily venture out on paths where few dare to trot. Punjab has considerable expertise in manufacturing as some punjabis have done quite well at the global and domestic level. When we discuss cycles, milk products, yarn, hosiery, knitwear, hand tools, sports goods there are some sparkling stories. But why do we not have a 'brand' like Amul, Dettol, Britania etc ?Punjabis are popular for thier appetite and fine eating, what stops us from creating a brand ? Lassi has market potential, why not have a branded lassi ?


As consumers are becoming more demanding the food companies have to work  overtime to convince the buyers to depend on them for offering nutrition combined with pleasure. Therefore food companies are taking fatty foods off the shelves and replacing them with the healthier foods. You may segment the food along four benefits; Nutrition, Taste, Health and Pleasure. What are the alternatives with the Cola majors like Pepsi & Coke? Would they be able to sustain a strategic attack on their consumption? Could they survive by asking consumers to go for cola drinks for pure pleasure? Or could they pass off as the tastier water available? They would find it very scary to go for a pleasure tag. Certainly they would never imagine killing their market by hawking Cola as a health drink. How the future is going to play out is a million dollar question.Snack food market in India is dominated by the unorganized sector.

Future may be different. The organized retail revolution unleashed in India would change the contours in no time. Most retailers have or are in the process of launching their own snack food brands. The local small snack food players would be edged out from the market and would remain in business as vendors of the large stores.

The evolution of biotechnology would also upgrade the snack food portfolio.The sweet snack food segment dominated by biscuits is experiencing real tremors with entry of new competition from within and global market. Players in biscuit market are planning to launch biscuits as a healthy snack food. We are all convinced with cereals and dalia etc as a healthy food. But a snack is a snack.

How can you force fit a biscuit to pass of as a health food? Surely a snack food product positioned on health benefit segmentation is in nothing but a horrendous idea here in India.

Hope no snack food player would like to present their products on the lines ofChawanprass or some Churan. If they do how would the packaging look like? Would it look like a health product, a medicine or some happy pleasurable packaging? How many snack food players have we got in the Punjab region? Not many! Why is it so when there is huge market available in the region? When you shop for a snacks all you see if Frito layHaldiram, and 2-3 local players.

We know that being a developing country that has recently come out of a total regulatory regime, our entrepreneurs are more comfortable with production than being adept in marketing their produce. Every big small town in the region has 1-2 famous snack food player. How we all miss the great retail effort undertook by Lovely Sweets from Jalandhar.Gopal from Patiala has also flexed its muscles but have not taken a real shot at becoming an established player. Dhoda sweets may have shifted base to Ludhiana but their product line is woeful short.Cremica has opened up into this domain but they seem to be satisfied with organic growth only.

When would we see a snack food brand leveraging the worldwide appeal of PUNJABIDHABHA and SHER-E-PUNJAB? Is someone listening!

Will India Change in 2014, for better or worse?

India is a unique country in some ways than the rest of the world, despite many similarities. Most differentiating features of India that make it unique are the population, film industry, cricket and the Hindu way of life.  Besides these four, India is an average country.

Many economists & leaders have debated the challenge of massive population and have either saw it as an impediment to growth or a demographic dividend. If you have no preconceived socio-political agenda, then you can’t see huge unskilled population of India as a beneficial positive factor?

Besides population explosion the other arena where India is undisputed, but dubious, leader is the so called film industry.  Indian films are exactly similar to Indian people, well few exceptions to the rule can’t be denied. Indian people fail to win at Nobel & Olympics, two main global events that recognizes the power of the intellect & physical strength, respectively. And Indian movies too, like the Indians, fail to get recognition at the Oscars.

Besides filmed entertainment the other most pervasive entertainment that India is known for is the game of cricket. Despite more population than any other country on Earth, India fails to compete with nations with 1/100th of population, at the Olympics and the FIFA world cup. India’s neighbor, PR China, is home to as many people as India but it wins way more medals at Olympics. Cricket, like Indian films, keep people lost in the make believe world to escape the realities of life.

Let's examine how the controversial issue of how a Hindu way of life could impact the future of India. Descartes said ‘I think therefore I am’.  People become what they believe in & form groups with the other like-minded individuals.  People are different from each other more at the psychological level than the physical. India is a large diverse place united by foreign invaders from came from afar & sometimes from other continents. Many Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, & Muslim kings have ruled some small parts of India from time to time in history but none could ever succeeded in uniting all Indians under one umbrella. Therefore when the British decided to leave India, post WWII, local political leaders could not keep it united and India was divided in 1947.

One part of India became Pakistan in 1947. Religion divided India. The founders of Pakistan followed Islam but were Indians by nature & culture. They certainly were not the descendants of Turkish or Persian Kings. The largely Hindu India, many Hindus leaders say Sikhs are part of Hindus but no Sikh leader agrees, decided not to make India follow a Hindu way of life. India in 1947 naturally & wisely chose to be a secular country surrounded by Hindu Nepal & Muslim Pakistan in 1947.

Since India failed to tackle twin challenges of poverty & population due to the culture & character of people, the Hindu religious lobby is projecting the utopia of ramrajya as panacea for better governance. The clamour for running India according to the Hindu way of life is growing by the day. And, this has led to emergence and popularity of Narendra Modi. Indian media is largely in Hindu hands, so it has chosen to promote Modi, than question him for 2002, and his unknown agenda for governance. If a religion based Hindu state of Nepal & Islamic republic of Pakistan could not do better than secular India till today, why alter India’s character by imposing Hindutva? India doesn't need to return to Hindu roots as that would hurt its economic & social fabric. India needs to become a modern scientific nation.

Hinduism can’t solve the problem of poverty. India need to change from a Hindu way of life & leave behind asphyxiating caste system that divides people & subjugate the majority of skilled workers. The caste system creates an unequal social order that stigmatizes people and rob them of their dreams of achievement & growth.  Whenever in past a part of India broke away from a Hindu way of life, it benefited with exponential growth. Rise of Sikhism in Punjab is proof of this thesis.  Punjab has mostly been an area under influence of Sikh culture of equality since 17th century. Sikh gurus preached a message of universal brotherhood and condemned the caste system that divides & subjugates the skilled people in society. Punjab has remained most progressive state in India despite small size & geographical bottlenecks.  


If anything needs to be changed asap in 2014, so that Indians could have better economic & social future, make Hinduism free of the caste bias. Once most of India feels free & equal, it would find the way to progress. 

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