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Where fertilisers meet LCDs & laptops - Views on News from Equitymaster
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Where fertilisers meet LCDs & laptops
Dec 30, 2009

Far away from the milling crowds of our mega metros, there exists another India. The deep dusty interiors. Where you can't figure out where villages end and where towns begin. Where commerce revolves around a 'main' road that bisects the town into two. If you walk the road from end to end, you would have covered the town. The shops that line the road mean serious business. If the area is primarily agricultural you will find the fertiliser, seeds and pesticide outlets. If the area is industrial, you will find workshops and hardware vendors.

Consumption moving deep into India
We recently visited a couple of small towns in one of the less celebrated states of India. And here's what we found:

  • The success of motorcycles is evident. Almost everyone seems to be riding a Hero Honda. One found very few ungeared scooters unlike the larger cities. You can still find the old Bajaj Supers and LML Vespas in use though. Decent showrooms of Hero Honda, Bajaj and TVS were present.

  • Mobile handsets and electronics shops are everywhere. So is branded clothing. We saw outlets such as Koutons, Peter England, Blackberry clothing, Siyaram's MSD. Almost all the shops we saw were new ones.

  • Financial services are also distinctly present. Bank ATMs, hoardings of financial advisors, branches of sub brokers are prominent.

  • People eat out much more that before. Many new restaurants have come up. Proper restaurants - with frosted glass and dim lighting and not dhabas. We found they are doing brisk business.

  • Power cuts continue to be a problem. Every home seems to have an inverter. Most are two television households. Air conditioning is common.

  • Overall, the smaller centers are consuming far more than before. The lifestyles of the larger cities are percolating deeper inwards. It has rapidly outpaced infrastructure such as roads and power.

The 'fair' surprise
Pick the odd one out of the following list - Lemon pickle, fertilisers, water pumps, harvesting tools, 33 inches LCD TVs, Dell and HP laptops, ACC, HUL, Godrej. That was a trick question. There is no odd man out. We also went to a district level fair. These are the stalls we saw there. Close to each other.

Given that it was basically an overgrown village fair - originating out of religious and agricultural roots, we have to admit we were surprised. The fair itself was a rather massive affair. The amount of electricity consumed by the lighting and motors driving all the rides itself must be substantial.

It is often said that India is a consumption led economy. It certainly seems to be reflecting on the ground in the smaller centres in India.

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