IntroductionTake this real-world situation. Take this girl who is getting married in the next five days in a large marriage hall in Chennai. I was aghast to know that her parents have allowed her to visit a famous beauty parlor to fix artificial nails that would last some thirty days in all her hand fingers. The cost? A cool Rs.15,000/-. Not only did this stump me, but the fact that the girl had to book an appointment some three weeks in advance was also even more interesting. So, there is yet a demand for a service. In this case, it is a clear case of demand for a clear want. The cost cannot be borne or afforded by most Indians.
Be that as it may, it turns out that anyhow spending happens on some occasions and this keeps the economy ticking in some way. The special occasions are a) Indian weddings b) Temple-related economic activities c) Education at all levels d) Domestic tourism and e) Spending during festivals.
Indian weddingsSome years ago, Kishore Biyani, the founder and owner of the Big Bazaar chain in the country, had estimated the Indian wedding market at Rs.2000 crores. I would tend to think that this is a very conservative estimate. It would actually be at least Rs.10,000 crores per annum today. It provides direct and indirect employment to at least some six lakh people on at least 250 days in a year.
I do not know the practice in other parts of the country. During the Tamil month of "marghazi"(November to December every year), for some reason, no marriages are held at all. Possibly because of the very cold weather, even in Tamil Nadu. Except for this month, the marriage halls are booked all over on all marriage days. The cost ranges from Rs.30,000 to Rs.5,00,000 as rent. This does not include water and electricity charges but includes the use of vessels for cooking. Now, there is only the capitalist who makes most of the money. Yes. Yet, he also regularly employs servant maids, electricians, security staff and casual labor who are paid at least Rs.200 per day, apart from free food on all wedding days.
Money flows freely in different directions. The vegetable and fruit wholesale dealers make a neat profit. In come those who do the music in the traditional fashion. The photographers, the pandits and the event managers (often specially appointed for special decoration of the stage), are paid too. The food caterer employs at least one hundred people who keep running around. Directly and indirectly. The jewelry guys and the big retailers of textile goods (the Kanchipuram saree is now an international brand) make money. The local transport guys who provide cars for local transport make a good deal of money. The money goes on changing hands. Even the pandits in the temples where special prayers are offered are given extra money on this special occasion. The sellers of the free gifts given to each visitor to the marriage make money.
Temple-related economic activitiesThis is one sure economic contributor. Just visit the Madurai Meenakshi temple to check. The visitors to this temple would exceed five thousand per day. The pandits make money. Those who sell the coconuts, the pooja items, the special oil to be used in the temple and so on, would easily exceed at least two hundred families. The pandits who manage the temple also get money from those who do the special pooja. People keep on praying for anything and everything. The sellers of different items around the temple would be at least another three hundred families. For example, there are special shops selling glass bangles throughout the year. There is a perpetual demand, as there is a function called "Valikappu" where the bride is decorated with glass bangles on both hands during the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, and this is across all communities in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and in AP and Telangana as well. On a conservative estimate, the temple economy in India could easily exceed a turnover of at least one hundred crores per day. Any Indian temple is here to stay. This anyhow spending associated with the temples in India can never ever disappear in India.
Education at all levels This is dear to the heart of any Indian parent. This is sure anyhow spending emotional expenditure that is a pan-Indian phenomenon. Take the demand for LKG admission. The rather absurd craze for admission to good branded schools in the metro cities is amazing. Donations up to three hundred thousand rupees are common. The middle class has its own schools. English medium still dominates the demand. Those who cannot afford the English medium education, admit their children in the local language schools. But the child is shifted to an English medium school in the plus two-stage. Enrolment is now at an all-time high. The chit funds in different parts of Tamil Nadu and the rest of South India is one sure method of timely finance for education. Come March every year, some farmers in some part of the State will sell their agricultural land in part, to finance the education of his or her child. The rise of three branded deemed Universities in Tamil Nadu, the VIT, SRM, and SASTRA (based at Tanjore in South Tamil Nadu) has made this a regular feature every year. People flock from around the country. Money keeps flowing from all directions. The three deemed Universities have also promoted the growth of shopping malls, hotels, houses available for rent, beauty parlors, and a host of other activities. The direct and indirect employment would run into at least sixty thousand on a conservative estimate.
It is not Tamil Nadu alone. Christ University in Bangalore, Symbiosis in Pune, the Narsee Monjee group in Bangalore and Mumbai and so on, have multiplied the education economy like never before. Education supports the growth of Manipal in North Karnataka. Education forms the backbone of a growing city like Coimbatore, that draws people from all over India.
Domestic tourism Go the IRCTC website. Trains between Chennai and New Delhi would be booked to the maximum extent on the first few days of the available 120 days advance booking period. People still travel around during the summer months like never before. The hill stations support the direct and indirect employment of millions of people. For example, Kanyakumari in the extreme end of Tamil Nadu attracts tourists throughout the year. People come flocking here. The tourist spots are always crowded. Bangalore and Mysore have millions visiting all places throughout the year. Ditto for places in and around Chennai. The availability of city buses to various places of tourist attractions is another plus. For example, the Vadapalani Murugan temple in the heart of Chennai has hundreds of city buses from various parts of the city. The metro train also connects this important landmark of the city. Thousands visit the temple every day. It is interesting to note that invariably every single human being who boards the night trains to any destination up North from Chennai Central, spends the full day visiting various places. The economy of the poor is also very active. Even the very ordinary people travel by the local trains, eat in the smallest hotels and do enjoy the full day. This includes ordinary tourists too.
Domestic tourism in India is anytime a big anyhow spending business. Volumes can only increase year after year. Nothing can stop this at all.
Spending during festivalsThe Navrathri celebrations in most of India is a multi-million dollar business. Dancing goes on for hours together in most places. Gujarat and Mumbai are special. People spend plenty of money to take part in the celebrations and the festivals come alive. Diwali makes everything so special in India. Just count the money made by the private Volvo bus operators and that would indicate the kind of money changing hands.
The larger retail textile sellers make tonnes of money. This anyhow spending goes on and on. Even the lower middle class contributes to the growth of sales here. One buys one and gets one free. The sales run into hundreds of thousands of rupees everywhere in India. The summer festivals in an estimated five thousand temples in various parts of Tamil Nadu, in the month of May every year, is a sure three hundred crores turnover business. The festival is also an occasion for socialization. It is said that many marriages get fixed when the boy meets the girl here in some corner of the State ( often in places different from one's native village).
ConclusionNothing can ever stop the anyhow spending in India. Only certain dimensions os such as spending leading to the economic growth of the country, have been discussed in some detail in the aforesaid article. The scope for growth is very high in a nation of one hundred and thirty crore people.