The Great Indian Smelter

India is becoming a pride statement. Am I being jingoistic, or is this for real?


Revathi, India today is a statement of pride, for sure. It is a statement that is all about the world’s largest democracy that caters to a nearly 1.3-billion hungry, thirsty and even “greedy for products and services” populace. Selling a ‘born in India’ product to a democracy means that there is just no force, there is just no artificiality and there is just no price rigging. This is precious and rich.

‘Made in India’ brands are also about self-discovery. The dominant mechanism at play is just that. These brands have had to suffer consumer resistance in the early days, and had to plan for themselves a trajectory of slow growth that was very different from what an overseas brand typically experiences.

Add to all this the clarion call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a “Make in India” campaign at large. ‘Made in India’, and now the ‘Make in India’ theme, are all statements of pride today.

It is about a new, confident and emerging India. An India that can create products very unique to its needs, wants, desires and aspirations, and not depend on the “one size fits all” products that come from overseas markets and experiences.

Every one of these brands, whether it is Parle, Tata Salt, Amul or Fevicol, has demonstrated and been through just that. These are brands that have been through what I would call the “Great Indian Smelter” of consumer markets, and have stood their ground, grown and prospered.

These are brands that have now gone overseas as well, first touching the Indian diaspora and then making inroads into the non-diaspora segment as well.

Employees volunteering for social causes is the new buzz. How must a company look at it? Should I encourage it?


Shernaz, volunteering is essentially an individual activity. It is normally an activity that an individual gets into when he or she reaches a state of self-actualisation in the cycle of life. Those actually still climbing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and still far away from the self-actualisation peak, seldom enter the volunteering market.

In a nation such as India, where millions of folk are still struggling to fulfil their basic food, clothing and shelter needs, it is but apparent that few will get into the volunteering market. Add to it the allure of modern consumptive society, which pushes the self-actualisation stage further and further away into the recesses of “old age”, and the volunteering market is a small one.

In such a small market, it is important for market forces to intervene and create a culture of volunteering. This is where I encourage and instigate volunteering as a corporate activity. Firms that encourage this are not only fulfilling a very valuable mandate of contributing back to the society that enriches their coffers but also act as great catalysts that can get back the positive strokes of their happy post-volunteering employees. These happy positive strokes are not quantifiable on a balance sheet but are very positive subliminal employee-bonding activities. Shernaz, please encourage it with all your might.

Harish Bijoor is a brand strategy expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. Mail your questions to