Charpoy.

Definition of charpoy

plural charpoys
:a bed used especially in India consisting of a frame strung with tapes or light rope

You will see the humble charpoys in almost all rural and semi urban homes in India.

On what we call dhabas here which are truck stops where long distance truck drivers stop for a meal and some rest, you will find a number of them in the front courtyards.

I personally cannot use them any more due to the condition of my hips, but they are very comfortable and act like hammocks in set frames.

This humble but ubiquitous piece of furniture from India has now gone global!  At least a start has been made in Australia!  The story behind this development has been nothing less than a sensation in the Indian media. The social media too has been very active posting the advertisement from Australia.

Marginal Utility.

It has been a couple or more decades since I had to deal with this old chestnut. It is difficult to remember constantly that Pravin is very much younger and is quite capable of challenging my memory with such ideas like coming up with this topic for this week’s LBC post.

Just to make it simple for my readers not exposed to such ideas in Economics, let me illustrate to understand the concept.  Please click on the image for a larger resolution.

Fairly simple. There is only one case where it does not work and that is in the case of addiction to alcohol, drugs etc. Which is a subject deserving a totally new blog post altogether.

While I eagerly look forward to what Pravin and the other LBC bloggers come up with, I just want to express a puzzle and leave my readers to come up with the answers.

If the concept of Marginal Utility is true, why do some societies have polygamy or polyandry? Does the theory not work there? I don’t know. I was a monogamist and now more or less a sanyasi. I am not personally acquainted with any polygamist or polyandrist and so cannot ask one.

And just as I was about to end this post, I came across this remarkable piece of news which stumps me even more on the aspect of marginal utility only for this polyamorous union.  Now, I have seen and heard enough.

You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin, Ashok and Shackman.

Effectiveness.


My exposure to the word effectiveness for the first time was when I got into corporate life and it was drummed into my head by a number of mentors that Peter Drucker was to be kept in mind all the time. I flatter myself that I have been effective rather than efficient in my life. So rather than bore my readers with a long pontification on the topic, let me share somethings that to my mind are very effective.

My young friend and ex blogger Ashok posted this on his facebook page recently.

“I am a commerce graduate sir. Have a real estate consulting business as well as a fleet of cabs. My wife and I met through mutual friends, fell in love and got married. She is exceptionally brilliant in economics sir and has a masters degree in arts with a gold medal.

My father also pushed her to do her B.Ed course. I am encouraging her to write the UPSC exam next. My dream is to see her become a bureaucrat and I will become her driver.”- Abdul, my Uber cab driver from today morning.

After seeing numerous instances of patriarchy and oppression of women, conversations like these really inspire hope. India shines every once in a while :)”

There are three stories to demonstrate effectiveness here. The first one of course is that Ashok is a remarkably observant fellow besides being of the kind who can get strangers to talk to him. A very effective young citizen of India doing his bit to change our society as a lawyer.

The second is that of the cab driver. Here is a graduate who instead of asking for doles and reservation from the government has decided to be effective as an entrepreneur. Not only that, he wants to be effective in exploiting opportunities that are available by encouraging his wife to compete and succeed.

And the third, the father in law in the story who unlike most of his ilk, wants his daughter in law to study and qualify for a professional life instead of again asking for favours from society. And, more importantly, instead of being a girl at home cooking for and looking after the menfolk!

Another case of effectiveness at its best. A corporate advertisement that strikes the right cords and conveys a powerful message too.

The story starts with an old Indian man telling his grand daughter about his pre partition times in Lahore and about his childhood friend whose family ran a sweet shop there. The grand daughter uses Google to locate the shop’s telephone number and contacts the childhood friend there. The grandson at the other end in turn uses Google to get passports and visas for the grandfather and himself and both of them eventually land up in Delhi for a reunion of the two childhood friends separated by events outside their control.

Has this post been effective?

I have suggested the topic for this week’s LBC Friday post. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman.

Languages.

This very technical article concludes that being bilingual is an advantage. So, how about someone who is multilingual?

According to Census of India of 2001, India has 122 major languages and 1599 other languages. However, figures from other sources vary, primarily due to differences in definition of the terms “language” and “dialect”. The 2001 Census recorded 30 languages which were spoken by more than a million native speakers and 122 which were spoken by more than 10,000 people.

Almost all urban Indians will speak at least two languages and quite a few will speak at least three, the third being English.

I can fluently speak read and write four languages and converse quite comfortably in three others.  This came about primarily because of my career having been in sales in transferable conditions and I also was blessed to have been able to see every corner of my mother land, often in depth including visits to rural parts.

There are many like me in India and I am sure that all of them will agree with this:

Niche Marketing.

“A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused. The market niche defines as the product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and the demographics that is intended to impact. It is also a small market segment.” ~ Wikipedia.

I live in a locality that is filled with Co-operative Housing Societies and a few Condominiums. All of these have many flats, apartments for my American readers, and are usually provided with round the clock watchmen services. These watchmen work in 12 hour shifts and the poor fellows who work the night shifts have to wait till they are relieved in the mornings by the day shift watchmen before they can have their morning tea!

Enter the ever opportunist entrepreneur of urban India. I have been seeing one intrepid soul very early in the mornings hawking hot tea from a bicycle with a stainless steel thermos urn tied securely to the luggage carrier in the back. I have been seeing this particular fellow for quite some time now but was able to get to chat to him only yesterday as both of us caught each other’s eye in the morning.

From him, I learnt that there are many like him all over Pune, and that the service starts at 0500 and goes on throughout the day focussing on watchmen only but also catering to others who may stop them on their rounds. To do this effectively, the urns have to be charged three times a day on average and such vendors do make a reasonably good living out of this vending.

niche-mktg

I had wanted to talk to this particular vendor because it was only a few days ago that I was able to see that he was conducting his entire business using only one hand and using the other only partly because the latter had been cut off below the elbow. Just imagine this spirited soul riding a bicycle with such a load, and dispensing tea one handed and collecting money etc all despite his handicap. I spent quite some time with him and found that he is an immigrant to our city from one of the most backward parts of India and there were others of his ilk in the same business here. He has his wife brewing the tea apart from her other household chores and from the earnings, he is putting his two daughters and a son through an English medium school education.

I salute this man and his fellow tea suppliers who are what C K Prahalad called Bottom Of The Pyramid Entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, such businesses do not feature in our GDP!