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First 10 years of 21st century

A year passes by but we realize it only at select times- on key festivals, birthdays or Dec 31. This year is also an end of a decade and recalling some of the developments witnessed as a citizen of India can be a good idea. An attempt at highlighting some of those developments and how they impacted my life- a common man.

First the global ones:

1. 9/11 shocks US and world. Tragedy highlights how deep and severe is the problem of terrorism. From my perspective, US has lost its financial hegemony. Financial crisis of 2008 is a testimony to it. 

2. Concept of BRIC economies came sometime in 2004-05 when emerging countries gained greater attention not for extending more aid to alleviate poverty but from investment havens perspective. Which economies are growing at >8% GDP than BRIC economies today.

3. China’s domination in manufacturing became prominent and today it enjoys comparative advantage in several sectors over other nations.

4. Euro currency introduced in physical form in 2002. Expected to be a rival to US dollar with huge volume of trading in forex markets. Financial crisis seems to hit Europe badly and Euro seems to be in danger.

India centric key developments:

1.  Suzuki gains majority stake and management control in Maruti Udyog Ltd. (MUL). Represents a first most successful divestment by Indian government from a profitable company. 

2. Automobile sector hots-up with more players and more options for Indian consumers. MUL continues to lose market share to new entrants in the sector. Small car dominates Indian markets. No looking back for sales with improving road quality.

3. Outsourcing industry became a talk of every household with entry age to work reduced significantly. Just a graduation was enough to land-up with a job of INR 20-25 K per month plus opportunity to learn English language with accent at no additional cost. 

BPOs started to flourish around in metros but with more than proportional rise in real estate prices and higher manpower cost BPOs had to venture into class B cities of India. Courtesy of BPOs and several other factors count of top cities in India increased from 4 to 6 and then 8 and today its around 12. 

4. Organized retail boom picked. Big Bazaar, Reliance retail, More, Vishal became household name. Consumer is having a great time shopping though may not be ending-up with best price or value- as may be  perceived looking at promos. “Sabse bada din” concept of Big Bazaar is one of the most innovative promo in retail space for this decade. 

5. Real estate boomed, got larger and more organized. Many real estate firms went public. However, the hype about real estate is reverting to normal since 2008. Organized retail found hard to break-even early due to rising rentals. 

6. Indian consumer got rid of cable operator mafia. Got to experience digital quality program courtesy of DTH. Tata Sky and Dish TV ventured early and 2-3 years after others stepped in to cash-on the trend. 

7. LCD took over CRT. A Television was a TV till LCD came in to differentiate it from a CRT. LCD prices have dropped 60-65% in last 10 years. Same may be the fate with LED and or 3D TVs. 

8. Radio finds its own market (between a mobile, TV, disc players etc.) with private operators permitted to resume non-news based FM services across Indian cities. Satellite radio flopped despite initial hype but FM radio is here to stay.

9. Mobile phones were used more as “callers’ identity”. Near-by Local/STD calling booths were used for calling back. But with charges waived for incoming calls, pagers died, local/STD booth business flopped and craze of owning a colored mobile handset gained prominence among consumers. With years passing new players stepped in, cost per call dropped almost every month and mobile phones landed in hands of teenagers/youth (non-working). I acquired my first mobile phone in 2004. 

A black&white mobile handset cost INR 3000 in 2004 and today we get an entry model “smart phone” for the same price. Price drop of mobile handsets helped rural consumers to buy their first handsets faster while urbanites shift to high-end high-price phones. 

10. Shopping malls became a favorite hang-out zone for youth, playground for kids and window-shopping venue for middle-class Indians. Shopping malls offered to a common man the experience of air conditioning. AC sales grew exponentially while Indians dumped water coolers citing humid climate in India as if not experienced summers before.  

11. My wife today calls up a grocery shop in neighborhood and says, “भैय्या एक किलो चने की दाल और एक लिम्का घर भिजवा दीजिये गा”. Home delivery has been a revolution and spread like a virus across India- not just restricted to urban cities. Lazy Indians became more lazy with married men skipping their holiday homework of shopping for kitchen. Private banks introduced ATMs and netbanking saving men from standing in long ques to pay utilities bill. But yes, no more lame  excuses to leave office early.

12. “Incredible India” campaign not only attracted foreign tourists to India but prompted Indians to prefer India over foreign locations for holidays. 

13. Transportation improved significantly. Had it not been low airfares- courtesy of domestic private airlines in domestic circuit- not many of us would have traveled by air. Road quality improved courtesy of a financial innovation called “securitization”. Toll tax is a burden on all of us but we get good roads to try our expensive cars.

14. Fast food became a household name. Thanks for Dominos for adding an additional dish in my menu.  My first pizza was in 2006 at Mumbai. Since then I have it once every week.

15. I can buy my kids a remote-controlled helicopter, a talking doll or a kitchen set just like Barbies’. This is because of Chinese toys flooding the Indian market. Many Indian toy manufacturers would have become traders instead. 🙂

16. I can write blogs when at home and stay connected with my friends. All this is possible today because of braodband reaching our homes, Orkut and Facebook facilitating social networking at no cost and a computing device at hand in form of a laptop and or blackberry. My Orkut account was opened in 2004 and Facebook in 2008.

Overall a great decade to live and live it healthily. May God bless all of us with health and more happiness.

Happy New Year to all

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