CHAPTER: House of World Cultures, Berlin
August 12th, 2005
11.00 am – 6.00 pm
Message in a Dabba*: How India wards off the threat of globalization
Doing business in India is quite a challenge for non-Indians. On
the one hand, there is the lure of a huge and virgin market place.
At the same time the shared experience of CEO’s of MNC’s
& Western Entrepreneurs is that India is not an easy place to
do business. This project will analyze the grey zone of cultural
specifics, which make India a unique spot in a globalized world
In the last 15 years no multinational corporation has changed the
Indian panorama. The big ticket companies like Mac-Donalds or CocaCola
might exist in every major Indian city, but they have not seriously
altered tastes or consumer habits. No power company has taken over
power, no IT company has taken over the information or technology
trade, even the cellular revolution is lead by an Indian company
aptly known as Bharti or “Indian”.
The resistance against becoming a fully globalized territory exists
in two forms: The first is conscious – a consciously difficult
environment is created so that the multinational corporations do
not find it easy to operate in the Indian market. The second form
lies in the unconscious nature of the Indian market, which is fragmented,
extremely price conscious and very, very fickle. The Indian consumer
is more interested in guerilla region-specific marketing rather
than the massive advertisement carpet bombardment that the multinational
corporations are used to.
Vinay Choudary is a cultural
observer, conspiracy theorist and screenwriter based in Bombay.
He teaches Film Appreciation at the Xavier Institute of Communication
and has lately made the mutual influence of culture and economy
focus of his studies.
Respondent: Britta Ohm, political
scientist, is currently pursuing her PhD in Social and Cultural
Anthropology with the topic "The Televised Community. Culture,
Market and Politics of Visual Representation in India", Berlin.
* The Dabba is a small tiffin box used to carry lunch to work –
the Dabbawallah of Bombay or the Tiffin Carrier is one of the most
vibrant and successful forms of the marriage between culture &
economy that gives birth to resistance.