This post is dedicated to Garima Sinha, who works for ibibo. Find out why.
I had recently bought an HP Printer Cartridge and registered online for their “Spin & Win” contest. As luck would have it, I won a Gillette Mach 3 razor worth Rs 125…which reached my house yesterday. This triggered the aging neurons in my brain, which by the way are seeking voluntary retirement.
Getting something for free doesn`t necessarily mean it is free.
They say that right after a sexy girl….a Gillette Mach 3 razor is the best a man can get. I agree and that`s why I have been using the Mach 3 for all my saving needs. Oops, shaving needs. If you have ever used Gillette Mach 3 razor you would realize that the razor is cheap….but the blades are extremely costly. I had to wait for four annual increments from my employers before I could buy my second Mach 3 blade. To buy my third Mach 3 blade, I had to sell off my old Television set. Mind you, the razor had came at only Rs 125.
That`s when I realized that the business of printers & razors was the same. One had to buy an initial equipment for a smaller price and continue to feed it on a regular basis with a complementary equipment which was costly.
Cheap Razors. Costly Blades.
Cheap Printers. Costly Cartridges.
Now, let us compare this phenomenon with marriage. Let us assume marriage to be the act of acquiring a wife (or a husband!)…. just like how one would acquire a printer or a razor. Acquiring sure is cheaper if its via love marriage (no dowry, you see!). Now, think of all the investments you have to do to make the marriage work…like the investments you would do to make the printer or the razor useful. Making a marriage work is costly, isn`t it? If you are married, you probably nodded on reading this.
Let us now get back to printers and razors. I wonder why Gillette and/or HP don`t give away their razors and/or printers for free? For instance, why can`t they stand outside an IT company and hand over printers (or razors) to people exiting the offices? If the HP guys are smart, they will also contact CEOs and request them to introduce home assignments for all employees, which will require lots of prints to be taken.
I know, you are probably thinking that it isn`t logical. For example, a company like Hindustan Petroleum can`t gift free cars or bikes to everybody only because more people will come to the HP petrol bunks to fill petrol. But let me assure you that this Indian Economy is working the way it is because of a deep-rooted conspiracy called ‘Make them fall in love, and then milk them`.
Let me give you some background. In the early 80s, R Venkatraman was the Finance Minister of India. Yes, it is the same Mr R Venkatraman who would go on to become the President of India. Back then the Indian Economy was in a depression and Mr R Venkatraman came up with a novel idea which was tabled in front of a secret committee of Economists. Before I tell you the then Finance Minister`s idea to shore up the Economy, let me tell you that an economy can get out of depression only when people in the economy start spending.
Now for Mr R Venkataraman`s idea: Make people fall in love and get married. His thinking was that love marriages will be cheap (no dowry, and most love marriages in the 80s were run-away marriages!) but once married the couple will have to start spending to maintain the marriage – the more the marriages the more the spending. The Finance Minister expected the economy to shore up by the conspicuous consumption of married people.
The secret committee of Economists loved the idea (most of them were anyway unmarried…how many girls do you know who want to marry an Economist?). They then called in representatives of a few companies to chalk out a plan to make people fall in love.
The conspiracy consortium involved representatives from companies like: Archies Greetings, Kwality Walls, and Cadburys. Sooraj R. Barjatya was called in to represent Bollywood. The agenda was simple: All these people had to conspire to get men to acquire a woman as his wife and a woman to acquire a man as her husband by falling in love. Exactly the same way a printer manufacturer or a razor manufacturer would give it to you for free and then charge you on the cartridges and blades.
In no time, the companies started their conspiracy and people started falling in love in droves. Before 1982, if you met somebody who had fallen in love and married….you would gawk and ask: ‘Really? Didn`t your parents oppose?”
Not anymore. Now, the landscape was strewn with people who had fallen in love and gotten married cheap. Sooraj R. Barjatya, inspired by R Venkatraman`s plan to revive the economy went on to direct a movie called Maine Pyar Kiya….which claimed that a “boy and girl can never be friends.” This movie alone resulted in a four fold increase in love marriages.
By now, Mr R Venkatraman was no longer the Finance Minister but the conspiracy seeds he had sown had taken wings. While Archies Greetings, Kwality Walls, and Cadburys advertised the need to find the true love and marry cheap… Sooraj R. Barjatya went on to release Hum Aapke Hain Koun, a movie that again increased the love marriages by four fold.
To this day the conspiracy is on….to make you a lovelorn individual, force you to get married and then make you a conspicuous consumer of goods. Don`t believe me? Here is the transcript of a recent meeting of the Conspiracy Consortium which was held in Gurgaon. Ouchmytoe`s investigative journalist Mr Jamshed V Rajan was in the room decorated as a night lamp to overhear the discussion. Since he was having an upset stomach, he couldn`t stay on till the end of the discussion….but we have tried to reproduce whatever was heard.
Cadbury`s Representative: Gentlemen, as the President of this Consortium for this year I inaugurate the session.
Everybody says: Thank you
Archies` Representative: Gentlemen, let me assure you that we are heading for trouble. People have stopped believing in true love, love at first sight etc.
Kwality Walls` representative: What makes you say that?
Archies` Representative: The increase in divorce rates, obviously. Even before they start spending, they separate.
Kwality Walls` representative: Wouldn`t you agree that divorces are because of betrayal or adultery.
Cadbury`s Representative: I agree. So let us announce adultery as an accepted practice. There will be initial brouhaha but people will eventually start liking it.
Everybody says: Great idea sir. Motion passed.
Bollywood`s representative: And we can make another movie like Karan Johar`s Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Only this time we will use a better director.
(There have been two Bollywood representatives since Sooraj R. Barjatya. First it was Rakesh Roshan of Kaho Na Pyaar Hai fame & Imtiaz Ali replaced Rakesh Roshan in 2006 and went on to make Jab We Met)
Everybody says: Perfect Mr Imtiaz Ali.
Archies` Representative: We have also realized that women have become way too choosy with men. Unlike the earlier times when Dharmendra was the role model….now-a-days, they want well dressed, well shaved, and well deo-ed men.
Cadbury`s Representative: So, should we ban companies from selling shaving razors, creams, deos etc? Shouldn`t they be supplied by the Government to all via the Public Distribution System (PDS).
Kwality Walls` representative: I second that.
Everybody says: Great idea sir. Motion passed.
At this point, the investigative journalist, who already had an upset stomach, felt something wet running down his thighs. Motion was passed.