Once upon a time, not long ago, we were made to learn by heart at least one essay in school. Often it used to be - India, an agriculture based nation (Krishi Pradhan Desh). Among other things, the essay used to contain exaggerated description of great mountain range, social tolerance, cultural integration and the holy rivers of India. Our glorious past was pressed in service any where and everywhere. We were like that unworthy nephew of a worthy uncle who flauntingly name dropped his uncle on every occasion.
Initially, obliquely in a hushed tone with jest and later with much solemnity it was proclaimed that India, actually, is a chair (read power) based nation (Kursi Pradhan Desh). The game of musical chair, vying for better and higher chair became so aggressive, people won't let the chair, once occupied, come what may, slip away from their posteriors. They applied variety of glue, Fevicol, Ereldite and what have you so that chair and they could become as inseparable as Siamese twins. They were so much smitten by their love for chair, they simply refused to die without one.
Necessity is mother of invention, hence, we invented hundreds of corporate bodies, development authorities corporations, societies and committees whose term was never enough to complete the assigned task. Chairperson always outgrows the commission to head yet another commission. A new class of politicians and administrators emerged who moved freely heading committee after committee with professional ease.
During seventies, there was a massive import (smuggling) of Disco-mania into India. Disco culture penetrated deep in us through whatever opening it could find. Masses also enjoyed disco-music, disco restaurants. Small towns and even country side had their share of Swadeshi disco through items such as disco bindi, disco bangles, disco shoes, disco slippers disco goggles, disco cigarettes and disco coach (Bombay to Goa). Sizzling seventies gave us two more turning points, film Bobby and bell-bottom but that is another story.
Exciting eighties brought revolution in two main areas transportation and packaging. Vehicles which had a waiting period of around ten years and mere booking them added sufficient snob value to your status, were now available off the shelf but there were no takers. Sheer variety of two wheelers more than succeeded in confusing the prospective buyers. Thanks to Japanese, they smiled, we cried, while paying the overdue installments.
In recent times no concept has gone deeper in our day to day life than that of packaging. From Sambhar (of Dosa fame) to milk, whisky, salted water (Gol-Gappa kind) ghee, oil you name it and it is available in poly packs. Our value system too got packaged in keeping with the times. Our, hitherto, solemn events such as marriage celebrations and obituary references came out with vulgar openness. Newspapers carry fancy ads for brides and grooms. The day is not far off when we will have M.Rs…. Marriage Representatives who will campaign door to door in their bid to bring together slim, fair, convent educated brides and tall, dark handsome green card holder computer engineers.
Naughty nineties saw en mass shift of beauty parlors from Connaught Place to backyard/barsati of Babu colonies. Indians have a rich tradition of decorating themselves (especially ladies). Thus, these parlors offered manicure, pedicure, oils, creams, face packs, lipo-suction, facelifts and cosmetic surgery of infinite variety. Howsoever good skin you possessed so far, beauty parlors found fault with it and promised to transform you in as beautiful as the current reigning cine actor/actress. No sooner this field got into cut throat competition, many a times, literally, thanks to cupid. Finding no other way out people went back to ancient Indian culture. Whenever you are confused and you find no answers … go back to ancient Indian culture. One is sure to find seemingly simplistic solution/solace from your present ills, which any way are largely of your own making. Thus, cut throat competition led to people's search for herbs.
A new slogan was coined - Be Indian Buy Indian. In our bid to buy Indian we went a little too far and ended up shopping politicians, bureaucrats, bridegrooms and discovered to our pleasant amazement that this poor lot was ever so eager to be bought. Our search to find something unique took us to so far little known hazy world of herbs. We were quick to realize that anything herbal would stand out among the 136 types of shampoos and 256 types of toilet soaps currently in the market. Hence, we have herbal with H capital in our household. Herbal tooth paste, herbal Kajal, herbal powder, herbal cream, herbal soap, herbal oil etc. Today you can sell soil of your kitchen garden in the name of herbal provided you know the art of packaging and marketing.
The latest is that hens have decided to lay Veggie eggs so that vegetarians also could savor without having to bother about guilt and religious sentiments. Hens also would be absolved of the charge of favoritism of catering to non-veg only). Subsequently, latest proposal is to launch a herbal chicken. You may wonder chicken and herbal, strange combination. Let me clarify a chicken which has rich Indian herbs as feed will have to be called a herbal chicken - no cheating this. If you can have desi chicken, broiler chicken why not herbal chicken. Next time you go shopping, insist for a herbal chicken and don't be surprised if you are actually offered one too.