Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The number gain-A case of glass half full

Everybody loves a good number no doubt. Particularly the people involved in marketing. These days the focus of advertising has drastically shifted from the typical middle class family mindset to the youth. It has been discovered that the holy grail of consumption lies with the young, the yuppie, the urban middle class youth who is earning, happy and ready to spend. To seduce children with poisonous Chinese toys is an altogether different matter and I am not going to discuss that.
People keep pointing to the fact that 54 % of the population is below 25 years of age. Suddenly a large population becomes a boon. The results follow. Mass marketing on television with the youth as the theme. Delve a little deeper and the picture becomes clearer. I came across Rama Bijapurkar’s site and came across a few figures. She writes
“I have written several times in this column that the euphoric ’gen next’ stories that the media proliferates, ignore the scary facts that the demographic data reveal. IRS data (Hansa Research, Media Research Users Council) shows that of the 122 million 20-to-25-year-olds in the country, 70 million are rural and poor, 35 million belong to the lowest socio-economic (SEC) class of R4 (i.e., kuchha houses and chief wage earner has not got past Std 9, mostly illiterate or literate but with no formal schooling). The remaining 35 million are SEC R3 (i.e., semi pucca houses, and about half the chief wage earners have finished SSC). Incomes and exposures are closely correlated to the SEC. The most high risk for social tension, Naxal movements, etc., would presumably be the 20% of the age group (25 million, 10 million urban and 15 million rural) who are HSC/SSC passed, and have been raised with the aspiration, but no access to economic opportunity. “
I also did a Google search and came across with a few more figures from a site called

It is written that

90 per cent: The Asian Development Bank said two years ago that “at least 90 percent of people” live on less than $1 a day in India, China and some Southeast Asian countries.
77 per cent: The columnist Praful Bidwai said in Bangalore this week that 77 per cent of the population lives on less than Rs. 20 a day, or half a dollar.
54 per cent: In May this year, Newsweek reported that in 1985, 93 per cent of India’s population lived on less than $1 per day; by 2005, it was 54 per cent.
52.5 per cent: The Washington Post, quoting the same World Bank, said in August 1997 that 52.5 per cent of Indians earned less than $1 a day.
50 per cent: Ramtanu Maitra wrote in Executive Intelligence Review in December 2006 that 450 million Indians (or a little less than 50 per cent) lived below the World Bank’s old definition of $1 per day per persion, and that 700 million Indians (or almost 70 per cnet) lived below the poverty line based on the World bank’s new definition of a minimum earning of $2 per day per person.
Nearly 50 per cent: Seven years ago, Mary Motta asked if India should be so hung up on a moon mission when nearly half of its population lives below the poverty line.
33 per cent: Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad writes in the latest issue of Prospect that 300 million Indians (roughly 33 per cent) live on less than $1 a day
33 per cent: The International Herald Tribune, quoting the World Bank, said in Janaury 2006 that one in three earn less than $1 a day, i.e. 33 per cent.
30 per cent: The Christian Science Monitor, quoting the Indian census, says 30 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day; 78 percent on less than $2.
26 per cent: Social anthropologist Diana Wells, quoting the 2001 census, wrote in 2001 that the number of people who earned $1 a day had declined from 36 per cent to 26 per cent.
25 per cent: Xinhua news agency, quoting India’s minister for rural development and poverty alleviation, reported in 2002 that 260.25 million people earned less than $1 a day, which was a marked decline from 1993- 94, when 320 million people were below the poverty line.
25 per cent: Union Minister P. Chidambaram told Charlie Rose two years ago that the number of Indians earning less than $1 a day was 250 million, or slightly short of 25 per cent of the population.
20 per cent: A World Food Prize winning high school essay pegged the number of people earning less than $1 a day at 200,000,000 or 200 million, or a fifth of the population , i.e. 20 per cent.
From a personal experience I knew why I was always targeted for being a young urban professional by telemarketers, mobile phone companies, credit companies etc..

It is always seeing the glass half full and using the water to drench the customer.