Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Common Man - Aam Aadmi

The Common Man created by Shri R. K. Laxman has over the past five decades represented the hope, aspirations and troubles of an average Indian.

So who is a Common Man?

The term common man is used to emphasise the similarities or distinctions between a member of a social, political or cultural elite, and the average citizen whose one point cultural agenda is survival.

The Common Man who finds that the leaky tap in the bathroom is of greater concern to him than the failure of the hosting an IPL match or the rise in the cost of toothpaste and tomatoes is more bothersome than the crash in the stock market.

The Common Man sees our country being forced through endless humiliation by its leaders and yet doesn't even whimper in protest. The Common Man has perfected docility as a survival strategy.

Air Deccan a low cost airline used the Common Man as an inaugural mascot until it lost the common man tag to an elite brand “Kingfisher”.

That makes me sit up and think is Tata Nano a Common Man’s Car?

Unveiled a day ago the car Nano is perceived by experts as the Common Man's dream of owning a four-wheeler and it embodies a Common Man's four-wheel dream.

The first one-lakh lucky successful applicants will be selected by draw of lots using the pseudo random number generation technique (a la-casino) and they only shall be eligible for the promised Rs. 1 lakh price.

And for the unlucky Common Man whom lady luck doesn’t favour they shall have to shell out Rs. 1.31 lakh (base car), Rs. 1.56 lakh (Nano CX) {here too you have two different rates for the colour} and Rs. 1.81 lakhs (Nano LX) respectively if they wish to still wait for their elusive car.

Also the company has thrown in sops - customers who have to wait for more than a year for allotment (as if the person will die of asphyxiation if he does not possess a Nano car) will be paid 8.5 % interest and those customers who wait for more than two-years will be paid 8.75 % . with a small catch - No interest would be given to the first one-lakh allotments.

This reminds me of the horrendous queuing theory in 1980’s (pre-liberalisation) where one had to wait for years for their first LPG or landline connection or in 1970’s where one had to wait for nearly a decade for an allotment of Bajaj Scooter

The launch of Nano is not of significance to a Common Man. Apart from a host of problems a Common Man is facing today, a section of the people in society struggle even to get their daily meals. How will the launch of Nano excite / top their priority’s list.

For booking a Nano Car a Common Man has to initially pay Rs. 200/- for buying the form online and Rs. 300/- for an offline form (in other words to save Rs.100/- per form a Common Man is supposed to have internet access and in a country like our’s where the Internet penetration is only 3.5% of total population). Assuming more than one lakh Common Man fills the application form the money earned from only distribution of forms shall be more than 2-3 crores.

The relationship between Needs and a Want is well understood by a Common Man. Man’s basic needs are food, clothing and shelter (roti, kapda aur makaan) and if he starts yearning for a 3 course meal, an Armani suite or a palatial bungalow his aspirations transforms into a need.

A Common Man’s basic requirement when it comes to travelling is a good public transport with the best of infrastructure which benefits the general public at large. Will Nano be able to fulfill the demand supply gap of what the Common Man actually need? A Common Man does not require an air conditioner with heater facilities or a front power windows.

Also heard the officials of Tata Nano has plans to take Nano to US and Europe; which leaves us wondering do we have Common Man in US & Europe too; yeah could be possible as we have a high profile Chief Minister who says he always has been a CM (Common Man), he is a CM today and shall always remain a CM – Common Man. Incidentally this CM has launched a portal for an interaction with the Common Man - Aam Aadmi.

Please Please do let me know on who exactly is a Common Man?