There is always a risk in talking about things with which we are unfamiliar but what’s life without a risk? So here goes: As far as I understand it, the post Industrial Revolution world has been characterised by a series of economic opportunities for the common man which has allowed him to escape the clutches of poverty and predictability.
First there was the American ‘Wild West’, the land of opportunity for downtrodden Europeans constricted by the limitations of social prejudice. There were few ways to work your way out of the lower classes so many workers opted to board a ship for the New World. Some of the early travellers, of course, didn’t have a choice and were thrown on board in leg-irons.
They trekked across the continent to join the Gold Rush and seek their fortune in the 1850s. It was a tough, uncompromising life which often ended in premature death. And most of those who did prosper and make a success of their dreams did so in fields of endeavour that were both outside their usual area of expertise and nothing to do with the pursuit of gold itself.
Trading posts offering food, water, clothing and ‘comfort’ to the prospectors prospered more than the dust covered dreamers. Ingenuity and creativity usually served people better than sheer, bloody-minded determination.
India is today’s land of opportunity. Some people do travel to this vast land to seek their fortune but there are so many people here already that it’s hard for them to sniff out an opportunity. Businessmen and corporates which already have a fortune come to India to double it, or quadruple it, but it is the hundreds of millions of common men who now have the chance to work their way out of the slums. (Yes, there are still even more hundreds of millions whose lives and prospects were decided at birth, but things are changing.)
Most of the changes are related to the country’s burgeoning IT industry and the fact that even poor Indians are able to reach beyond their tiny pavement dwellings to the rest of the world. I know a South African business woman whose PA lives and works in Bangalore – she has never even met him and yet she relies on him and trusts him as though they had been together for a decade. How clever is that?!
But not all opportunities are web based and the confidence born of the internet is spreading to many other walks of life. I was jogging through a very well-to-do area of Chennai a couple of days ago and was stopped by a couple of men and presented with a business card on the assumption that I was a resident of the area.
“Victoria House Keeping Service” it proclaimed at the top before listing the services they offered:
*Individual House & Office Cleaning * Man Power Suppling * Marbel Polishing * Floor Scripping * Carpet Shamping * Sofa and Chair Shamping * Tolet Cleaning.
The proprietors name was Soloman Kumar and he deserves 100% for effort and imagination, if not for spelling. In fact, let me give you his number – you never know when you might need a cleaning service in Chennai: +91 994 193 1606.
The World Cup is providing dreams for millions of people – and opportunities for a few less. If you thought South African entrepreneurs tried to make the most of the 2010 soccer World Cup, you should see India.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.