You can sell most anything in India if you are able to concoct a religious angle to it. And I don’t necessarily mean this in a cynical way. Faith, religion and mythology weave in a complicated manner and continue to dictate many dimensions of people’s lives — including some that hardly have anything to do with faith or religion or mythology.
Businesses have dutifully taken advantage of this system and included them in their sales campaigns by incorporating something intangible or immeasurable with their products or services [To be sure, I am not suggesting that everything should be tangible or measurable — my thoughts are far from that].
Gold is one example — India consumes about 15% of world’s gold and the demand has grown at 13% per year (>300% from 10 years ago), while the GDP growth is less than half of that. A lot of this has to do with gold’s association with good omen.
If you are a devout Hindu, you are likely to be observing something for a majority of the days in a year. One of those occasions is Akshaya Tritiya, the trigger for this blog-post. Ten or fifteen years ago, this festival had much less significance relatively speaking and several decades ago, even less. Last decade or so has been a sprawl of gold traders capitalizing on this humble concept and stretching it very far — according to one source, gold sales on this day alone is around 5% of the annual consumption and estimated at about 55 tons. In retail terms, this translates to slightly over Rs 12, 000 crores (Rs 126 billion or $2.8 billion).
Today, WSJ reports about Akshaya Tritiya — which is not ironical at all. In fact, so has FT. Consider what 1000 tons of gold could do a country’s economy.
Now rest of the businesses are onto extending the concept of a.kshaya (no limit or abundance) to other high-value items like cars, real estate etc…
Superstitions or no superstitions — I think gold is an excellent security and without that aspect, India and its people won’t be dumping all their hard-earned money into it. So in another way of looking it, they are merely attaching emotions to something that just makes good financial sense.