Populous India is Popular India

In 1951, India conducted its first census. Since then, every 10 years like clockwork India has been conducting its census. The Indian census is quite an affair, superseded only by the election in the breadth of logistical and operational challenges that it poses. No undertaking in the world is more complex than the Indian elections.

The last census was conducted in 2011.

Spread across 28 states and 8 union territories, the census covered 640 districts, 5,924 sub-districts, 7,935 towns and more than 600,000 villages. A total of 2.7 million officials visited households in 7,935 towns and 600,000 villages, classifying the population according to gender, religion, education and occupation. The cost of the exercise was approximately ₹2,200 crore (US$280 million) – this comes to less than $0.50 per person, well below the estimated world average of $4.60 per person. Conducted every 10 years, this census faced big challenges considering India’s vast area and diversity of cultures and opposition from the manpower involved.

Source: Wikipedia

2.7 million officials! Just to put that in perspective, that is a little more than the population of Lithuania or half the population of Denmark.

Thanks to COVID-19, the census never happened in 2021 and is slated to take place sometime in October 2023.

In 2011, India’s population was 1.210 Billion.

people walking during daytime
Photo by Laurentiu Morariu on Unsplash

In the intervening decade, the standards of living have gone up and millions 500,000 officially were lost to COVID. Not to mention, the current government has done everything in its power to devastate all statistical bodies including the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) and the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO). This was meant to manufacture growth number post demonetisation in 2016 which decimated the economy. 

So much so that the RBI at one point, when it still had a governor with a spine, commented that the economic data had to be taken with a grain of salt and deemed it “somewhat unreliable”.

On 24th April somebody in the UN “projected” that the Indian population has surpassed that of China. 

The latest estimates and projections of global population from the United Nations, indicate that China will soon cede its long-held status as the world’s most populous country. In April 2023, India’s population is expected to reach 1,425,775,850 people, matching and then surpassing the population of mainland China (figure 1).

India’s population is virtually certain to continue to grow for several decades. By contrast, China’s population reached its peak size recently and experienced a decline during 2022. Projections indicate that the size of the Chinese population will continue to fall and could drop below 1 billion before the end of the century.

Source: UN

Given all of the factors mentioned above, this must be taken with a large grain of salt. If this is true, India would have added the equivalent of the working adult population of the United States in the last 12 years. 

India’s population is not radically different from what it was a month ago. It may have changed by a few thousand, but not all that much. It nevertheless seems to have had a huge psychological impact on businesses.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said he was very bullish on India and that was the reason why Apple was investing in retail and online stores in the country and putting out a significant amount of energy here.

Speaking on the post-pandemic opportunity in India in the first quarter earning call, he said, “We actually did fairly well through COVID in India and I’m even more bullish now, hopefully on the other side of it. I’m very bullish on India.’‘

Source: The Hindu

Apple does not offer many of its online services including Apple Fitness in India. India is one of the last countries where most of its products are released. Till 30 days ago, the company did not even have a company-owned store in India. But he is bullish.

Hospitality major Airbnb’s cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky is betting big on the Indian market and expects the country to be the startup’s biggest growth market in the current decade.

“From a business perspective, India is an exciting new market for us. We now have 1,000 employees there, and I believe it will be one of the biggest growth markets, if not the biggest, in this decade,” Chesky told The Economic Times.

Noting that India is well poised to have the world’s biggest middle class in future, Chesky said that rising internet penetration and GDP would enable the company to build a ‘really important business’ in the country.

Source: Inc42

After one and a half decades, Airbnb figured out India exists! In India, Airbnb is the last place you turn to, to find lodging. But “Big Bets”.

US network gear maker Cisco today announced manufacturing plans for Tamil Nadu, India, as its chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins asserted that the company is bullish about India market and its prospects.

The company, in a statement, said it is targeting over USD 1 billion in combined exports and domestic production.

Source: NDTV

This is partly motivated by the need to hedge against China whose relationships are growing more and more frosty with the US. But at the same time, it is also the “largest nation” tag that is playing on their minds. 

The fact is that the middle class in India is very different from the middle class in a developed country. A middle-class household in India has an average monthly salary of Rs 8000 ($95) per person per month. With that much money, let alone the iPhone, the household cannot afford the myriad connectors and cables one is forced to buy when one buys an iPhone.

The population that consumer brands end up targeting in India is about 10 million people. CRED an app that bills itself as one catering to the upper crest of India has 11.2 million users as of FY22.

Frankly, it does not matter whether we have the largest population or not. It is a great advertisement and it is causing many companies to take notice and try to include India in their roadmap if not for any other reason, to signal to the investors about avenues of growth. 

In the late 90s, the young English-speaking population attracted global attention, which led to the outsourcing boom in India. It resulted in wealth creation for a lot of young graduates. Between the BPOs and KPOs, there were a lot of jobs to be had. It changed the face of India.

More than anything else, it changed what one could aspire to be. There were only three people who could run large businesses in 1980s India, Tata, Birla and Ambani. Come the 2000s not only did more people dare but also more of them found success.

The attention attracted by being the most populous nation alone has the potential to turn a possibility into a self-fulfilling prophecy. 






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