About INgene blog : First ever Indian Youth trend Insights blog

About INgene : First ever Indian Youth trend Insights blog:
This blog explores the detailed characteristics of Young-India and explains the finer & crucial differences they have with their global peers. The blog also establishes the theory of “adopted differentiation” (Copyright Kaustav SG,2007) and how the Indian & Inglodian youth are using this as a tool to differentiate themselves from the “aam aadmi” (mass population of India) to establish their new found identity.

The term youth refers to persons who are no longer children and not yet adults. Used colloquially, however the term generally refers to a broader, more ambiguous field of reference- from the physically adolescent to those in their late twenties.
Though superficially the youth all over the world exhibits similar [degree of] attitude, [traits of] interests & [deliverance of] opinion but a detailed observation reveals the finer differential characteristics which are crucial and often ignored while targeting this group as a valued consumer base. India is one of the youngest countries in the world with 60% of its population less then 24 years of age and is charted as the most prospective destination for the retail investment in the A. T. Kearney’s Global Retail Opportunity Report, 2007. With the first ever non-socialistic generation’s thriving aspiration & new found money power combined with steadily growing GDP, bubbling IT industry and increasing list of confident young entrepreneurs, the scenario appears very lucrative for the global and local retailers to target the “Youngisthan” (young-India). But, the secret remains in the understanding of the finer AIOs of this generation. The Indian youth segment roughly estimates close to 250million (between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five) and can be broadly divided (socio-psychologically) into three categories: the Bharatiyas, the Indians & the Inglodians (copyright Kaustav SG 2008). The Bharatiyas estimating 67% of the young population lives in the rural (R1, R2 to R4 SEC) areas with least influence of globalization, high traditional values. They are least economically privileged, most family oriented Bollywood influenced generation. The Indians constitute 31.5% (A, B,C, D & E SEC) and have moderate global influence. They are well aware of the global trends but rooted to the Indian family values, customs and ethos. The Inglodians are basically the creamy layers (A1,A SEC) and marginal (1.5% or roughly three million) in number though they are strongly growing (70% growth rate). Inglodians are affluent and consume most of the trendy & luxury items. They are internet savvy & the believers of global-village (a place where there is no difference between east & west, developing & developed countries etc.), highly influenced by the western music, food, fashion & culture yet Indian at heart.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The human ATM

The geographic and economic constrains of this subcontinent are bringing professional opportunities to many young aspirants!

Swati Yashwant, a 29-year-old mother of one, is part of a growing legion of roving tellers (human ATM) intent on providing bank accounts to the nearly 50 percent of India’s 300 million households that do not have them. Using a laptop computer, wireless modem and fingerprint scanner, Ms. Yashwant opens accounts, takes deposits and processes money transfers for farmers and migrant workers in this small town 70 miles south of Mumbai, India’s financial capital.

To reduce the risk of robbery or theft, no transaction by law may exceed 10,000 rupees (about $212). And in practice, many amount to no more than a dollar or two. But with the bulk of India’s population living in villages that have never had a bank branch, Ms. Yashwant, with her electronic devices, is a missionary of financial modernity.

Many Indians “don’t know anything about banking,” she said in her small office here, which is decorated with a garlanded picture of Ganesh, the Hindu god believed to remove obstacles. “I want to open their accounts and help them understand banking.”
Economists and policy makers say mobile agents like Ms. Yashwant represent one of the most promising ways to help the rural poor save and protect their money. Many people in India who do not have bank accounts, for instance, buy gold necklaces or simply keep cash in their unlocked homes.

“This is something that could be powerful,” said Abhijit V. Banerjee, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who wrote “Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty” with Esther Duflo.

The banking agents enable the poor to easily save money they otherwise might be tempted to spend, Mr. Banerjee said. And when times are lean, people could withdraw money they had saved, instead of borrowing cash at high rates of interest. The accounts earn currently earn 4 percent annual interest, which is standard for savings accounts in India. There are no maintenance fees or charges for deposits or withdrawals. “It’s true that this will not make them rich,” Mr. Banerjee said, “but it will make them less likely to face starvation someday.” Ms. Yashwant is one of an estimated 60,000 of what Indian bankers call “business correspondents,” who are not bank employees but earn commissions that the banks pay them for each transaction.

The Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank, began the push for banking correspondents about five years ago. After slow initial growth, the central bank predicts the ranks of correspondents will more than double, to 126,000, by March. The Reserve Bank has ordered commercial banks to set up correspondents in every village with more than 2,000 people and has assigned each of those villages to one bank or another.

For India’s banks, it is a relatively inexpensive way to recruit customers. While about 70 percent of India’s population is dispersed among more than 600,000 villages, the entire country has only 33,500 bank branches. Correspondents like Ms. Yashwant have set up 74 million bank accounts in India.

“If you used the traditional high-cost banking system, you will never reach these people,” said Jayant Sinha, who is managing director of the India office of Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm set up by Pierre M. Omidyar, the founder of eBay.

Ms. Yashwant has been a correspondent in Kolad for four months, for State Bank, India’s biggest bank. The $200 or so she earns in an average month is a good wage in rural India, where the average monthly income is only about $65.

Traveling by bus or rickshaw to villages around her town to recruit customers, Ms. Yashwant meets a variety of challenges. In some remote villages her wireless Internet connection fades in and out. Frequent blackouts disrupt the work. And the fingerprint scanner can struggle to read the calloused fingers of farm laborers.
On a recent rain-soaked afternoon, in her Kolad office, she patiently persevered to take a print from Rajashri Nakati, a 35-year-old farmhand. “I want to save my money,” said Ms. Nakati, a mother of five. “If I leave it at home, it will get spent.”

Ms. Yashwant dragged Ms. Nakati’s rough fingers over her scanner several times, sighing as her laptop beeped when the scan did not render an acceptable imprint. She repeated the exercise with six fingers, three on each hand, as a gaggle of women, friends and relatives of Ms. Nakati, dressed in brightly colored saris watched through a window.

Finally, Ms. Yashwant captured a print. That scan, with a simple one-page application and a passport-size photo of Ms. Nakati, would next go to the bank’s back office. It would take two days before the account was ready for Ms. Nakati’s first deposit of 100 rupees (about $2).

Such banking represents the kind of “frugal innovation” that India has become known for in recent years — finding inexpensive solutions to its development challenges.

State Bank is also buying hundreds of solar-powered A.T.M.’s that have fingerprint scanners and do not need air-conditioning at temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) from an Indian company called Vortex Engineering. The machines are being placed in small towns, and, for now, are meant for customers who open regular bank accounts, not the no-frills accounts set up by the roving correspondents, which do not come with A.T.M. cards.

Because of the small sums involved, State Bank says it loses money on most of the accounts opened by correspondents. The balances in those accounts total 1.1 billion rupees ($21.8 million), not even a rounding error relative to State Bank’s total deposits of about $200 billion.

Still, officials said that while the average account balance was only 160 rupees ($3.30) at the end of August, it has increased steadily. As recently as March, the average balance was just 100 rupees. Over time, State Bank officials say, they expect the accounts to be large enough to be worth the bank’s investment. “Right now, it’s more of a social obligation,” Krishna Kumar, a managing director at State Bank, said in his wood-paneled 18th-floor office in Mumbai. “But in a few years, it will be significant.”

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