(This chapter is the part of Kaustav's book "What's Up Yaar : Understanding youth in India")
“Indefinite peacocks: definite desire”
Why the hell a male peacock (peafowl) spreads his wings and “dances”? Nops, not that he wants to show-off his “beauty” to us who visits a zoo nor he thinks spreading wings will bring him a reward from the zoo keeper (unlike monkeys who knows that if they jumps the zoo keeper will give him a banana)... then?
Yes, I know u have a better answer....that, male peacock’s dance is a courtshipping behaviour. They try to impress potential partners. The problem for the male peacocks is, that while they are dancing, it is hard to escape predators. Especially when they are displaying the tail in forest.... but still the urge to find the right mate compels them to take the risk! Interestingly, various human tribes around the world picked up the movements of male peacock and exhibited the dancing skills mostly performed by the female species and not as a courtshipping act!
But, again, how the spreading of wings ensures that the male peacock is most suited one for the approaching peahen (female peacock)? Why not any other acts (shouting like a female frog or displaying chivalry by a loin)? Well, the dance (movements, grace etc.) and the display of wings (the quality and arrangement of feathers...the way lights reflect from them etc.) exhibit that the peacock is very healthy and hence a most suitable partner for the approaching peahen. Male peacocks display their iridescent feathers for prospective female mates. Females may check out the feathers of a number of different males before deciding on a suitor. The length and quality of a male peacock's feathers can indicate his age, vigour, and status. But, why only the male peacock “dances”, why they needs to attract the female? Why not the other sex? Well there must be many reasons, and one common reason is that the male peacocks are polygamous! As per various researchers the evolution of sexual dimorphism relies on a difference between the forces of sexual selection acting upon each sex (Freeman & Herron, 2004, p. 376). This differential of forces is closely tied to the distribution of reproductive control. Generally, males have a virtually unlimited supply of extremely small and inexpensive gametes, meaning they are rarely the bottleneck in the reproductive process (Alcock, 2005, p. 373; Freeman & Herron, 2004, pp. 376-377). Conversely, females produce large, relatively expensive gametes in far lower quantities, a trend that usually dictates their role as the limiting reproductive reagent (Alcock, 2005, p. 373; Freeman& amp; Herron, 2004, pp. 376-377). In addition, females often provide the greatest proportion of parental care to their offspring, with their reproductive success depending mostly on how many eggs they can produce and how well they can raise their young to maturity (Alcock, 2005, p. 373). Though the situation is reversed in some species, males resort to polygyny, obtaining as many mates as possible in order to enhance their reproductive success (Freeman& amp; Herron, 2004, p. 376). With a higher variation in mating success, males are most frequently exposed to greater forces of sexual selection than females (Freeman & Herron, 2004, p. 377). Furthermore, sexual selection can act upon a species in two main ways: Intrasexually, as males compete with males and females compete with females (e.g., sperm competition, infanticide and combat) and intersexually, as males and females attempt to attract members of the opposite sex (Freeman & Herron, 2004, p. 380; Moller & Pomiankowski, 1993). Though male-male intrasexual selection is a considerable force in many species, it is female preference for certain desirable males that makes the final decision since females controls the sought after eggs (Alcock, 2005, p. 365).
You must be wondering why I am explaining these in details when the book is supposed to focus on Indian youth’s contemporary socio-psychology. The scenario prevalent among peacocks is now common among the youth in India!
“Hope in a tube vs. Men in glows!”
Let’s consider few facts. Based on McCann Erickson's Consumer Insights Report the desire for fairness as an essential physical attribute has been steadily on the rise over the past few decades. Out of the current $180 million skin care market in India, which is growing by 10 to 15 percent annually, more than half of the revenues are now generated by fairness products alone. Among many, the undisputed leader of fairness cream is HUL’s “Fair & Lovely”. In company’s own language “Fair & Lovely was launched in 1975 and Indian women finally found hope in a tube”! The brand is marketed primarily to young women in the 18-35 year age bracket. Considered to be the most elite of the fairness creams, the price of a standard tube of Fair & Lovely best suits the middle class and above, but it is sold in many corner shops and drug store in cities across India. Indeed, at the rural level, Fair & Lovely is being made available to poor villagers in the form of inexpensive sachets. South India (where the population is dominated by people with darker complexions) is the largest market, while the relatively fairer populations in Northern and Western India each have a smaller yet significant market share. However, even though Fair& amp; Lovely is one of the leading fairness cream brands, it faces growing competition from cheaper skin-whitening products, such as Revlon's Fair & Glow and CavinKare's Fairever.
As per Neilson Co. Data the men’s fairness cream market was Rs.200 crore in year 2010. The first ever fairness cream was launched by a Kolkata based personal care product manufacturer Emami Limited in the year 2005 as “Fair and Handsome” in the southern state of India, Andhra Pradesh. According to the Confederation of Indian Industries report (CII) on the fast moving consumer goods segment in India, men’s fairness cream segment has seen a growth of 28% in July September quarter of 2010 which is higher than over all growth of fairness segment!
A report on the share of spending on apparel-All India and zones (by The Knowledge Company, Technopak and published in The Marketing Whitebook-2009-2010) shows that Indian men spends 9% in the accessories where as the women spends 8%! A snap poll conducted by TIMESLife! in five metros -Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore - on the spending habits of youngsters, indicated that only young Kolkatans seem to be saving, from their average allowance of Rs 2,000 per month. Girls saved up to 13 per cent while boys kept about nine per cent aside. The rest of the country's youngsters seem to be blowing up their entire allowance and not managing to save anything. Looking good and appearances are important and youngsters across India spend the most each week on clothes, mobile phones and going out as per the study. Boys from the South were found more romantic as compared to their counterparts in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. In Bangalore and Chennai, boys spent 18 per cent and 13 per cent respectively on their girlfriends while Mumbai and Delhi boys spent five percent and Kolkata spent just one per cent on dating and girlfriends.
A global research, carried out for Travelodge (2011), found that on an average morning men spend 23 minutes in the shower, compared to 22 minutes for women. On average men spend 81 minutes a day on personal grooming, including cleansing, toning and moisturising, shaving, styling hair and choosing clothes, the study found. Women have their beauty regime down to a fine art and get hair, clothes and make-up done in just 75 minutes. Men then take 18 minutes on their shaving regime, compared to 14 minutes for women despite them having to trim legs, armpits and bikini line. Men take a minute longer - 10 minutes - on cleansing, toning and moisturizing.
The thriving business of gyms or fitness clubs, spas and salons in India are now focusing on men’s grooming. Kaya skin care started separate product & services for men with a note that“Men need skin care too. Men's skin is thicker and more oily compared to women's skin. They are exposed to the sun, pollution and prone to excessive sweating, which is why Kaya brings to you skin care exclusive for men”. In an article titled “Why men are romancing spas” was published at DNA (Daily News & Analysis) newspaper dtd. March25th 2010 from Bangalore stated “...This is the beauty ritual of many men in the city who now believe that spa treatments are a lifestyle investment. They reserve most of their weekends for visits to the spa, for procedures that could take anywhere between three to eight hours. Oum Pradutt, founder, Phase 1, loves spas and has set apart three days in a month just for them. “I don’t think going to the spa is a luxury anymore, it is a necessity,” he says. “I also feel that I deserve this treat. I am in an industry that is very stressful and after a spa treatment, I feel like I am floating on a cloud. I often gift spa vouchers to my employees too.” Nina Bual, director, The Spa.ce, a city spa, finds that many men in the city are addicted to being pampered. “Ninety per cent of the clients in a spa are men nowadays,” she says. “There are special spa packages for them, like the Just for Men spa treatment that costs Rs 4,100. Massages have been around for thousands of years in our country and have been associated with good health and well-being. People have re-discovered them now.” Netscribes (India) Pvt. Ltd., a knowledge consulting solutions company, published a report as Wellness Services Market in India 2010 covering an industry which is expected to witness phenomenal growth (INR400bn. By 2014). The rise in discretionary expenditure and changing consumer lifestyle is expected to fuel the demand for wellness services.
Why the boys in India are spending more on accessories, fairness creams, gifts for their girlfriends and grooming? In-spite of their stressful career why they are visiting the wellness centers? The affinity is stronger among the young, single working men (in their late 20s or 30s) at the fastest growing cities like Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmadabad etc. where they stays alone / with peers; away from their helicoptering parents and family.
According to the recent census(2011) report India has male population as 628,800,000 (628.4 million) and female population as 591,400,000 (591.4 million). According to the report 'Power, Voice and Rights: A turning poing of gender equality” by the UNDP(2010), while India had 48.2 per cent female population at birth, Pakistan had 48.5, Bangladesh had 48.8 and Japan 51.1 per cent. The sex ratio at birth in India was 1.08.India also has 42.7 million women who were missing in the year 2007 and the mean age at marriage is 20 for women and 25 for men. According to the report, almost half the adult women in South Asia are illiterate, more than in any other region in the world. But interestingly, Cabinet in India has recently approved the introduction of a bill which would reserve one third of the seats in parliament and state legislative assemblies for women. 33 per cent of seats in local bodies in rural and urban areas were reserved for women, with some states reserving up to fifty per cent.
Fortune India's November 2011issue ranked India's '50 Most Powerful Women in Business', for the first time. "Indian women span generations and today we find them in every field. Acquisitions, garnering profits, successful new ventures, pioneering concepts, snagging mega deals...all important factors, no doubt, when defining power. We looked at the changes they brought in, and the way they transformed businesses," says Dibyendra Nath Mukerjea, editor of Fortune India. The issue covered pivotal women like Bharatratna award winner Chanda Kochchar who heads ICICI Bank, Shikha Sharma, MD & CEO or Axis Bank, Mallika Srinivasan, Chairperson TAFE, Aruna Jayanthi, CEO Capegmini India, Vinita Bali, Managing Director, Britannia Industries etc. In IT, Bank and BPO sectors the women (mostly in their late 20s and mid 30s) are in slowly raising to power. Women workers constitute about one-third of the total Call Centre and BPO workforce in India and account for only 11 per cent of the leadership roles in senior management (Newsline Noember 2008).
Notice this interesting scenario. The literate, well placed and most desirable women are lesser in misbalanced population of India and over it the young men are becoming self sufficient to decide their own partners (rather than allowing their parents to select the right one). Hence, the peacock phenomenon prevails among Indian young men and the growing fight for best partner to select from the fewer options!
The young women are also becoming more confident to select the best partner and the only method to impress them is to become more desirable through grooming, accessorizing, and becoming “fair & handsome”!The above mentioned “look good” traits also collaboratively exhibit the money power a young man has in pocket which can satisfy the age old need of “safety and security” of an Indian female.
for more details about the book or this chapter, you can connect Kaustav at email@example.com