Mumbai Capital

Being Indian is cool again

Anant Rangaswami  

“The #100sareepact began as a pact between two friends to wear their sarees one hundred times in 2015 and to tell their saree stories. This became a catalyst for many more to join in from all over the world to show the sarees they had some love.

Soon, a saree narrative began to emerge, a narrative that through the medium of the saree began to weave stories of triumph and stories of tribute. Stories about relationships, about all that we hold dear to us have been shared and we invite you to join in the celebration.”

So says the ‘about us’ section on 100sareepact.com.

The day anyone involved in the saree business, be it the weaver, the trader, the loom worker or the salesman at a saree shop heard or read about this, his heart must have done a couple of cartwheels.

The more this ‘movement’ gets popular, the safer his future is.

And when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was hosted by his Singapore counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, at Komala Vilas in Singapore, all those in the South Indian/Udipi food business must have done a jig.

I do a jig each time I’m in Delhi, Mumbai or Bengaluru airports as I know I can get great idlis (with molaga podi and chutney) and filter coffee at either idli.com or Vaango or MTC.

For those with tastes skewed to northern food, their comfort food, be it bhel puri or pani puri or chole bhature, is available now at airports across the country.

Whether it’s the saree, idli or the chole bhature, what we’re seeing is a slow and steady return to authenticity. India has gone through a phase when local was uncool. We wore western clothes and ate western foods to demonstrate our ‘advancement’. It extended even to our languages, when speaking in our mother tongues in offices and public spaces embarrassed us.

And now we’ve reached a stage where suited and booted executives, both male and female, in complete public view, dig into the food that mother made, and female executives are rushing to the saree stores to buy another new saree, show off another new saree.

What about languages, you ask? I was in Delhi a few days ago to attend the ‘Google for India’ event, the highlight of which was the keynote by the very authentic Indian, Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

He spoke about how the future growth of the Internet in India would come from the non-English speaking part of the country, how content would have to be created for those who spoke only in Tamil or Malayalam and Bengali and so on.

Content in these languages, in audio and video, would have to be created even for those who can’t read or write in their own languages but can understand them.

Google has to accelerate and aid the process of the localisation of the internet, because that’s where their growth in India lies. That’s where the consumer is, and the money.

That’s one of the reasons why Senthil Kumar has been named the Chief Creative Officer of J Walter Thompson, one of the largest advertising agencies in India. He is fluent in at least two Indian languages, Kannada and Tamil and competent in two others, Malayalam and Hindi. English? Of course he’s comfortable there.

What about the men and women in our world of marketing? Are they comfortable wearing sarees and speaking in Malayalam at T3? As in the case of Google, it is in the ‘other’ part of India and in the vernacular that the low hanging fruit are found.

Mull on that while I finish my thayir chadam.

(The writer is editor, Storyboard)

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 6:53:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/business/being-indian-is-cool-again/article8013188.ece

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