Do brands matter? You bet they do. In India they probably matter a lot more. They are synonymous with social status. Consider the IIT brand. What does the IIT brand give you? A world class education, you would think! Of course, but that’s probably the least significant benefit you can get from an IIT. An IIT can bring you a) a fat pay cheque, b) a life-long flattery from acquaintances and c) a great deal in the wedding market.
Narrow minded? Nah, that’s how most of us Indians think. Let us explore the average Indian’s perception of the country’s most popular brands.
The average Indian’s Perspective:
IIT: Indians are super crazy about IITs. Every Indian parent wishes to get his child into an IIT.
The Indian kid is super duper crazy about IIT. So, after matriculation, the Indian kid forsakes all his hobbies and co-curricular interests and prepares for the most important battle of his life- The JEE.
IIM: Indian graduates are equally crazy about IIMs. If the IIT tag identifies you as a genius, young tech whiz, the IIM tag puts you on the ship of India’s Industrial captains.
In fact the IIT-IIM guy is the typical Middle Class Dream Boat. He is the cynosure of all eyes. A subject of admiration (and often adulation) among his friends, colleagues and relatives. What the IIT/IIM tag promises the average Indian is a better life. The newspaper reports on the astronomical salaries during the placement seasons at these hallowed campuses help bolster this promise.
A Job at Google: The middle class Indian loves MNCs. Now with a Desi CEO, even our Mausis and Nanis talk about Google. But what gets Indians really interested in Google? No, not Sundar Pichai. Not Google glasses or Google’s driver less cars. It’s the jaw-dropping Crore-plus salary which a job at Google promises you. Had Google payed pittances like some other IT company, driver less cars or glasses notwithstanding, nobody would give the Google recruit a passing glance.
IAS: The IAS is the embodiment of authority and power. Easily the most respected civilian job holder in the country. Everybody is in awe of the IAS officer. Relatives consider you an asset. Your acquaintances pester you to get things done. You become an instant hit in the Great Indian Wedding Market. Even IIT/IIM grads consider appearing for the IAS.
Ivy League: Indians love foreign degree holders. To the average Indian, whether you do it from MIT/Harvard or Hofstra University does not quite matter. Most people can’t differentiate one from the other. Maybe there’s something boring about having an all Desi profile. Maybe that’s why relatives really boast about you and flaunt you to their friends and acquaintances. You are an asset on display when you return home after your PG. Want to avoid that? Here’s an advice. Don’t return. (Just Kidding)
A more rational perspective:
On a serious note, all the brands we’ve talked about are indeed worthy of respect. Each of them requires a significant effort to achieve. So roasting them doesn’t undermine their greatness. That said, it would be so much better if our obsession with brands subsided a little bit!
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.