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Consumer India: Inside the Indian Mind and Wallet by Dheeraj Sinha

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CHAPTER 2

THE CURRENCY OF EMOTION

THE MEANING OF MONEY AND THE MAKING OF FINANCIAL BRANDS

The Carrier of Emotions

The idea of money in India is fascinating because it’s driving all the change (well, nearly all) that the country is going through, without in any way undergoing any change itself. In the context of a changing India, where everything from our ambitions to attitudes to attire is under review, the color of money in India isn’t changing. The biggest driver of change has managed to keep its own meaning system intact. Money continues to be a carrier of all the traditional symbolisms—if anything, it’s on a much bigger scale now.

Money in India is an emotional currency. Every emotion in this country can be enveloped in a transaction. And every transaction needs a coating of emotion. For example, it’s a ritual in India to bless the younger ones by giving money. The significance here is the gesture, not the monetary value of what’s being given. In the Rs.101 that a grandfather gives to his grandchild, he is delivering more love and blessings than any hundred-rupee note can ever carry. With a Rs.51 gift at the Rakshabandhan (the festival celebrating the brother-sister relationship), a brother promises to his sister that he will be there for her come what may. Money in India is not only a carrier of blessings and promises; it carries prayers as well. It is common practice to offer money in denominations that end with one rupee—such as 51, 101, and so on—to gods and at shrines. ...

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