Bharat Darshan is a part of our ongoing effort to understand India, as it changes form and flexes shapes in ways known and unknown.
Do we consume technology or does technology consume us?
Our 2016 Bharat Darshan plunged headfirst into the wired and the wireless, the connected and the disconnected, the simple and the complex world of all things tech.
From government offices bumping up to a paperless status to street corners teeming with free wifi hopefuls, there was a lot unsaid yet uncovered in our journey through India’s heart.
Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Bareilly, Berharampur, Nashik, Hyderabad, Rajamundry and Vellore were mapped in this round of exploration.
And they didn’t disappoint.
The first thing we understood was that technology isn’t the easiest thing to grasp. The way it changes us, psychologically, in language and lingo, mannerisms and habits, in relationships and communication, and how this (almost) invisible entity has made us impossibly dependent on itself was a pretty huge eye-opener for us.
What’s even more interesting is how interactions between the real world and the one created virtually hop between being blurred and being so completely different, depending on where we look at those lines from.
Are there new boundaries created by tech?
What about fantasies and the possibilities of them coming true, even if virtually? What about trust, insecurities, and secrecy? And expectations and compromise?
How do the parameters of self-image and confidence change with interactions that happen on social media?
Is there a new social hierarchy? And a new meaning of boredom? How are emotions being dealt with?
How has it impacted opportunities, imagination, and creativity? Education and job creation?
The possibilities and improbabilities of the whys, hows and whats gave us a collection of stories we refer to for brands that are interested in really understanding how the intangibles also have the power to make real, tangible changes. The fluidity and the ever-changing nature of technology match our eagerness for a revisit and also find opportunities to share this knowledge. Sooner than later, we hope.
How about snacking on observations and having insights for meals.
Fancy? Wishful? Mouth-watering?
Our 2015 Bharat Darshan was nothing less than that.
Patiala, Lucknow, Patna, Vijaywada, Coimbatore and Rajkot became labs for our Food explorations.
Where food is not something that we just eat, but becomes a medium to understand the various social and personal experiences.
It tells stories of families, relationships, social roles, health, indulgences, consumption patterns, individuality.
Bharat Darshan is like a jump into the unknown. You are not sure where it will take you.
Meandering through the streets of India you suddenly find yourself being served snacks at somebody’s house, or chatting with a sweet shop owner, or having conversations with an industrialist over dinner.
It tells us how India is engaging with food in newer ways.
What are the boundaries of flirtation with food?
What do chocolate samosa, Chinese bhel and chicken golgappa reveal about the food mash-up culture brewing all over the country?
What are the differences between familiar indulgences and irresistible junk food?
What is the interplay between home-food and outside-food?
What this allows us is to help food brands align their offering with the changing food consumer.
Where does the individual belong?
To the city, to the town, to past, to present, to future?
How do individuals form their identity in shape-shifting spaces?
These are becoming key questions for a nation in transition.
That’s why this Bharat Darshan we looked at the stories of transition.
Transitions are not always physical; they happen in minds as well.
What changes when people move from one culture to another?
Behavior, fashion sense, consumption, value system?
We went to Haryana, Assam, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kolkata mapping the journeys of people from the place of origin to the destination.
We traced back the life stories of people who have moved to metros by going back to their small towns and even villages.
Deep dive into the stories of these individuals tell us about their conflicts and what is the inadvertent impact on the fabric of our society.
They allow us to reframe the brands and the categories in a way that they start empathizing with the consumers and the realities of their life while simultaneously speaking the language of change.
What if we tell you that small town India won’t grow up to be metropolitan India?
What if we tell you that the brands approaching them with a linear ‘trickle down’ effect are in for a big surprise?
What if we tell you that they are actually inventing their own syntax to live by and not following the prescribed templates handed down to them?
When we explored the emerging cities and the nature of change, we realized there is much more to the cities than what meets the eye.
A journey to 11 states, 30 towns told us that with-in every old town resides a new town, at times merging and becoming one with each other and at other times remaining staunchly separate and barely speaking to one another.
Understanding the trajectory of change requires gate crashing into these cities and have free flowing conversations with people at different vantage points.
This enriching journey gave us powerful insights about how they negotiate change.
Essentially, in people’s stories, lay hidden the changing idea of the cities they inhabit.
This was our first Bharat Darshan.
A journey that was meant to be.
An exercise that is a natural consequence of being at Futurebrands.
This is an expression of our quest; a deeper yearning to see the people of India, up close and personal.
Futurebrands is an organization with ‘culture’ as the fountainhead of its thinking and way of working.
It firmly believes that great brands cannot be created unless one deeply understands the culture it resides in.
The secondary view on India and the conventional marketing understanding which strictly is a narrow view of category and brands, leaves much to be desired.
It does not satiate our desire to see the real in all its textures and graininess.
Therefore we set out on a journey to understand India, its culture and its people and get a first hand view of what’s happening.
Equipped with cameras, Dictaphones, notepads and above all eyes full of curiosity we headed out to ‘see’ India.
To have a Darshan, a glimpse that will throw some light on how our country is moving ahead.
It’s a desire to understand India from a more empathic vantage point.
It doesn’t look at India from the confines of a metro city but takes a panoramic view at the vastness of small town India.