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Consumer Behavior of Bihar and Bengal

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Consumer Behavior of Subcultures of Bihar and Bengal

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Consumer Behavior of Bihar and Bengal

  1. 1. Argha Ray 26nmp15 Vivekanand 26nmp48
  2. 2. Contents Preface:.........................................................................................................................................................3 The Shaping of Consumer Behavior:.............................................................................................................3 Subculture:....................................................................................................................................................3 The Bihari Subculture:...................................................................................................................................4 The Bengali Subculture: ................................................................................................................................8 The Impact on Consumer Behavior: ...........................................................................................................10 Conclusion:..................................................................................................................................................12 References: .................................................................................................................................................12
  3. 3. Preface: The cover photo is an assortment of several cultures from Africa to Japan. It depicts the religious beliefs of Islam and the carnival of Brazil. It also shows the pipers of Scotland and the hunters of Zaire. The following flow however explores two subcultures of India from Bihar and Bengal unlike the Kuchipudi dance of Kerela shown above. The Shaping of Consumer Behavior: Several factors influence consumer behavior. They can be classified into internal factors or external environmental factors. The internal factors are: Motivation and Involvement Attitudes Personality and Self-Concept Learning and Memory Information Processing The external factors are: Cultural Influences Sub Cultural Influences Social Class Influences Social Group Influences Family Influences Personal Influences Other Influences This paper deals with Subculture within Cultural Influences.It also showcases how culture influencesbehavior in the Bihari and Bengali society. Subculture: Culture is heterogeneous. There exist more homogeneous sub groupswithin one culture. Indian culture has several sub groups. Among them the Bihari and Bengali subcultures hold a distinct place from the eastern provinces of the country. In a nutshell we will look at the various practices that are associated with both these cultures.
  4. 4. The Bihari Subculture: During the mid 80s economist Ashish Bose coined the term BIMARU as an acronym for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The term was often a prejorative term to associate the most backward states of India. The Hindi word of Bimar meaning sick may had been the inspiration for the acronym. Bihar as a State and Biharis as a race has never held a pride of a place in the collective Indian psyche. The reasons had been neumerous. Fertility rate was above national average. Literacy was dismal. Economic growth was declining. Corruption was ramphant and under development was cronic. The Lalu Prasad regime was associted with evrything that didn’t signify good governance. In popular culture Shekhar Suman, a Bihari himself, linked banter to the Bhojpuri dialect by mimicking Lalu’s unique oratorial styles. This became the potpurri of ridicule for everything and anything Bihari. During the 90s Indians across the country tuned into the television comedy series named Movers and Shakers for a dose of light laughter as Bihar reached its nadir. Lalu continued to rule bihar with his cotrie of henchmen milking the state exchequer and educated Biharis migrated to other parts of India. But these migrant workers were looked down upon by fellow Indians as the myth of an inferior race engulfed their social mileu to the point when many tried to disassociate with their distinct Bihari identity. But Bihar had history on its side from time immemorial. Chanakya was spent most of his life honing his skills in Patuliputra, present day Patna, the capital of Bihar. He was a pioneer in modern Economics and Political Science and wrote his scholarly treatise of Arthasasthra during the height of power of the Mauryan dynasty that ruled most of Northern India from Patuliputra under Chandragupta Maurya.Chanakya was popularly known as Kautilya and one of the shroudest political analyst of his time. He was India’s Machiavelli, the famous Florentine philosopher, who was the father of modern Political Science. His ruthless strategy of disposing the powerful Nanda Empire to establish the Muryan rule in Magadh entered Indian folklore. Bihar had other stalwarts as well. One of them in recent history has been Jai Prakash Narayan. He was one son of Bihar’s soil who changed the course of political narrative from a predominantly Congress one into peoples’ movement in one memorable speech at Gandhi Maidan in Patna.
  5. 5. Popularly known as JP or Lok Nayak, Jai Prakash Narayan was born in the remote village of Sitabdiara in Bihar. During the 70s he conceptulized the notion of Total Revolution against Indira Gandhi’s enactment of Emergency. Along with Ram Monohar Lohia, JP took part in the Quit India Movement under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership and later harvested the first seeds of Anti Congressism. Bihar had been an ancient seat of learning as well. Nalanda, located south east of Patna was a fledging center of higher learning under the Gupta dynasty and had considerable influence on Buddhism. It was ransacked by a Turkish Muslim army led by Bakhtiyar Khilji and remained in ruins for centuries. Legend has it that the invaders burned down the Nalanda Libray which consisted of manuscripts of Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang amongst its collection. The collection was so vast that it took 3 months for the blaze to subside. The university was a place of learning for Mathamatics, Astronomy, Anatomy, Alchemy and other subjects.It is an important tourist place for people across the world especially for Buddhists from China, Japan and Tibet. In 2013 the Government of India, China and Singapore revived the ancient site into Nalanda International University as a symbol of Asian Integration. Another place for pilgrimage for Buddhist’s is Bodh Gaya, where lord Buddha attained enlightment. Emperor Ashoka was the original builder of the Mahabodhi temple around the Mahabodhi tree on the banks of the Neranjana river. Around the world Buddhists flock together at Bodh Gaya in search of sacred devinity. The place is teeming with exiled Tibetians in search of refuge to follow the teachings of The Dalai Lama and orchestrate the Tibetian resistance for their motherland under occupation by the Chinese. The Chhath Festival holds a unique place in the Bihari religious beliefs. Every year Biharis celebrate the festival by worshipping the Hindu Sun god Surya by fasting, holy bathing and abstaining from drinking water during the month of Karthik according to the Hindu calendar. The Prasad, the prayer offerings, include coconut, banana, orange, incense sticks. After the fasting period known as Paran, Biharis resort to indulge in Non Vegetarian fare to satisfy their gastronomical urge. Other Bihari festivals include Shravan observed during Monsoons when Biharis in saffron clothes collect water from the river bank and bathe lord Siva in Deoghar. This ritual also
  6. 6. connotes abstinence from material life. During Pritti Paksha, Biharis offer Pind to their anscestors for solace in their afterlife. Water does have huge significance in Bihari religious parctices. The Karthik Purnima Snan is a holy dip in the sacred river of Ganges that concludes Tirtha or pilgrimage. Bathing in hot water springs at Rajgir Brahmakund relives Biharis from diseases. Food also plays an important role in Bihari religious practices. Sattu or powdered baked gram flour is an important ingredient in most Bihari dishes. It is often taken along with water or milk as energy drink. Litti is a ubiquitous Bihari snacks made from Sattu mixed with onion, green chilies and coriander and barbequed with Ghee. It is accompanied with Chokha made of mashed potato or eggplant. Perakia is made from flour, Suji and Khoya and is a specialty during the Ganesh Chaturthi and Teej festival. Teej is worship of Hindu god Siva and goddess Parvati by women bring long and healthy life to their husbands. Thekowa is a sweetmeat made from wheat flour and jaggery to round of a varied palate. Bihari are predominantly vegetarian but occasionally indulge on Non Vegetarian platter specially Chicken, Mutton and Fish from the Ganges and Gandak rivers.
  7. 7. Khaini, a form of smokeless chewing tobacco is a common addiction for Biharis. It is a commercial crop of North Bihar and quite popular. Bihar is also known for Litchis and is one of the largest producers in India. Especially the town of Muzzafarpur is famous for its Shahi Litchis full of succulent taste and aroma. Makhana or lotus seeds are unique to Bihar and considered a delicacy. It is also used for medicinal purposes and often treated in the same league as dry fruits. Sonepur Mela in Bihar is the largest cattle fair in Asia after the Puskar Mela. It is held during Karthik Poorima and had its origins during Chandragupta Maurya’s reign. Apart from cattle other animals are also bought and sold on this unique occasion. Bhagalpur is known as the Silk City of India. It is age old cottage industry producing high quality Tussar Silk and Saris. Madhubani Paintings is practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar and a centuries old tradition of hand crafted art. The music industry of Bihar is fueled by Bhojpuri, Magahi and Maithili folk songs. Sharda Sinha is an exponent of national acclaim and has been conferred the Padma Shri. Caste system is very rigid in Bihar. The Ranvir Sena formed by the Bhumihar Brahmins of Bihar is an armed militia raised for ethnic cleansing of Dalits. Bihari politics still is replete with representation on caste lines and littered with instances of mass massacres of low caste affiliates. Flood is an annual occurrence in North Bihar when each year thousands of people are displaced by the river Ganges. Overall all these factors have an influence on the consumer behavior of the Bihari population that is distinct from the rest of India. The new regime of Nitish Kumar has transformed Bihar from the brink of failure to a miracle economy growing in double digits.
  8. 8. The Bengali Subculture: Gopal Krishna Gokhale once said “What Bengal thinks today India thinks tomorrow”. That was however during the independence era. Over the course of next few decades Bengal gradually deteriorated as a fringe state with one of the largest debts among states in India. Industry shivered to come to the state and the existing ones gradually pulled away from the state. Most attribute this to militant trade unionism. But Bengal always romanticized with ideology and fell in love with Communism. The Communists ruled for 34 years at a stretch as Bengal’s economy shrank. Bengalis have always been politically conscious. They actively took part during the independence struggle and won freedom from the British yoke. The Communist Party of India Marxist came to power in Bengal in 1977 on the plank of land reforms and held power till 2011 before being defeated by the Mamata regime. During most of its rule the Communists drove out industry after industry from Bengal. The economy was in tatters as the party machinery established its stranglehold on all walks on Bengali life. Political killings became the norm and massacres in Bijan Setu and Marichjhapi went unnoticed. Bangladeshi refugees settled in Dandakaranya Island were forcibly evicted and many were murdered in cold blood by CPIM cadres in collusion with the state police. In Bijan Setu 16 Ananda Marga monks were burnt alive in broad daylight on a busy flyover by CPIM state committee members. But Bengal is also known for its luminaries. Rabindranath Tagore wrote two national anthems; one for India and the other for Bangladesh. Swami Vivekananda spread the message of Hinduism in the Parliament of World’s Religion in Chicago way back in 1893. Mahasweta Devi wrote Aranyer Adhikar to promote the cause of marginal tribals of Bengal. She won both the Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan and internationally was conferred with the Ramon Magsaysay award. Taslima Nasreen is as much a Kolkatan as she is Bangladeshi. Her work Lajja was a slight on Islamic fundamentalism as well as a guiding beacon on women’s emancipation.
  9. 9. Music is an important part of Bengali culture. The body of work by Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam are called Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Geeti respectively. The Santhali group dancing holds a unique place in the Bengali psyche. The Baul music of Santiniketan is mystic and heart rendering. Accompanied with their Ektara the Bauls exert considerable influence on Bengali culture. Football also holds pride of a place in the Bengali heart. The derby between arch rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan draws lakhs of people to the Yuva Bharati stadium in Kolkata. The Tram system is an age old transportation system in the heart of Kolkata. Though inefficient its place is more nostalgic than utilitarian. This system is available nowhere else except Kolkata. Hawkers run the parallel unorganized economy of Bengal. Operation Sunshine during the Left regime was a blot in the rich history of Kolkata when thousands lost their only source of livelihood as the administration swooped in to evict hawkers from the Kolkata pavements. Books are the soul of any Bengali. College Street in Kolkata is a dedicated alley where books of every kind from old to new are available. Betel leaves are used ubiquitously in any religious ceremony or consumed as an addiction. Bengalis cannot live without their fish. The most cherished is the Hilsa from the Padma river of Bangladesh. Bengalis also have a sweet tooth. The Rasgulla was discovered by Nabin Chandra Pal almost two centuries ago. The Jhalmuri is spiced parched rice taken as a street snacks. The Puli Pithas are kind of sweet dimsums made from wheat flour during the festival of Nabanna signifying the harvest season.
  10. 10. Two British legacies still stand tall in Kolkata. The Victoria Memorial hall is a museum dedicated to Queen Victoria. Lord Curzon built the monument and large parts of its inspiration came from the Taj Mahal. The Howrah Bridge connects the two banks of the river Hoogly. It is a unique cantilever bridge with its entire span suspended across the breadth of the river. Marriage ceremonies are quite elaborate in Bengal. It consists of several rituals. Paka Dekha is the final confirmation of the boy and the girl to enter into nuptial bliss. Gaye Holud is the turmeric ceremony when turmeric paste is applied on the bride. In Bou Bhaat the bride serves rice and ghee to her in laws. The marriage is consummated on a flower bed known as Phul Shojja. Betel and Fish again plays an important part during the rituals. Durga Puja is the most important festival of Bengal. All of Bengal dresses like a newlywed bride during the 4 days of the festival. Ritual drummers known as Dhakis are an integral part of the ritual of Dhonuchi Nitra where young boys and girls dance by holding jars with burning coconut husk in their hand and by the teeth. Sonagachi is the red light area of Kolkata. As tradition goes no idol of goddess Durga is made without soil from the by lanes of this forbidden place. All these richness in tradition is unique to the Bengali culture. The left regime has now been replaced by a street fighter in Mamata. But will Industry again come back to Bengal remains an unanswered question. But the Bengali intellect will continue to flower despite all odds and will fuel its inherent rebellious spirit. The Impact on Consumer Behavior: The above subcultural differences of the Bihari and Bengali societies also haveimpact on their consumer behavior. Biharis has a predisposition towards buying during religious festivals. They are a traditional society with rigid values and most of their consumption is based on religious sentiments. Their buying is also seasonal during special occasions. The economy of Bihar is now growing and consumption will also rise. Marketers have the opportunity to serve the inspirational needs of the Bihari society as with increasing disposable incomes they will
  11. 11. consume products that were hitherto not consumed. The message to the Bihari society should be tailored according the special Bhojpuri accent popularized by Lalu and Suman. This establishes an immediate connect with something that distinguished Biharis from others in no unmistakable terms. Religious alignment of Biharis can be innovatively leveraged by brands through projections that represent attainment of Karma. The new generations of Biharis can also become impulsive buyers on items that were considered aspirational before the turn of the decade but within reach now. Biharis had been migrants for ages and that has brought about considerable changes to their ethos. They can now be attracted to mainstream themes at the national milieu. Celebrities like Manoj Tiwary and Raju Srivastava can be engaged in delivering messages so that Biharis can instantly identify. Products which are generally masculine in nature can appeal to a predominantly male dominated Bihari society. But women are increasingly being empowered by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s unique social engineering project of gifting bicycles to school going girls. Gradually, feminism will rise and consumer hedonic products targeted towards females like fairness creams will be consumed more and more. Technology products will see a spurt of growth in urban centers of Bihar as Biharis will stay back home and earn respectable livelihoods as more white collar jobs are created. Flood relief equipment and Flood shelter has a ready market in north Bihar.The Bihari society needs heroes to emerge from the grassroots so that the Bihari identity is reestablished to its rightful eminence within the national consciousness. Bengalis on the other hand are more intellectually oriented. Materialism is not a second nature for Bengalis. But they are more predisposed towards consumption of items that tickle the inner senses. Thus, marketers should take care to promote more achievement oriented products. Books have a ready market across Bengal highlighted by the rich literary history. Every year the Kolkata Book Fair, one of the largest in Asia, draws lakhs of Bengalis as a traditional ritual. Bengal is also undergoing changes under Mamata. Kolkata is being given a facelift according to Mamata’s vision of turning Kolkata into London, a sister city during the British era. There are also plans of installing a London Eye in Kolkata. Bengalis live of their rivers. The Hoogly is both sacred and a means of livelihood. The riverfront beatification program that was launched recently has given the river its life back. The music industry of Bengal is a factory of musical talent at the national level. From time immemorial Bengal has churned out stalwarts for the entertainment industry of India. The flora and fauna in the countryside of Bengal is being turned into lucrative tourist spots. Darjeeling, however, remains the crown of Bengal. The Gorkha movement for separate statehood can be scuttled by economic growth of the hilly regions of Bengal. The rebellious nature of Bengalis can be uniquely leveraged by marketers by messages that project an illusive ideal classless romanticism. Art and culture can serve as the vehicle for advertising that develops an instant connects with Bengalis. As Bengal’s economy is reenergized again consumerism will pick up. Kolkata stands as the gateway to the Silk Route that connects the entire South East Asia. A new deep water port is being constructed near
  12. 12. Kolkata as the starting piece of this strategy as enshrined in India’s Look East doctrine. Bengalis are foodies. The non-veg spread of the Bengali culinary tradition can be lucratively exploited by food marketers. But all this will remain an elusive dream until Bengal can lift itself out of her financial morass of the last three decades. If the dream becomes a reality the Bengali race will again rise up to take its rightful place on the world podium. Conclusion: India has several subcultures. The Biharis and Bengalis stand apart from the several other subculturesthat the Indian diversity manifests. Within this melting pot for different shades and colors marketers have the opportunity to customize offerings that appeal distinctively to the different subcultures. The Biharis and Bengalis have their own tastes and preferences that distinguish them from other races of India and the world. Like others they also protect their distinct identity but still interact at the fringes that define the boundaries of other cultures. References: Wikipedia

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