Portrayed as a predominantly agrarian country for long, India has lately been transformed into a global industrial power, considering its leading position in the production of steel, cement, textiles, pharmaceuticals, automobiles and many other manufacturing sectors, not to forget the land’s advances in computer software and space-related achievements, particularly production and launching of satellites including offer of facilities and services to many other countries. Even as the country is witnessing investment of capital on an unprecedented scale by the world’s established companies abroad being tempted by the factor of ease of doing business (as declared by the incumbent government at the Centre and also some State governments including Karnataka) the nation’s economically sustaining power lies in its agriculture, also declared as an industry a few years ago. The profile of players in the world of business drawing their strength from the major elements of technology as well as skill-set is in a different class compared to the players in the agriculture sector, most of them not entering the portals of schools and colleges.
While agriculture in the land is virtually marked by traditional practices alongside the sweat and toil of the plough-wielding human resources, their business acumen is yet to blossom. The enormous gains of enterprises in the business world newly entering the food sector are apparently tempting the rustics to move away from their fields to the strange world of industry-based business.
Business involving manufactured products, including fast-moving consumer goods, has its many distinct features, particularly organisations such as Chambers of Commerce and Industry as well as robust financial support from the banking sector in contrast to the largely unorganised agriculture sector in the land. The staying power of the players in the world of business in the face of shocks resulting from losses due to various reasons also contrasts with the plight of the farming community who cannot survive in the face of losses resulting from natural causes like monsoon failure. The biggest handicap bugging agriculture is the unviable asset of land at their command. Even glut of agro-produce such as the recent cases of mango, onion and tomato has proved to be the spoil-sport of agriculture in the country.
Food-based business featuring mobile food joints in urban spaces (50,000 in Kolkata) is perhaps an exclusive example of food as successful business. There are as many examples of business featuring manufactured goods bringing food to the doors of the entrepreneurs as one can visualise. In sum, food business has remained a hard nut to crack in India despite the market for food not matched by any other commodity.