Mall culture in India : Features

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The skyline is filled with boxes built of mirrored windows, skeletons of new malls and billboards promising a better life for the country’s modern maharajas. Shop at Tommy Hilfiger and eat at Pizza Hut. The toilets flush automatically, The floors are spotless. “There’s a new culture coming now,” said Pawan Sharma, sitting at McD in Globus Mall, which opened last year. “The Western culture, the mall culture is coming. This is not really the traditional India.”

This is closer to the opposite of India. In this country, people traditionally shop at local markets, where vegetables are sold in one tiny shop and milk in another. Shoppers go from one store to the next, buying flowers here, chicken there. They bargain for better deals. The markets often are filthy, littered with garbage. But the malls offer everything under one roof, even stores such as Big Bazaar, a smaller, more chaotic version of Wal-Mart (one is there in our own ShopC named NayaBazaar) are out of fashion now. There is central air conditioning, a novelty here. Signs tell people how to ride the escalators, still new to India. Songs by Depeche Mode and Radiohead blare over mall loudspeakers. People speak to each other in English instead of Hindi.
What is MALL:
I like to quote wikipedia here.
“A shopping mall (or simply mall), shopping center, or shopping arcade is a building or set of buildings that contain stores, and has interconnecting walkways enabling visitors to easily walk from store to store. The walkways may or may not be enclosed.”
Why people in India come to a Mall:
Based on our little talks with people in rave and globus we find out that for different age groups, there are different reasons to come to mall. But somehow all of them are related to advertisement and cultural industry and ease of shopping. Here are the reasons in descending order of popularity-

05-15 : For toys which some shops offers, Because their friends goes there, they saw a TV ad

15-25 : To see some good looking opposite sex, Chill out and time pass, To show off

25-45 : Shopping, Dinner and movie, Kids force them

45-above :Kids force them, Shopping, Hell with malls they don’t like malls

Now we will discuss all these facts in the light of sociology.

The great Indian mall boom:

It’s a revolution that’s fast changing the way of life for millions of shopping crazy citizens in India. Kanpur is way behind in this process but we can see the trends in NCR. From the days of mama-papa stores at the local marketplace, Delhi and NCR is now metamorphosing into the land of upscale shopping centers and malls, much on the lines of Singapore and Dubai. At last count, over four dozen shopping malls were operational in the region last year and another 140-odd new shopping arcades are set to dot the city landscape in days to come. Kanpur will follow same path in near future as Rave, Globus, Vishal mega mart are indications.Global estimates say India will be home to 36.2 million square feet of shopping malls in 2008And the developers of these malls seem to have their finger on the pulse of discerning customer’s needs. That explains why special malls focusing on marriages, jewellery and on high-end brands are mushrooming all over the country.Take the example of Gurgaon, a sleepy little suburb of the Indian capital New Delhi. In a development that surprised many town planners, Gurgaon transformed itself overnight by first housing the headquarters of many multinational corporations and banks, and then calling itself the “shopping-mall capital of India”. So, friends Malls are here, kneel before them!

Mall: A natural phenomenon in late industrial society:

We can clearly observe that malls are very much qualifying for the tag of flag holders of late industrial society. They pop up in America in late 70s, then in European countries and in third world nations like India are undergoing same process. Let us find out how malls are representatives of late industrial society.

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Malls are characterize by their smiling workers. All of them are dressed same way and they are trained to behave friendly and with curtsey. Many malls also give awards like “best employee of the month” to encourage them. An ever smiling worker of malls are now stereotype of modern culture. This is emotional labor, “the act of expressing socially desired emotions during service transaction” as said by Alan Bryman in his essay The “Disneyization of Society” .Customer likes this feature and feels a bit respected in society.

•Flatter organization:

This is phenomenon we observe in our group trip to rave three. In pantaloon there were no manager. All of employees were assistant trainee or security guard. Talking to a trainee, he told us that they have a boss in delhi, who controls 4-5 malls same time by internet and often visits Kanpur. So there are effectively only two levels to run a mall.

•Mass Society:

Mass society is a society in which concerns of majority plays a prominent role. Malls owners always take a deep interest in consumers need and then promote product for everyone which is well thought of and same in core but different in packaging. It gives consumer a false satisfaction that he is getting his choice but in reality he is getting same thing as someone else. (Everybody now a days eats PIZZ

A of their own choice at McD).

Also on a larger scale due to malls we at Kanpur get same quality of product as in Mumbai. This minimize the risk factor in products that whether this particular piece is good or not. Anywhere in world you can see that big M of you know what.

•Cultural industry and entertainment:

Malls and various coffee chains have been claimed by the city’s youth as a space of their own. From the elitist literary coffee culture of Dryden and Pope in 18th century London, to the haunts of dedicated journos in the India of 1960s and 70s, the cuppa has had a long and varied history around the world. Every city provides a ‘chill out zone’ to its youth that insists on ‘value addition’ to simply sipping cola or a cup of tea. The air-conditioning, music, movies, scrabble and discs full of wisecracks, all add up to an atmosphere that is probably a familiar, yet upscale version of the college canteen.

•Knowledge becoming source of power:

Now knowledge of market can land you a great job because everybody is searching for the mood of customers. Advertising is a refined outcome of market knowledge. Mall is a place which promotes the centralized advertising. Your advertisement in a mall itself guaranty reach up to a large number of customer. But due to malls reading habits are going to drain. This is a reverse thing from late industrial society. Books and the reading habit have not been able to survive the onslaught of, first, television and, now, the malls and Internet. Apart from the annual book fair, country does not see much happening in that front either. Though thousands flock the fair, few are book-lovers.Publishers also complain that “most only come to see the books, few to buy”. The message is loud and clear – books are still something people want to see and flip through, not buy because they have other time passes.

•Use of technology:

Most of the small shopkeepers already feeling heat as malls are using new and good technology for food packaging and administrative task. Lifts, Escalators, air conditioners, electronic security system are few example. Also now online malls are also in function in India. Like www.fabmall.com , www.ebay.in . So computers and global coordination is a key feature of mall culture.

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