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<title>Innovative Economics at Work in India | Divya Manian</title>
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<meta name="description" content="Indian Roads are living, thriving economic entities that not many Indians pay attention to. It takes an outsider to recognize how noisily vibrant the &hellip;">
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<time datetime="2008-08-30T00:00:00+05:30" pubdate><span class='month'>Aug</span> <span class='day'>30</span> <span class='year'>2008</span></time>
<h1 class="entry-title"><a href="/innovative-economics-at-work-in-india.html">Innovative Economics at Work in India</a></h1>
<div class="entry-content"><p>Indian Roads are living, thriving economic entities that not many Indians pay attention to. It takes an outsider to recognize how noisily vibrant the market on the roads is.</p>
<p>The reason I mention is, a lot of Economics books write about the unorganized sectors in developing nations and how no appropriate metrics exist to measure the economic implications of such a sector. Each nation develops its own set of products that satisfy the needs of the unorganized sector. For example, you will not find fried-insect sellers or fried Chicken sellers anywhere in India but are quite common in Thailand or Cambodia.</p>
<p>I have tried to create a list of vendors and the kind of products or services they sell with specific reference to them operating out of Indian Roads. Their USP seems to be the ability to be agile and escape the laws (which sometimes ban selling on the roadside) by quickly sprinting on a cycle at the sight of cops.</p>
<li><strong>Watchmen:</strong> They are strictly not road side vendors, but still their work gets done mostly on the road side. Most houses employ old ex-army (or simply old) men as &#8220;Watchmen&#8221;. They are not security guards nor are they healthy enough to catch a thief. They simply deter unwanted people from entering the premises. </li>
<li><strong>Tailors:</strong> Each road has at least 1 tailor plying his trade under the shade of a large tree. They are mostly quite cheap and deliver on time. </li>
<li><strong>Ragpickers:</strong> They are responsible for strewing the waste outside the garbage bin.</li>
<li><strong>Peanut Vendors:</strong> Either roasted or plain peanuts are sold in push carts. </li>
<li><strong>Old Newspaper Vendors:</strong> If you have old newspapers, they are the ones that collect them and pay <em>YOU</em> money after weighing the amount of old newspapers you have. </li>
<li><strong>Plastic Container Vendors:</strong> In India, water shortage is acute and there is a lot of demand for large plastic containers. Bringing one from a store is a lot of hassle (given that most Indians have two-wheelers rather than four-wheelers). These vendors carry huge plastic containers on their cycles (don&rsquo;t ask me how they do it!) and barter it for old clothes. </li>
<li><strong>Cobbler:</strong> They shout out &#8220;Jod Repair&#8221; (where &#8220;Jod&#8221; is an antiquated word for &#8220;Footwear&#8221;) as they walk by.</li>
<li><strong>Barbers:</strong> In Northern India, it is quite common to see road side barbers who also deliver a good hair massage.</li>
<li><strong>Flower Seller:</strong> They sell flowers that idol-worshipping Hindus put on the illustrations of Gods and Goddesses.</li>
<li><strong>Vegetable Vendors:</strong> They sell vegetables at slightly higher prices than usual as they push their cart from one house to the other. </li>
<li><strong>Banana Vendors:</strong> In South India, it is more common to see banana specific vendors who sell at least 3 varieties of banana. </li>
<li><strong>Fruit Sellers:</strong> They generally sell anything other than bananas (if bananas they sell some exotic variety of Bananas). </li>
<li><strong>Astrologers:</strong> I suspect they are a dying race. </li>
<li><strong>Coconut Vendors:</strong> They are mostly found in South Indian states where coconut water is a good thirst quencher and a good &#8220;cooling&#8221; solution for braving the heat. Not to mention, it is cheaper than any of the &#8220;cool&#8221; drinks.</li>
<li><strong>Chaat Vendor:</strong> <a href="">&#8220;Chaat&#8221;</a> is a specific variety of North Indian Snacks. Even in South India they usually sell some of these items on the road side. </li>
<li><strong>Tea Vendors:</strong> They usually ply their trade in cycles carrying big containers of hot tea and plastic cups to serve them in. They come around morning 9 a.m. and evening 3 p.m. Their usual customers are other roadside vendors like Watchmen, Tailors, Newspaper men, etc.</li>
<strong>Stuffed Toys Sellers:</strong> These guys are very smartly dressed and use parked cars to showcase the kind of stuffed toys they have. Most of the time, all of them sell the same kinds of toys from China which are usually stuffed big toy tigers or teddy bears.
<strong>Ear Cleaners:</strong> Though not a part of the South Indian road market, these people are quite a force in North India.
<li><strong>Temple Priests:</strong> In many roads of India, temples awkwardly jut out into the roads (they cant be demolished as they will cause an uproar in religious India). Priests either belonging to neighbouring temple or dedicated to that temple start early morning&rsquo;s ablutions for the Gods. It is also common to see small temples for Virgin Mary.</li>
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