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One Nation: One Market: Really?

Former Chairman of AICTE, Dr SS Mantha on why a dynamic market can diminish mediocrity and enhance progress of an individual and the nation as well

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A market is the sum total of all buyers and sellers in an area or region and may be any space of the earth, countries, regions, states, or cities. The value, cost and price of items traded, will generally follow, forces of supply and demand in a market that may be a physical entity, or may be virtual. It may be local or global, perfect or imperfect. Multiple markets evolve when the same product is made to different quality standards, sold at different prices, in different locations supporting different economies. This definition of market dynamics pre-empts the idea of one market.

 

Undoubtedly, the aim of one market is to unite the country’s markets, and empower producers and strengthen the consumers. The catch in this however, is the diverse expectations of the producer and the consumer. A little probing, on some aspects that revel in markets, or are due to markets, reveal different shades of the puzzle. All things are commodities and are traded on the value, both intrinsic and extrinsic that determine their worth.

 

People anywhere on the globe, would look for profit and create new markets and revenue models that thrive on profits. Wealth for people, cannot defy laws of nature, law of conservation and law of mass. Simply put, wealth changes form and custody. Neither is created, nor destroyed. Inequalities cannot be bridged if wealth is not distributed. Human beings kill for profit. No other form of life does the same. Hence the postulation is that someone makes profit and someone uses wealth. Like all things unequal, the distribution leads to multiple markets and multiple economies which actually sustains the life cycle. Informal markets, as large as 90%, transgress all dichotomies like IT versus agriculture, rural versus urban, organised versus unorganised, modern versus traditional, and English versus vernacular. One market through this maze of businesses would be hardly feasible. How sane, then is an idea that speaks of one market?

 

“All men are equal, but some are more equal” wrote George Orwell in an all-time classic “The Animal Farm”. Whichever Society, wherever located, follows this adage. European Union is on the verge of collapse, and more so it’s most touted one market theory. When markets and profits are disrupted, Countries collapse. Who can forget retail markets virtually collapsing in the onslaught of online marketing models? 

 

From an egalitarian perspective, it is fascinating to assume that eventually one market and one tax will prevail. Surge pricing, where a Rs. 4500 flight ticket from Mumbai to Bengaluru, on a normal day climbs a pinnacle of Rs. 18000, almost a 400% increase for a year end sojourn, or a five star hotel hiking its tariffs when business peaks on the pressure of traffic, or when prices of vegetables hit the roof, in a perceived or deliberate throttle of supplies, is to be seen in this context. In fact most of these prices, vary as if they were petro commodities. Tax also does not seem to be one, for though the percentages may remain same, the surge ensures that the tax amounts also surge.

 

In the education space, assuming that adequate facilities are provided by an institution, why do we need a fee fixation committee to adjudicate the final fees? One market should have ensured people receive the service of a bench marked quality at a common market price. Argument of quality seeking a price also is questionable since no one would hazard a guess on what the benchmark of quality versus price would actually be. In reality, up market schools collect a bomb to serve a market that patronises them. All IIM’s have a market driven fee that includes an apportioned cost to their individual perceived brand value. Can one market not ensure, MRP like fee structure at least in the education sector?

 

Every one of us realise that quality comes at a price. The per capita income, will decide the facilities that are commensurate with it. Hence multiple markets are built into the DNA of our business lives. Subscribing to oneness is fraught with consequences both real and hilarious. How would it be when any hotel we visit, we get to see on the menu, the same dishes, purportedly of the same taste and priced the same? A human population as large as 7.6 Billion on this planet is not the same. 7.6 Billion DNA’s control, to be precise. All other life forms including those, which are not visible to us, also carry a unique DNA. How would our planet have looked like, if the 7.6 Billion had the same DNA, or for that matter if we had only men or only women on our streets? The creator also saw fun in innovative creation that supports multiple life markets.

 

It certainly will be thrilling to believe that all human beings can be bound by a single language. Machines do that. Unicode is a computing industry standard for consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. Can we have a Unicode for speech as well? All of us can use it to communicate anywhere, or with anybody. In the process, we can truly create “Vasudaiva Kutumbakam”. Flip side is that many computer languages, which allowed us to create most innovative applications, have almost become redundant and our native languages also could follow suit. How does it make any difference as long as we can communicate well? After all, oneness should bind us all.

 

Machines at the end point understand a binary language of a “zero” or “one”, two states, irrespective of how we communicate with them, giving rise to “all machines – one language” concept, a la “one nation – one language” concept. However a tristate also lives in a machine world, allowing devices to float, but always connected. If we were to do this in a human world, our lives would be lot more interesting, spying on each other 24x7, without any one knowing.

 

“Variety is the spice of life” is defined in the Cambridge dictionary as doing different things, or often changing what you do, that makes life interesting. I would probably be hauled to the coals if I were to raise a debate on “one nation – one GOD”, and actually carry out a research to figure out which of our 33 Million Gods were more powerful and therefore, qualify to be the only icon of worship. On the lighter side, for me, any one is as powerful as the other, as long as he or she grants my wishes. Oscar Wilde once said. “Prayers should never be answered. If they are, then they cease to be prayers and become correspondence. Godly abodes are also market places in that money and wealth are traded for wishes coming true, with many of them actually creating corpus large enough to buy cities, and even countries. So much for one market theory.

 

Volatility in the markets has a direct impact on stocks performance and annualized returns.  Historically, when market performance is positive, volatility will tend to decline.  Conversely with higher volatility, investors experience greater risk, while the market sees a decrease in returns.  With the current trend of rise of the stock market, we have to wonder what is causing the lower volatility. One market, or our vibrant multiple markets. Often, oneness breeds mediocrity. Mediocrity breeds more mediocrity. This is true whether in markets or in life.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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