Some call it innocence, some call it sheer dumbness, but the fact remains the same: Consumerism has arrived. Suddenly one doesn’t need a walk around the park as a stress buster; a walk in the shopping malls is enough. Suddenly, one doesn’t need certain specific qualities to fit in a group, one just needs the same branded shirt. In this 21st Century, we all look for shortcuts and this perhaps, is the shortest of the shortcuts. It is no longer Carpe Diem – seize the moment – now it is, seize the product which is in fashion. This easy system which we exploit, exploits us more. The consumer market works and, infact, relies on it. One superb example would be the super marts, the hyper marts, the Wal-Marts, the Reliance stores, the Big Bazaars… it what you will. They all have the same agenda – make the customer spend extra but send him/ her home with the (skewed) satisfaction of having made “amazing” savings. A brilliant strategy and its success can already be seen.

People are more than willing to go the extra mile, spend the extra hundred on fuel, to buy things on “discounts”. They then proceed to buy things they actually don’t need buy all the same just because they are on sale. Since when did the common man need to buy in bulk? More so in this age of nuclear families. Why should we spend extra to buy one more packet of the same product in order to get another packet of the very same product free of cost when, we need only that one packet in the first place? The psychology behind this is as mind boggling as the sentence structure. It is sheer absurdity and yet, all of us are guilty of it, we, the rational creatures.

The repercussions of these marts’ policies are there for all to see. Small traders are going out of business. The prices, especially of vegetables, are rising. It is mostly because these hyper marts literally hoard up all the available vegetables in order to sell them at a cheaper price. Hence, they are hardly consumer or economy friendly. They raise the price in the general market and then proceed to sell at cheaper rates. This is hardly “public service”. Surely, the picture will get uglier and murkier as one probes further.

Clearly, this is no trivial matter. We, the people, are the life-blood of such marts and it is only us who can put a stop to such exploitation. We must nip this disturbing development in the bud as soon as we can, or else the disease will prove to be fatal to our discretion and happiness. Already consumerism had overwhelmed our world in a big way, we must control it before it becomes an ugly albatross around our necks. Specifically, these marts must be checked now or else we will become the clichéd conformists of the clichéd adage –Pennywise, Pound foolish.

Shravya Jain