The much hyped ‘car for the masses’ Nano, which hit the market with an unbeatable sticker price of just 1 lakh has failed to leave its mark among the masses as yet. However, Tata Nano has found a new set of patrons in Kerala in the form of lottery agents in Kollam district. It is interesting to note that the lottery agents in the district have already rolled out a fleet of Nano cars over the last few months. The small size of Nano gives it a top edge in maneuvering through the narrow and busy streets of the Kollam city, which enables the agents to do brisk business by being at the right place at the right time.
Apart from its good mileage and affordable price tag, the fancy appearance of Nano has endeared it among the lottery dealers. The cute looks also attract curious onlookers apart from the fortune bill fans. Some lottery agents have as many as three cars in their fleet and are only happy to add more in future. Nano is taking up the place of the old favorite, Ambassador, which is being sidelined due to its low fuel efficiency. Even if the soaring petrol prices are taken into account, buying a Nano works cheaper than hiring a shop in the city, where rented commercial spaces cost a fortune and are hard to find.
The lottery sales have plummeted to an all time low following restrictions on other state lotteries and number of draws of Kerala lottery. This has prompted the agents to look for cheaper options in selling lotteries and Nano has truly served this purpose. At present there are over 18 Nanos plying in the city of Kollam alone and as more lottery agents are planning to add Nanos to their fleet to ensure better market penetration and faster access to the niche zones, the future of Nano appears bright at least in this segment.
Kerala has one of the highest per capita incomes in India and its living standards, infant mortality rate and life span indexes are at par with some of the developed countries in the world. A majority of the Keralites drive the latest automobiles, flaunt the latest gizmos and don trendy fashion wear. Even in villages there are not many without their own mode of transport, color televisions, music system or mobile phones.
However, the paradox is that Kerala does not have any big industries or public sector units to create employment opportunities; nor is it an agrarian society because farming has long ceased to be the main stay of Kerala. Thus the rosy picture of the life in Kerala indeed presents a highly baffling picture on the economics and its intriguing equations.
If you are wondering on the possible sources of income of Keralites to sustain a high standard of living, it was NRI remittances that drove the economy of Kerala to a large extent till a few years back. Nonetheless, with the recession hit global economy not offering much scope, Keralites have turned their gaze to other lucrative areas to mint a few quick bucks! Going by the present trend, lottery, land deals and liquor seems to be the three major sources on income for not just the Government but the local population as well.
Consider these curious facts, which are so unique to God’s own country!!
- In not many places on earth would you come across so many liquor shops that pour out heady drinks of all possible genres. From spurious to Indian made foreign liquor and the local brands of toddy, Kerala is indeed a tipper’s paradise. During festival season, the beverages corporation alone sells over 60 crores worth of liquor on a single day!
- Every third person on the road that you meet in Kerala could be a realtor agent in some form or the other. From full time land deal brokering to part time activities, land deals pump money into many a kitty in Kerala. They could be an auto driver,a shop keeper or a vegetable vendor, however they’ll put on the garb of a cheeky broker once he spots a prospective client in you and pockets a handsome brokerage in every deal irrespective of his role in the deal! Shady land deals and forest and water front encroachments happen at an alarming pace and if a stringent monitoring system is not in place, Kerala will soon be in the grab of the land mafia
- Lottery is another rather unconventional means that fill the coffers of Kerala! Being the birth place of lottery, Kerala has always been obsessed with these ‘fortune bills’ ever since these hit the stalls for the first time in the 1960s. It is estimated that there are over 35,000 authorised agents and 100,000 retail lottery sellers in Kerala extending throughout the State. However the tax eviction scams that rocked the lottery of other states, have resulted in a massive recall of lotteries. At present only Kerala lotteries are for sale and the draw is limited to one per week.
Kerala makes money the most bizarre way alright but why bother ; nobody is complaining!