What’s missing ?

For the major part of my life, I have lived in a city, one of the biggest in the world and for sometime in another, one of the biggest in India itself. Off late, I have been associated with another city, a capital of a state and a fast growing one itself. Naturally after staying in two “different” types of cities of our country, comparison between their respective cultures, outlook and lifestyle in general is inevitable, and here I ponder upon those very “gaps” perceived by me.

Visually, Tier 2 cities don’t seem to be any different from, and appear to be just a zip version of their bigger counterparts. Infrastructure is at par or perhaps even better, shopping malls, restaurants, entertainment hubs, showrooms, healthcare centres, etc can be seen throughout the city. Even the property prices graph here is rising faster than ever before ! Then the question arises is what is it that is missing,  or rather to put in different words what gaps need to be fulfilled by the Tier 2/3 cities on their journey of continuous expansion and growth.

In business,one of the key differentiating points which has gained a lot of importance is the “service” offered to the consumers. The whole idea is that consumer should be happy with the experience during and outcome of the transaction and not just be happy with the fact that the transaction has finally got over ! Here, we did observe a marked difference in the quality of service offered to the patrons at all the places mentioned in the above paragraph, as compared to their own or similar outlets in larger cities.Here the consumer is treated not exactly like a “King”, a phrase fondly mentioned in the marketing and sales tutorials. For instance,a sales executive of a private firm should not ideally be screaming at a consumer not able to understand different schemes being offered. Or a local city car driver should not be complaining about a tourist, very new to the city himself and unable to provide detailed directions to the driver about his pickup point. There are some more instances at a larger level of dealing as well. One does tend to feel ‘wanting” at the end of the transaction, which is not a healthy sign. The larger worry is that investors looking forward to investments in Tier 2/3 cities would not be too keen in areas where there is limited local support in servicing of their clients and consumers.

In continuation with the above point, another key area of differentiation is maintenance of the status-quo. It is perfectly allright if the service provider is unaware of the nuances of service delivery, due to variety of plausible factors, lesser exposure being one of them. But if someone educates him about the right way of doing things, then repeating of the same flawed way of action is uncalled for, and especially if it doesn’t take anything significant from the part of the doer to change the way. Having more construction and establishments will not change any city. The attitude and the general outlook of the inhabitants also need to change.

Another area where things need to improve dramatically is discipline while driving on the roads. There is no right or wrong side of driving here and everyone is free to use either British or American lane system anytime anywhere, irrespective of whether it is a small bylane or a national highway.The horns fitted in all the vehicles must be experiencing severe body-ache every night since they take incessant beating throughout the day. Also gear 1/2/3 must be feeling very jealous of gear 4 or 5 as the former ones hardly get used in comparison with the latter two…Traffic discipline is lacking in general across all cities in India, but again here maintenance of status quo is not going to benefit anyone. With lack of sensitivity towards fellow drivers, things would surely get worse as traffic grows in the wake of growth of city’s consuming power.

One of the key areas to address these gaps in imbibing sufficient sensitivity in the local population. Formal education or training can be one way of doing it, if required. Companies do open up training centres in smaller cities, but that is merely from a cost angle. A thought needs to be put in as to how to uplift the overall local culture and improve the local human capital. This would be then in sync with the horizontal and vertical geographical expansion that the respective cities are experiencing.

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