There is a joke amongst Bengalis – if you want a day off, just start shouting 'cholbe na cholbe na! inqilaab zindabad!', on the streets and the entire city will come to a halt. No one is going to ask you why you are protesting, rather they will just join you. In fact, if you can establish that you are protesting against a meagre 50 paise rise in bus ticket prices, you might get a week off.
This is not trying to belittle real causes about which people protest. This is just a reflection of how much people have a tendency to over-react to situations that don't need attention at all. We, as a country, like our freebies. It is in our nature to ask for free passes for the most coveted performances across the world. We like slashed prices for foreign trips. Travel websites have taken things to such a stage that flying to Malaysia is cheaper than flying to Goa.
This love for getting 'value for money' has become a sort of right for us, which applies to Flipkart's debacle too. A massive sale was organised by the e-commerce website on Monday, and things did not go as planned.
The users hoarded on to the website, trying to make the most of it, and Flipkart was not prepared. With promises of massively low pricing – the website garnered response from across the country. And, not being able to take the massive load on its servers, it crashed. Many complained. So much so, that it became viral on social media.
'Big Billion Day Sale' that was the sales pitch that apparently helped Flipkart garner a massive Rs 600 crore sale in 10 hours on the day, but it received a lot of flak from all and sundry. And the fiasco is still making headlines. Sony, Samsung and other tech giants have planned to take action as the e-commerce sale has directly affected organised retail. They have also said that they may even suspend sales through the website. The entire incident has also sparked off some policy making from the government to regulate online retail as predatory pricing may be an issue in the future.
But, why was there such uproar over a retail website crashing? Did it hurt our sentiments so much? Was it them promising and failing to deliver or was it merely the anger because we were denied of our 'birthright' to freebies.
They were indeed not well prepared, and they have apologised for it. The loss of faith from its customers is a fact that the business will not recover from soon. This is how the markets work. You build up an empire and it takes a lot of blood and sweat to get a sense and provide what your customers need. Unfortunately, they are not as grateful as you would want them to be.
At the other end of the spectrum, I feel we have made a ruckus over a non-issue. It is not as if customers had not faced a problem while placing their orders, they indeed were hassled. But there were so many others who were probably just scouting the website who hopped on the wagon to bash Flipkart too.
India, as a country has taken a pledge to support 'Make in India'. A pledge our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has implored us to undertake, to help the economy grow manifold. It is a sort of a 'swadeshi' movement to make a stand at the global level.
Maybe supporting Flipkart in their times of crisis, instead of blatantly criticising them for succumbing to unprecedented traffic is a little unfair. Though Flipkart mostly sells third party products, the support of 'Make in India' becomes all the more pressing vis-a-vis its comparison of global giant like Amazon and e-bay.
This is a country where online retail has just reached puberty, hence it seems that the glitches are getting apparent. Websites such as Flipkart and Snapdeal are homegrown online retail stores and competing with other global platforms.
And even if it is fair that we are taking them to task for a mistake, it is slanted behaviour on our part that we are not moving on to more pressing issues like unemployment, price rise, women’s rights and other plagues that our country suffers.