Gopal Palpodi matters!
During this Pongal eve, some of my relatives, old pals visited my home surprisingly, and I just really enjoyed my time this season. As we guys sat for some long chats, we discussed about life at our hometown. In our gang, one of our relatives used to work in a local soap company which was once famous. He was forced to quit that company as it went bankrupt. Later he went on to work in several places and have finally settled somewhere safely, securely.
As we were discussing about that company and its times, the discussion turned into a debate whether the government should have supported the local manufacturers, small industries (just as they do to ICICI bank etc.) or not. This post is not about the debate, but I just wanted to share some of the memories on these local small industries/products.
In our town (which was near Thanjavur) there were several such soap companies – some with funny names ‘Kuruvi soap’, ‘Pon vandu’ soap etc. There were others with the owner’s initials such as ‘TGM soap’ etc. I heard that only a few of these soap companies such as TGM soap are still on the market. This industry was once very busy and profitable. Whenever I see this Bajaj tempo ad ‘Chinna Yaanai’, I remember those delivery vans of the local companies that were buzzing around.
One of my friends told me, having such small scale industry locally in villages and towns would be doing a lot to the local economy by helping other subordinate/dependent small industries to grow in and around the sorrounding towns. Money flow would be controlled within the locality and it helps the people of that area to prosper. He supported his argument saying, even Americans have realized this type of co-operative economy growth, now in some states they are trying to make sure only locally made products are available in the market and their foreign competitors (even from other American states) are restricted as far as possible. He said, there is a rising voice for “Buy local” policy and there is clearly a mindset change in America to encourage the growth of local manufacturers, see for example they have started agitating against Walmart type of chain stores for their practice of foreign product sourcing.
Talking about local brands, the one thing immediately comes to mind is Gopal Tooth Powder. I am a big fan of Gopal Palpodi – I used it till I went to highschool. I like its taste – I used to gulp it a few times while brushing in the morning. 🙂 There was one notable competitor for that by the name ‘1431 Pyorea’ tooth powder. That Pyorea tooth powder had lot of Kraambu powdered and mixed with it so much that while brushing it would give a burning sensation – I hated that but elders in our home highly recommend that.
Apart from this tooth powder, soap etc, there were lot of soda companies. This Kalimark Soda (Trio, Solo, Bovonto), Mappillai Vinayagar soda, Torino etc. There were innumerous other nameless Goli soda/Panneer soda companies. One has to taste the Goli soda atleast once – its taste somewhat different from the drinks that we have now. This was before Coke, Pepsi et al. In those times, Rasna came with a bang on the cool drinks market. Rasna juice powder in sachet packets were selling like hot cakes.
Barring a few, most of these local products have already gone to the graveyard, only a few are still alive. Those local manufacturing people didn’t appeared to have had any idea/tricks of marketing products just as the international and some national level companies now do. The local manufacturers simply target the small shops (petti kadai) in villages and just pass the product for free or with lowest possible price for the first few times. I remember a local shop owner, who was a friend of mine used to say, “I wouldn’t give order to a new product for second time, even if suddenly so many people sprang up asking for the product. I would only buy it if atleast one of my long time customers ask for it”.
Nowadays, they just float so many new products in the market so easily just like bees springing out of their hive. The overabundance of many venture capital options, media, advertising, and so on could be a major reason for such trend. On the other hand, I wonder whether these new variety of product manufacturers ever care or acknowledge the buyers at all. They only seem to be trying to make the investers believe the product is doing well in the market.
I kind of feel this funny sometimes on some of the product names such as “Easy off bang”, “White Giant” etc. (I am not particularly against the mentioned products, i am just citing them as an example for their names thats all 🙂 ) Our local women-folk who are pretty sizable in buyer population, may not even know to spell it correctly, let alone ask for it. Obviously even for literate ones, asking for such products with correctly spelling their names is difficult. Apart from the names in these new variety of products, the quality, pricing are other parameters which are clearly pushed to the backseat as low priority. Thinking past, its really a long way in the last ten – fifteen years, life has moved along in this world.