iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

Chitvan Singh Dhillon, Hindustan Times
November 18, 2013
Just the other day, I attended a lecture about the economic reforms in India since 1991; and the acclaimed policy analyst and brilliant teacher that professor Upinder Sawhney is, even the drab subject becomes interesting.
Most of us remember the 1990s as the start of the post-liberalisation era, when India, for the first time, understood the meaning of the word "globalisation". I'm a 90s kid, and a proud one at that. Today, as I deliberate with my mates over a cup of tea about the era, they all go nostalgic about its characteristics, be it television serials, cartoons, movies, cricket, snacks, or video games, that left an impression on our lives.

It was a time when we knew the words to "In-pin-safety-pin" and "akkad-bakkad" by heart; playing hide-and-seek was an obsession; and "cool" was the coolest word. The ubiquitous Maggi noodles, still ruling the market, was the quintessential morning breakfast, savoured with "Jungle Book" on Doordarshan at 9am on Sunday mornings. The wonderful characters of Bagheera, Mowgli, Cheel, and Sher Khan remain etched in the memory.

The thirst quenchers of decade, "I love you" Rasna and ruby-red fragrant Rooh Afza, pinned down colas and packed juices convincingly, riding on the middle-class taste. Summer vacations meant playing Mushrooms, Bullets, Bypass, One-up, Flags, Turtles and Dragon-Super Mario, probably Indian child's first encounter with the world of video games. Singles such as "Made in India" and "Dekho Dekho, Yeh Hai Jalwa" remix were at the top of the charts. Countless "Chacha Chaudhary" and "Twinkle" comics were read in school, sneaked inside the textbooks. India probably consumed more Frooti than all the oil in Iraq and a car meant either a Maruti 800 or an Ambassador.

Change is inevitable. Slowly and steadily, as India lost its virginity to the global economy, the 90s came to an abrupt end. At the end of the decade, a plethora of satellite channels, and the convergence of television, personal computer and the Internet invaded the scene.

There came a dynamic shift in consumer tastes and preferences. Today, it's fashionable to talk FDI (foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail) and other economics jargon but the memories of how it started really in the 1990s is undoubtedly the most amazing, pleasant and beautiful memory.

The decade was the defining time of our life, as exciting as present-day India, if not more. If you've experienced it, you know what I mean. If not, it's hard to explain what you missed.