Gone with the decades: Maruti 800 to MTNL, queuing up for bank loans

  • Abhishek Saha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 17, 2015 17:33 IST

The key of the first Maruti 800 was handed over to its owner by none other than the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, in 1983.

A lot has changed since then — you can walk into a showroom and instantaneously purchase a car now.

The 1980s and 90s have been decades most eventful – the liberalisation of the economy being its most important beacon.

And that liberalisation has been the catalyst of a number of socio-economical processes – commercialisation of things all and sundry, especially — which have effected a change in the way a certain middle-class India lives.

Here are some of the most common experiences in which people say their lives have changed in a major way in the 2000’s.

The television experience


Television – both owning it and watching the programs being broadcast — was a completely different experience than what it is now.

Purchasing a television was no easy a task with only a few brands available to choose from – and that too some government partnered ones like Uptron and Webel whose waiting period sometimes stretched a bit too much.

"In 1985, when our first Uptron television set was booked, they gave us a three-month waiting period. So, we had to purchase a Nelco television set paying more money, because we could get it quicker," said Aneesh Sen, a marketing consultant based in Gurgaon.

The penetration of cable television was minimal and Doordarshan and its shows like Mahabharata or Chitrahaar or Shaktiman had a huge mass appeal.

"If you had a TV, it was normal to expect the neighborhood to gather around to watch the Chitrahaar or the Sunday movie. If you didn't have a TV, you just went to a house that did. It mattered little if you knew the owners or not," said Rajiv Goklany, a management professional in Delhi.

Booking a car and that too only an Ambassador or a Premier fiat or a Maruti 800

Buying cars and the options to choose from have changed drastically, with many remembering how they had to wait for months (sometimes even years) for their first cars.

As, Goklany said, it took him two years to get his first car, an Ambassador, after booking it, in the early 90s.

Even people who booked two-wheelers and Maruti 800s across the country had to wait for a long time before the time came to drive home their vehicles from the showroom.

Of telephones and the lack of mobiles

In those days, booking a telephone and getting the connection, was something similar to booking a car as far as the hassles were compared.

"After booking a telephone connection in 1990, I had to wait for two years before it was fixed, and that too after bribing certain staff," recounted a doctor in Guwahati.

With the government companies the only service provider available and a skewed demand and supply ratio, the availability of telephone connections was far more complicated when compared to the ease with which the formalities can be completed today.

Banking and loans

Taking a loan from a bank to buy a home or a car was not that easy a task in the 80’s and early 90s. There was a lack of private banks offering loans before liberalization and getting a home loan ‘was almost winning a lottery’. In addition to that, many a time officials needed to be bribed to get a loan sanctioned.

"Things have changed a lot since the 80s and 90s as far as the common man’s banking experience is concerned. Now due to the attitude of reaching out to the people, bank officials have become more friendly and easy to approach," said Manjarika Nayak, a resident of Bhubaneswar.

There is nothing that the internet hasn’t changed

The internet has perhaps been the icing on the cake of changes. Earlier, in the 90s, internet availability, forget speed, was a scarce commodity. A few institutions and government offices had internet access and that too at a sluggish pace.

Red tapism and lack of transparency, as a media professional in Delhi points out, are some of the major reasons for the clutter that the 80s and 90s were. And the internet, no doubt, has made many things far easier in that regard. No longer does one need to queue up for purchasing travel tickets or for paying bills, to take out money from banks or find a certain product from a certain brand—the internet has basically changed each and every aspect of the urban life.

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