Isn’t it lovely that the day the greetings card industry celebrated ‘Friendship Day’, two important conglomerates, the Shiv Sena and McDonald’s got together to discuss a possible partnership that will change the face of sandwiched products? The Shiv Sena’s Executive President Uddhav Thackeray reportedly met McDonald’s India’s joint venture partner Amit Jaliya to discuss whether the two Big Pavs can collaborate in a vada pav revolution. Put simply, the Maratha (sub-)nationalist party that had always picketed in front of the outlets of the American fast food chain with unerring regularity has decided that it is thinking of teaming up with McDonald’s’ to ‘internationalise’ the ‘Mumbaikar’ vada pav.
Frankly, no one can see any problem from McDonald’s side, considering they have no qualms in providing the classic oxymoron, vegetable burger along with other ‘localised’ products. From the Shiv Sena’s side, Sanjay Gaurav, the head of the Maharashtra Vada Pav Vikreta Sena, the tie-up could only mean spreading the Marathi manoos’ favourite snack through a very dependable distribution network.
So what happens to that old ‘foreign MNC vs Shivaji’s cuisine’ argument? Well, the forces of supply-demand have made two antagonists as close to each other as Nixon and Mao in 1972.
With vada pav’s gastronomic prowess and the unbeatable McDonald’s franchise model, we think this is a free trade agreement that everyone in the Doha round of WTO talks should take a leaf, if not a menu, out of.
The plan is that the foodies will be invited to a special vada pav sammelan next month in which they will get to rate the dish made by 50 vendors. The winner will win the contract to be sold by McDonald’s for the benefit of those who are fixated on McDonald’s meals as well as our Marathi subnationalism.
This brilliant model could be replicated along other lines. For starters, health-obsessed nationalists like Anbumani Ramadoss could, instead of fighting with cola firms, tie up with them to bring lassi or coconut water in cola bottles. That way, the brand equity of both companies and product goes up.
In the meantime, nationalist internationalism, we’re lovin’ it.