A poor opportunity, by Kanika Datta

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ever since the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power, Indian policy makers and leftist thinkers appear to have rediscovered the Poor.? So, coincidentally, has big business, thanks to a handy contrarian discovery made by management guru C K Prahalad of a ?fortune at the bottom of the pyramid?.

At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I would say that Prahalad?s theory is almost as chimeral as the UPA government?s grand employment guarantee scheme.? Unlike the latter, though, it is unlikely to be questioned for some time to come, not least because of the formidable credentials of its originator.

Ever since he published his best-selling book last year, many multinationals have gratefully championed Prahalad?s theory as they pour into the fast-growing markets of the developing world.
It provides them with an expedient purpose for pursuing opportunistic, if perfectly legitimate, business opportunities in countries where poverty remains an issue.? To be sure, the starting point of Prahalad?s premise is that the poor should not be seen as victims, and he talks about the need for ?inclusive globalisation?.? He is spot-on on both counts. But it would be irrational to suggest that low incomes?however large the base?should be considered a fast-growing opportunity, or that corporations who target these market will bootstrap people out of poverty.
Opinion found here.

Source: Business Standard