A tale of two Indias

Charles Dickens’ masterpiece ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ begins with the epic lines “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”. A modern-day Dickens is likely to wax eloquent about ‘A Tale of Two Indias’ by saying it was the best of times; it was even better than the best of times!

Ipsos | Almanac 2024 | India

Post pandemic and with the Russia-Ukraine conflict ongoing, the Indian economy has come out relatively unscathed and the overall sentiment is improving. November’s Refinitiv-Ipsos India Primary Consumer Sentiment Index (PCSI) report finds India in joint-first place when it comes to buoyancy of  consumer sentiment, amongst the 30 nations surveyed. Ipsos’ IndiaBus data shows that Indians are a happy lot (we recorded a Happiness Index of 69 in September 2023).

India’s younger population, rapid urbanization, strong family support system and stable political ethos have ensured that all growth engines are running full throttle, and this reflects in Indians’ optimistic and less worried outlook. In Ipsos’ What Worries the World survey conducted in November 2023, 71% of Indians felt that the country is moving in the right direction (third highest scores globally).

However, there is an interesting emerging divergent pattern to this story. Historically, we have always looked at India in terms of demographics – urban vs rural, North vs South vs West vs East regions of India. In the last couple of years, rapid digitalization has led to technology emerging as an interesting differentiator. The India data from Ipsos Global Trends shows the emergence of two Indias based on adoption of, expectation from, and exposure to technology.

On one hand, we have the Urban Masses who are looking at technology as their friend, enabler and ally that could aid their own growth and betterment. Urban Masses possess strong materialistic aspirations, and they are the ones to adopt newer technology, without big concerns about personal data privacy. After all, if technology could bring them so much advancement, a little sacrifice of data privacy is seen as justified. Urban Masses are driving growth across what is now being termed as ‘middle India’.

On the other hand, we see the emergence of Digital Indians who suffer from over-exposure to and fatigue from technology. They yearn for simplicity, nostalgia and personal connect. They seek real life experiences as well as physical/mental wellbeing. Digital Indians, also being termed as ‘top India’ are driving growth in lifestyle products and services, bespoke experiences and luxury products.

As the traditional pyramid-shaped India demography starts morphing into a pear-shaped demography, the two Indias exemplified by Urban Masses and Digital Indians are the dual engines of growth that keep the India growth story robust. The two growing Indias also de-risk the country growth trajectory.

Amit Adarkar

Country Manager, Ipsos in India