Millennials vs finance minister
According to SIAM, the automotive industry accounts for almost 50% of manufacturing GDP plus 15% of GST, directly or indirectly employing 37 million people. Given this scale, it is a matter of enormous worry for the entire nation that this industry appears to be in free fall. In August automobile sales fell by 24%, the steepest ever fall since SIAM started recording wholesale vehicle sales in 1997-98. Car sales saw their 10th straight month of fall, of 41%. Heavy commercial vehicle tumbled even more horrifyingly, by 54%. Two-wheeler sales also shrank. Basically the downturn is spread very wide and downstream ripple effects would spread even wider.
It is for this reason that twitterati have reacted bitterly to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s analysis of the slowdown. One of the factors she foregrounded as a factor was that, “Millennials don’t want to lock themselves up with EMIs on auto loans and hence prefer Ola or Uber or metro (trains).” The Ola-Uber matrix seems to be mobilized with suspect convenience. Back in January when an unreleased NSSO survey was reported to have found the country’s unemployment rate at a 45 year high, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant refuted the reports by saying, “We need to look at the quality of jobs – both Ola and Uber have created more than two million jobs.” When the survey was released after a long delay, that is to say after the elections returning the government to power, joblessness indeed remained pegged at a 45 year high of 6.1%. So the Olar-Uber detour went awry then, and it is equally misdirected now.
It may be more appropriate to talk about the millennial mindset to which Sitharaman is referring in the context of rich economies like the US, where the new generations have different lifestyle fantasies than baby boomers, a shift that has combined with the hangover of the 2008 recession to delay young adults’ decisions to purchase cars. But what’s that got to do with a young Indian villager postponing his decision to buy a motorcycle? Or a logistic enterprise deferring its planned purchase of a heavy-duty trailer? Or a young millennial couple in Mumbai deciding it really can’t afford that car it has so desired this Diwali?
These are not decisions derived from some lifestyle choice, but by the fact that business prospects look gloomier, salary increments are shrinking, jobs are scarce, and the future uncertain. Sure, there may be a percentage of Indians who are trying to decrease their carbon footprint, but where is the evidence that their numbers are now statistically significant enough to impact large manufacturing? For the most part intra-city public transport remains terribly inadequate across the country’s urban landscape, the inter-city situation is even worse, and let’s not even get started on rural India. Really, it is not a question of millennials not wanting to lock themselves up with EMIs on auto loans, but them not being confident of being able to pay the EMIs. A sad predicament for aspirational India. No ostrich can dig us out of it.
With #SayItLikeNirmalaTai and #BoycottMillennials bitter twitterati are mocking their own fate, because sometimes you just laugh in place of cry:
- BHEL is at 15 year low as millennials prefer panipuri
- The property market is down because millennials have started ‘live-in’ relationships
- Real estate sector is annihilated because millennials prefer live-in relationship, that too in old rented houses/flats
- Rupee falling coz millennials more interested in Bitcoins
- Sale of biscuits down coz millennials r more into dieting
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.