India’s economic liberalisation, begun in 1991, brought about a paradigm shift, changing the socialistic economy to a more market-oriented one by expanding the role of the private sector and inviting global giants into the country. The far-reaching changes that were initiated included a reduction in import tariffs, deregulation of markets, reduction of taxes and greater foreign investment. Many economists credit liberalisation for the high economic growth recorded by the country in the 1990s and 2000s. It is heartening to note that the overall direction of liberalisation has remained the same since, regardless of which party is in power.
The change from a near-monopolistic to a highly competitive business environment resulted in the Indian consumer being faced with a surfeit of choices in almost every product category. Gone were the days when one had to wait for years to buy a scooter, or to get a landline telephone connection, or to even get a wrist watch of one’s choice. The focus definitively shifted towards the consumer.