Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mumbai the rudest city?

Reader's Digest did a survey of 35 cities worldwide to measure the level of civility in each of the city. Mumbai had the distinction of being at the rock bottom of the table. Now coming back to survey, the article on Mumbai is the rudest city states the three basic criteria used for judging the rudeness/civility of the cites. Here is the actual article

  • holding the door open for someone right behind you;
  • helping a passer-by pick up a dropped newspaper or pile of documents;
  • thanking shoppers after their retail experience.

After reading the list I wasn't surprized at all Mumbai was at the rock bottom. Another interesting observation to make most of the Asian countries surveyed are towards the lower end of the spectrum. Here is why the survey is a totally unfair comparison. They are judging cities across the world based on the definition of the etiquite in the western culture. Holding open a door for someone right behind you is a very western defintion of etiquite. None of the major Asian cultures subscribe to this idea as a notion of civility. Some people who have been exposed to a western education will prescribe to the notion others won't.

Thanking shoppers after their retail experience is a different kind of problem. There is a totally different dimension to this problem. Here is the key difference in the retail markets of the US vs India. In the US retail items are marked anywhere between 100-500 percentage profit range depending on the item. Selling one item is considered a succesful sale. However, in India the retail markup is not very high. The profit margins can range from 10-30 percent. To make the same money has the US counterparts, the salespeople have to sell 10 times more. In the process the sweet smile on the face, the sing-a-song "may I help you", "thank you for shopping with us", "are you finding everything all right" goes away. The focus on schmoozzing each client is not possible when you are trying to maximize the sale and not the experience of shopping

For this to have been a more credible survey, it would have been nice if they had distingushed between the western and eastern idea of etiquitte.


Information Junkie said...

Mumbai can not be the ruddest city. Rudeness is as much an intention as it is an action. On both counts Mumbai comes way ahead of the other places I have been to in India as well in the world.

Just take a look at the Local trains in Mumbai. These trains are the true melting pots of the whole city. When one is running to catch a train, hands are extended to get you into the compartment regardless of your stature and the helping hands are grabbed by the running passenger regardless of who the person is.

Every country has different customs regarding small talk and chit chat. There is no one standard against which we can measure the courtsey of a city.

Prashant said...

Nice Blog