Nov 26, 2006

Syndicates in Operation

Our lives are dominated by syndicates of various hues. This may sound cynical but it is not. I started reflecting on this as I tried to negotiate with the auto rickshawwalas ('auto') of Pune. I am now here in Pune, for a few weeks and for various reasons we decided not to drive up in our car from Hyderabad. Now that has created some issue as we commute during the weekends for a movie or simply to shop.

Last month at Wakad, a Pune suburb, I hailed an auto rickshaw who just dropped someone and was on his way back to somewhere. As he started, all of a sudden two men got down from another auto. They claimed that they had sole rights to all customers from that area since they belonged to the 'auto stand' there and wait for customers. As I was about to find out, all they do they laze around at the stand whole day and rob customers with atrocious fares. Being naive I said ok, and boarded the other auto and asked the fare. Then he suddenly demanded Rs 140 for a fare which would have cost no more than Rs 75. I tried to reason but soon realised the futility. Pissed thoroughly I preferred to walk half a km up to the nearest bus stand and took another auto from there for Rs 80.

I saw this behaviour repeated several times over the next few days. So basically the auto walas want assured revenues at the cost of negative customer satisfaction. The customer has no choice, their mantra goes!

Now this pattern of 'syndicates' that restrict choice and make markets less free, is not just with autos. Try purchasing a decent apartment or house in Hyderabad with any of the real estate firms there. It is even more sinister with politicians and crooks deeply involved. And when was the last time you saw a movie star who started on his own and not get a free pass from his family into stardom?

Though we may think it is a democracy and a free society, it is also a reality that syndicates rule us.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

ram,
this can also be viewed as 'welcome home' syndrome, though true ;-)

Ram said...

Well it is true in most societies and countries, only the degree varies.