For the impatient imbecile…

02 Jun,2022

 

 

By Avik Chattopadhyay

 

Avik ChattopadhyayOn May 29, a Member of Parliament raised the subject of the 10-minute delivery businesses in India. Her contention is that such a service is a serious threat to road safety, both for the delivery people as well as others on the roads.

 

For once, a serious subject will be raised in Parliament irrespective of the outcome. For all you know, it might remind a few there that they hadn’t ordered their pizzas for lunch!

 

We live in truly interesting times when junk food is delivered in 10 minutes but medicines in 120, and we seem quite at ease with this paradox.

 

We are a society where we honk incessantly behind a car and jump red lights with gay abandon as we are in a tearing hurry to reach our destination. Yet, we are one of the most patient when it comes to having our politicians deliver on their promises.

 

We are a polity where automakers are regulated to have six airbags in their cars while allowing “unicorns” to cock a snook at traffic management by advertising hyper-fast deliveries at any cost.

 

We are a marketplace where we encourage people to plan for their children’s future by taking insurance policies but do not support planning their household purchases better.

 

We are an impatient country. We want everything yesterday on our doorsteps. We need to break the queue to be served before others. We need to grease people’s palms to get a favour out of turn. We do not mind driving at high speed to get home to teach moral science to our kids.

 

And our service providers treat us as imbeciles too. As mature people who cannot plan their purchases well on time. As people who realise at 10.30 pm that we need to have dinner. Or who cannot check the refrigerator in the morning to realise which vegetables we are running out of to order many hours before we actually need them. Get a life, dude! Plan better. It is not a matter of pride that you order for things at the last moment and get served for your inbuilt inefficiency! It all started a few years back with a pizza brand guaranteeing delivery in 30 minutes or free! What was a market disruption then has taken Frankensteinian proportions with timelines like 19 minutes and 10 minutes for deliveries. Basically, encouraging us to be impatient imbeciles!

 

And what do our regulators do in all this? Pretty much nothing at all. The Advertising Standards Council does not realise the sheer threat to road safety as such an outcome may not have been foreseen in its book of violations. The Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways does not think this is serious enough to be regulated. The automobile industry bodies like SIAM and SMEV do not think this falls under their “CSR” or “ESG” mandate to object to vehicle fleet operators encouraging such openly dangerous practices.

 

Just because there is a latent demand for last moment ordering does not mean a service provider is going to cater to it at the cost of social balance [here road safety]. If all latent demands of the customer were to be met, we would end up living in total mayhem and chaos. The service provider has to be mature enough to take such decisions, even if it means the investors are not pleased.

 

If the service provider is immature or apathetic, it is the responsibility of other key stakeholders in the system like regulators, policy makers and industry bodies to raise a red flag. A piece of advertising does not only need to be misleading or disparaging to be yanked off the air. It can have the potential of being dangerous for society which is a good enough reason to pull the plug. Like the advertisement of a ride-hailing service that blatantly shows its motorcycle rider carve through traffic with no heed to traffic rules.

 

The responsibility of an automaker or the automotive industry body does not get over when the vehicle is sold but covers also how the vehicle is used. And the policy-maker’s job is not just to mandate how safe the vehicle engineering is but also to ensure that the entire road safety ecosystem is in place, with compliance and enforcement.

 

The impatient imbecile is a social malaise who needs to be on the fringe of community. Bringing this person into the limelight and justifying catering to his / her demands is a dangerous trend in marketing and advertising. It needs to be nipped in the bud right away. We cannot afford to be patient about that!

 

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