Pradeep Lokhande is the
founder/proprietor of a firm called "Rural
Relations." When asked what made him go into
this unrelated field,
he replies: "Basically I am from a village,
so I am concerned about the state of the people
living in the rural parts of India. Previously I
did urban promotions, so why not do rural promotions."
He continues: "I began with rural marketing
in 1991. Rural marketing is relationship-based
marketing and that is the only way one can reach
the rural customer. A state like Madhya Pradesh
has 75,000 villages and it is not possible for
any marketer to reach all of them. In that state,
we have identified 4,000 feeder-marketing villages
that cater to all these 75,000 villages."Likewise
for Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan,
they have identified another 24,000 odd villages
that act as springboards to the rest of the rural
hinterland in these five states.
The network and database of the company is used
for marketing information mainly on three ranges
of products - health, hygiene and oral care. In
fact, at the moment, Tata Tea is now using the
database to spread the information on its brand
he has begun a new program; his dream is that
every secondary school in the five states should
have one computer. The reason? "In urban
cities like Pune, one finds 8 year old kids surfing
the net, but in our villages, children are made
to walk up to 30 kilometers to reach their schools.
In my opinion the net revolution or the information
super highway that our politicians love to talk
about will have no effect till the kids from rural
backgrounds are familiar with the computer."
"All Indians are non resident villagers.
That means their grandparents or even parents
might have belonged to a rural background. So
I feel that if you can contribute to the improvement
of your village, you must do it now." The
firm has appealed to corporates and individuals
to donate their old computers.
To date, the company has been able to collect
By Rahul Surkund