Banking on a Single Malt is a Mug’s Game
While scholars may quibble over what fuelled the Bengal Renaissance, the average harried mother from Kolkata to Kalimpong who cares about her Bablu-shona’s performance in the monthly maths test would resolutely point to Horlicks. Indeed, if there is anything that rivals Rabindranath Tagore when it comes to a place in the Bengali’s heart, it is that atypical concoction of milled malted barley, mashed wheat flour and milk. Little wonder then that the malty drink has been the focus of many a schmaltzy Bengali memoir, replete with evocations of steaming goodness and rejuvenated brain cells. Horlicks’ current owners GSK obviously cannot rely predominantly on the devotion of the denizens of a single region in India for its bottomline’s health. So, diversifying its focus to over-the-counter formulations for headaches and the like to spur growth makes sound business sense.
However, this implicit sidelining of Horlicks will be a cruel blow to Bengalis — and many others scattered over the rest of India — who have imbued the health drink with near-supernatural powers in the century since it arrived on these shores. No doubt GSK will ensure that this move will not further boost the decade-old use of Horlicks as a colloquial synonym for ‘a mess’ in Britain, the homeland of the drink’s eponymous inventors.