Bank­ing on a Sin­gle Malt is a Mug’s Game

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

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.

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