When you walk into the mid-sized shopping mall, South Point Mall, at Gurgaon, you may just be surprised to see multiple grocery stores, confectionaries and restaurants catering primarily to the southeast Asian community.
Aeryoun Jeon, a South Korean who has made Gurgaon her adopted home, runs three grocery stores, Epicure, in the millennium city. Jeon’s stores are doing brisk business, her customers comprising expats including South Koreans and Japanese.
“I have customers from Korea, Japan and many other countries,” Jeon told IndiaNarrative.com. However, she added that Indian customers frequent her stores too. “We have many Indian customers at our stores too who buy their provisions and daily needs from us,” one of the staff members added.
The grocery stores not only stock up just dry provisions but various kinds of meats and fish items.
“I have been in India for over 10 years now. My first store came up 10 years ago, but now I have three as the demand for Korean and Japanese grocery items has grown. The situation was not like this a few years ago,” Jeon said.
Epicure is just one of the many grocery store chains catering to the southeast Asian community. Ichiba Food Store, Seela Food Mart, Bibimbam, Sibang, Manami, and others too have a niche clientele.
Several South Korean and Japanese majors such as Samsung, LG, and Maruti Suzuki have dominated the Indian market for many years, but only about 30,000 people from these two countries live in India.
“We should see our relationship with India on a very strategic level,” Shin Bongkil, South Korean Ambassador to India, said earlier at a seminar. Bongkil also indicated that many more Korean companies are keen to enter India. At present there are just about 750 Korean companies operating here.
As many multinationals now look at investing in the country in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it is time that India proactively worked towards creating a more conducive environment for expats to feel at home.
“When it comes to living in India, Gurgaon is the most accepted place now. The satellite town has an ecosystem which makes the Southeast Asian families comfortable. This is because of the cosmopolitan nature of the town,” Sanjeev K. Ahuja, editor in chief, Asian Community News, said.
As India gears up to lay the red carpet for investors, it is imperative to create a conducive environment for the expats to feel at home. This would mean providing them access to both hard and soft infrastructure which includes roads, schools with international syllabus. Shopping establishments which sell products required by the people from these countries are equally important.