The multiplier effect in the field of gifts

Published: 25th July 2012 12:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th July 2012 12:32 AM   |  A+A-

I became familiar with the concept of ‘multiplier effect’ in the field of banking when studying economics in college. Briefly, what it says is that any loan given out by a bank has a propensity to create new savings and in turn new loans. If a bank lends out say `100, the advance has a ripple effect through other banks to generate bank credit in the system that is a multiple of the original loan amount of `100.

A similar phenomenon must be operating in the field of gifts that people proffer at marriages, anniversaries, birthdays, promotions or just about any occasion. In place of bank loans rolling and creating more bank credit, here we have gifts that are passed on and on in a vicious cycle of giving and receiving, receiving and giving. The intention of the presenter of the gift is that the recipient should use it, and there the gift should come to rest. But gifts — like stones — have a tendency to gather no moss. So out of four dinner sets received by a newly married couple, three find their way to other married couples at subsequent receptions. If the first married couple are cold-hearted, they may send all the four sets packing to other couples. The same fate awaits other items in their custody. Bedsheets have no wheels, but the speed with which they can move from reception to reception would put to shame the mobility of the swift car gifted by the father-in-law.

As a presentation item, sarees are in a class of their own. They form the backbone of every Indian marriage, for every lady on either side of the bridal divide asserts her ‘right’ to be gifted with a saree. Who’s to blame for the gross mismatch between what she gets and what she would have preferred to get? This is basically due to lack of full flow of data between the two parties at a nascent stage of their relationship. How many times do we hear comments like: ‘Oh, this saree’s shade is so drab’ or ‘Do they expect a middle-aged mother like me to wear such flimsy stuff?’ Heaven help the mother of the bride if she misreads the standing of a woman in the opposite family’s pecking order and she finds the gifted saree to be below her ‘dignity’. No wonder such a balancing act is the envy of every trapeze artiste. In spite of numerous permutations and combinations worked out by the newly-weds’ parents, it is next to impossible to satisfy the taste and ego of everyone. The result is a maze of sarees of all hues and prices, of all shades and lustre being moved like batons from one marriage to another. It’s not unusual for an ‘unsuitable’ saree to find itself being gifted any number of times without revisiting a shop.

So the odds of a gift saree landing back in the lap of the ‘original’ donor, a la boomerang, are quite high. In fact, such is the power of the boomerang, and a wife’s mortification, it triggers people to write about it.

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