The Surajkund Mela has been on for 34 years. The India International Trade Fair is into its 40th year. The Dubai Shopping Festival is being hosted for the 25th time. The mother of all these exhibitions is but in Hyderabad. The All-India Industrial Exhibition, popular as the Numaish, has completed 79 years and is being hosted for the 80th year from January 1.
However, despite people continuing to turn up in large numbers for the 45-day annual event at the Exhibition Grounds in Nampally, the popularity of the Numaish appears to be confined to Hyderabad and its surroundings. Something is missing.
Even as its counterparts in other cities are growing in popularity, from being regional gatherings to international phenomena, the Numaish still lags behind when it comes to becoming a brand on its own.
The Exhibition Society, the voluntary organisation that organises the annual event, and several others feel there is a need to revamp and revive the event to catch up with current trends and also the recreational requirements of visitors.
The Numaish is integral to Hyderabad’s culture and is unique in terms of the nostalgia that revolves around the event. However, with the changing times, the management seems to be oblivious to the fact that new themes, new facilities and new aspects need to be introduced to make it livelier, feels K Ashwin Kumar, a fashion designer.
There are food stalls, cultural events, unique stalls like that of the Prisons Department and others. In terms of recreation and gaming for youngsters, there are giant wheels, the ‘Maut ka Kua’ (Well of Death), a small roller coaster, pendulum rides and so on. But, that is it.
“These have been there for years. I wish something new is offered every year. May be a new theme, new entertainment, revelry or anything,” says 40-year-old T Sharath, a businessman.
Annually, traders from across the country look forward to the event and come up with attractive handicrafts, handlooms, artefacts, garments and many other commodities. Even corporate companies set up their stalls and offer latest electronics (though predominantly home appliances and other categories) and other products.
Such was the popularity of the event that there was a time when traders from Pakistan, Nepal and a few other countries, participated in the exhibition. Over the years, foreign participation has dwindled and is almost nil now.
It is not that the Exhibition Society is not doing its bit to make the Numaish more entertaining, more engaging or catch up with the current trends. “We are working on getting more options for visitors. A trader from Thailand was keen to participate but was late to set up his stall. We are still trying our best to accommodate him,” says Exhibition Society Secretary Dr Prabha Shankar.
The basic theme of Numaish is trade and facilitating local and budding entrepreneurs to evolve. Brands like Cherma’s, Zinda Tilismath and others made it big from this platform. People talk about incubation but Numaish is still instrumental in promoting entrepreneurial incubation since decades, points out Ashwin Margam, a member of the Society.
Yes, there is always scope for improvement and constant efforts are being made to offer the best. For a few years, live concert bands were introduced at three spots on the sprawling grounds but slowly, the lukewarm response saw the idea being shelved, he adds.
As years go by, Hyderabadis wish the Numaish evolves further and enhances its brand equity on the regional, national and international levels.
What can be done to make Numaish more popular
For any event, especially one with the grandeur of Numaish, there are multiple factors that can make its brand flourish further on different levels. It has to be engaging, spring surprises, colourful, thematic and livelier, to mention a few factors. It has to stand apart from the rest, if not be remembered for its electrifying and yet joyful ambience, says Praneet Kandarpa, a Business Development Consultant.
He was associated with a firm roped in by Telangana Government during the World Telugu Conference. Though many people have not visited Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, they are aware of it because Superstar Amitabh Bachchan promotes it. This is called face value and branding through a star and Numaish can have its own, he suggests.
Next is more engaging activities or performances that keep the people hooked. For example, pyro techniques during weekends could be a way to get more youngsters. If budget is not a constraint, colourful drone formations in the sky are the latest entertainment at many events, he adds.
In tune with the 45-day event, a buzz has to be created across the city and beyond by organising different events or shows at other venues under the Numaish tag. 3D LED mapping on buildings, distributing goodies with Numaish logos and themes, conducting live concerts with big stars could be other option, says Praneet.
Promotional activities should be conducted weeks before the launch. Creating a theme song or video can be a simple but effective option. A multinational company roped in music maestro Ilayaraja for composing a theme song. Given its popularity, it does not require such initiatives but the song is viral on social media and the company revived its presence in the market, he points out.
Making good use of digital platforms is another important way of branding. A social media team has to be on board and stories about the event, pictures, nostalgic experiences by visitors, celebrity views, salient features, event’s history has to be shared and highlighted, he adds.
Government is prepared to support
Assuring all support from Government, Municipal Administration and Urban Development Principal Secretary Arvind Kumar says the Exhibition Society should be willing to work with other departments and come up with new ideas.
An event like Numaish with 80 years of history can go a long way in increasing the city’s image, provided it does not confine its vision to a particular set of visitors and continue usual practices, he says.
Hyderabad is now selected as UNESCO Creative City in Gastronomy category and stands alongside 66 other cities across the globe selected under different categories. Mumbai is the only other city selected from India under film category in the UNESCO Creative City Network (UCCN).
Many events or activities can be conducted around this achievement. The UNESCO selection will aid in boosting tourism opportunities, drawing more international visitors and Numaish can be the best platform to do so, he suggests.
Though the role of government is limited to ensuring visitors safety and avoiding any inconvenience due to the event, all support will be extended to make it more grandeur. The Exhibition Society should open up and rope in professional event managers, advises Kumar.
Hyderabad and hospitality go together. In sync with the annual event, the hotels and restaurants can play a major role in enhancing the experiences of visitors.
Hotels and Restaurants Association of Telangana State (HRATS) vice-president Ashok Hemrajani feels the Numaish brand has to be promoted at the regional level and can be used a tool to draw more visitors from other cities.
For instance, there are many people from Gujarat, West Bengal, Maharashtra and other cities. Cultural shows, handicrafts events, dance performances, food festivals of such cities can be organised at different places in the city and the banner of Numaish. HRATS will pitch in with offering attractive services and discounts, he assures.
First exhibition was in October 1938, as Numaish Masnuaat-e-Mulki with 1,000 stalls at Public Gardens.
Capital with Osmania Graduates Economic Committee was just Rs 2.50.
Then Prime Minister of Hyderabad, Sir Akber Hydari inaugurated the event.
About 50,000 persons visited the Numaish, which ran for 10 days. A net margin of Rs 4,000 was left with Exhibition Committee after the event.
1941-42, during the 4th Numaish, Exhibition Society was registered.
It was shifted to Exhibition Grounds in 1946.
Proceeds of Numaish are used to establish and run 18 educational and vocational training institutes. Nearly 30,000 students get benefitted.
Royal Message from Nizam VII
Mir Osman Ali Khan, the VII Nizam of Hyderabad, wrote the following ‘Royal Message’ when he first visited the Numaish in Public Gardens in 1940:
“Today 10th Jan. 1940, I visited the Industrial Exhibition of Hyderabad and was very much interested in all that I saw there (in detail) and congratulated the Government in the difficult type of works which the various branches of the Administration are carrying on with great zeal and energy and wish the “Whole Show of Enterprise” great success in future. I also appreciate the labour of the organization of the “Economic Committee” in this connection”.